NEW YORK – John "Junior" Gotti embraced fatherhood Monday, saying he was "absolutely thrilled" at the birth of his sixth child, which left him smiling at the start of jury selection in his third racketeering trial in a year.
Gotti said Joseph John Gotti, his fourth son, weighed in Saturday at 9 pounds and was 22 inches long. He said it was the first time he had witnessed a birth.
Gotti's joy came two days before he was introduced to prospective jurors in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where prosecutors will try again to prove he ordered two 1992 attacks on Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa.
Gotti has said he did not order a baseball bat attack and a shooting of Sliwa, a radio talk show host, and cannot be held responsible for extortions and other crimes the government claims occurred while he led the Gambino crime family in the 1990s.
Sliwa was targeted in retaliation for on-air attacks against Gotti's father, John Gotti, prosecutors say. He has recovered from severe injuries and resumed his criticism of the Gotti family.
Defense lawyers have argued Gotti quit the mob before pleading guilty in 1999 to other racketeering charges, and two juries have deadlocked on the latest charges against him.
The government has added new charges alleging Gotti has continued to benefit from money earned illegally by collecting rents on properties. A witness tampering charge also has been added.
One by one, prospective jurors answered questions from Judge Shira Scheindlin meant to ensure they could be objective regardless of what they might have heard about the Gottis.
The first potential juror was dismissed after she confessed she had heard Gotti was in the mob and said, "I don't want to know him."
"The guy seems scary," she said.
Another woman was dismissed after she said she was biased because she believed her cousin was killed by the mob.
Opening statements could occur as early as Thursday.
If convicted, Gotti could face up to 30 years in prison. His father died in 2002 in prison, where he was serving a life sentence for racketeering.