The Ravenite Transcripts PART 8: "They woulda killed us or made us."

Among other things, Ravenite social club denizens John Gotti, Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano, and Frank Locascio discuss the terror they feel whenever compelled to listen to recordings of themselves; the irony of course is that they were recorded while talking about being recorded⸺which is very meta...

Sammy Gravano and John Gotti
Sammy Gravano and John Gotti in discussion outside the Ravenite social club.

"I tell you what a fckin’ heartbreak," Gotti laments. "You know you feel like you’re being raped with these fuckin’ tapes."

"I know. I hate it," Gravano replied. "I, I listened to a couple a tapes of mine. I was sick."

Tapes, these tapes, made Sammy the Bull  flip, as he recalled during an interview posted on YouTube last year.

"John (Gotti) told me to my face, he said, ‘Sammy, the [wiretap] tapes are horrible. They make you sound like a monster. What are we gonna do? So I’m controlling all the lawyers. You’re gonna take the weight, the lawyers are gonna bring it out in court that you’re a monster. You killed all these people, took over the unions, took over businesses.’ Which I never did.”

“During the trial, you hear John complaining on the tapes. ‘Poor John Gotti, he lost control of this monster, Sammy the Bull. It’s him, not John. So I will go free, and you’ll do the time,’ ” he said.

“I said, ‘Are you sure that’s what you want me to do?’ ” Gravano claimed.

“In other words, I’m worried about the feds trying to put me away. I’ve been pinched all my life. I never faced my friend, my co-defendant, trying to put me away. ‘Is that what you really want to do? The streets needs me, the boss.’”He said Gotti told him, “You’re the sacrificial lamb.’ I said, ‘OK, sure, that’s the way it is.’ And I got in touch with the FBI, I flipped, and I was gone.”

Sammy was troubled by the tapes, and furious to learn that he was expected to submerge his own interests in a common defense. 

Gravano wasn’t “pinched all (his) life,” however. Despite involvement in 19 homicides, Gravano reportedly did very little time in prison until he seemed to face a forever sentence after the big bust at the Ravenite with John Gotti, Frankie Locascio, and Thomas Gambino.

Since about the time of the events themselves, it has been reported that Gravano--who was such an astonishing defector that some in the FBI worried he might be a double agent--decided to flip after listening to how John Gotti had torn him apart on the tapes, when Gravano wasn't there to defend himself. In one recording specifically Gotti had rewritten the history of several murders, making them all seem like they had resulted from Gravano's machinations.

Gravano would take the stand and help the Feds convict Gotti by confirming the Dapper Don's wiretapped admissions and providing devastatingly effective testimony.

The "flipping" of Gravano and the FBI's successful bugging of another supposedly impregnable mob stronghold were widely credited with winning the conviction that eluded prosecutors three times beginning in 1984 (due to corruption mostly) until the 1992 conviction on all 13 murder and racketeering charges, and co-defendant Locascio on seven of eight charges.

In November 1989, the FBI planted wiretaps in an apartment above the Ravenite Social Club at 247 Mulberry Street. The club itself was also bugged, as was the doorway. But the upstairs apartment, home of a widow of a former Gambino soldier, had become a favorite confidential meeting place, agents learned. (On a sidenote, by the summer of 1989, at least nine informants were secretly meeting FBI agents to discuss Gotti, an exceptionally large informant pool.)

The resulting tapes, with their talk of murders and Mafia business, were the heart of the Government's case. The tapes only stopped after a Jan. 17, 1990, overheard remark alerted investigators that Gotti had been tipped off about the eavesdropping and the conversations dropped off. (Police detective William Peist was charged with leaking information to Gotti for years.)

Following a sealed indictment based on the tapes and other evidence heard by a Brooklyn grand jury, Gotti was arrested in the Ravenite on Dec. 11, 1990, along with his underboss, Gravano; his consiglieri, Frank Locascio; and Thomas Gambino, a powerful capo and son of the family's late boss and namesake, Carlo Gambino. Gambino was later severed from the case. (He pleaded guilty in a separate garment center racketeering trial.)

Reportedly, the Ravenite went back to 1926, when it was known as the Knights of Alto Social Club. Albert Anastasia, the onetime boss of the crime family that is today known as the Gambino family, supposedly used the Knights of Alto as his Manhattan outpost.

As we recalled back in the first installment of this series, of the 600 or so hours of discussions surreptitiously recorded by the FBI in the apartment above the Ravenite social club, about six hours were entered into evidence during the 1992 murder and racketeering trial of Gotti and Locascio.

Now we pick up where we left off last time....I keep ads to a minimum; please disable any ad blocking solutions...

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: Yeah, so if you see him, tell him he’ll be hearing from me shortly because, obviously, he’s aware of it, ’cause—

LOCASCIO: Why should you contact him? Why not (inaudible).

GOTTI: Well, Pete, just send for him.

LOCASCIO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: I mean, I’m gonna send for him. In other words, at our mutual (inaudible).

GRAVANO: He says he was sent to the—if we didn’t know him, he would jump right in (inaudible).

GOTTI: Well, I knew, I knew him—

GRAVANO: Yeah, he says—

GOTTI: —pretty good, my (inaudible) I don’t know him like Frankie does. But I know him from the back …

LOCASCIO: He comes with Dennis every Tuesday and Thursday.

GOTTI: Yeah. Good!

LOCASCIO: So, tonight, he’ll probably come to the, the restaurant, and he gonna be in Joe and Nina’s and then go over there.

GOTTI: You know what you could do, too, Frankie, you could touch on, “Oh, I understand that he’s gonna testify …”

LOCASCIO: I’ll, I’ll hear what he’s got to say.

GOTTI: All he could say against me, for one, is that he met me (lowers voice) as the “boss,” ’cause Tony introduced him. But that’s about it. I never said a word.

GRAVANO: And what they’re saying they got so much shit on him that if he (inaudible).

GOTTI: Yeah, but you know what, Sammy?

GRAVANO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: You know why? Remember when we had the thing, ah, from him from the Crime Commission? He never said nothin’ about me. Remember he says—

GRAVANO: That’s not mentioned by (inaudible).

GOTTI: Yeah, his ties—

GRAVANO: That you had stopped a—

GOTTI: —stopped them from abusing him, it’s, it’s all like you said, at my trial. I don’t think that hurt me, the other stuff. Only thing’s that’s gonna hurt us is with structure, Sam. He’s gonna knock our fuckin’ brains with the structure. He knows everything. He knows who you are, he knows who he is. At the worst, he’s gonna say he’s a capodecina. He knows them, these guys—

GRAVANO: Good. I know, I know, I know him good.

GOTTI: I’m telling you what he told me in the fuckin’ can—(lowers voice) Louie Ricco’s a capodecina. (Tap sound) Lou Monte a capodecina. He said, “Meanwhile I got a big size (inaudible).” “Man,” he says, “that guy, he hated them.” “I thought he hated everybody.” That, that’s all we ever talked. And I never would let on to this motherfucker just once, Sammy.

GRAVANO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: I swear on my kids! I mean, he’s not gonna get up and say I fucked him in the ass.

LOCASCIO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: Hopefully! (Coughs) Frankie, how, how old is Richie?

LOCASCIO: Thirty-one, thirty.

GOTTI: But that’s what I, I, I’m tellin’ you. And you guys might think I’m crazy. You know we were fuckin’ prisoners (phonetic), guys like me and you, when we caught that fuck in ’57. We were babies, sixteen and seventeen. You were fifteen and fourteen. But we were fucked. But how old were you when you became a “friend,” Frank?

LOCASCIO: Twenty-three.

GOTTI: Twenty-three. You got bred this way! You got, this— He got it rammed down his fuckin’ throat.

GRAVANO: Think I musta been, I was only thirty-two.

GOTTI: No, but that ain’t what I’m saying. (Someone clears throat.)

GOTTI: But, Sammy, ya had to be— (Someone clears throat.)

GOTTI: That, that woulda been at the hiatus— You might have been twenty-five, twenty-two, (inaudible).

GRAVANO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: You know what I’m saying? 

GRAVANO: Yeah, that’s all.

GOTTI: Guys like us, where was we going? They woulda killed us or made us.

GRAVANO: (Inaudible) Yeah, absolutely!

GOTTI: Know what I mean?

GRAVANO: Who the fuck are we kiddin’?

GOTTI: Yeah, but what I’m saying is— That’s why these guys—I’m not saying nothing against these guys like, ahh … Christ, on, ah, this “Poncho” I asked Frankie Dap. Petie says sixty-two, or sixty-three. Frankie, ah, you know?

GRAVANO: Then (inaudible) you’re in piss-poor condition even for that age. ’Cause that ain’t even that old. Ain’t like overweight even like. (Inaudible) out of it. (Inaudible) they’re out of it like.

LOCASCIO: You remember, ah, Joe Lizza, his name?

GOTTI: Oh, Christ! Jeez, we were just talking about it (inaudible).

GRAVANO: I’m gonna go get the list downstairs.

GOTTI: Yeah. We were just talking about it on Wednesday— (Steps) Ah, yesterday we were just talking about it. (Steps) Mikey Gout was talking about. (Steps) No, we (inaudible) ah—

LOCASCIO: Well, I ain’t got (inaudible).

GOTTI: Yeah. (Coughs) Don’t use Angelo’s name, Frank.

LOCASCIO: I’m using ’85s, John.

GOTTI: Yeah, ya know why? That’s what I’m saying. Looks like we, we’re doing what other people were (inaudible)— We’ll end up getting called the way ya pick “friends.”

LOCASCIO: These ’85s. In other words, Sam Turone … he died in ’84 (inaudible). 

GOTTI: Yeah.

LOCASCIO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: Frank, you mind after we leave we take a little weight get off my back. You grab Lou maybe, “Bracci …?” Or do you want me to do it? Which (inaudible)? You explain to him, Frank. I give him my word, by May, that’s right after Easter. If I’m not home, you might not be home, either. But whoever is home will do it.

John Gotti
John Gotti outside Ravenite. "The picture of Gotti and Joe Butch is not in front of the Ravenite. Ravenite never had statues in the window. That was Joe Butch's club across the street from his cafe called Cafe Biondo. When Gotti took over the Ravenite he changed the glass windows to brick front with small little windows," as Old School noted in a comment below.

LOCASCIO: All right, then, these are the names: Sam Turone … Sal … Sam Turone was with Mario. In case, you know, if there’s any discrepancies. Sal D’Acquisto was with Georgie DeCicco; John Riccobono with Georgie DeCicco; Pietro Angelo … I guess Tommy Gambino.

GOTTI: Yeah.

LOCASCIO: And, ah, and Gaspare Romano—

GOTTI: Yeah, make it with (inaudible) ya goin’ back to ’80—

LOCASCIO: Eighty-five.

GOTTI: For me that’s plenty. (Pause)

LOCASCIO: Let me make a good copy. And I’ll give it to Sammy.

GOTTI: I think we gonna have, ah, pretty soon we gonna have a … if you know. Because (steps) (inaudible) (steps) was just tellin’ Sam about that meet at Maxim’s and a few other things (steps) very important. But just before we go now I’ll talk to you. I was kicking something around with Sam, I just wanted, if we go out (inaudible) go over my head. And then we’ll deal, we’ll sit these “skippers” down. (Pause) Fuckin’, I tell you what a fuckin’ heartbreak. You know you feel like you’re being raped with these fuckin’ tapes.

GRAVANO: I know. I hate it. I, I listened to a couple a tapes of mine. I was sick.

GOTTI: But, Sam, you know the truth, this is the bread and butter. This—the waste of time being, and really, other than … we are being raped! But what the fuck are we doing wrong? Like, like Bruce heard every tape and, and Gerry, you heard what they said. Says there’s a lot of structure. What am I gonna do? You don’t think we commit a crime when [we] brag about a wedding. Hey, motherfucker, what are we saying bad?

LOCASCIO: You want me to put down—

GOTTI: (Coughs)

LOCASCIO: —where they’re from these guys, Bronx, or this and that?


GOTTI: Nah (inaudible).

GRAVANO: They never said, because the, the best they ever did was nicknames, Frank.

GOTTI: Not only that, if Sammy, er, if they ask Sammy, he knows where the fuck they come from, anyway.

GRAVANO: Nobody else does it.

LOCASCIO: Yeah, well, I, I remember one time he remarked, “Who the fuck are these guys? Nobody ever even heard of ’em. How we going, supposed to know who they are?”

GOTTI: If he goes there’s three people ain’t heard of ’em, you know, if he goes, they’ll never say that to us. He’s been sending me messages. Did you see yesterday when Jackie whispered in my ear?


GOTTI: And he sent that other guy over. And he says, “I just left him, himself.” He said he took him for a walk. He took him in the park where he told him, “Give, tell Jackie to go himself, see my friend. Give him a big kiss, a hug. Tell him any shape or form he needs me for his trial, or anything he wants to do, or any messages he wants to send, pertaining to the ‘Family’ to me, I’m here a hundred percent.”

GRAVANO: That’s almost word for word, what you just said.

GOTTI: Yeah. But you know between me and you, Sammy, I, ya, you know I’m not a fucking jerk. Eh, he smells his “Family’s” pretty shaky. And we’re keeping him strong here, too (inaudible).

GRAVANO: Keeping John strong?

GOTTI: If we— (Inaudible—all talking)

GRAVANO: —(inaudible) could topple him in three seconds fuckin’ flat. You couldn’t topple him in three seconds fuckin’ flat? (Inaudible) we’d be putting our necks out there.

GOTTI: But then we, that fuckin’ tables (inaudible) so that—

GRAVANO: I don’t even think so. Even, even a few other guys.

GOTTI: Sammy, every day, for two weeks, Joe Glitz came to see me, or to catch me before you went on vacation. I purposely said I’d be here eleven, twelve o’clock. I never go there eleven, twelve o’clock, just to miss him. You know and now you want us to (inaudible) vacation (inaudible).

GRAVANO: Same thing (inaudible) got in there.

GOTTI: Yeah.

GRAVANO: Because and Tito (phonetic) says, “Well, well, you know we can get to him through Joe Glitz he got a good relationship.” So, and I heard the whole thing. I know that, that they know. And they figure sending Joe Glitz there—

GOTTI: (Inaudible) do it.

GRAVANO: —they …

GOTTI: They already touched the two guys. I told you what he did. And he told me. (Tap sound) He says, “John, isn’t he a fucking nut?” He says, “Why should I be subject to follow a nut?” And, then he said, “If he ain’t a nut, he’s faking it. He’ll do this to stay out of jail. He’ll do anything, you know, he’ll put you in a Catch-22.” So, I told him, “Listen, Joey, you said it, and got it off your chest, okay? That’s that. Don’t say it no more.” You know. So, he said, “But I gotta be able to talk to you,” he says. “A lot of ‘friends of ours’ know my relation with you. You got, but you still gotta open the door. If you people got a problem, you can come here. But this is not a problem. You don’t wanna hear anything out of his bedroom, you know what I mean? I don’t think nobody does.” But (inaudible). (Tap sound) What’s this? (Inaudible)

GRAVANO: They don’t do this here? They don’t do this?

GOTTI: He ain’t going (inaudible).

GRAVANO: I know they ain’t. They’re, they’re buzzing. In other words, he ain’t doing this for his protection.

GOTTI: Remember I told you and Frankie? I says, “He’s keepin’ it out of the bag with that phony hope that he’s gonna ‘make’ forty or fifty guys (inaudible)” sixty that time at the wedding?

LOCASCIO: And then after I come back and I told you what—

GOTTI: Yeah, he ain’t good. But I mean remember, I’m talking about a wedding a couple a months ago. Remember we paid forty and then the guy told us sixty.

GRAVANO: Are you writing that out four times, Frankie?

GOTTI: (Coughs)

LOCASCIO: I got it twice. You want it four times?

GRAVANO: Yeah, please. But we got everybody.

LOCASCIO: Yeah, but we gotta get the other names in there.

GRAVANO: Put a note.

LOCASCIO: Well, ya need Tommy’s name here. You need Tommy …

GOTTI: Cacciopoli. But you better get the right spelling. It’s Cacciopoli.

LOCASCIO: That, that’s what I mean. Tommy?

GOTTI: Cacciopoli.

LOCASCIO: Tommy and Dom. I need their names.

GOTTI: “Fat Dom,” I think it should be.

GRAVANO: When we go down, when we, when we go down.

LOCASCIO: Yeah, well (inaudible).

GOTTI: Hey, Sam, ah, did the rest of them respond with that guy and Gerry (phonetic)?

GRAVANO: No. GOTTI: Nobody responded? The Bonanno’s people, I’m saying.

GRAVANO: No, “Gas” or the Bonanno.

GOTTI: With the Bonanno people I told you what Sally told me when he came here—

GRAVANO: Gave it to you.

GOTTI: —the other day. I told him, I says, “I sent Sammy into Spero, in case he forgets, Spero forgets. Tell him, make sure he gives an answer here. Tell him, ‘Listen, it’s a one-shot deal so not to feel bad, nothing like that.’ ” He says, “We’ll, we’ll see Cass …” It was Anthony who called Spero. What does he care? He just wants to make us happy. So I took that as a yes. (Inaudible)

GRAVANO: If we don’t fall with this thing, it will exist.

GOTTI: The way we know it will, yeah. But not the way we know it. The way we know it? It could never happen. G

RAVANO: —fall? No, it would never fall—


GRAVANO: If we fall?

GOTTI: Yeah.


GOTTI: It’d be a—this, gangs, forget about it.

GRAVANO: Yeah. They’ll never resolve things. It’ll linger on. I, I, I think the chances …

GOTTI: No talk, we’ll have no talking.

GRAVANO: I think that we’d have talking. Because the guys who are a little bit active in …

GOTTI: As long as we’re here, there’ll always be an accounting. See, when—even he recognized that this fucking—

GRAVANO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: (Inaudible) a piece of paper that you’re not sissies.

 GRAVANO: All right.

LOCASCIO: There’s another (inaudible).

GOTTI: Sam (inaudible).

LOCASCIO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: (inaudible) paper you’re not sissies.

LOCASCIO: Different handwriting here. Looks like—Right?


LOCASCIO: If their last names are totally different handwriting, then it looks like we don’t know what we’re doing.

GOTTI: (Coughs)

LOCASCIO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: Yeah.

LOCASCIO: You know what I mean?


GOTTI: He’s like a fucking perfectionist, this guy; a ninny. You see, only he—


GOTTI: —would think of that.


GOTTI: You’re right. You happen to be right. But only you would think of that is what I’m saying.

LOCASCIO: If you see a list and they say, “Look—

GOTTI: Yeah.

LOCASCIO: —one guy wrote this, one guy wrote that, one guy wrote the other thing.”

Review the rest of the Ravenite Transcripts Series...