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Judge gives Gotti confidante probation on fraud charges

Lewis Kasman, the garment businessman from Long Island who for over a decade worked as a government mole while he was mobster John Gotti's confidante, escaped going to prison Thursday for lying to the FBI and committing other crimes.

Brooklyn federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis could have sentenced Kasman, 53, who was Gotti's self-proclaimed "adopted son," to up to 11 years in prison for obstruction of justice, lying to the FBI, fraud and racketeering. Some of those crimes were committed while Kasman was a cooperating witness.

But despite Kasman's criminal past, Garaufis said his cooperation with the FBI was a big help in the war against Gotti's Gambino crime family.

"At great risk to himself [Kasman] leveraged the substantial trust that he had built within the Gambino family to provide the government with valuable information," said Garaufis, before he sentenced Kasman to time served and 3 years probation.

"I did enjoy running with the bad guys at that point in my life," Kasman told Garaufis. "It is a hard lesson learning to live a clean life."

Garaufis said Kasman, formerly of Woodbury, gave the FBI evidence that spared some people, including a federal prison warden and a journalist, from bodily harm or even death.

Kasman was constantly around Gotti after the Howard Beach gangster took over the Gambino family in late 1985. Kasman gave Gotti a no-show job at his garment district zipper firm and paid his bills and lawyers, investigators say.

According to investigators, Kasman began secretly cooperating around 1995, three years after Gotti was sent to prison for life. Records show Kasman met with FBI agents just two weeks before Gotti died in prison in June 2002. Kasman paid Gotti's funeral expenses.

Kasman made 135 secret tapes of Gambino crime family members. He also taped Gotti's widow Victoria in an apparent attempt to learn gossip and find out about her husband's money.

Kasman also told the FBI about alleged payoffs in Nassau County and a bribe by now deceased lawyer Michael Coiro to an unidentified Nassau County judge, government records show.

Gotti's eldest daughter Angel was in court to watch the sentencing.

"He knows I don't care about anything he did except what he did to my father," Angel Gotti said of Kasman. She wasn't surprised by the sentence.

Defense attorney Jay Gold say the once high rolling Kasman is now divorced, living with his mother and surviving on food stamps.

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