Gambino boss John Gotti's "reputation as a fierce and dangerous mafia kingpin . . . established him in the public's conscience as 'public enemy number 1" according to recently released FBI documents, and an Oct. 4, 1990 memo from the New York field office directly to the Bureau's Director explains why the Dapper Don and his administration had become its investigative priority:
The present structure of the family's heirarchy developed as a result of the notoriously violent deaths of PAUL CASTELLANO and THOMAS BILOTTI in December, 1985. These murders combined with the successful prosecutions in NY's investigation entitled Operation Castaway (183A-2139), which incarcerated the ranking members of the family supporting CASTELLANO, enabled GOTTI to grasp the reigns of the family and entrench his close and very violent supporting cast of GAMBINO family leaders. Since their ascendancy to the GAMBINO throne, these leaders have killed no fewer than eleven members of the family, to include one Boss, two underbosses, two ranking capos and six made members. All these murders were as a direct result of the enormous greed, and hunger for power by GOTTI and his administration.
Gotti was arrested a couple of months later in December 1990, and in 1992 was convicted on racketeering charges involving five murders for which he was sentenced to life in prison where he died of throat cancer in 2002.