“Riveting…an electrifying true crime story of the Mafia-smitten eighties and nineties. Suspenseful and multifaceted, The Gotti Wars can’t be missed.” —Esquire, The Best Nonfiction Books of the Year
A “meticulous chronicle of good triumphing over evil” (The Washington Post) from the determined young prosecutor who, in two of America’s most celebrated trials, managed to convict famed mob boss John Gotti—and ultimately took down the Mafia altogether.
John Gotti was without a doubt the flashiest and most feared Mafioso in American history. He became the boss of the Gambino Crime Family in spectacular fashion—with the brazen and very public murder of Paul Castellano in front of Sparks Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan in 1985. Not one to stay below law enforcement’s radar, Gotti instead became the first celebrity crime boss. His penchant for eye-catching apparel earned him the nickname “The Dapper Don;” his ability to beat criminal charges led to another: “The Teflon Don.”
This is the captivating story of Gotti’s meteoric rise to power and his equally dramatic downfall. Every step of the way, Gotti’s legal adversary—John Gleeson, an Assistant US Attorney in Brooklyn—was watching. When Gotti finally faced two federal racketeering prosecutions, Gleeson prosecuted both. As the junior lawyer in the first case—a bitter seven-month battle that ended in Gotti’s acquittal—Gleeson found himself in Gotti’s crosshairs, falsely accused of serious crimes by a defense witness Gotti intimidated into committing perjury.
Five years later, Gleeson was in charge of the second racketeering investigation and trial. Armed with the FBI’s secret recordings of Gotti’s conversations with his underboss and consigliere in the apartment above Gotti’s Little Italy hangout, Gleeson indicted all three. He “flipped” underboss Sammy the Bull Gravano, killer of nineteen men, who became history’s highest-ranking mob turncoat—resulting in Gotti’s murder conviction. Gleeson ended not just Gotti’s reign, but eventually that of the entire mob.
A spellbinding, page-turning courtroom drama, The Gotti Wars “tells us in electrifying detail how the good guys finally won, how justice triumphed over evil, and how Gleeson himself was transformed by his long war” (Nelson DeMille).
In this exceptional debut, former federal prosecutor Gleeson chronicles his efforts to bring Gambino family crime boss John Gotti to justice. Gotti had been an obscure Mafioso before the 1984 murder in midtown Manhattan of his predecessor, Paul Castellano. Gleeson, a junior Brooklyn Assistant United States Attorney who was a crucial part of the team that tried Gotti in 1987 for racketeering, was devastated by his acquittal. Gleeson learned years later that the jury had been tampered with. In 1992, he got another shot at his target in a high-stakes case that followed two other acquittals of Gotti on state charges and included charges that Gotti had ordered Castellano's murder. The prosecution had been built on extensive electronic surveillance, but got a last-minute boost when Sammy Gravano, Gotti's underboss, agreed to testify against Gotti. Gotti's conviction at that trial was a major blow to the mob. While the general contours of the investigations have been covered elsewhere, Gleeson pulls back the curtain to reveal intriguing information previously not made public, including his daring and risky choice not to inform his superiors of his negotiations with Gravano, out of fear that the U.S. Attorney might accidentally disclose that sensitive development. This is a must-read for anyone interested in organized crime.
I lived through both trials and was not surprised Gotti got off in the first trial. Gleeson took me through that trial and the subsequent one that convicted Gotti. This was a great book taking me back 30 plus years. Well written and informative.