John Joseph Gotti, Jr. was an Italian-American mobster who became the Boss of the Gambino crime family in New York City. Gotti and his brothers grew up in poverty and turned to a life of crime at an early age. Operating out of the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, Gotti quickly rose to prominence, becoming one of the crime family's biggest earners and a protégé of Gambino family underboss Aniello Dellacroce.
After the FBI indicted members of Gotti's crew for selling narcotics, Gotti took advantage of growing dissent over the leadership of the crime family. Fearing he and his men would be killed by Gambino crime family Boss Paul Castellano for selling drugs, Gotti organized the murder of Castellano in December 1985 and took over the family shortly thereafter. This left Gotti as the boss of one of the most powerful crime families in America, one that made hundreds of millions of dollars a year from construction, hijacking, loan sharking, gambling, extortion and other criminal activities. Gotti was one of the most powerful crime bosses during his era and became widely known for his outspoken personality and flamboyant style, which gained him favor with much of the general public. While his peers avoided attracting attention, especially from the media, Gotti became known as the "The Dapper Don" for his expensive clothes and personality in front of news cameras. He was later given the nickname "The Teflon Don" after three high-profile trials in the 1980s resulted in his acquittal, though it was later revealed that the verdicts were the result of jury tampering and juror misconduct. Law enforcement authorities were not impressed with his style or reputation, however, and they continued gathering evidence against Gotti that helped lead to his downfall.