Junior Gotti To Expose WitSec Mafia

A spokesperson for John A. Gotti responded with the following comment:
"First, I keep telling you movie is on. It's on, Ed!! Second, this is only a snippet of something much bigger. Yes, (John A. Gotti) is describing their next book and project but this video is part of something much bigger. It involves the whole family. Third, Witsec Mafia is not revenge against Alite, Gravano or Otto."
 I've sought some elaboration on the third point, then I will revise the entire story accordingly. That said, please note the second paragraph...

John A. Gotti is working on a new project, titled WITSEC Mafia (the above video is at 1,319 YouTube views as of this posting).

The recently announced project follows the 2015 release of his book, Shadow of My Father, which is set to be made into a film starring John Travolta.

The focus of WITSEC Mafia is to expose former mob turncoats who, Gotti alleges, are committing crimes following life in the Witness Protection Program. And, they are sometimes doing so under the watchful eyes of their FBI handlers. (I wrote a two-part series about the formation and evolution of the Witness Protection program, which from the beginning has had some people return to their former life of crime.)

In the above video, Gotti says:

"These criminals are getting government absolution for these crimes, no matter how heinous... What [the FBI is doing is] giving them deals. [If they] testify [and] if the target is big enough -- like in my case, I was the biggest target in the country, my father's case, he was the biggest target in the country.... Sammy Gravano, absolution for some 19-20 murders. And they released him after four years in jail. John Alite, similar.

"And what they do is put these guys in WITSEC. They don't want to adhere to the rules of the Witness Protection Program, because they are stringent rules.

"The Marshall's service has a tight grip on them. They'll relocate them someplace, they will make you get work... they'll do all of those things or you'll be violating the rules of Witsec. And you can't communicate with any former confederates... whoever [the Marshalls] deem undesirable with respect [to whether] they can compromise your location.

"So what they have been doing now is they are signing themselves out of Witsec...

"All too many times they are rejoining their former cohorts."

Then he begins with John Alite "who is thick as thieves" with former cohorts.

Alite hasn't been committing any crimes since his release from prison -- or at least no evidence has been made public.  Of these other former gangsters Gotti references, I can't say.

John A. Gotti was "released" from the Sisyphus role in which he'd been placed. After his fourth and final mistrial, the Feds said they'd no longer continue to prosecute him.

This WITSEC project, to this blogger, whiffs of "Gotti vengeance," as if it were a vehicle with which to attack his "enemies." It'd be refreshing if he didn't begin with mention of Alite -- and even Gravano. There's a blog already dedicated to that stuff.

Gotti is on to something with a history of WITSEC. A focus on the program is a story definitely worth telling. His current angle, however, involving the tiresome FBI mastermind corruption of "Ted Otto," etc., is worthless and should be deep sixed. His trials are over and John needs to drop old agendas and approach these topics with a fresh eye. Deliberately targeting the usual sspects will taint this and future projects as vanity efforts. Perhaps that's his plan. It's a shame.

His coauthor, Richard Stratton, has done some admirable reporting and writing in the years following the draconian prison sentence he served because he refused to cooperate (which no doubt won Gotti's heart in the first place). 

But one can't help but wonder, what about the Travolta-Gotti film? He should somehow address the obvious questions he himself raises by abruptly announcing the seemingly formal launch of this project. But John is the embodiment of the Sinatra "My Way" rendition. He seems pleased with his direction. We'll read all about it on Gangsters Inc one day.

Stratton has a new book out now. Smuggler’s Blues is the story of how he, part of the Hippy Mafia (ugh), managed to get a ton and a half of Lebanese hash through customs in New Jersey in a $15 million deal.

As reported here, WITSEC "formally" was established under Title V of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, which defines how the United States Attorney General may provide for the relocation and protection of a witness or potential witness. Witnesses are put in the program at either the federal or state level.

The program falls under the purview of the U.S. Marshals Service, "the nation’s oldest and most versatile federal law enforcement agency" which has "served the country since 1789, often in unseen but critical ways," reveals the U.S. Marshal Service's website factsheet [PDF].

An excellent book that details the origin story is: Witsec: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program (2003).

The Witness Security Program has successfully protected an estimated 18,400 participants from "intimidation and retribution" since the program began in 1971.

The hallmarks of the program were actually initially delineated by the first member of the program, a gangster.

Paddy's Contribution
Pascal "Paddy" Calabrese robbed Buffalo's City Hall during daylight.

While serving a five-year stretch for his daring but unsuccessful feat, he started nursing a deep hatred for his boss, Stefano Magaddino, who had cut him loose the moment he was cuffed by law enforcement.

Magaddino had done the same to the drug-dealing Agueci brothers, forgetting about them as soon as they were arrested. Magaddino had been well aware of the brothers' narcotics business and was glad to pocket their generous tributes in return for police protection. But Magaddino couldn't have cared less when the cops busted the two.

While out on bail, Albert Agueci threatened the 75-year-old Cosa Nostra boss, saying if Magaddino didn't use his connections to help him and his brother, he'd talk to the FBI about everything.

Albert was found dead a few days later, his body badly burned and missing 40 pounds of flesh, which had been sliced off. Both arms and legs were broken, as was his jaw. The sawing, cutting and breaking had been done while Albert was alive. He had been strangled to death, then doused with gasoline and set afire.

Magaddino was old but certainly had lost none of his ferociousness.

Gerald Shur and his strike force had recalibrated their sights by 1964.

Realizing New York's powerful mob bosses were beyond their reach, the OCRS decided to focus on Buffalo, where Magaddino's crime family held sway.

Members of six federal agencies (including the Bureau of Narcotics, Labor Department, Secret Service, ATF and others) had since joined the OCRS strike force. Hoover's FBI stayed away.

An imprisoned Calabrese was well aware of the Agueci brother's fate, but he also knew that Albert and his brother were not made members. Calabrese, on the other hand, had been inducted into Magaddino's crime family and he expected better treatment from the boss, who was viewed by even law enforcement as "a cheap old man."

Calabrese, without even realizing, set the agenda for what became the Witness Protection Program by saying he'd testify against his boss in return for an end to his prison sentence; relocation for him, his girlfriend and her children; and new identities for all.

Albert Agueci, above, was tortured and killed for threatening a boss.

During a secret meeting on Feb. 27, 1967, Calabrese named every "major criminal" in the Magaddino family and also gave information regarding several Mafia-related crimes.

Although Calabrese was unable to implicate Magaddino himself, he gave up two important underlings, Freddy Randaccio (the murderer/torturer believed to have killed Albert Agueci) and Patsy Natarelli, who was known to be handy with an ice pick.

Before Calabrese testified, his girlfriend and her kids were relocated to a military base, while Calabrese was spirited to the "Valachi Suite" in a Texas federal prison.

The strike force eventually used the Hobbs Act to arrest Magaddino's two viceroys.

Magaddino's men hunted for Calabrese and his girlfriend immediately.

Mobsters questioned friends and family members of both. They even interrogated Calabrese's barber.

As the trial date drew near, the Buffalo mob grew more daring, calling strike force members and threatening their lives. Up until then, it was believed that the old informal "agreement" was in place: the mob didn't go after legit law enforcement officials doing their jobs.

But members of the OCRS started traveling in well-armed pairs. Some sent their wives out of town as well.

Finally two OCRS members, Sam Giambrone -- the Buffalo police sergeant who brought Calabrese's offer to Shur in the first place-- and a former member of the FBN decided to have a talk with Magaddino.

They went to his Niagra Falls home and knocked. Magaddino opened the front door. Before he could say a word, Giambrone was pushing his gun into the elderly gangster's mouth.

The strike force chief told the Buffalo Cosa Nostra boss:

"If one more phone call comes in or anyone attempts to do harm to my family or anyone else's on the strike force, we're going to come back and blow your fucking head off."

The harassment stopped.

The two gangsters Calabrese gave up were sent away for 20 years.

Afterward, Calabrese and his family were sent to Michigan and left to fend for themselves, save for a single $600 payment (strike force members had passed a hat around).

The "Angelos," Calabrese and his family's new surname, skipped town three months after their relocation. They'd taken out a loan -- they were a "legitimate family" after all -- and fled without repaying a cent.

Calabrese later was identified as the first mob witness to provide testimony in return for relocation and new identities.

"It was not an awe-inspiring beginning," Shur later admitted.

Calabrese returned to haunt Shur, who labeled WITSEC's first customer as one of three "ghosts" that later haunted him and other officials involved in forming the Witness Protection Program.