NEW YORK -- Sixteen years after joining his notorious father in the family business, John ''Junior" Gotti now says he is done with the mob. Done with two of his jailed uncles. And undone by thoughts of his children growing up without him.
Gotti, who turned 40 behind bars in February, has faced a midlife mob crisis over the past 18 months -- with many of his musings captured on government tapes during jailhouse conversations with family and friends. The second-generation Mafioso takes a long look back, and does not always appreciate the view.
''I haven't bothered with them in six years," the former mob boss said of his old associates during one session in October 2003. ''Believe me, I like it better that way. . . . I just want to do my time, go home, and go fishing."
That won't happen soon. Two months short of finishing his 1999 racketeering sentence, Gotti was indicted again this summer for allegedly ordering a hit on talk radio host Curtis Sliwa and other charges. He remains jailed without bail awaiting trial.
Pages and pages of tape transcripts and court papers offer a fascinating glimpse of Junior, a kid who blindly followed his father, John -- known as ''Teflon Don" or ''Dapper Don" -- into what mobsters call ''The Life."
Gotti, father of five, seems disillusioned and disgusted. He wants his children out of the ''family" business: ''Gotta keep your kids away. Everybody's kids away."
As a federal prisoner, Gotti is aware that his conversations are all recorded. Defense attorneys suggested that the discussions signaled a new outlook. But prosecutors, citing other excerpts involving alleged illegal business, said the tapes show ''a bitter, angry, and desperate man who knows no other life than the mob."
''If it wasn't for my father, I would have walked away many, many years ago," Gotti said on one tape.