Mikie Scars On The Ravenite Transcripts

"He's asking Frankie, what do we do? Do we just let Sammy run wild and take everything? There's other people here, other captains here...  Nobody could eat. Sammy, in John's mind, is out of control and he's having people killed, and John feels like a clown, like he has been led around by the master of ceremonies..."
—Mikie Scars on the Ravenite Transcripts 

We finally had a chance to mosey on over to Patreon to check out the No Excuses podcast featuring Michael (Mikie Scars) DiLeonardo and RJ Rogers, who have been focusing on the transcripts of the FBI recordings of Gambino boss John Gotti holding forth in an apartment above the Ravenite social club.
247 Mulberry Street
The Ravenite social club was a valuable piece of New York history that should've been preserved.

(You don't have to join Patreon, and fork over $9.99 a month, to watch part one of the Gotti Tapes, which was posted on YouTube recently. To access the podcast for free, skip on down to the end of this....)

In the following, Michael—a former made member of the Gambino family who was elevated to capo and offered the consiglieri post, which he said he declined—is offering his opinion, combined with direct knowledge, of what was said in the transcripts. If this were court, we’re not sure if Mikie Scars' interpretation would be admissible.

Still, while DiLeonardo’s is of course not the only possible interpretation of the transcripts, his is among the best explications you will find today, at least on the mob side of the equation. Certain FBI agents and Federal prosecutors no doubt also could offer good analyses, one of which we'll be writing about shortly. As for Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano's interpretation of John Gotti's words, he attributes them to sour grapes basically, and says he decided to flip after Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn played select tape recordings from the apartment above the Ravenite in a closed court session.

We published those transcripts, the Ravenite Transcripts, in a series of posts that commenced shortly before the onset of COVID-19 in February 2020. Last we heard, 247 Mulberry Street is a high-end retail boutique. But back in the day, it was John Gotti's headquarters, which he inherited from his mentor, longtime Gambino underboss Aniello (Neil) Dellacroce. It also was where, beginning December 1989, the FBI recorded some 600 hours of John Gotti and members of his administration (but mostly Frank Locascio) discussing intimate details of life and business in what they thought was their sanctum sanctorum, a place they believed was completely secure, the widow Nettie Cirelli's apartment above the Ravenite, which they could access via a rear door of the club. (So they could get from the club to the apartment above without setting foot outside the building.)

About six hours of those 600 hours of recordings (we'd love to get our hands on every minute of the 600 hours) were entered into evidence during the 1992 murder and racketeering trial of Gotti and his acting consiglieri Frank Locascio (though Gotti refers to him as his acting underboss in the following). The tapes and other evidence helped the FBI and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn build a major racketeering indictment against Gotti and members of his administration. Both Gotti and Locascio died serving the prison sentence they received following their convictions at the conclusion of this trial. As for Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano, these days he's also doing podcasts. (He apparently dropped the Our Thing moniker.)

As fascinating as we find the Ravenite transcripts, they are not without problems for those attempting to read them. Without background and context, much of the discussion is difficult, if not impossible, to follow. Enter Michael and RJ, who have created a series of podcasts focused on enhancing our understanding. 

Converting DiLeonardo and RJ's podcast into words was more complicated than our usual schtick primarily because of the layering of information. A few reference points: The Gotti quotes were read by RJ directly from the transcripts. Each quote is followed by Michael's translation. Note that, in Michael's part of the discussion, we're using both direct quotes and paraphrases. Also, the occasional note in parenthesis is included for background and context.

The following is based on a transcript that was recorded on December 12 1989.
Gotti: Today I go and have lunch. I mixed up about four lunches at once, you know? You know, Frankie, I, I, I don’t like you—I love you. I don’t like Sammy—I love him. As far as this life, no one knows it better than me. If a guy offends me, I’ll break him—that’s the f---in’ end of it. But not for me. It’s this “thing of ours.” It’s gotten to be a circus. I’m not gonna leave a circus when I go to jail, Frankie. I don’t wanna be a phony. I ain’t gonna talk about a guy behind his back. Um, Louie was a f---in’ coffee boy. Know what a coffee boy was? A motherf---in’ coffee boy. 

DiLeonardo: That would be Lou Vallario, (then) an associate in (Gambino capo) Salvatore (Toddo) Aurello's crew, who worked in the clubs (we presume social clubs). I don't think Toddo ever would've made him. Louie took care of the club, served everyone coffee. He was more like a servant at that time. John was being super condescending about Louie. Whatever was going through John's mind, to call Louie that meant John was angry. Sammy made Vallario a captain before he made Louie Milito, and John is calling him out.

Gotti: Never did nothin’, I’m telling you again. Never did nothin’. He’s a billionaire now. Billionaire, now! Owns buildings. Throws a half million into f---in’ factories, and, and bars...

DiLeonardo: He's still talking about Louie. This is John blowing off steam about Louie having a lot of money. John is not happy about it. 

Gotti: I got guys around me aren’t making five cents. This is my back! When “Di B” (aka Robert [DiB] DiBernardo) got “whacked,” they told me a story. I was in jail when I “whacked” him. I knew why it was being done. I done it, anyway. I allowed it to be done, anyway.

DiLeonardo: This is my back: John's saying that they (Sammy's people) got to where they are today (fat and happy seemingly) because of him, John. Meanwhile, guys close to John aren't getting union jobs, aren't opening restaurants, etc. He's ranting about a perceived separation between what Gravano is doing and what John is getting, and it's his borgata; he's the boss. Then he delves into a murder. It looks like he didn't want to approve it, but he went along with it because he was told certain things. DiB was a captain, DiB had no crew. He wasn't a violent guy, wasn't a threat to anyone. He was a co-conspirator (a member of "the Fist," as Gotti and his Gambino co-conspirators had collectively dubbed themselvesbecause originally there were five of themin the run-up to the December 1985 execution of John Gott's predecessor). DiB controlled Local 282 of the Teamsters (the most powerful union in the New York region's construction industry). Bobby Sasso was president at the time (he resigned in April 1992 after he was charged with being a "pawn" of the Gambino family and for helping John Gotti extract payoffs from contractors). DiB handled that. DiB also was in the porn business and was a major player, a big money guy. They came and told me a story. "They" was Angelo (Quack Quack) Ruggiero—who borrowed $100,000 and up off DB and DB asked for his money back—and Gravano. They both told John that DB was talking subversive. John is saying, I knew they were wrong but I went along with it. He realized DB didn't deserve to die because two guys had told him a story.

Gotti:  I saved that whole f---in industry. I got a piece of the company. For a year—an arrangement—a year! They haven’t got a f---in job! One job! I got them a job. They got a run-around. I was sent for, you sent for my partners. To the (inaudible). “Johnny Blowjob” sends for him, John Gotti. And they give him a runaround. 

John Gammarano
Gambino wiseguy John Gammarano. John Gotti supposedly wasn't a fan.

DiLeonardo: I'm pretty sure Johnny Blowjob refers to John (Johnny G) Gammarano (a Gambino wiseguy who John Gotti hated with a passion, according to Gravano, who testified that, “John was always talking, bad-mouthing Johnny Gammarano, talking about him"). Gammarano (who died of cancer on July 22, 2017) handled one of the unions, had expertise in the construction industry, and was under Sammy the Bull.

Gotti: So, they, they told him they going to a party. (Inaudible) f--k them! Those Irish motherf---rs! F--k them. They don’t mean nothing to me. I send this “Joe Crotty” here, he’s a good friend of ours. He’s taken care of dozens of people in the jail. He done nothing but good things for us. He’s in the carpet business. Joe Gallo brought him to me about eight years ago. 

DiLeonardo: He's talking about some of the people he had lunch with who were Irish guys who were once part of the Westies and owned Marine Construction, which was in the rebar business in Manhattan. They gave John a salary. He calls them Irish motherfckers but doesn't mean it. That was just the way John spoke. (Marine Construction was a topic of discussion several times; see here and here.)

Gotti:  “If my name could help you in any point in time, go ahead.” He goes there, two months ago. He got thrown out! “Johnny Gotti wants Johnny G. to have it.” Where’s this guy come in the carpet business? They’re in [the] rebar business. There’s a conc, there’s a builder up in the Bronx. A billionaire builder. The guy’s with me, through ARC Plumbing. Sammy sends me word. You were there. 

DiLeonardo: John is saying that he has a nucleus of people who worked for the Gambinos. Somebody used John Gotti's name to take a job. New people were using John's name to get jobs. John G is Johnny Gammarano. He's a surrogate, going out into the world and taking business from people who were in place for the Gambinos and for him. 

Gotti: Where they told me. Says, “I had the plans ahead of time. Everybody gets the plans when you build, when you bid for it.” I sat with the f---in’ owner of the building today. They don’t know who the f---k Sammy is. And they don’t know who f---in’ Marathon is (inaudible). They knew Marine and them way before that. They were told, this is where I wanted it to go. So it went to Marathon. “Who’s Marathon?” he says today. “That’s Sammy.” Where are we going here? Where the f---k are we going here? Where are we going here? Every f---kin' time I turn around there’s a new company popping up. Rebars, Building, Consulting, Concrete. 

DiLeonardo: Marine was a legitimate company run by those Irish guys, who had been part of the Westies. And they were with our family. Joe Watts handled them for us for a while. John is blowing off steam, saying that a job was taken away and given to a company no one had ever heard of, Marathon, which was owned by Sammy. So guys with Marine were beefing to him about Marathon taking work from them. John is stating all the companies Sammy is starting and complaining about Sammy taking jobs away from the Gambino family. These guys were getting shutout by Gravano, who has everyone out there using his company or companies controlled by him.

Gotti: And every time we got a partner that don’t agree with us, we kill him. You go to the boss, and your boss kills him. 

DiLeonardo: That's a heavy statement. This is the whole crux of everything right now. He means Gravano goes to the boss, John Gotti, and says he has a problem with someone, and John is sitting back and—in my opinion—he's realizing that Sammy had used him. Every time Sammy had a beef, he asked for permission, he asked the boss for permission, to kill them. John is fuming..,.. He okays it because he is the last call on murder. Gravano is giving him a story, like he and Ruggiero had done earlier (with DiB).

John is realizing he's been used.

Gotti: He kills ’em. He okays it. Say it’s all right, good. Where are we going here, Frankie? Who the f---k are we? What do I get out of this here? Better not become a clown. Where am I going? What do I do with the rest of the borgata? You throw ’em in the f---in’ street? The rest of the borgata. What are we going to do with the rest of this borgata? 

DiLeonardo: That's a very compelling statement. He's asking Frankie, what do we do? Do we just let Sammy run wild and take everything? There's other people here, other captains here. And Sammy is taking everything. John is spewing about his disappointment and anger. Sammy is taking everything. Nobody could eat. Sammy, in John's mind, is out of control and he's having people killed, and John says he feels like a clown, feels like he has been led around by the master of ceremonies. He's the clown and the master of ceremonies is Gravano.

John Gotti and Sammy the Bull
Sammy the Bull Gravano leads the way for boss John Gotti in May 1986.

Gotti: Twenty-five capodecinas, we got 22, 25 beef to me. What do I do here, Frankie? Sammy tells me you and him, took a walk, about a concrete plant in New Jersey? Somewhere? I told him when do youse decide to tell me about it? 

DiLeonardo: He's laying more groundwork at Frank's feet. He says he's got 25 captains and almost all of them are beefing to John about Sammy and nobody else. 'Sammy tells me you and him,' this is burning inside John's belly and he's testing Frankie. 'You and Sammy went to a concrete plant in New Jersey? When were you gonna tell me about it?' He sees Sammy growing in all different aspects, taking control of the family through businesses. He's wondering, did Sammy compromise Frank Locascio? Are my underboss and consiglieri gonna go around me and not tell me? He's steaming, he's beside himself. I would love to hear the actual audio of this. Frank Locascio must have been stunned.

Locascio: There’s nothing for sure. I just got the plans and I asked him

Gotti (interrupting): Yeah, but I told him, “Don’t I have the right?"

DiLeonardo: Frankie just got nervous. He's trying to tell John, we didn't make a decision without you, and John cut him right off, telling him not to go down that road. Don't make an excuse, you are supposed to tell me before you do it. It's not about making a decision....