Pondering Some What-Ifs: 1992 Testimony of Former Gambino Underboss Sammy The Bull Gravano Part 8

In this segment, two recent transcript series collide as prosecutor John Gleeson goes through the Ravenite transcripts asking Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano about the significance of certain comments.

John Gotti and Sammy the Bull Gravano
John Gotti, Sammy the Bull Gravano, Gambino boss and underboss....

This entry might prove insightful for those who had difficulty following the Ravenite transcripts.

For example, take the following:

GLEESON: In [the FBI transcript of the November 30, 1989, tape], Mr. Gravano, you say: “Well, you know, that and there’s an ‘inaudible.’ He would’ve, he would’ve tried to make a move from outside, I think.” What were you referring to when you said: “He would’ve tried to make a move from outside”?

GRAVANO: Possibly from outside the Family.

GLEESON: Who would have made a move?


GLEESON: Against whom?

GRAVANO: Against John and Angelo.

GLEESON: When you say outside the Family who, in your opinion, would he have gone to?

GRAVANO: The Genovese Family. Possibly, the Westies.

Who would Paul Castellano have sent to kill John Gotti had Paul truly wanted to wipe out Gotti and his crew, is another way of asking what Mr. Gleeson up there was asking The Bull. 

We discussed that very question in an interview with former Gambino capo Michael (Mikie Scars) DiLeonardo.

"No one ever got the order to kill John," Mikie Scars said.

DiLeonardo noted how, well into the Gotti reign, at around 5:30 a.m., after spending the evening at Regine's nightclub, he, Gotti and others were sitting in a diner when "John started talking about that."

"He said, 'who was Paul gonna send to kill me? Me?"

Both The Westies and the Cherry Hill Gambinos have been highlighted as Gambino work crews or "muscle" -- killers within the Gambino crime family.

The Westies killed a lot of people -- but mostly during encounters in Manhattan's West Side bars. They were junkies more than anything else, DiLeonardo said.

Westies chief Jimmy Coonan was tight with John Gotti. Coonan drove to meet John to play cards.

The Cherry Hill Gambinos could have struck back for Paul if they wanted to, DiLeonardo said, noting that they could've sent for a contingent of Sicilian shooters to take care of John Gotti and anyone else.

"No one would've known who'd done it, and that would've been the end," Michael said. "But as history shows, they didn't bother to make any move whatsoever."

Had he decided to move against Gotti, Castellano likely would've approached Frank "Frankie Cheech" DeCicco, who was already in on the conspiracy against Paul. 

The moment Paul passed an order, Gotti would have been alerted, DiLeonardo said.

Why did "Castellano loyalist" Frank DeCicco join Gotti?

"His father was close to Neil," Michael said. Also, DeCicco had done time with John Gotti and the two had grown close.

And there's the Sicilian stuff. Frank DeCicco wasn't Sicilian, and he knew that, under Castellano, the next Gambino boss likely would've had Gambino as a surname.

If you want to read that story, you'll need to click the link above. (But if you do, don't forget to return to this page to read the rest of this... Or better yet, read this first, then read that other story -- and as many of the thousands of other stories I've been posting here since ... 2011.....)

Here's part eight in the Gravano testimony series....

GLEESON: From time to time over the years, did you have occasion to discuss the events leading up to Paul Castellano’s and Tommy Bilotti’s murders with other people? 

GRAVANO: Again, I’m losing you. 

GLEESON: Okay. Did you learn that you were caught on tape at the Ravenite Social Club? 


GLEESON: Did you learn that after you got indicted? 


GLEESON: At the Ravenite Social Club, and specifically up in the apartment above the club, did you learn subsequently that you had been recorded speaking to John Gotti regarding Paul Castellano and the events leading up to his murder? 


GLEESON: You had an opportunity to listen to that tape [recorded in the apartment above the Ravenite Social Club on November 30, 1989]? 


GLEESON: Your Honor, we are going to play this all the way through and then I will come back and do my questioning. 

JUDGE GLASSER: Okay. Do you have a headset? 

GRAVANO: Right here.

JUDGE GLASSER: You can put it on and listen, if you’d like. All right. 

Tape plays....

Tape concludes.

GLEESON: Before we go on, Mr. Gravano, let me ask you a few questions based on what we heard so far. Mr. Gravano, this conversation is approximately four years after the murder of Paul and Tommy, correct? 


GLEESON: Gotti says: “When that bum asked for the tapes, you were there. I’m best friends with Frankie.” Who did you understand him to be referring to when he said the bum asked for the tapes? 


GLEESON: And which tapes did you understand Gotti to be referring to? 

GRAVANO: Angelo’s tapes. 

GLEESON: Gotti says: “ ‘Hey, Frank, don’t start. Tell him not to give them the tapes.’ What was he, what was he gonna do, Sam? What was he gonna do if five of us got mad? What was he gonna do?” Who did you understand Gotti to be referring to when he said, “What was he gonna do?” 

GRAVANO: Paul. What was Paul gonna do. 

GLEESON: In [the FBI transcript of the November 30, 1989, tape], Mr. Gravano, you say: “Well, you know, that and there’s an ‘inaudible.’ He would’ve, he would’ve tried to make a move from outside, I think.” What were you referring to when you said: “He would’ve tried to make a move from outside”? 

GRAVANO: Possibly from outside the Family. 

GLEESON: Who would have made a move? 


GLEESON: Against whom?

GRAVANO: Against John and Angelo. 

GLEESON: When you say outside the Family who, in your opinion, would he have gone to? 

GRAVANO: The Genovese Family. Possibly, the Westies. 

GLEESON: Who are the Westies? 

GRAVANO: A small little Irish gang that was associated with us. 

GLEESON: Gotti said, to you: “He couldn’t succeed because, Sam, he felt, and you know what we heard. He felt he hadda hit me first.” Is he referring to Paul there? 


GLEESON: When he says, “he hadda hit me first,” what did you understand him to mean? First, before whom? 

GRAVANO: Before Angelo. 

GLEESON: And he continues: “But if he hits me first, he blows the guy who really led the ring, Angelo and them. Supposedly, that’s the guys on the tapes.” When he says “led the ring,” what type of ring did you understand him to be referring to? 

GRAVANO: Where they’re concerned with the drug dealing. 

GLEESON: You immediately said to him: “I think he would’ve hit Angelo, and not you.” Gotti responded: “No.” You said: “No.” And then he said: “And what was he going to do with us?” Did you understand him to mean that he thought Paul was going to kill him and Angelo? 


GLEESON: [Later on,] you said: “But I’m saying this guy was stark raving nuts.” Who are you referring to there? 


GLEESON: And then Gotti responded: “And Neil was another one. Neil would’ve told him just like this, ‘What? What are we cops here?’ Let’s kill all the cocksuckers that (inaudible), in the whole Family. Every Gambino, every Castellano.” Mr. Gravano, what did you understand Gotti to be referring to when he said that? 

GRAVANO: Kill the Gambinos and every Castellano’s involved in drugs. 

GLEESON: Were there Gambinos and Castellanos involved in drugs? 

GRAVANO: There were people, yes, who were arrested for it. 

GLEESON: [Later you say:] “Well, how, how could he have conversations with us?” 


GLEESON: You continue: “Me and Frankie and Angelo. We were sitting there. ‘Yeah, I’m gonna go down to Neil’s—Christmas part—’ ah, he looked at me like I had five heads. Frankie was there. ‘You’re on our side! Where you going?’ ” What were you referring to there, Mr. Gravano? 

GRAVANO: I was going down to Neil’s Christmas party to wish him a merry Christmas. 

GLEESON: Is this something you’re relating to Gotti and Locascio on November 30, 1989? 

GRAVANO: No, I am not referring to Locascio at all. I am talking about Frankie, Frankie DeCicco. 

GLEESON: This is a conversation in 1989 with Gotti and Locascio, correct? 

GRAVANO: Oh, yes.

GLEESON: Who are you referring to in the conversation? 

GRAVANO: I am referring to Paul, as the first time when he actually turns around and says to me that why go down to Neil. You’re on my side, and I tell Frankie DeCicco that did you hear what he said? See, he’s referring to us as sides, now.

GLEESON: Did that have significance to you? 

GRAVANO: It had significance to me. You couldn’t go down and see your underboss and wish him a merry Christmas. He was already distinguishing sides. 

GLEESON: How long before the murder of Paul and Tommy did this happen? 

GRAVANO: This is the Christmas before. 

GLEESON: In the next attribution to you, you say: “I says, ‘Frankie, what happened? What’s he have a problem? What do you mean on our side? What’s he talking about?’ ” What were you referring to there? 

GRAVANO: Just what I just said. 

GLEESON: And the Frankie that you’re speaking to, you’re relating this conversation to the Frankie you’re referring to as whom? 

GRAVANO: Frankie DeCicco. 

GLEESON: [Later] there’s a long attribution to Gotti where he says: “This rat brother was, the brother-in-law was a rat, a back door motherf. He wouldn’t, he purposely wouldn’t make him consigliere. He didn’t wanna make him no underboss. He wouldn’t make nobody official.” When he says the brother-in-law was a rat, who did you understand John Gotti to be referring to? 

GRAVANO: Paul’s brother-in-law, Carlo Gambino. 

GLEESON: Gotti says: “Neil would’ve never—he would’ve never tolerated Angelo with the tapes. He would’ve tolerated, put him on the shelf.” When he said Neil would have put him on the shelf, what did he mean? 

GRAVANO: If Neil would have heard the tapes, he would have been very, very disturbed with Angelo. We don’t think that Neil would have killed Angelo, but he would have put him on the shelf, meaning put him on the side, maybe strip him of any position of talking or anything, just put him on the side. That’s what he would have done. 

GLEESON: In response to that, Gotti says: “Using hindsight now, ourselves—he deserved to have his tongue cut out. If nothing else, his tongue cut out.” Who did you understand him to be referring to? 

GRAVANO: Angelo. 

GLEESON: Gotti [goes on to say] to you and Locascio: “Paul, let me tell you about Paul, Sammy. He didn’t—he was a fish on the desert. He was a fish outta water! He don’t know this life!… He was a piece of shit! Rat, rat, yellow dog, yellow dog, right? What (inaudible), Sammy? All this guy needed was a little whack in the mouth.” Is he referring to Paul Castellano in that portion of the conversation? 


GLEESON: At any point during the period of time when you discussed murdering Paul Castellano, did you ever consider just giving him a little whack in the mouth? 


GLEESON: Is there a reason for that? 

GRAVANO: I don’t think it would have lasted him too long, if you whacked him in the mouth. 

[. . . .] 

GLEESON: Before I go further, you mention a term, you say “Nasabeak.” What were you referring to? 


GLEESON: Why “Nasabeak”? Why did you use that term? 

GRAVANO: He’s got a big nose. 

[. . . .] 

GLEESON: [Much later on the tape] you mention the name Nino. “Nino found out.” First, who are you referring to there? 

GRAVANO: Nino was a captain in our Family. 

GLEESON: What was his last name? 

GRAVANO: Gaggi. 

GLEESON: You continue: “He had trouble, right after the trial he was going.” What trial were you referring to? 

GRAVANO: Paul was on trial at that particular time. 

[. . . .] 

GLEESON: What did you mean by that? Going where? 

GRAVANO: More than likely, he would have been killed.

 [. . . .] 

GLEESON: And could you explain to the jury what you were explaining to John Gotti and Frank Locascio? 

GRAVANO: I was explaining to Nino that I knew that Paul wasn’t going to carry out any plot against him because I already knew he was going himself. 

GLEESON: Did you tell Nino you were going to kill Paul?


GLEESON: But you told him that you knew Paul wasn’t going to be able to kill Nino? 


GLEESON: And you continue: “How come you didn’t say nothin’ when he was talkin’ about all of us? Me, John, Angelo.” Are you still relating a conversation with Nino? 


GLEESON: What were you telling them? 

GRAVANO: I was telling him just the opposite. I put the ball back in his court. Why didn’t he warn us? He didn’t have no plot to do anything [to] Paul. Why didn’t he come to us and warn us about him talking behind our backs? 

GLEESON: And you continued: “How come you never said nothing? You didn’t have no plans where he was going? I knew he wasn’t doing nothin’ to you!” Again, are you continuing explaining the same conversation to John Gotti? 


GLEESON: Then John Gotti says: “Yeah. But, no, I’m saying. Well, whoever done it, I don’t know who done it.” What was he referring to there? 

GRAVANO: Who did it with Paul. 

GLEESON: Who did what with Paul? 

GRAVANO: Who killed him. 

GLEESON: And he said, “I don’t know who done it.” Did you commit to murder Paul? 


GLEESON: Did you commit it with John Gotti? 


GLEESON: At this point in the conversation John Gotti states: “I don’t know who done it.” He’s referring to the murder of Paul, correct? 


GLEESON: Had you heard such statements before? 

GRAVANO: I just got done telling Nino almost the same thing. We never admitted it. 

GLEESON: Have you heard statements like this before? 


GLEESON: Often? 

GRAVANO: Whenever we referred to him. 

GLEESON: If you did it, why did you say you didn’t do it? 

GRAVANO: Because we broke the rule, and we were never gonna really admit it. We were never openly going to admit it. 

GLEESON: Gotti states: “But, anyway, here’s a guy, whoever done it, probably the cops done it to this guy. Whoever killed this cocksucker, probably the cops killed this Paul. But whoever killed him, he deserved it.” Did you understand him to believe that probably the cops killed Paul Castellano? 


GLEESON: Is this another denial? 

GRAVANO: It’s not a denial. It’s just a way of talking. 

GLEESON: Gotti states: “We had nothin’ to do with it; no reason to do it.” Were there reasons to kill Paul Castellano? 


GLEESON: Have you already described them in your testimony? 


GLEESON: Are some of the reasons referred to in this very conversation? 


GLEESON: After Gotti asks what time is it, you say: “I love it when he does that, Frank.” Do you recall what you were referring to? 

GRAVANO: He makes some sort of a motion, body language. 

GLEESON: Who did? 

GRAVANO: John did. 

GLEESON: What kind of body language? 

GRAVANO: It’s hard to explain. It’s just an expression, just the way he moves. 

GLEESON: The denials, you mentioned that it’s a way of speaking. You mentioned that a moment ago. When that occurred, what was the demeanor of the people who were speaking that way? Do you understand my question? 


GLEESON: You mentioned body language here and that it’s hard to explain. Do your best. Try to explain to the jury what you’re referring to. 

GRAVANO: When he says that the cops did it, probably the cops did it, he’ll do an expression and move his hands, give a smirk. 

JUDGE GLASSER: Indicating a shrug of the shoulders and extension of the arms. 

GLEESON: Is that something you had seen before? 


GLEESON: Is that something you, yourself, did? 


[. . . .] 


GLEESON: Mr. Gravano, was Robert DiBernardo present that night when Paul Castellano and Tommy Bilotti were murdered? 


GLEESON: Do you know where he was?

GRAVANO: I think he was in Florida. 

GLEESON: You testified earlier that he was a soldier in the Family at that point, correct?