Full inside look at the Italian Mafia’s Gotti Family. John Gotti, Jr. was the notorious mobster boss of La Cosa Nostra who was also known as “The Dapper Don” or “Teflon Don.” Here’s a closer look at the story of the last Godfather.
The Dapper Don
Also known as “The Dapper Don” by the media, John Gotti, Jr. had a reputation for living a flashy lifestyle filled with extravagant fashion & luxury. He eventually became ultimate leader of the Gotti Family. The Don, another word for the boss who acts as the brains & leader of the family, is said to have adored media attention. Whereas old school dons preferred living & moving in the shadows, Gotti loved the spotlight. But his flashy appearances proved disastrous as it ultimately led to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
The Death of John Favara
To give you an idea of how vicious John Gotti really was & why his behavior ended him behind bars, we’ll take a look at the story of John Favara—a classic example of his ruthless, unforgiving behavior. March 18th, 1980: John Gotti’s 12-year-old son Frank darts into the street on a motorized minibike from behind a dumpster when all of a sudden, he was struck & killed by an oncoming vehicle. The man driving the vehicle was 51-year-old furniture store manager John Favara, who lived just one block away from the Gotti family.
Fast forward four months later: July 28th, 1980. Before Favara & his family were able to move, he was shoved into a van by several men near his work. Several witnesses to the abduction state that he was beaten with a baseball bat while other accounts assert he was silenced with a .22 caliber pistol. One testimony in particular goes so far as to say Favara was alive as he was dismembered with a chainsaw, stuffed into a barrel filled with concrete, then either dumped into the ocean or buried in a lot somewhere. The exact happenings of his body are still unknown, but what is confirmed is the brutality involved behind Favara’s death.
Rise to Power
Before turning 30 years old, John Gotti spent three stints in jail, the last term being a three-year lockup for truck hijackings at the JFK airport. But his mobster tendencies were quickly displayed because as soon as he was released in 1972, he immediately went back to the streets. He swiftly moved through the ranks & soon became a capo of the Bergin Crew that same year. The Bergin Crew was a subcrew of the Gambino family & was under the command of Carmine Fatico at the time.
Three years later in 1975, Gotti found himself back behind bars once more; this time for the killing of Irish-American gangster James McBratney, who had kidnapped & killed the nephew of Carlo Gambino, or the head of the Gambino family at the time. Gotti was an accomplice in the hit-team assigned to take revenge for the murder, & thus he was sentenced to four years in prison after taking a plea deal.
In 1977 after spending only two years in jail, Gotti was released & was rewarded by the Gambino family for his part in the murder. With the Gambino family now under the command of Paul Castellano, Gotti was not only initiated into the family but was also immediately promoted to taking back his old position as capo of the Bergin Crew.
Killing Castellano – The Gambino Family Takeover
As a skillful earner with a violent disposition, it came as no surprise that Gotti was able to take over the position of boss of the Gambino family by ultimately killing another boss. The Gambino family’s boss at the time was Paul Castellano, who took over the position after Carlo Gambino died of natural causes in 1976. Gotti became disgruntled with Castellano due to his belief that Castellano was too isolated & greedy. He also found him to have a lack of street credibility.
Despite his desire to “whack,” or assassinate, Castellano, he knew he would be unable to due to the Commission, which stood in his way. The Commission was founded in 1931 & acted as the governing body of the American Mafia. It consisted of the five New York family bosses & the boss of the Chicago Outfit.
Gotti knew that he would not be granted permission by the Commission to kill off Castellano. Without this permission, he risked being killed soon afterwards as revenge. Gotti, therefore, turned to several important figures of his generation, all of whom held important positions within other big families. Doing so allowed him to indirectly attain permission for the killing.
On December 16th, 1985, after being set up by Gotti & his assassins, Castellano was shot dead as Gotti watched the hit from his car. He was formally acclaimed as the new boss of the Gambino family at a meeting of 20 capos held on January 15th, 1986.
“Teflon Don” & Incarceration
From his new reign up until 1990, Gotti was required to appear in court several times but was able to secure acquittals on all occasions by intimidating & paying off jury members. Thus the nickname “Telfon Don” was born during this timeframe in reference to the failure of any charges to “stick.”
But his run as boss of the Gotti Family came to an abrupt end in 1990 when he was arrested once more & charged with 13 murders, tax evasion, loan sharking, & racketeering, along with a slew of other crimes. Gotti & the Gotti Family’s violent past had finally caught up to him & the charges ultimately stuck. In 1992, Gotti was convicted to life in prison where he died of throat cancer ten years later.