In the end, John Gotti, rest his soul, got no respect from the mob.
None of the leaders of New York's four other crime families –or even capos for that matter –paid their last respects to the onetime Dapper Don and head of the Gambinos at his wake at the Papavero Funeral Home in Maspeth, Queens.
In fact, only two old soldiers in the Colombo and Genovese families –and a New Jersey wiseguy –were spotted at the two-day wake by teams of local and federal investigators
who kept visual and audio tabs on the comings and goings.
And many Gambino members and associates also failed to show up, often sending regrets that bail restrictions, parole or conditions of supervised
release prevented a personal appearance.
"We may have missed a guy or two, but there was a deliberate,
conscious, decision not to attend," said one law enforcement source.
In other words, the late Gotti was dissed.
"There is no question, that the (mob's) message was one of
disdain and disapproval," said another.
Despite the pomp and circumstance of Gotti's sendoff, a 75-car
motorcade that included 19 flower cars and four news helicopters, Gotti could not have been happy about the lack of respect
he got from his peers.
"He put a lot of stock in these kinds of things so he must have
over in his grave," said one underworld source, an attendee of many wiseguy wakes who skipped Gotti's.
The most obvious snub was by Bonanno boss Joseph Massino,
an old friend and Howard Beach neighbor who spent many hours with Gotti at the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club, his Ozone Park headquarters
where the funeral procession made a solemn stop en route to St. John's Cemetery.
In 1988, during the height of his power, Gotti supported
Massino's eventual ascension to the top of the Bonanno family –he was in prison at the time –and pushed the Genovese and Luchese families to restore the Bonannos to good standing with the Mafia Commission.
Today, Massino, the only New York boss not in federal prison for one thing or another,
is very secretive and cautious and often travels abroad to avoid surveillance. With no recent indictments or convictions, he has no restrictions over his movements, or persons
with whom he can associate.
But Massino, who has become the Commission's most influential
member since his release from prison in 1992, avoided the wake and ordered his family members to follow suit, according to
law enforcement sources.
"There were no ifs, ands or buts about it," said one source,
numerous informants told of similar directives from the leaders
of the Colombo, Luchese and Genovese families as well.
In one case, a capo told a social club filled with wiseguys
and associates, "Nobody goes," quickly interrupting a query about possible exceptions with: "I said, NOBODY GOES."
Underworld sources also told Gang Land that the troops, for the most part,
were happy about being ordered not to attend.
"I hope they don't tell me I've got to represent the skipper,"
one wiseguy was heard to say.
For the record, Colombo soldier Joseph (Joe Black) Gorgone, Genovese mobster Frank Monti, and DeCavalcante soldier Frank D'Amato (left) were the only non-Gambino family "made
men" who paid their respects, according to law enforcement sources.
Law enforcement sources speculate –along with Gang Land's underworld sources, who are not high enough
up the food chain to know for sure –that
Gotti's assassination of Mafia boss Paul Castellano is the
main reason behind the organized boycott.
"He seized power through a renegade act –killing a boss –and
repudiation of the tactics he
used to take over the family," said one official.
"It probably goes back to Castellano," agreed another, who noted that the Genovese and Luchese families first tried to kill Gotti in 1986, when they blew up his first underboss Frank DeCicco, then executed two Gotti soldiers in 1990 and 1991.
"I did see a lot of John's friends there," said longtime
Gotti attorney Bruce Cutler, insisting that even though legal restrictions, including incarceration, prevented many friends
from paying their respects, the wake and funeral were "well attended and dignified."
But Cutler was hard pressed to explain why Massino, "definitely
a friend of John's and a sweetheart of a guy," did not attend, "if he didn't. I didn't see Joe, but I don't know if
he was there or not. I know I didn't see him, because I would have hugged him if I did."
Mob Star: The Story of John Gotti
Hot off the presses! It's here, the book it took yours truly
and Gene Mustain 17 years to do! Although we didn't know it at the time, we began working on Mob Star: The Story of John Gotti in 1985, when we began covering the Gotti story as
The first edition came out in 1988, and we finished
this new edition three days before Gotti died in June. Alpha Books is now distributing it to the nation's bookstores
With a 40,000-word update, the new edition contains the
entire Gotti saga -- from his treacherous rise to his defiant downfall and right on up to his time in prison and his death
from throat cancer.
The 378 page, full-size book uses
eight additional chapters, a prologue and an epilogue to complete the story we began telling (better than any other reporters,
we might add!) when we covered the Gotti-orchestrated, midtown Manhattan assassination of former Gambino boss Paul Castellano.
For the last and best words on Gotti, this is the book to
have. It is specially priced at Amazon.comat $11.87, more than five bucks off the $16.95 suggested list price.
Not Really For Idiots Whether you're a Gang Land regular or an occasional visitor, you'll enjoy
"The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Mafia," a book I wrote for Alpha Books that was published in December. It's filled with real stuff about real wiseguys and insight
about the ways that mobsters make their money. It's 343 pages of true stories of life and death, honor and betrayal. Get it
at your local book store, or at Gang Land's favorite, Amazon.com, where the powers that be have knocked the price down to $13.27, so low I am concerned that the Godfather
of online booksellers has forgotten about my end.