After his fourth federal racketeering trial ended with a deadlocked jury Tuesday, a grinning and confident John "Junior" Gotti emerged from the Manhattan federal courthouse, greeted by hugs and kisses from his two sisters, his brother, niece and a host of other relatives and friends.
Looking composed with his hands in the pockets of his slacks, he walked calmly and slowly to the gaggle of photographers and journalists waiting behind a police barricade.
He told them he was eager to head home to Oyster Bay to see his children, who he said kept him strong.
"There's a very good chance, thank God, that I am going to have a healthy and happy Christmas with my family," he said, looking tired after the two-month-long trial, but relieved to be out of jail.
He said he was looking forward to the morning with his family: "Make breakfast with my children, give them a day off tomorrow from school and then I guess Thursday we start all over again. I walk them to the bus stop like I used to do before I went to jail."
For the past five nights in prison, at 10:27 - Oct. 27 being his father's birthday - Gotti said he would listen to the radio, taking him back to a "different time," with songs such as "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" and Sting's "Fields of Gold."
When asked whether someone was watching over him, he mused: "How else can you explain it? How rare is it for someone to fight a trial, no less a federal trial, and then come out of it OK?"
Despite his legal troubles, Gotti said, "I would rather be me no matter how difficult times may get, if they are difficult, than be . . . a parent watching their child get sick. That's the most helpless feeling in the world. I can deal with this. I am OK. I can handle it."
With that, he walked away from the microphones. He jumped into the passenger seat of his attorney's white BMW sedan, and waved as the car headed east on Worth Street.
With Jennifer Sinco Kelleher