John (Junior) Gotti may have met his Sammy Bull.
John Alite took the stand last week in Gotti IV to testify against his old pal and quickly evoked the image of perhaps the most famously devastating mob turncoat witness.
Gambino family defector Salvatore Gravano, the first Mafia underboss to take the witness stand against his mob boss, used quietly devastating testimony to send the elder John Gotti away to prison for life.
Alite was similarly convincing. "John Gotti Jr. was my boss," Alite said as he told of his all-out devotion to his mob boss and the good life they had during a decade long crime spree that began in the early 1980s.
Alite also called to mind another storied mob associate, Henry Hill, the stool pigeon in the $6 million Lufthansa Airlines robbery whose life of special perks and the mob luxuries he enjoyed because of his Mafia affiliation were portrayed on the big screen in Goodfellas.
"When I went to restaurants, I didn't wait," said Alite. "When I went to shows, I got the best seats. When we went to stores, we got suits custom made. We got treated like celebrities."
Alite said he was Junior's right-hand-man-in-crime from 1983 to 1994. He testified that he was personally involved in two drug related murders Gotti ordered, as well as a mob rubout that the Junior Don supervised two years before he took over the Gambino crime family from his late father in 1992, the same year that Sammy Bull sank the Dapper Don with his famous declaration from the witness stand: "John was the boss. I was the underboss. John barked and I bit."
During a day and a half of friendly direct questioning, Alite said he played the same role for the son. He tied Junior to a total of seven slayings, including the fatal 1983 barroom stabbing that was the focus of much testimony last week, and the 1988 murder of a top-echelon FBI informer against his father, Wilfred (Willie Boy) Johnson. He also testified about a slew of other crimes, including drug deals, shakedowns and home invasions, which, Alite said, brought them an estimated $50 to $75 million in spoils over the years.
Along the way, said Alite, he spent many hours at the Gotti home in Howard Beach, Queens, and became friendly with the entire family, including Junior's sister Victoria, with whom he claims to have had an affair, and whom he helped shop for her wedding dress, he testified.
To show how close he was to the Gottis, federal prosecutor Jay Trezevant introduced into evidence many pictures of Alite and Junior posing with members of both of their families, including a picture of them at Victoria's 1984 wedding to Carmine Agnello.
Junior's mother and sisters, Angela and Victoria -- and two of her sons who co-starred with her on the so-called reality show, Growing up Gotti -- glared at him as he testified that he spent many hours at their home "learning the treachery of the mob life."
Asked to explain how he had been able to get close enough to kill drug dealer George Grosso -- who had been involved in an ambush against Alite -- he testified that he lulled him into believing they had patched things up: "John Gotti Jr. and his family taught me how to bring your enemies close to you. I rocked him to sleep."
Several times during his testimony, he seemed to go out of his way to make the point that he was the better, wiser gangster than Junior, who was his boss. After he reported that Grosso was dead, Gotti insisted on driving by the murder scene "to verify that the guy was dead."
"I didn't want to go. I watched a lot of movies and the bad guy always goes back to the scene of the crime, and gets caught," he smiled. "I didn't want to go," he said, adding, however, that he dutifully drove where they had dumped his body and saw "a bunch of trucks, five cop cars."
At another point, he stated that Junior often badmouthed him in front of his crew. "He would call me a rat before I was ratting," he said with a grin.
As damning as Alite was in his direct testimony, it remains to be seen how he stands up under cross examination by Gotti's veteran defense lawyer Charles Carnesi this week. The government also has some more work to do. Prosecutors are still faced with the task of corroborating at least some of the key elements of Alite's version of the 20-year-old events, including the two separate murder charges in the case.
For one thing, the feds have to iron out the contradictions between Alite's testimony that he enlisted former NYPD detective Philip Baroni and three others to whack Grosso for Gotti, for example, and Baroni's version of the events. Baroni, who preceded Alite to the stand, testified that he didn't know Grosso was going to be killed, and had urged Alite not to kill him when he realized he was about to shoot him in the back of the head as they drove along the Grand Central Parkway in Queens on December 20, 1988.
Sources tell Gang Land that at least one cooperating witness disputes key aspects of Alite's testimony about the 1991 murder of Bruce Gotterup, including whether Gotti or Alite ordered it, and whether it was a "drug related" murder, as would be required for the jury to convict Gotti of it.
Alite's account of the 1990 murder of mobster Louis DiBono is also at odds with the version that mob associate Kevin McMahon, who was part of a three-man hit team that killed DiBono in a World Trade Center parking garage, gave at the trial of mob soldier Charles Carneglia, the triggerman in the slaying.