John Angelo Gotti was born December 27, 1940 to John and Fannie Gotti. John had three brothers: Peter, Richard, and Gene. John’s family lived in the South Bronx neighborhood of New York City near the East Harlem area during John’s childhood years. John was the last child born into his family. John attended Public School 7 in Manhattan until around fourth grade when he then began attending Henry Ford High School where he stayed for about two years before dropping out freshman year. John’s father worked as a presser in local dry cleaning establishments but became involved with loansharking soon after John dropped out high school.
John helped his father run numbers and deliver payoffs to other mobsters over at this time. Around age 16 John made an unusual request to his father John Gotti Sr. to be initiated into the Gambino family. John requested through Peter Gotti that he be allowed to join the organization. John was approved for membership at age 16 and became a soldier under capo Salvatore “Toddo” Aurello who helped John learn about mob life before John took on any serious responsibilities within the family.
John was intimidated by this because John had no idea how much work goes into being in a mafia family besides doing one’s own criminal activities. But he stuck with it, learning what he could from others around him, even though John himself would deny having learned anything from anyone else later on in life when he rose up to become the Boss of the Gambino crime family. John was arrested for his first time at age 21, John pleaded guilty to attempted burglary and was fined $350. John started running with a crew of fellow gangsters who were into hijacking trucks that had valuable cargo.
John rose up through the ranks quickly during this period in his life because John’s connections with local youths allowed him to expand his stolen goods business by recruiting these youths as truck thieves working under John Gotti. John Gotti became more recognizable among the community because he dressed better than most other criminals around him, always making sure his clothes would never look dirty or wrinkly even when he spent the night on the streets just before an early morning court appearance. At age 24, John married 17 year old Victoria DiGiorgio and John had his first child named Angela shortly after.
John’s father John Gotti Sr. became the boss of the Gambino crime family when John Gotti was 26 years old, but due to prison time John Gotti Senior spent during this period John didn’t officially become the youngest Boss of a Mafia crime family in New York City (which is believed to take place sometime in 1972 or 1973) until 1975 when John took over for his father. John got married again at age 29 only this time it was to 17 year old Victoria DiGiorgio who already had two children and was pregnant with their third child named Peter while John got another girl pregnant named Angel who gave birth to a baby girl later on that died in 1971.
John was arrested for the second time in 1978 for illegally gambling, John pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and paid a $1000 fine. John started running with fellow mobster Angelo “Quack Quack” Ruggiero who John affectionately called his “Ducky”. John became known by the media as “The Dapper Don” because of John’s expensive wardrobe which included Brioni suits that cost around $800 each and John always had at least one favorite hat that John wore almost everywhere he went even if it wasn’t cold outside.
John got his famous nickname when Detective William Peist asked him what he did for a living while being taken into custody, John told him he was a salesman, so Peist sarcastically said John was “a John Gotti salesman”. John got arrested for the third time in 1980 because John and Angelo Ruggiero were caught on tape planning to commit murders because John was becoming paranoid somebody would betray him unless he took out these people first before they had a chance.
John pleaded guilty to attempted manslaughter, assault and various gambling charges, John spent 13 months behind bars at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary before getting paroled in 1981. John continued his association with fellow mobsters Salvatore “Sammy Bull” Gravano, Angelo Ruggiero , Louis DiBono and Frank Fiala even though John started claiming later that John never knew either one of them personally which is not true based on their close relationship at the time.
John got arrested again in 1982 for bribing a guard at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary while John was serving his previous sentence there so John could get John’s family members better visitation rights, John pleaded guilty to bribery charges and John served 14 months behind bars for this latest sentence. John made the local newspapers again in 1985 when John was acquitted of criminal contempt charges after John held up inside an Ozone Park social club with Angelo Ruggiero, Louis DiBono and Frank Fiala.
A law enforcement officer testified that John was present during the murder of Vito Borelli who tried to kill Frank Fiala earlier on before Frank took out Vito Borelli himself. In 1985 at age 43 while having dinner John was arrested for the 5th time and John made John’s bail only a few hours later, John got charged with hijacking interstate shipments of cigarettes from 1982 to 1985 which John pleaded guilty, John got sentenced to an expected 2-4 years in prison even though John was allowed to stay free while awaiting sentencing since John claimed he had recently suffered a heart attack.
In 1986 while John awaited sentencing, John ordered his son Frank Gotti Jr. to kill Louis DiBono because Louis owed some Gambino family members money and wasn’t paying them back fast enough causing John some problems with these people. Frank shot Louis once in the head while Louis sat drinking coffee inside a car with Angelo Ruggiero on October 1st 1986 after a meeting between John and Angelo Ruggiero got postponed because John got stuck in traffic which is when John sent his son Frank Jr. o kill Louis DiBono who John had a strong hatred for after John found out that John didn’t do a proper job of killing Louis with John’s previous attempt on Louis life a year earlier in 1985 where John wanted John’s brother Gene Gotti, Angelo Ruggiero and Patrick Testa to help John kill Louis DiBono who they refused because the hit was too risky since it took place during broad daylight next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral which made them all uncomfortable about the whole situation especially since Angelo Ruggiero was the one who introduced John to Louie DiBono years before this happened.