NEW YORK – John "Junior" Gotti's mother unleashed a profanity-laced tirade Wednesday after a judge dismissed two anonymous jurors at her son's racketeering trial, saying he was being cheated of a fair trial as his father had been.
"They're railroading you!" Victoria Gotti shouted as she stood in the spectator section several feet behind her son. "They're doing to you what they did to your father."
John Gotti Sr. was convicted of racketeering in 1991 after several previous trials had ended in deadlocked juries. He died in prison in 2002.
Mrs. Gotti's outburst came as the two-month trial nears its end and after several notes from jurors over a period of weeks indicated there were personality issues bothering some of them.
The trial is the fourth for Gotti in the past four years. The others ended in hung juries.
Even before the latest trial began, seven jurors asked to be relieved of the jury duty. Five complained of issues such as damage it would cause to their jobs or personal finances, but two suggested that they feared being on a jury for an organized crime trial.
Several weeks ago, the judge revealed that he had received an anonymous letter to the court purportedly from a juror who was angry that one juror seemed to be fawning over the defense lawyer's presentation. As a result, the judge questioned each juror about any concerns but none arose.
Castel dismissed the two jurors Wednesday after one complained this week that a fellow juror had made her feel "very uncomfortable."
The juror told Castel that the woman told her at one point: "I'd rather phony people not speak to me at all."
The juror added: "I don't need that. I should be spanking her."
Castel said he decided to release the two jurors from duty after receiving a letter from the government. The contents of the letter were not revealed.
The judge said judges have wide latitude to release jurors from duty before deliberations start.
"This is a railroad job. Enough now. Enough," Mrs. Gotti said after the judge made his announcement outside the presence of the jury.
Gotti, seated at the time, turned his head around to look at his mother and said: "Ma. Ma. Please."
Later, he told his mother: "I can deal with it. I'm OK. Don't worry about it. I'm fine."
At one point, Mrs. Gotti shouted as she pointed toward prosecutors and the judge: "They're the gangsters, right there! ... Put your own sons in there. You bastards."
Still shouting, Mrs. Gotti was ushered out of court by her family and court security officers.
Gotti's lawyer, Charles Carnesi, objected to the dismissal of the jurors, saying the judge should have been more concerned about the anonymous letter he had received weeks ago from a juror who "objected to the fact that a juror was paying particular attention to the defense case and somehow found that to be offensive."
Closing arguments are expected next week.