By DEREK NORMAN
John Gotti, 23, grandson and namesake of the late “Teflon Don,” got stuck with eight years in state prison and was required to forfeit over $250,000 in seized drug proceeds at his sentencing in Queens Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon.
The son of Peter Gotti and nephew of John Gotti, Jr. was arrested last August following a long-term investigation by the New York Police Department that produced evidence of a drug operation which raked in approximately $1.6 million worth of Oxycodone sales in Howard Beach and Ozone Park, according to the Queens district attorney.
Gotti’s sentence includes a three-year post-release supervision, and five to seven year bid to be served concurrently for additional charges including possession of xanax, marijuana and driving under a suspended license.
“It was hard to watch,” said the uncle “Junior” Gotti, also namesake of the former Gambino crime family boss, John Gotti. who died of throat cancer in prison in 2002. “I couldn’t keep him off the streets. He’s gonna’ go upstate and do his time.”
Family members of Gotti paced sadly through the courthouse corridors as the case stretched into the second session after a conflict with another inmate prolonged the court officers’ ability to produce the defendant.
The cases against eight other defendants involved in the drug ring, referred to by police as “Operation Beach Party,” are still pending, except for the younger Gotti’s girlfriend, whose case was dismissed.
“From day one, John took responsibility,” Gerard Marrone, the defendant’s attorney, said of Gotti’s reaction to the sentence. “From that point on, it was just about taking something that’s fair.”
Gotti, who faced 25 years to life before a plea bargain, had a drug problem himself and noted that he was getting treatment in jail and will be seeking a rehab program upstate.
“I don’t look at him as a criminal,” said Marrone. “I look at him as a kid who will come out and do the right thing. I don’t think we’ll see him in a courtroom again.”
Family (in the basic sense of the word) members contended that as a third generation Gotti to stand in front of a judge, and carrying the legacy of one of New York’s most notorious last names could have added years to the sentence. According to the attorney, “He’s always had a target on his back,” and will be always be treated more harshly than an average Joe.
Judge Suzanne J. Melendez who presided over the case, wished the defendant luck just before he turned to blow a kiss to his family and exit the courtroom, causing his mother’s eyes to well with tears.
“He’s gonna’ do his time like a man, not like some of those other government cooperatives,” said “Junior” Gotti on the courthouse steps. “It is what it is… the Gotti name.”
Photo of “Junior Gotti” by Derek Norman.