Richard Stratton will always remember the time he was locked up behind bars with mob boss John Gotti.
The author and filmmaker was convicted in 1982 below the kingpin statue of conspiracy to import marijuana and cannabis and sentenced to 25 years in jail.
He’s at the moment the government producer and director of a brand new A&E documentary based mostly on an April 2010 article he wrote for Playboy about the Teflon Don and his son, John Gotti Jr.
However again in 1983, he discovered himself face to face with Gotti inside the Metropolitan Correctional Middle.
“I stored listening to rather a lot about John Gotti,” Stratton informed Fox Information. “All the mob bosses have been there at the time as a result of [Rudy] Giuliani was creating an enormous case in opposition to them at the moment … The truth is, his right-hand man was there.”
“I remembered they arrested John and he impressed, even in a jumpsuit. He took the time to introduce himself to me, shake my hand and name me Richie … Most mob guys are grumpy. They’re not outgoing or pleasant. However John was the reverse. He was at all times smiling, pleased, telling jokes and waving to folks. He appeared to be having fun with what was occurring to him.”
However Stratton’s documentary, titled “Gotti: Godfather & Son,” doesn’t concentrate on his encounter with the chief of the Gambino crime household.
As an alternative, it takes place in 1999 when then-35-year-old Junior spoke to his dying father for the final time at the United States Medical Middle for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.
It was throughout this assembly when Junior requested his father for his blessing to take the unprecedented steps of quitting what might need been one in every of the final of the main mafia dynasties.
The documentary options never-before-seen segments from the 90-minute video of that remaining go to, in addition to a first-hand account from Junior. It additionally highlights interviews with Gotti’s different youngsters Peter and Angel and former FBI brokers, amongst others.
Stratton, who was contracted by Playboy to cowl Junior’s fourth racketeering trial in New York Metropolis, mentioned he stored listening to about the recording, which might have proved whether or not Junior was nonetheless concerned with the mafia or not. Gotti was such a high-profile inmate that each go to he had was required to be videotaped.
Stratton managed to get entry to the tape for his story and nonetheless believes it sheds new perception into the father and son confrontation.
“It was very troublesome for him to ask his father permission to go away [the lifestyle],” mentioned Stratton. “His father wasn’t pleased about it. In the tape, you may see his father principally ripping via Junior. ‘The place’s your dignity? The place’s your manhood?’ However then he modifies at a sure level. He turns into a father, as an alternative of the godfather and the boss of the Gambino household. He understands that the life he led can go one or two methods. You die in jail otherwise you die on the road.”
Gotti handed away in 2002 at age 61 from throat most cancers. In the tape, an emotional Junior is seen breaking down at the sight of his father. Gotti, who was as soon as hailed as the charismatic Dapper Don who favored $2,000 fits and painted by hand floral silk ties, was struck by the lethal illness that resulted in components of his jaw being reportedly gone.
“You’ll be able to see [Junior] crying when he sees his father and the way he’s principally disfigured by most cancers,” mentioned Stratton. “However even with most cancers, his father is making jokes about it. He’s speaking about how he had half of his face eliminated, how he had some muscle taken off and placed on his face. He’s like, ‘Yeah, I informed your mom I don’t even have tits anymore.’”
Nonetheless, Stratton famous Junior was “courageous” for coming ahead and asking his father “for closure,” an alleged code phrase for leaving the mob.
“His father wasn’t pleased,” mentioned Stratton. “However what’s attention-grabbing is you actually see the father change … He mentioned, ‘John, if that is what you need to do, you’re your personal man. However they may by no means go away you alone. The federal government won’t ever settle for it. You suppose they’re going to cease when you plead responsible? They’ll simply deliver one other case. And one other case.’”
“And when his father died, Junior mentioned, ‘I might nonetheless hear my father’s phrases ringing in my ear. ‘John, they’re by no means going to go away you alone.’ And Junior went to trial 4 instances after that. His father foretold Junior’s future.”
Junior, who idolized his movie star father from the time he was a toddler, was raised to comply with in the dominating patriarch’s footsteps. However in the documentary, Junior admitted he didn’t need to endure from an identical destiny and as an alternative, yearned to be a hands-on father or mother to his personal youngsters.
“Why did he need to go away? I believe it turns into apparent,” mentioned Stratton. “The life his father selected was not for him. He didn’t actually prefer it. Didn’t need it. Didn’t need to be part of it. He was drawn into it due to who his dad was. He wished to go into the army and be a special form of individual.
“However he bought captured by the life. Spending time together with his father, hanging out at the social membership daily, assembly all these guys, and his father was an enormous movie star. He mentioned his father was a simple individual to idolize. That drew him into it. However when his father went to jail, I don’t suppose there was something left that [Junior] wished.”
Gotti was finally convicted in 1992 for homicide and racketeering. However Stratton mentioned Junior had an epiphany when he attended a household gathering.
“He remembers going to an occasion and seeing all the girls,” mentioned Stratton. “All the males have been both useless or in jail … He seemed round and felt that if he led the life Gotti had, there was going to be plenty of ache. He didn’t need that. He wished to be a dad to his youngsters. He wished to be a really concerned father. He wished to be an uncle to his nephews and nieces.”
Stratton famous Junior might have simply waited for his terminally ailing father to go away and formally go away the mafia world behind. Nevertheless, Junior didn’t need to disappoint his father to the very finish.
“I believe that basically proves the form of man Junior is,” mentioned Stratton. “All he had to do was wait till his father died. He might have mentioned, ‘I’m not going to battle in opposition to the whole lot he stands for.’… He was very nervous and tense about asking permission from his father … And to say to his father, who was dying of throat most cancers in jail, ‘Dad that is your life, however this isn’t my life. I would like out.’ That struck me as being very courageous.”
A few of the FBI brokers interviewed for the documentary nonetheless consider Junior by no means left the mob. Some even claimed that each father and son will need to have acted out the dramatic scene for the courtroom. However Stratton insisted Junior was telling the fact.
“Some consider the solely manner you give up is to develop into an informant,” mentioned Stratton. “However Junior doesn’t suppose so. He selected to go away that life… And based mostly on what we all know, he left. We will’t discover any involvement in any felony exercise… He selected his blood household over the mafia household.”
“Gotti: Father and Son” premieres Saturday, June 9 at 10 p.m. on A&E.