Sammy “The Bull” Gravano is a former underboss of the Gambino
crime family. He is known as the man who helped bring down John Gotti, the
family's boss, by agreeing to become a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Originally a mobster for the Colombo
crime family, and later for the Brooklyn faction of the Gambinos, Gravano
participated in the conspiracy to murder Gambino boss Paul Castellano.
After Castellano's death, Gotti
became the Boss of the Gambino family and elevated Gravano to underboss.
Gotti was imprisoned in May 1986
at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York while awaiting trial on Racketeer
Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges. He was forced to rely
heavily on Gravano to manage the family's day-to-day affairs while he called
the major shots from his jail cell.
Gotti's trial ultimately ended
in a mistrial due to a hung jury and the boss was freed from jail.
When Joseph N. Gallo and Armone
were convicted on racketeering charges in 1987, Gotti turned to Gravano to help
fill the void, promoting him to official consigliere and making Frank Locascio
acting underboss.By this time, Gravano was
regarded as a "rising force" in the construction industry and often
mingled with executives from major construction firms and union officials at
his popular Bensonhurst restaurant, Tali's.
Gravano's success was not
without a downside. First, his quick rise up the Gambino hierarchy attracted
the attention of the FBI, and he was soon placed under surveillance. Second, he
started to sense some jealousy from Gotti over the profitability of his
legitimate business interests.Nevertheless,
Gravano claimed to be kicking up over $2 million each year to Gotti out of
his union activities alone.
Gotti's ego began to bother
Gravano as well as several other members of the family. When Gravano warned
Gotti about the negative attention from reporters as well as the constant
surveillance from the FBI, Gotti instructed Gravano not to worry about it as
Gotti knew what he was doing.
After being acquitted of the
shooting of union official John O'Connor, Gotti received word from a mole that
indictments were coming down for Gotti, Gravano, LoCascio, and captain Thomas
Gravano hid out in various
places on the east coast for two weeks before being ordered to return for a
meeting at the Ravenite Social club in Little Italy. On the night of the
meeting, Gotti, Gravano, and LoCascio were arrested by the FBI.
In court several FBI tapes
revealed Gotti talking about Gravano’s greed and discussed several muerders in
which Gravano was involved and worded it to sound like Gravano was a greedy
"mad dog" killer.
Gravano claimed Gotti's defense
to consist of Gotti's lawyers portraying Gotti as a peace-loving boss falling
all over himself to restrain the kill-crazy Gravano, resulting in a conviction
for Gravano and an acquittal for Gotti.
On November 11, 1991, federal
prosecutors announced that Gravano became a cooperating government witness. Gravano
would later testify against Gotti and other high-ranking mobsters in exchange
for a reduced sentence. John Gotti received a sentence of life imprisonment. As
part of Gravano's cooperation agreement, he would never be forced to testify
against his former crew.
In 1994, Gravano was released
early and entered the U.S. federal Witness Protection Program.