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this day in history 1992

Teflon Don is sentenced to life imprisonment

On this day in 1992, Mafia boss John Gotti, who was nicknamed the "Teflon Don" after escaping unscathed from several trials during the 1980s, is sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty on 13 counts of murder, obstruction of justice, tax fraud and racketeering. Moments after his sentence was read in a federal courthouse in Brooklyn, hundreds of Gotti's supporters stormed the building and overturned and smashed cars before being forced back by police reinforcements.

Gotti, born and educated on the streets of New York City, became head of the powerful Gambino family after boss Paul Castellano was murdered outside a steakhouse in Manhattan in December 1985. The gangland assassination, the first in three decades in New York, was organised by Gotti and his colleague Sammy "The Bull" Gravano. The Gambino family was known for its illegal narcotics operations, gambling activities, and car theft. During the next five years, Gotti rapidly expanded his criminal empire, and his family grew into the nation's most powerful Mafia family. Despite wide publicity of his criminal activities, Gotti managed to avoid conviction several times, usually through witness intimidation.

In 1990, however, he was arrested, and this time, Gravano agreed to plead guilty to 19 murders and testify against Gotti in a federal district court in exchange for a reduced prison sentence. On 2 April 1992, John Gotti was found guilty on all 13 counts against him, including a racketeering charge that cited him for five murders, and related charges of murder, conspiracy, gambling, obstruction of justice and tax fraud. On 23 June he was sentenced to multiple life terms without the possibility of parole. Gravano received a five year sentence. While still imprisoned in a US Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, Gotti died of throat cancer on 10 June 2002.