NEW YORK -- Gambino crime family scion John A. ''Junior" Gotti dodged a legal bullet for the second time in eight months yesterday when a federal jury deadlocked on racketeering charges against him, leading to a mistrial.
US District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin excused jurors after they said they were at an impasse despite less than two full days of deliberations. Prosecutors quickly said they intended to try Gotti, 42, a third time, and the judge indicated she would set a new trial date Monday.
''I'm happy," said Gotti, who hugged his mother after leaving the courtroom. ''I'm financially ruined, but what are you gonna do?"
The mistrial came after jurors sent out a note that further deliberations would be fruitless. ''We are completely DEADLOCKED," the note said. ''More time will not change the views in this room."
The note continued, ''P.S. We want to leave ASAP."
In an earlier note, the jury said it could not agree on Gotti's claims that he quit the Gambino organized crime family before July 22, 1999, meaning the five-year statute of limitations would have expired on racketeering charges.
His attorney, Charles Carnesi, told reporters outside the courthouse: ''We're a little disappointed, but we'll do better next time."
Gotti, who remained free on $7 million bail, then looked back at reporters and said, ''Better than sleeping in the MCC" -- the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal lockup. He faced up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
Gotti's defense team acknowledged his life in organized crime, but insisted their client had retired from the Mafia and had no role in attacks on Curtis Sliwa, a radio host and founder of the Guardian Angels.
Gotti was indicted on these charges in July 2004, just two months before he was due out of prison on a prior conviction.
''The federal government has assured me that whether April, May, or June, he's going to go down for the count," Sliwa said yesterday.
Gotti was charged with ordering two attacks in 1992. The second one almost killed Sliwa, and authorities charged that Gotti ordered Sliwa's kidnapping to silence his daily on-air verbal assaults on Gotti's late father, Gambino boss John Gotti.