The Ravenite Transcripts PART 7: “I want guys that done more than killing.”

Gambino boss John Gotti, not knowing he’s already living his last year of freedom ever, discusses potential candidates for membership in the Gambino crime family, and laments how difficult it was to find worthy contenders. 

John Gotti,
John Gotti, 1987.

He queries Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano about whether he would feel more comfortable with a different title: “So, I’m asking you how you feel. You wanna stay as consigliere? Or you want me to make you official “underboss”? “Acting boss”? How do you feel? What makes you feel better?” The future is so uncertain. You never know what fresh hell is waiting just around the corner. (At least these guys didn’t have to bother about wearing a goddamn facemask.)

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JANUARY 4, 1990
FILE NUMBER: 183A-3507
PLACE: Apartment above the Ravenite Social Club, located at 247 Mulberry Street in Little Italy, Manhattan
TIME: 7:15 P.M.

GOTTI: All right, let me tell you what, Sam. I wanna throw a few names out, five or six. I’m not, I’m trying not to make people (inaudible). I want guys that done more than killing. This Frankie Dap wants to put this “Poncho” (inaudible) guys downstairs. But I’m (inaudible) I was thinking—

GRAVANO: No (inaudible).

GOTTI: —I was originally thinking of five or six guys … that (inaudible).

GRAVANO: I forgot their names.

GOTTI: Yeah, well, I was glad what you said how you felt about (inaudible)— I don’t care about who we choose. Your mind is where it’s supposed to be. That’s what I mean. But, but, ah, but, ah, I don’t know with this fuckin’ “Poncho.” Did he ever do anything with us?

GRAVANO: I don’t know.

GOTTI: Or anybody?

GRAVANO: I don’t know.

GOTTI: Because you know who we got, and this guy would deserve nobody. But the guy that he was replacing (inaudible), he reminded me of, of Johnny Rizzo. You know, I mean it was a shame that me or youse guys, that we know we have to do with that thing. Let me tell you a couple of things before Frank comes up.

GRAVANO: Well, here, you want me to give you the list?

GOTTI: Yeah, I’m gonna do it when Frank is here, too, and I wanna tell you just a couple (inaudible). I’ve been kicking my brains out, Sammy, what I’m gonna do here. See the plan for them to remand me, and we’ll see, and we’ll talk. Just the way I call the shot, give them the (clapping noise) one postponement, now say can’t empanel a jury, they can’t prove their case. They’re working towards the other case. Pinch us, and beef up bail. I see it coming. Listen, so if I have to, right to the fucking end.

GRAVANO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: (Inaudible) I’m hung only, but I don’t care. Hopefully, we got time. Tomorrow I wanna call all our “skippers” in. I’m gonna tell them: “I’m the rappresentante till I say different. Soon as anything happens to me, I’m off the streets, Sammy is the acting boss. He’s our consigliere.” But I got something that’s bothering me, Sammy. I don’t wanna start like the “Chin” did with them people, bad precedent. (Pause) So, I’m asking you how you feel. You wanna stay as consigliere? Or you want me to make you official “underboss”? “Acting boss”? How do you feel? What makes you feel better? Think about it. Think about it tonight. Let me tell you why—

GRAVANO: “Acting boss” really it’s … it’s …

GOTTI: That’s nothing! I’m gonna tell you why. Here’s what I’m talking about.

GRAVANO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: You (inaudible) say it. Here’s what I’m trying to say to you.

GRAVANO: Go ahead.

GOTTI: The “underboss” should take charge of the “Family.” I’m not “breaking” “Joe Piney,” by the way. I can’t.


GOTTI: Ya, ya know what I’m saying? You don’t need a consigliere. We’ll put somebody acting there. Know what I’m saying? You’re official, Sammy, and that’s where it’s gonna stay. I, I love Frankie, but I don’t wanna (inaudible) (tap sound) you know that, too. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for the guy. But I don’t want (inaudible). And I wanna tell them, if our plan backfires, and they do get me now, they can’t help but (inaudible). After that fucking “rat” message. Did Bruce tell ya?


GOTTI: (Inaudible)

GRAVANO: Ah, you know how exactly I read that? And even with some of the bullshit things? The case against me would be a massive RICO racketeering (inaudible).

GOTTI: All right, yeah.

GRAVANO: So, it’s probably gonna be like Corky, only a hundred, eighty, indict, eh, counts—

GOTTI: Sammy—

GRAVANO: —of labor racketeering—

GOTTI: Sammy—

GRAVANO: —unless they got—

GOTTI: —they got more than that for you. I don’t know what they got for you. But they got more than that for you. It doesn’t matter, Sam. This thing here, and I’m gonna make our “skippers” understand that. (Coughs) “This is my wishes that if, if I’m in the fucking can, this ‘Family’ is gonna be run by Sammy. I’m still the ‘boss.’ If I get fifty years, I know what I gotta do. But when I’m in the can, Sammy’s in charge.” Now, or you go in the can, God forbid!

GRAVANO: I could go away, too.

GOTTI: You see what I’m saying, Sammy, we gotta fuckin’ think, and, and I know what I’m talking about. If I could just get this fuckin’ probation I want, you’ll get bail. Who gives a fuck! Nobody comes to see ya. They’ll send some jerk to see ya (inaudible), like cutting bases with me. Just the fact you’re out there. That you could sneak out in the middle of the night and hit a guy in the fucking head with a hatchet. You follow, understand, Sammy? I don’t know what he’s doing no more. All you’re gonna do is, you’re gonna have a, a good time, six months, then you’re gonna be in the next cell to me. We ain’t going nowhere the fuckin’ hurry, Sammy. That’s (inaudible).

Frank Locascio
Frank Locascio 

GRAVANO: If they ain’t got me already down there (inaudible).

GOTTI: No, I agree with you. But, Sammy, if they ain’t got us, they’ll never get us. But we feel if they ain’t preparing a couple a humdinger cases for you, I’ll take it up my fucking ass, Sam.

GRAVANO: Well, I, I believe they are.

GOTTI: And all—

GRAVANO: I believe they are. See last night over there? You know they followed me to my door?

GOTTI: I believe it. Let me tell you what—

GRAVANO: To my door!

GOTTI: You know why, Sammy? They’re not stupid. I telegraph my voice. I couldn’t help it. But it was, that’s the (inaudible) run today. You can’t do, so you (inaudible) today. And they know how I feel. And they know any fucking serious thing that’s—that I need done that I can’t do, you’ll do it. They not—I’m not talking about just this. I’m talking about meeting with people (inaudible). They’re not stupid.

GRAVANO: Why would then not put in the ones “underboss” (inaudible) fuckin’—

GOTTI: No, I wanted to make it, but that’s automatic, he takes over.

GRAVANO: What about Joe Piney? You would send him a message?

GOTTI: I, I would send Ja—er, Jackie to see him. Tell him, “Joey, this is nothing against you. When you come out, you’ll be seventy-seven. God bless you! What are you worried about? If when you come out, and everything is okay. People are status quo. Standing here with your hands out if you want, if it makes you happy. And I hope!” Where are we going, here? You know, well, here’s what I’m trying to say, Sammy. I’m trying to do this “a Cosa Nostra” way—

GRAVANO: Oh, yeah (inaudible).

GOTTI: Not only that, Sammy, it’s, it’s, it’s right. You see we got people, you know a couple of “skippers” told me right here, Christmas Eve. They says you know (knocking on door) … Frankie here. Like Sammy says, “Frankie, and then you?” No, you’re official, he’s not. That’s the sequence you put out. And that’s the old (inaudible) fuck. I got (inaudible) a favor, you (inaudible).

GRAVANO: It would be my pleasure. We’re all “Family.” This is what Joey should tell them, God forbid.

GOTTI: You know why, Sammy? It’s the right thing.

GRAVANO: Just in, in, in, in, in history itself.

GOTTI: That’s right.

GRAVANO: With you.

GOTTI: Not only that, it’s Sammy is the right thing, anyway.


GOTTI: And I’m not thinking about the way you (inaudible).

GRAVANO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: Yeah. What’s the big deal?

GRAVANO: (Clears throat) It would be my pleasure to be …

GOTTI: Come in, Frankie. Yeah.

GRAVANO: (Inaudible) folks from Long Island.

GOTTI: Ah, he’ll love it, too, and you know why he’ll love it? No, Sammy, may God forbid! Ahh—I think that (inaudible). I’m just thinking, if I got a hundred years, Sammy, and you beat the case (inaudible).

GRAVANO: (Inaudible) the door is open.

GOTTI: Yeah, come in! (Inaudible) it would be (inaudible).

GRAVANO: I got it.

GOTTI: Minchia! I’d be, I’d be in my fucking glory. (Steps in background) (Coughs) Let’s just (inaudible) this here.

LOCASCIO: Well, I hear you out here, “status quo” you were saying?

GOTTI: Yeah, you heard me? (Door slams) Either they’re right, but I didn’t say “status quo.” I said, “I’d be the happiest guy.” I didn’t say “status quo.” (Footsteps) But you could probably hear us out there. You can’t help it with this thing (inaudible). Only thing you can hear is the fucking coughing. You see that there when, when she says I do a lot of whispering? That tape he says they, they themselves said it’s inaudible, right. I never say that anyway. Like I just wouldn’t say nothin’ about poppin’ people. I would say everything, but not that. You know what I was telling Sammy, it looks like maybe they’re not, they’re not—may not even pick a jury next week. So, well, we’ll come out. I’ll know (inaudible) once. We’ll probably “make” some (inaudible).

GRAVANO: Right (inaudible).

GOTTI: (Inaudible) Christ! No one knows right now, except us three. They might know pretty soon, delay it. I was just telling Sam, talking quick here because, to sign up with these fuckin’ guys. We, we gonna put a little list together. You know, Frank, I just didn’t wanna make it look like we’re nuts. All the heat, going on trial, we don’t give a fuck. We just got the list out. You know what I’m trying to say, Sam? I’m trying to make it, those were some nice messages and one or two, another important message from “Chin.” One was a guy with Johnny Mash. You probably know the situation, I don’t know. Something with Johnny Mash, member of the Family, or something. It’s not (inaudible) with “Beans,” he could explain it (inaudible) it’s nothin’.

LOCASCIO: That’s the one with Prisco.

GOTTI: No, this is with, ah, he’s on record. Something with jewelry “beef.” That’s a bullshit “beef.”

GRAVANO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: (Inaudible) Yeah, a bullshit. Even told Pete. So, Pete remembers he told, (inaudible) right Pete remembers he did tell them?

GRAVANO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: It’s all aboveboard. But he’s not, he’s not talking to a guy with a “beef,” or whether, what, what happened. He’s talking with the Family members like (inaudible).

GRAVANO: (Inaudible) bottom.

GOTTI: They’re bottom of the Family, like being a nephew or a brother or whoever. A daughter.

GRAVANO: A daughter and wife.

GOTTI: We got something, but (inaudible) your daughter. You know what I’m trying to say? So, well be that as it may, forget about it. With the list, I was telling Sammy here, I wanna make it short and sweet, Frankie. Now, we had said, who you got on the list there?

GRAVANO: Well, I got, on the list that—the kid Richie.

GOTTI: Right.

GRAVANO: With Frankie Loc … Tommy …

GOTTI: Right.

GRAVANO: Pete … Tony from New Jersey—

GOTTI: Right. Fat Tony.

GRAVANO: Mike … ah, Johnny Rizzo with Good-Looking Jackie.

GOTTI: Yeah (inaudible).


GOTTI: Yeah.

GRAVANO: —with “Jackie Nose.” And Mario with, ah, Louie Ricco.

GOTTI: Yeah, see, now, what I was gonna do is, I was gonna, yeah, I’m, I’m gonna say the first five, and I was gonna do that Louie and Frankie Dap, I’m gonna tell him just do me a favor. Ah, ah … seven, you know because it’s—Frankie Dap is right. We did have that “Poncho” on the fuckin’ list. I keep forgetting his fuckin’ name. Three or four times that we pushed him off. So, I was gonna tell him that these two guys that just—they been treated like kings anyway (inaudible) and just bear with us a little while. You know what I’m trying to say?


GOTTI: Il pozzo [the well]. Even if, God forbid, I go away youse’ll “make” them. On Easter—

GRAVANO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: —ah, we’ll just “do” two guys. You see why, what I like about this? I like the Richies, the Tommies, or Dom. They’re young, twenty something, thirty something. These guys like Poncho—sixty-one, sixty-two. I mean they’re good, but really, eh, ya know, where the fuck are we going? You know what I’m saying, Frankie?

LOCASCIO: Yeah, if I might—

GOTTI: Go ahead.

LOCASCIO: —suggest four and three.


LOCASCIO: “Make” four and then in a few weeks you, you put on another three.

GOTTI: No, here’s what I’m saying.

LOCASCIO: Or, or go all five and—

GOTTI: The reason why I said the five—

LOCASCIO: Four and three I’m saying ’cause—

GOTTI: Yeah, I know what you’re saying. I, I … here’s what I’m—

LOCASCIO: Instead of making it five and two.

GOTTI: Well, here’s the reason why I thought we could make it five, and maybe three direct. We got the fuckin’ people.

LOCASCIO: Oh, there, you got plenty.

GOTTI: See, see, ah … Louie Saccenti, I think the world of him. I don’t know him, but I think the world, but I know of him. Sammy put him up. His judgment is as good as mine; and I said “yes,” right, Sam? He told me, “I want you [to] think it over a little bit,” which is beautiful. I just, I just come out with it. Remember I said that was beautiful, you thinking right, Sam, because …

LOCASCIO: And that’s the way it came …

GOTTI: (Coughs) What did I do, Sammy?

GRAVANO: He’s a good guy (inaudible).

GOTTI: (Inaudible)

GRAVANO: I don’t want this to have—

Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano
Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano

GOTTI: See, see what I wanted to do? Frankie, maybe what we could do, right after Easter. We’re not bullying people. This is not the time to “make” twenty guys, but not because they don’t deserve it. We got people that deserve it, I think. We got Louie. We got that Tony with Danny Marino. You know, we had—that’s right, he’s gotta do something, we were gonna use him. We never did use him. Ya know what I’m saying? And, and it’s not right. Now, now, now I gotta tell you the fuckin’ truth. Out of everything there, that list there, you got “Fat Dom.” I’m the comfortablest. I’ll tell you why. This kid Tommy was (inaudible)? Fuck him! I tell ya, they’re beautiful guys, and Richie, I know where you are. But, this Dom (whispers) (inaudible) triple scum. I mean …

GRAVANO: If they’re not …

GOTTI: What are we waiting for? You know what I’m saying?


GOTTI: But what I’m saying, not only that, he seems like us up (inaudible).


GOTTI: You know? He’s like giving ya another fuckin’ smile, he just eats, makes his fuckin’ bets and, ah, so he, he can’t be (inaudible).

GRAVANO: He’s down when he gets the call.

GOTTI: So, he’ll be good. You know, he’ll be good—

LOCASCIO: That’s what you want. You don’t want nothing else but that.

GOTTI: I agree.

LOCASCIO: Somebody that’s loyal, faithful, and he’s there when you’d need him. That’s it. That’s it. You don’t have no—a guy that makes them the money. You don’t want a guy that’s a bullshit artist, you don’t want that. That’s what you need.

GOTTI: So, what you could do is, Frankie, put them five up. We’ll put those five guys up. We’ll put, we’ll put Mario aside. I’ll explain to Bracciole. I …

GRAVANO: Mario (inaudible) (steps).

GOTTI: Yeah, Mario (inaudible), you know why? And then, and then, him I’m gonna explain to Frankie Dap, too. I mean the guy, I don’t want, I don’t want to break the guy’s fuckin’ heart, but (inaudible) (steps). Ah, only thing I hate, I’m sorry …

GRAVANO: I don’t have it right, Frank. I don’t have their last names. I don’t have the proper spelling. I ain’t got, I ain’t got the, the guys all down …

GOTTI: But, gee, I think we can get it from, from downstairs (inaudible). That Tommy’s downstairs. Who do you call, ah, Rizzo, we know Johnny Rizzo.

GRAVANO: Yeah, Johnny Rizzo is Johnny Rizzo.


LOCASCIO: Richie I know.

GOTTI: Richie you know!

GRAVANO: Tommy, Pete should know.

GOTTI: Yeah. And, ah, these are, he’s, he’s downstairs. So, (inaudible).

GRAVANO: Tony from New Jersey I don’t know.

GOTTI: Proto.


GOTTI: Proto. I know him. And, ah, the other guy, ah, “Fat Dom,” ah, Jackie knows.

GRAVANO: Joey, Joe Watts …

GOTTI: Yeah.

GRAVANO: He’s downstairs you mean, Jackie.


GOTTI: Yeah. But, what I’m saying, Sam, ah—(pause) You give it to the other “Families.” And you explain to them, these people—

GRAVANO: Ya know what I do? When I go back to, Benny now—

GOTTI: Yeah (coughs).

GRAVANO: —with your answers—

GOTTI: (Coughs)

GRAVANO: I’ll give him the list—

GOTTI: Then you could tell him (inaudible), “I just left my friend.” You know what I’m saying the, the time for this kind of thing (inaudible). This is something that’s been on the shelf only because we, we, we’re caught up pretty good. But give ’em in a nice way. You know what to say.

GRAVANO: Yeah, yeah.

GOTTI: Ya know make him (inaudible) so it ain’t like we jamming people up people’s throats. Tell him these people “Go to the bank on.” You know what this “Chin” did, ah, he sent me a message: “Fish” is going to testify against me.

LOCASCIO: Against you?

GOTTI: And he, he recommends that I get in touch with Pete Peluso. Which we knew. Pete knows, knows the whole story.

LOCASCIO: I will probably see him tonight.

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