Unlike the heads of families past, John J. Gotti courted publicity and flaunted his power from the time he took control of the Gambino family in 1985 to his imprisonment in 1992.
In the tabloids, Mr. Gotti was given the name the “Dapper Don.” He often appeared in smart suits with luxe silk ties and was known for lavish spending.
His other moniker, “Teflon Don,” came from how often he managed to avoid prosecution. He was acquitted in three high-profile trials during his first five years as the Gambino boss.
But Mr. Gotti’s notoriety also came from his ruthlessness. He was known for having a furious temper and for ordering the killings of people he suspected were informants.
It was an informer who would prove his undoing. Salvatore Gravano, Mr. Gotti’s underboss, testified as a government witness at Mr. Gotti’s fourth trial on murder-racketeering charges.