The Ravenite Transcripts PART 10

Just because we haven't posted as frequently as usual this past month doesn't mean we're slacking off: in fact, we've been busily researching a piece about former Bonanno powerhouse Carmine Galante that we hope to publish in the next week or so.

John Gotti, Peter Gotti, lawyer Gerald Shargel
John Gotti; then from left: Peter Gotti, Gerald Shargel of the Shargel, Cutler, and Whattaya Call It Crime Family.

We were surprised to learn that, at one point, Gambino capo Danny Marino, for one, walked into that apartment above the Ravenite and joined in the wiretap discussions between boss John Gotti, underboss Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano, and consiglieri Frankie Locascio. In this meeting, Gotti and his appointed hierarchy discuss inducting new members into the Gambino Family, which is not a matter for levity, as Gotti clarifies for all those present. Gotti also notes that they will conduct the ritual with dignity and sobriety: “I’m not in the mood for the toys or games or kidding, no time … This is gonna be a Cosa Nostra till I die. Be it an hour from now or be it tonight or hundred years from now when I’m in jail. It’s gonna be a Cosa Nostra.”

In the next installment, yet another Gambino wiseguy also pops in to join the discussion.

To give a quick recap of what we're doing with the Ravenite Transcript Series: The FBI surreptitiously recorded about 600 hours of discussions in the apartment above the Ravenite social club, six hours of which were entered into evidence during the 1992 murder and racketeering trial of John Gotti and his consiglieri Frank Locascio. 

And in an ongoing series we'll present as much of them as we can...

Bruce Mouw, the leader of the Gambino squad, chose the Ravenite Social Club at 247 Mulberry Street in Little Italy as the best place to attempt a surveillance effort. But the acoustics of the club were terrible, and the ambient noise -- a hissing espresso machine, rattling soda machine, multiple simultaneous conversations -- made things even worse. The FBI tried surreptitiously moving the bug around, and used different audio filters to try to delete extraneous sounds. None of it worked.

An informant dropped a tip that Gotti sometimes left the Ravenite through a back door and went into an adjacent first floor hallway of the building where he spoke with captains. The same informant also reported that Gotti often went upstairs to an apartment in the building. Nettie Cirelli, the widow of Gambino wiseguy Michael Cirelli, lived there, they eventually found. (When alive, late Gambino underboss Aniello (Neil) Dellacroce also used the apartment for secret meetings.) Over Thanksgiving weekend of 1989, Mrs. Cirelli was vacationing in Florida, and the FBI surveillance team planted the apartment bug. The tapes made from the Cirelli bug were paydirt for the FBI. Eventually, the tapes and other evidence allowed the FBI and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn to build a major racketeering indictment naming Gotti, Locascio, Gravano, and reputed captain Thomas Gambino as defendants. On the night of December 11, 1990, agent Bruce Mouw watched with binoculars as law enforcement arrested the Gotti hierarchy of the Gambino crime family.

We're picking up with the rest of the discussion from January 4, 1990.

(See previous installment here....)

GOTTI: No good. It’s no good, Sam. But more worse than that is— You, you see me talk for ten minutes in the hall? What do we talk about? Nothing. I say, “Go find out information what’s going, when, when the pinch is coming, you cocksucker!” We’re making you an errand boy. High-priced errand boy. Bruce, worse yet! They got a routine now, the two lawyers. “Muck” and “---” I call them. When I see Bruce, “Hi, Gerry loves you,” he says. “He’s in your corner one hundred percent.” When I see Gerry, “Hi, Bruce loves you. He’s in your corner a hundred percent.” “I know youse both love me!” Both --’ (inaudible). I didn’t think (laughter) dumb ---you know?

GRAVANO: They keep doing it (inaudible). They must really like ya. 

GOTTI: Sure, Sammy. What’s not to like about us? They see you and you. And you ain’t kiddin’ me. You duke ’em pretty good. He was hollering. He dukes them pretty good. Ahh … A guy like Joe Watts, I’d like to kill all the lawyers. He triple dukes them. Who the --- we kiddin’? So they write— 

GRAVANO: (Inaudible) 

GOTTI: Why not to like ’em? 

GRAVANO: Well, they hit you with the number (inaudible) you know, you can push ’em a little bit. But—they won’t, ah … 

GOTTI: Yeah, but, Sammy—if we didn’t break them in this way, I don’t mean me, and I don’t mean us three here. We didn’t get broken in this way. When you were a “button,” we used to pay them five hundred a week. I’m talking about a tough trial, not this  --in’ shit here. “On the come if … See, I’m, I’m expecting a score next week.” (Laughs) 

GRAVANO: I had, I had a … 

GOTTI: (Inaudible) (coughs) Cocksuckers! 

LOCASCIO: (Inaudible)

 GOTTI: I had … 

LOCASCIO: What about the case …

GRAVANO: I had (inaudible) with the murder case. My original fee I think was, was, was we started off with twenty thousand. It was that case in Brooklyn. 

GOTTI: Yeah, but see, Sammy— 

GRAVANO: Double murder. 

GOTTI: —Sammy, see if you only went— 

GRAVANO: Twenty thousand. 

GOTTI: Yeah, but see Sammy, if you win, let the guy whatever the he wants (inaudible). 

GRAVANO: Oh, I mean, it went more than that. 

GOTTI: Yeah. 

GRAVANO: But, I was just saying, look at the difference in numbers. 

GOTTI: Yeah. But how about a case—I’ll give you a case in point, “Ernie Boy.” He accused—whattaya call it now? This is ten years ago, nine years ago. Two hundred twenty-five thousand—that’s under the table. That’s like a million today, like a million today. Loses! Gets a million years. The guy comes back and charges him two hundred thousand for an appeal? You rat mother-----. That’s like, at today’s standards, a million and a half? And the guy’s got an absolute --- nothing. Where’s it end? Where’s compassion come? 

GRAVANO: Not there. Not there. (Pause) 

GOTTI: If you win the case, hey, I win the case, I know I gotta do the right thing by you. You win, I promise you fifty—you get seventy-five! You got a  bonus, fifty percent, because we’re here now. Now we go up the corner, hustle a buck. Man, you, you just got me a hundred fifty years. You want me to leave my son destitute and my family destitute. What the is it all about? Was it you that put me on this earth to rob and make you rich and me poor?  [. . . .]


(Door closes—radio in background)

JANUARY 17, 1990 
FILE NUMBER: 183A-3507 
PLACE: Apartment above the Ravenite Social Club, located at 247 Mulberry Street in Little Italy, Manhattan 
TIME: 7:26 P.M. 

GOTTI: What’s the matter, Sam? 

MARINO: Heard noise out there. 

LOCASCIO: Open the door.

GOTTI: (Inaudible)


GOTTI: ----’. 

LOCASCIO: Open the door. (Door opens.) 

GOTTI: You might as well look. You might as well check it now, anything. 

MARINO: Yeah, so did I. 

GRAVANO: You heard it there? (Door slammed shut, locked.) (Steps) 

LOCASCIO: Is that a radio up there? Let’s put that radio on. (Steps) 

GOTTI: We got one here, Frankie. 

LOCASCIO: No, no, but, ah, what I’m saying is— 

GOTTI: Door (inaudible). 

LOCASCIO: —stand by that door and hear you talk. (Steps) 

GOTTI: Yeah. [. . . .] 

GRAVANO: Everything this year is all set. We notified everybody. Everything is done, set. There’s nothing more. Just … told them everything, look, tie, everything. 

GOTTI: Make sure that—well, I’m gonna tell them all, anyway. Make sure they don’t say something. Make their—it’s not like a stunatu [dopey] “make.” 


GOTTI: I mean, get these guys (slap sound). 

LOCASCIO: Is it all right if I ask them, “Is there any reason why you shouldn’t be a member?” 

GOTTI: Well, sure, you could ask them that. But, ah, like how, when you ask them— 

LOCASCIO: Just say well, “Ya know, when Sammy opens up, ya know, we got this club and all. This and that.” You know. 

GOTTI: “You know why you’re here?”

LOCASCIO: Yeah. “Is there any reason why you shouldn’t be here?” 

GOTTI: “You feel—” 

LOCASCIO: “If you know of any reason that we don’t know about?” Something, ya know, just to—

GOTTI: Well, if the guy’s shaken up (inaudible).

GRAVANO: (Inaudible)

GOTTI: (Inaudible) 

GRAVANO: —reason ----, we gotta -- (inaudible). 

GOTTI: Kill him and the others down there. 

GRAVANO: Right there, Bo (laughs)— 

GOTTI: Minchia! 

GRAVANO: (Laughing) He says, “Yeah, I’m an agent.” (Laughs) God forbid! (Laughs) (inaudible) over there, he said, (inaudible) we just tell ya— 

GOTTI: All right, what do you wanna, you got anybody in mind you wanna (inaudible)?

GRAVANO: (Inaudible) no, no. 

LOCASCIO: I’m not, I’m not squeezing (phonetic), I’m not ah— 

GOTTI: Trying to hold you or nothing, Frank. Because I ain’t got time for games. 

LOCASCIO: No, I know that.

 GOTTI: I mean it in my heart. I got— 

LOCASCIO: No, I, I, I’m just saying. That’s a serious—

 GOTTI: I’m not giving gifts away here. 


LOCASCIO: Just a serious question.

GOTTI: It’s not a toy. I’m not in the mood for the toys or games or kidding, no time. I’m not in the mood for clans. I’m not in the mood for gangs, I’m not in the mood for none a that stuff there. And this is gonna be a Cosa Nostra till I die. Be it an hour from now or be it tonight or a hundred years from now when I’m in jail. It’s gonna be a Cosa Nostra. This ain’t gonna be a bunch of your friends are gonna be “friends of ours,” a bunch of Sam’s friends are gonna be “friends of ours.” It’s gonna be the way I say it’s gonna be, and a Cosa Nostra. A Cosa Nostra! You might, because a guy’s nice to you. And I’m not controlling the way you are. Just saying, you might being a guy brings you a basket, makes him a good guy. It makes him a mother---- to me. Don’t make him a good guy. It makes him a good guy when he’s one [of] us and he proves he’s right for us. And I’m the best judge of that, I think, right now. So, you got a reason, Frank, say it. “I love you,” say it. I mean, that’s not the point—ah, ah … This thing here, I’m not so sure the five guys that I’m putting in are the first five guys that should be going. But we’re doin’ it. I’m doing it because I want this thing to be proper. Ah, we got some guys that deserve it. And they’ll be here forever! They won’t be having the secret parties when people won’t be around. That we don’t want, and that we don’t need. That’s for sure! I wanna see an effort. I gotta see an effort for, starting now, a Cosa Nostra. I don’t need a guy who come, tell, tell me, “I feel sorry you got trouble.” I don’t need—I don’t need that. I ain’t got no trouble. I ain’t got no trouble. I’m gonna be all right. They got the ’ trouble. And I don’t mean the cops. I mean the people, the people who can make this a joke. You know what I mean? That’s not a joke. And I (inaudible) some guys. See even, even, even some guy, some of the people downstairs now. You know I know whose ’ stomach is rotten. And I know whose stomach ain’t rotten. You think I, I could smell it. The way a dog senses when a guy has got fear in him, you know what I mean? You think I’m being a (inaudible)’ guy’s causing the “Family” trouble? So they can leave that shit where the , where they found it. Like Jimmy Brown today with, ah, he thinks he “ducking.” What could he duck? What reason would Danny have to tell me this ’ nonsense? What purpose are they serving? Jimmy knows his place. I’ll get in my car, we’ll meet him anywhere he wants me to meet him. What is he worried, that he’s gonna go to jail? 

GRAVANO: That’s what he’s worried. 

GOTTI: All right. This “grim reaper,” where is he, this ’ bum? And get him outta the way, no?

Review the rest of the Ravenite Transcripts Series...

The Ravenite Transcript Series