John Gotti remains one of the most famous criminals in American history. He headed the Gambino crime family during the 1980s and 90s, during which time he became an icon through his color nicknames (“Teflon Don”, “Dapper Don”) and personality.
Gotti and his son John Gotti, Jr. will be the focus of the new A&E miniseries Gotti: Godfather & Son. Given the public interest that will come about as a result of the miniseries, we’ve listed out some of the mobster’s most famous quotes and sayings below.
On the Most Important People to Be Curteous Towards
Gotti famously said that the key to success is being nice to three particular groups of people in society. “Always be nice to bankers. Always be nice to pension fund managers. Always be nice to the media. In that order,” he once observed.
On Carrying Firearms
Gotti was infamous for getting off murder charges. He was brought up on three separate trials in the 1980s that resulted in his acquittal, though it was later revealed that the trials had been tainted by jury tampering, witness intimidation, and juror misconduct. When asked about his policy for carrying guns, he once said: “Don’t carry a gun. It’s nice to have them close by, but don’t carry them. You might get arrested.”
On Dealing With Bosses
Gotti worked under boss Paul Castellano in the 1970s, but feared that he and his brother would be killed. That combined with his desire for power led to him setting up Castellano’s murder in 1985. He took over the Gambino crime family shortly after.
During his time as head of the family, Gotti was believed to have brought in an estimated $500 million from racketeering, hijacking, loan sharking, drug trafficking, bookmaking, prostitution, extortion, pornography, illegal gambling and other criminal activities. “If you think your boss is stupid, remember: you wouldn’t have a job if he was any smarter,” he said when asked about working for others.
On Lying to Others
Gotti’s underboss Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano is the person credited with helping the FBI convict Gotti. In 1991, Gravano agreed to turn state’s evidence and testify against Gotti.
The following year, John Gotti was convicted of five murders, and a laundry list of additional charges including conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering, obstruction of justice, tax evasion, illegal gambling, extortion, and loansharking. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. “I never lie because I don’t fear anyone,” he famously quipped. “You only lie when you’re afraid.”
Gotti died in prison on June 10, 2002. He was 61.