Gotti intentó comprar jurados

NEW YORK (AP) — Mob boss John Gotti, in his final criminal acts as a free man, desperately plotted to bribe jurors and intimidate witnesses at the 1992 Brooklyn trial that put him behind bars for the rest of his life, according to allegations in long-buried FBI documents.
The last-ditch efforts by the Dapper Don included the hiring of two or three private investigators «to aid in witness/juror identification» while the trial was under way, according to the documents, released to The Associated Press in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
Jurors in the case were kept anonymous and sequestered in an undisclosed hotel because of tampering by Gotti in earlier trials.
«Members and associates of the Gambino crime family have been actively seeking to identify both jurors and witnesses in an attempt to influence their decisions in regard to this case,» said a February 10, 1992, FBI memo designated as «routine.»
In a sense, it was routine: This was not Gotti’s first try at buying his freedom.
A juror at his first federal racketeering trial in 1987 was convicted of taking $60,000 to successfully convince fellow panelists of the mob boss’ innocence. And at his 1990 trial for allegedly ordering a hit on a union official, information on jurors was funneled to Gotti through a corrupt New York City detective. No jurors were charged in that case.
The tainted acquittals earned Gotti his other sobriquet, the «Teflon Don» — which became the «Velcro Don» when he finally was convicted of racketeering and murder in April 1992. He died 10 years later in a federal prison.
Details of the purported scheme were revealed in the 274 pages of FBI documents. Though heavily edited, they offer new glimpses into the last-ditch efforts of the Gambinos to keep their boss out of jail.
According to the February memo, Gotti’s cronies ran down license plate numbers as they hunted for jurors or witnesses who might be paid off or scared off.
Gotti’s trial attorney, Albert Krieger, was dismissive of the latest jury tampering story.
«I think it’s ridiculous,» he said in a telephone interview from Florida. «If I took every story I’d heard about John Gotti, and put it on a sheet of paper and then into a file drawer, I’d have 20 cabinets filled. To me, it’s preposterous.»
But the documents show the FBI took the information quite seriously.
Pen registers, which provide a list of all incoming and outgoing calls from a phone, were placed on «every pay telephone in proximity of the trial courtroom per the request of the trial judge,» according to an April 1992 FBI communication.
The idea was to track any calls made by Gambino associates watching the trial in federal court in Brooklyn.
Federal officials were so afraid of a hit on turncoat Gambino underboss Sammy «The Bull» Gravano during his nine days on the witness stand that they spent $259,103.50 on security, a May 1992 memo indicated.
The costs included rental of a helicopter for $31,304. In addition, Gravano was accompanied to and from the Brooklyn courthouse each day by a SWAT team.
Gravano paid the government back by returning to his life of crime. He is serving a 20-year sentence in Arizona for running an Ecstasy ring.

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