(, Italian: ['g?tti]; October 27, 1940 – June 10, 2002) was an Italian-American gangster who became boss of the Gambino crime family in New York City.
Gotti and his brothers grew up in poverty and turned to a life of crime at an early age.
Gotti quickly became one of the crime family's biggest earners and a protégé of Gambino family underboss Aniello Dellacroce, operating out of the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens.
Early in his criminal career and following the FBI's indictment of members of Gotti's crew for selling narcotics, Gotti began to fear that he and his brother would be killed by Gambino boss Paul Castellano for selling drugs.
As this fear continued to grow, and amidst growing dissent over the leadership of the crime family, Gotti organized the murder of Castellano in December 1985 and took over the family shortly thereafter, leaving Gotti as the boss of what has been described as America's most powerful crime syndicate, and one that made hundreds of millions of dollars a year from racketeering, hijacking, loan sharking, drug trafficking, bookmaking, prostitution, extortion, pornography, illegal gambling and other criminal activities.
At his peak, Gotti was one of the most powerful and dangerous crime bosses in the United States.
During his era he became widely known for his outspoken personality and flamboyant style, which gained him favor with some of the general public.
While his peers avoided attracting attention, especially from the media, Gotti became known as "The Dapper Don", for his expensive clothes and personality in front of news cameras.
He was later given the nickname "The Teflon Don" after three high-profile trials in the 1980s resulted in his acquittal, though it was later revealed that the trials had been tainted by jury tampering, juror misconduct, and witness intimidation.
Law enforcement authorities continued gathering evidence against Gotti that helped lead to his downfall.
According to Sammy Gravano, Gotti earned between $5–20 million per year during his tenure as Gambino boss.Gotti's underboss Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano aided the FBI in finally convicting Gotti.
In 1991, Gravano agreed to turn state's evidence and testify for the prosecution against Gotti after hearing the boss making several disparaging remarks about Gravano on a wiretap that implicated them both in several murders.
In 1992, Gotti was convicted of five murders, conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering, obstruction of justice, tax evasion, illegal gambling, extortion, and loansharking.
He was sentenced to life in prison without parole and was transferred to United States Penitentiary, Marion in southern Illinois.
According to former Lucchese crime family boss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, "What John Gotti did was the beginning of the end of Cosa Nostra".
While in prison, Gotti died of throat cancer on June 10, 2002, at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.