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Gotti Jr. Dodges Legal Bullet with Second Mistrial

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. And in this part of the program, two items about the mob. Well one's about the mob, the other's about the mob as seen on premium cable. First the real thing. The second trial of Gambino crime family boss, John Junior Gotti ended in mistrial today. A federal jury said it was deadlocked. Gotti is accused of racketeering, extortion, and ordering the beating of Guardian Angels founder, Curtis Sliwa.

NPR's Nancy Solomon reports from New York.

NANCY SOLOMON reporting:

At least some of the jury members appear to have bought Gotti's unique defense strategy. Yes, I was a mob boss and committed crimes, but I gave all that up, and now the statute of limitations has run out. The 42-year old son of convicted mobster John Gotti, Sr. was accused of extorting construction companies, loan sharking, and ordering the 1992 attack on Curtis Sliwa that left him shot and beaten with a baseball bat. After the mistrial was declared, Gotti strolled out of the lower Manhattan courthouse in a dapper pinstriped suit and said he was very happy with the result.

Mr. JOHN GOTTTI, JR. (Mobster): Drained, I'm drained. I want to see my children.

SOLOMON: Prosecutors say they will retry the case. Curtis Sliwa believes he was attacked to silence his criticism of John Gotti, Sr. on his radio show. Sliwa says he's confident the prosecutors will overcome the withdrawal defense in the next trial.

Mr. CURTIS SLIWA (Guardian Angels): So it's round 3, and it is clear that John Gotti, Jr. is going to depend, but this mindless notion that somehow I live in a mansion that was purchased with ill-gotten gain, I benefit from all the proceeds when I was the head of the Gambino crime family. But because you didn't get me within five years, you can't touch this.

SOLOMON: Gotti's first trial last September also ended with a deadlocked jury that was in favor of conviction 11 to one. He claims he withdrew from New York's most notorious crime syndicate in 1999. His attorneys played excerpts from a videotaped discussion he held with his father in prison to show that Junior wanted to leave crime. Gotti's defense attorney, Deborah Carlstein says the notes from the jury during deliberations clearly indicated that they were considering the withdrawal defense. She says the defense team and Gotti are satisfied with the mistrial.

Ms. DEBORAH CARLSTEIN (John Gotti's Attorney): John is happy. John is happy. He is off to celebrate, have a steak and some martinis.

SOLOMON: Gotti spent five years in jail on separate racketeering charges and was indicted in the current case just before he was released from jail. He is now living in his multi-million dollar mansion free on $7 million bail. The date for trial number three will be set during a hearing on Monday.

Nancy Solomon, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Nancy Solomon