People idolize creeps like this. You can see it when a series like The Sopranos becomes the top draw for a network. You can see it when folks cheer in the theater as Al Pacino snorts one more rail and gets medieval on some bastard. I don't get it. These hoodlums (we called the bad boys "hoods" when I was a kid) are just overgrown playground bullies who've hit the big time. Their behavior is as predictable and as common as any common thug. There is no glory in gangster land, no matter what sort of noble fantasies Scorsese and Godfatherdude want to spin. And sell.
If you don't believe me, listen to this story about an unfortunate guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time:
John Gotti and his wife Victoria had five kids. The fourth was named Frank. Frank was a pretty good student. He enjoyed sports. His life was probably going as well as it could, given the parents to whom he was birthed.
One spring afternoon in 1980, when Frank was twelve years old, he borrowed a little mini-bike with a motor and went for a spin around his neighborhood. We called those Mopeds when I was a kid, but I'm not sure what the brand name is these days. Anyway, it was a very bad choice of entertainment, both for little Frank and for one John Favara.
John Favara was 51 years old. He lived just behind the Gotti family in the Howard Beach neighborhood. He lived on 86th Street. The Gotti home was on 85th street. Mr. Favara had an adopted son, Scott, who was a friend of one of the other Gotti man children, John Jr. He'd even been over to the Gotti's house for sleepovers. But this didn't mean a whole lot after what happened on March 18, 1980.
It was late in the afternoon. Mr. Favara was coming home. Have you ever seen those big dumpsters they put out in the street when a building is being remodeled? There was one of those at 157th Avenue. It was on Mr. Favara's right. Out from behind that dumpster suddenly appeared Frank Gotti on his friend's mini-bike. He died at the scene.
Is a mobster more vicious than the woman who lives with him every day, knowing every secret of every horrible crime and degradation? I'd say, "Probably not." In this case, Victoria Gotti seems to be the one who instigated pretty much all that happened next. No doubt she was crushed by the death of her child. Who wouldn't be? But if the law said that it was an accident, and there is no real evidence that it was not, a normal person would grieve and then go on with their lives, eh? Not Victoria Gotti.
On March 20, two days after the accident, a woman called the 106th Precinct and said, "The driver of the car that killed Frank Gotti will be eliminated." Mr. Favara received a death threat in the mail that very same day. When the police went to Mr. Favara and told him about the phone call, he told the policeman, "Stuff like that only happens in the movies."
Apparently, like most sane folks, Mr. Favara thought that this was a tragic accident and couldn't understand why the Gotti family could imagine that it was anything else. Four days later, he got another death threat on the phone. Again, it was a woman's voice.
There is no evidence that any of these calls came from Victoria Gotti, but I think we all know mobsters well enough to know that they don't usually let their women do the talking for them. Apparently, one of the biggest issues Mrs. Gotti had with Mr. Favara was that he had not gone to the trouble to take the dent out of his car which killed her son. She wanted the car repaired so that when she saw it in the neighborhood, it would not remind her of the exact spot where it hit her little boy and took his life. This doesn't seem like an unreasonable request, does it? But did she say, "Fix your fucking car, asshole!"? No. He got vague death threats instead. Do you remember the bully telling you in elementary school, "I'm going to kick your butt good tomorrow?" This would give him the satisfaction of knowing that, not only was he going to hurt you the following day, but he was also going to ruin your sleepless night prior to the ass kicking. Only cowards act in this manner. That's why when you finally stand up to the bully and show him you're not afraid, even though it might cost you a couple of teeth, he'll never bother you again. Standing up to a man who owns hired help who kill folks for a living is a bit of a different matter.
On April 13, Mr. Favara had his car stolen. It was found less than a mile from where it was stolen at the end of April. On April 20, a card from the funeral of Frank Gotti was placed in Mr. Favara's mailbox. On April 21, a picture of the kid was put in the same spot. On April 22, someone spray painted "murderer" on the side of the still unrepaired automobile.
Living where he did, it's not surprising that Mr. Favara had some ties to the crime families all around him. So he went to Anthony Zappi, a childhood friend whose father had been a big shot in the Gambino Family, for some advice. Zappi, wisely, told him to get the hell out of the area and, in the meantime, to get rid of that car which pissed Victoria Gotti off so badly every time she saw it.
While Mr. Favara was mulling all this over, Victoria Gotti came out of hiding and beat the shit out of him with an aluminum baseball bat on May 28th. I guess she'd gotten tired of the anonymity of nameless phone calls. He refused to file charges, but he did put his house up for sale. He almost closed the deal and made it out of town. Who knows if this would have really helped? We'll never know, because on July 28 (three days before he was to close on his house) a bunch of folks watched as Mr. Favara was hit on the head as he was leaving work. He was smacked by one of three guys who'd been hanging around the area for a while. He was tossed into a van and neither Mr. Favara nor his much-detested automobile were ever seen again.
The person who reported this to the police, the owner of a small diner in the area, sold his business and moved far away soon after giving his report.
Later reports from gangland sources say that at least eight folks were involved in the abduction and murder of Mr. Favara. Mr. and Mrs. Gotti, of course, were out of town (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) when the deed went down. But Mr. Favara was apparently popped with two slugs from a little .22 pistol with a silencer. He apparently said something along the lines of, "Please. No. My wife," as he made an attempt to get up off the ground. You really don't kill folks with a .22, you know. You just maim them enough to convince them to comply with whatever you have in mind next. What these goons had in mind was cracking him over the head with a 2x4 and throwing him in their van.
Who can imagine what happened to this guy on the way to the salvage yard? One can guess that death was neither quick nor painless. One of the hoods drove Mr. Favara's car behind the van. Mr. Favara was stuffed into a barrel (still living?) which was filled with cement. That barrel was tossed into the ocean nearest Brooklyn. The offending automobile was crushed at the salvage yard.
No arrests were made. Mrs. Favara had her husband declared officially dead in 1983 after he didn't come home for quite a while.
Some of these facts were gathered from John Gotti: The Last Mafia Icon by Allen May.