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Q&A | Mob arrests

A trial would bring drama, pain to Tampa

TAMPA — This week's arrest of alleged Gambino mob boss John A. "Junior" Gotti should bring a real-life dose of Sopranos-esque drama to the Tampa Bay area.

But Gotti won't go on trial anytime soon, perhaps not for years. And when it happens, expect security to be a major headache.

How will Tampa handle its very own New York-style Mafia trial? If history is any indicator, anytime a Gotti goes on trial, intrigue — and flashbulbs — will follow.

Who is Junior Gotti anyway?

A resident of Oyster Bay, N.Y., Gotti is the son of the late Gambino crime boss, John J. Gotti. This is not the 44-year-old's first brush with the law; he pleaded guilty in 1999 to federal charges ranging from bribery to extortion and was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.

"I'm a man's man," Gotti told a judge at the time. "I'm here to take my medicine."

Didn't he quit the mob?

That's what his attorneys said when Gotti was last on trial. In 2005 and 2006, juries in three trials failed to reach a verdict on federal charges that accused Gotti of ordering the 1992 abduction of Curtis Sliwa, a radio host and founder of the Guardian Angels, the New York-based volunteer crime watch group. Gotti's attorney said he gave up his Mafia life in 1999.

"My father's dead over four years. It's time to let go," Gotti said after the last trial in 2006, according to the New York Times. "He's dead. That's it. It's over. Now I've got to rebuild my family."

Just whom is he said to have whacked?

Gotti is accused of involvement in the deaths of three men: George Grosso on Dec. 20, 1988, in Queens; Louis DiBono, Oct. 4, 1990, in the parking garage of the former World Trade Center in Manhattan; Bruce John Gotterup, Nov. 20, 1991, at the Boardwalk at the Rockaways in Queens. Two of the five others indicted, John Burke and Guy Peden of New York, both 47, also are charged with participating in Gotterup's murder.

When will we see him in Tampa?

He may appear in Tampa for his arraignment, which is supposed to occur within 10 days of his first appearance, which happened Tuesday. But defendants have the right to waive their arraignment.

How exactly would you protect a mobster?

With great care — and it's not just Gotti for whom security is a concern. When his father faced murder and racketeering charges in New York in 1992, jurors were sequestered in a hotel. Their names were kept private and sketch artists were forbidden from depicting them.

Kevin March, a former chief of the organized crime and racketeering unit in the U.S. Attorney's Office, said the same type of security measures could be used if Junior Gotti goes on trial here.

Times staff writer Kevin Graham contributed to this report. Thomas Kaplan can be reached at (813) 226-3404 or tkaplan@sptimes.com.

A trial would bring drama, pain to Tampa 08/06/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 7, 2008 9:01pm]
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