NEW YORK -- Less than two months from freedom, the jailed son of the late mob boss John Gotti was charged yesterday with the kidnapping and attempted murder of an outspoken talk-show host -- allegedly to silence his radio rants against the "Dapper Don."
John A. "Junior" Gotti, 40, was scheduled to leave prison Sept. 7 on a 1999 racketeering conviction, but now faces charges that could put the former head of the Gambino crime family away for life. Three other alleged mobsters were named in the indictment.
Court papers allege that Gotti and Gambino soldiers Joseph "Little Joey" D'Angelo and Michael "Mikey Y" Yannotti plotted in 1992 to first kidnap and then murder Curtis Sliwa, reportedly as payback for comments he had made about the elder Gotti on a radio show.
On June 19, 1992, Sliwa was ambushed after he hailed a cab on Manhattan's Lower East Side. D'Angelo and Yannotti, who were inside the cab, allegedly fired several shots before fleeing.
The cab "was intended to be a hearse," US Attorney David Kelley said at a news conference.
Kelley called the indictment "another powerful blow to the Gambino organized crime family's grip on the city." He denied that the timing of the charges was influenced by Gotti's scheduled release.
Sliwa underwent surgery for internal injuries and leg wounds after the attack, which occurred four days before the elder Gotti was sentenced to life behind bars in his racketeering case. In April 1992, Sliwa had been attacked by three bat-wielding young men, leaving him with a broken hand and an injured scalp.
"Now the true culprit is going to have to face me in court, and I can't wait to stare at him from the witness stand," Sliwa said yesterday in a phone interview. "He had his thugs on two separate occasions attack me for speaking out against his father and his degenerate crime family."
Sliwa also founded the Guardian Angels, a crime-fighting group known for making citizen arrests on subway trains.
In addition to the Sliwa attack, Gotti was charged in two additional murder conspiracies and with securities fraud, extortion and loan sharking.
Gotti's attorney, Richard Rehbock, said he had already spoken with his client about the allegations.
"We will be seeking a speedy trial on this matter," Rehbock said.
The younger Gotti took over control of the Gambinos, once the nation's most powerful mob family, after his father was sent to prison in 1992.
Gotti, who is imprisoned in a federal facility in Ray Brook, N.Y., will likely appear in court next week on the new charges, Rehbock said.