1992 Testimony of Salvatore (Sammy The Bull) Gravano Part 2: Gambino Ceremony, Meeting John Gotti

FORMER GAMBINO UNDERBOSS SALVATORE (SAMMY THE BULL) GRAVANO: (We were told) that we weren’t allowed to deal junk, we weren’t allowed to kill with bombs, we weren’t allowed to violate one another’s wives or kids, we weren’t allowed to raise our hands to one another, and they skipped by a few other rules. They told us that you would be placed with a captain, and you’ll eventually be told all the rules

Was Paul Castellano feeling lazy that day?

John Gotti and Sammy Gravano
Montage of John and Sammy pics...


Gravano testified for nine days during Gambino boss John Gotti's trial in 1992. Only a year or two prior, in December 1990, Gravano--along with Gotti and acting consiglieri Frank (Frankie Loc) Locascio-- were arrested at the Ravenite on murder and racketeering charges; Gravano flipped about 10 weeks before the trio was slated to go before the jury.

In part two, Sammy the Bull is still under direct questioning by John Gleeson, the then assistant United States attorney (who would go on to bigger and better things). In this part, Gravano walks us through his 1976 initiation into the Gambino family and discusses the very first time he met John Gotti, in about 1977.

Gravano met John Gotti after Gotti had just gotten out of jail. "I met him in an after-hours club. Frankie DeCicco and Frankie DeCicco’s father introduced me to him and told me he’s a good guy, he just come out of the can, he’s up and coming, and he wants me to meet him, and I met him." 

His initiation ceremony—Gravano fingered Paul Castellano, Neil Dellacroce, and Joe Gallo as being among the attendees, plus "a couple of captains, and some other guys"—went off about how you'd expect, except for a few things. During the actual ceremony, for instance, Gravano was asked if he "liked" everybody there. "I told him yes," Gravano recalled. And after burning the mass card, everybody kissed. "I kissed (Castellano) on both cheeks. I kissed everybody. I went around the table and kissed everybody." After the kissing, as Gravano recalled, they all stood and locked hands. Then, "they unlocked hands. They made me get in the middle of it. They locked hands again, and told me, at that point, I was part of the brotherhood. I was a made member and I belonged."

Gleeson tried to nail down specifics about the mass card that was burned: "What’s the saint?" on the card, he asked Gravano. "What did the saint look like?"

GRAVANO: Just a little piece of paper with a saint on it.



GLEESON: At that point, who was the boss of the Gambino Family?

GRAVANO: Paul.

GLEESON: What was Paul’s last name?

GRAVANO: Castellano.

GLEESON: Was he related in anyway to Carlo Gambino?

GRAVANO: He was his brother-in-law.

GLEESON: At that point, when you got made in 1976, who was the underboss and who was the consigliere?

GRAVANO: Neil [Dellacroce] was the underboss and Joe Gallo was the consigliere.

GLEESON: So the only change was that there was a different boss, correct?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Back before Carlo Gambino was replaced by Paul Castellano, what position did Castellano have?

GRAVANO: He was a captain in the Family.


GRAVANO'S INDUCTION

GLEESON: Where were you made?

GRAVANO: In Brooklyn.

GLEESON: How was it arranged?

GRAVANO: Toddo told us we’re having an appointment, to come by the club, come by dressed up. I went by his club. I got in the car with his son.

GLEESON: Was his son dressed up, too?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: What was his son’s name?

GRAVANO: Charlie Boy. And we drove to somebody’s house, Frankie Wop’s house.

GLEESON: Did you know Frankie Wop?

GRAVANO: No.

GLEESON: Was he associated with the Gambino Family?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: How?

GRAVANO: He was a made member.

GLEESON: Had you ever been to his house before?

GRAVANO: No.

GLEESON: Have you ever been there since?

GRAVANO: No.

GLEESON: What happened when you got there?

GRAVANO: We went there. There was a few other people with suits. They told me to wait upstairs. Toddo went downstairs, and they would send for us one by one.

GLEESON: The few other people in suits, did you know who they were?

GRAVANO: I recognized some of them.

GLEESON: You had seen some of them before? 

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Did there come a point when you were asked to go downstairs?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Did you go down alone or with someone else?

GRAVANO: I went down alone.

GLEESON: What did you see when you got down there?

GRAVANO: There was a table with a bunch of guys sitting around. There was Paul, and on one side of him was Neil, and on the other side was Joe Gallo, a couple of captains, and some other guys who just went down before me, were sitting there and there was a chair next to Paul. They told me to sit down next to Paul.

GLEESON: Let me interrupt you. Throw your voice a little bit so all of the jurors can hear you, okay, Mr. Gravano? Did you sit down next to Paul?

GRAVANO: Yes, I did.

GLEESON: What happened then?

GRAVANO: He asked me if I knew what I was doing there. I told him no. He asked me to look around, if I knew everybody that was sitting down at the table. I told him I knew them. He told me that this was a society, and he was about to induct me as a made member in the Gambino Family.

GLEESON: By the way, when he said to you—what was the first thing he said to you?

GRAVANO: He asked me if I knew what I was doing.

GLEESON: Did you know what you were doing there?

GRAVANO: Basically, I knew.

GLEESON: What was your answer?

GRAVANO: No.

GLEESON: Did there come a point later in time when you, yourself, conducted this type of ceremony?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Is that the first question that’s asked at such a ceremony?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: I interrupted you. What else happened when he was asking you these questions?

GRAVANO: He asked me if I liked everybody there. I told him yes. He asked me a few questions. One of the last questions he asked me was would I kill, if he asked me to. I told him yes. He told me what was my trigger finger. I pointed to my trigger finger. He pinched it, blood came out. He put it on the saint, and started to burn the saint and my hand. He said, honor the oath. He said, to me, that if I divulge any of the secrets of this organization, that my soul should burn like the saint. I kissed him on both cheeks. I kissed everybody. I went around the table and kissed everybody. I sat down. They got up. They locked hands. They unlocked hands. They made me get in the middle of it. They locked hands again, and told me, at that point, I was part of the brotherhood. I was a made member and I belonged.

GLEESON: Let me back up a little bit. He said—what’s the saint? What did the saint look like?

GRAVANO: Just a little piece of paper with a saint on it.

GLEESON: And who set fire to the saint?

GRAVANO: One of the guys standing there. I don’t remember who.

GLEESON: What was the oath that you were asked to give?

GRAVANO: That if I divulge any of the secrets of this secret society, that my soul should burn like this saint.

GLEESON: Mr. Gravano, is it fair to say that you’re violating that oath by your cooperating with the government?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: After the ceremony was over, what happened?

GRAVANO: I went and sat at the table, and they called out another guy and we did the same exact thing with another guy.

GLEESON: Were you told of any rules of the society at the time you were made?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: What were you told?


RULES OF THE GAME

GRAVANO: That we weren’t allowed to deal junk, we weren’t allowed to kill with bombs, we weren’t allowed to violate one another’s wives or kids, we weren’t allowed to raise our hands to one another, and they skipped by a few other rules. They told us that you would be placed with a captain, and you’ll eventually be told all the rules.

GLEESON: I am sorry, you’ll eventually be told what?

GRAVANO: All of the rules and regulations.

GLEESON: Were you told anything about the administration of the Gambino Family?

GRAVANO: We were told who the boss was, who the underboss was, who the consigliere was, who the captains were who were there. We were told there was other families, who the administration was, who the bosses were, who the underbosses were, who the consiglieres were, we were told there was a commission.

GLEESON: What’s a commission?

GRAVANO: A commission is the five families in New York, the boss of every Family is a commission.

[. . . .]

GLEESON: Mr. Gravano, were you told anything, when you were made, about introductions?

GRAVANO: Yes. We were told how to introduce one another.

GLEESON: What do you mean by that, how to introduce one another?

GRAVANO: When you introduce one made member to another made member, you say he’s a friend of ours or amico nostro. If the guy is not a made member, you introduce him as a friend of mine.

GLEESON: You mentioned that one of the rules you were told when you were made was there’s no dealing in junk. Is that the term you used?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: What does that mean?

GRAVANO: No drugs.

GLEESON: Was there a penalty for that rule? 

GRAVANO: Death penalty. 

GLEESON: In 1990, at the time you were arrested, you mentioned that your role was underboss, correct? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Did you have—what was your role as underboss? What did you do? 

GRAVANO: First of all, I ran the construction industry and I helped John run the Family. I spoke with some of the captains and took care of some of the problems in the Family. 

GLEESON: When you spoke to the captains, did you talk about their criminal activity? 

GRAVANO: Some of them. 

GLEESON: Did you discuss their criminal activity with the other members of the administration?

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: As a result of that, did you become familiar with the criminal activity of the various crews in the Family? 

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Were any of the crews involved in dealing narcotics? 

GRAVANO: Not with any kind of okay. 

GLEESON: They didn’t have an okay to do it, correct?

GRAVANO: No. 

GLEESON: Some of them were involved in it, nevertheless?

GRAVANO: We assumed so. 

GLEESON: Was it overlooked? 

GRAVANO: Yes. [. . . .] 


MEETING JOHN GOTTI 

GLEESON: Do you recall when you first met John Gotti? ,

GRAVANO: I met John about a year later. 

GLEESON: When you were introduced to him, were you introduced as a friend of ours? 

GRAVANO: No. 

GLEESON: How were you introduced to him? 

GRAVANO: John had just gotten out of jail. I met him in an after-hours club. Frankie DeCicco and Frankie DeCicco’s father introduced me to him and told me he’s a good guy, he just come out of the can, he’s up and coming, and he wants me to meet him, and I met him. 

GLEESON: And you met him? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: From time to time after that, did you see him?

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Did there come a point when John Gotti got made? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Was it long after you first met him? 

GRAVANO: No. 

GLEESON: Whose crew was he in? 

GRAVANO: He was in Charley Wagons’s crew. 

GLEESON: Charley Wagons? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Did he have a brother? 

GRAVANO: Danny.


End part two...





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