If federal prosecutors want to try John "Junior" Gotti yet again after Tuesday's fourth mistrial, they should think long and hard about the use - and usefulness - of key witness John Alite.
In the minds of some of the 12 anonymous jurors, mob wannabe Alite was a dud.
"He just wasn't credible," said a male juror, 56, one of four panel members who agreed to meet with reporters after U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel announced a mistrial. "He would tell a story that would be 98 percent accurate . . . and then said, 'John told me to do it.' "
In fact, said the jurors who spoke with reporters, Alite, 47, was the least believable of the government witnesses.
Alite seemed to have an agenda to sink Gotti in order to get a lesser sentence for himself when he ultimately is sentenced for his federal crimes, said one female juror, 47, from Westchester County.
An ethnic Albanian who under mob rules couldn't become a "made" member of the Gambino crime family because he isn't Italian, Alite testified for seven days, far longer than any other witness. Law enforcement officials billed Alite as the man who could sink Gotti on two drug-related murder charges.
But the jurors said other witnesses contradicted Alite, which likely explains why Gotti had at least six jurors ready to vote for acquittal on the slayings of George Grosso in 1998 and Bruce John Gotterup in 1991.
The vote was closer for the prosecution on the racketeering count, with six jurors ready to convict, five favoring acquittal and one undecided, according to the panel members who spoke to reporters. Gotti insisted he left the mob life around 1999, something jurors said they debated vociferously in their 11 days of deliberations.
The jury never really shifted position to any large degree during their discussions, the panel members said. Twice the jurors reported they were deadlocked before failing Tuesday to reach unanimity and sending a note to the judge.
Prosecutors said they are trying to decide their next move regarding any future case against Gotti. But no matter how many witnesses the government may bring, the jurors who spoke out said it was time to drop the mission to convict Gotti."They should stop this. It is ridiculous," said the 56-year-old juror, an attorney. "A fifth prosecution is abusive."
A 46-year-old Westchester man on the jury said that another prosecution would be money thrown down the drain.
"It is a waste," he said.
The repeated prosecutions of Gotti - he was a defendant in three other federal trials in 2005 and 2006 - made it seem as if prosecutors were conducting vendetta against him, the female juror said.
"It put a lot of doubt in our mind," she said.
Asked later about what federal prosecutors should do next regarding Gotti, she said, "I think they should just let it go."