The government's star witness against John "Junior" Gotti admitted on cross-examination Thursday that he attempted to extort money from a Suffolk County police officer who he says helped him carry out the 1988 murder of a Queens drug dealer on Gotti's orders.
In a handwritten note while he was imprisoned in Brazil from 2004 to 2006, informant John Alite instructed an associate to try to get $100,000 from Nicholas Tobia, who joined the Suffolk force in 1995 and has been on leave since Alite's accusations about the George Grosso murder surfaced this year.
"Either that or they lose their jobs, family, lives, wives just like me," Alite instructed the associate to tell Tobia and two other men he has tied to Grosso's 1986 murder.Alite was trying to raise money to bribe his way out of the jail. Gotti lawyer Charles Carnesi used the note on Alite's final day of testimony to suggest that he was ready to do anything to escape life in prison - including, Carnesi hopes jurors believe, lie about Gotti.
Alite says he's telling the truth about Gotti but admitted that until making a deal with the government he was ready to lie, threaten or kill witnesses, extort or "cheat, bribe, steal" to help himself.
"All of the options that I had available or could've made available to me I would've did," he said.
Gotti faces life in prison on racketeering and murder charges that include the murder of Grosso, a Queens cocaine dealer. Alite testified that Tobia was part of his hit team.
Tobia, through his lawyer, has denied the charge. Thursday, attorney William Petrillo of Rockville Centre refused to comment on whether Tobia ever received an extortion threat, but said, "Any contact made by Alite to Officer Tobia was promptly documented and reported to the police department."
Alite also closed two weeks of testifying about shootings, stabbings, beat-downs, robberies, drug rip-offs and treachery over more than 20 years by confiding to jurors that he was worried his son would follow his path, and he was trying to take the first step to changing his life."You guys aren't here to hear me say I'm sorry," he testified. "That's not for today. That's for me to do in my own life."