Gotti Jr. charged in racketeering sweep

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) —John Gotti Jr., who reputedly succeeded his father as head of the Gambino crime family, was arrested Wednesday on racketeering charges that included tax evasion and extortion from a topless dancing club.
In four federal indictments naming 40 defendants, Gotti was accused of diverse organized-crime activities both before and after his father was jailed in 1992.
Also named in the indictments was Denny McLain, the jailed former baseball pitcher, who was linked to Gotti through an alleged telephone calling-card fraud conspiracy.
Gotti, 33, surrendered quietly on a Yonkers street to avoid a media circus, according to his lawyer, Richard Rehbock. U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White said at a news conference that 34 others had been arrested, too. Authorities were searching Wednesday for the remaining five defendants.
State Attorney General Dennis Vacco said: “Today we have come as close as we dare say to driving a stake through the heart of organized crime in this region.”
Among the allegations leveled against Gotti Jr.: extortion from Scores, a popular topless club on Manhattan’s East Side; telecommunications fraud; construction bid-rigging; labor racketeering; gambling; money laundering; and loan sharking.
Five others were charged with conspiring to murder two men who allegedly killed a bouncer and a waiter at Scores in 1996. The revenge murders were not carried out, officials said.
The indictment described Gotti as a boss whose power included “resolving disputes among Gambino family members and associates and directing the Gambino family’s criminal activities.”
But Lewis Schiliro, head of the FBI’s New York office, said the bureau still considers John Gotti Sr. the boss of the Gambino mob, and his son “one of several sharing now in running the family.” The elder Gotti went to jail for life in 1992 for murder and other crimes.
McLain, a former major league pitcher who starred with Detroit Tigers in the 1960’s, owned a telecommunications company that was used by Gotti and others to market fraudulent phone cards, authorities said. White said the cards, many of which were sold for cash to people too poor to own their own phones, were useless.