Salvatore ‘Sammy’ Gravano: Why Did He Betray John Gotti? Where Is Sammy Now?


Get Gotti, the Netflix documentary about the Gambino crime family, is a testament to the fact that our society has always had an aspirational outlook toward the lives of gangsters. The media plays a crucial role in making them celebrities, and somehow, the citizens, too, a lot of times, overlook their dark side and feel inspired to lead that kind of life. It’s not like people want to commit crimes, but they like the flare, the panache, the flamboyance, the opulence, and the power that comes with it.

The government agencies had been preparing a case against the boss of the Gambino crime family, Paul Castellano for a very long time and they were pretty confident that they would be able to put him behind bars. But all of a sudden, news came that the man had been shot dead by a few mobsters on the street in front of everybody on December 16, 1985. There were rumors that he had some ideological differences with one of his gang members named John Gotti, which is why the latter decided to eliminate him and take charge of the crime family. But there was no evidence that existed against these mobsters, and whoever even dared to come forward and give testimony was either killed or, due to the fear of their lives, took their statements back. Amidst all this chaos, a new Don took the reins in his hands and made his presence felt in the media. The nation got to know that John Gotti was going to change how things were done in the crime family, and unlike his predecessors, he was not going to hide behind a veil of obscurity but come out in the open and soak up all the limelight.

Why did Gotti become popular among the masses?

There was a time when crime family bosses were feared and looked at with disdain by people who believed that law and order should prevail. But then, slowly, governments failed to deliver, they didn’t do their duties, and every citizen, as a matter of fact, became unhappy with the state of things. The marginalized communities had to bear the cost of being in a capitalistic society, and people were, in general, tired of their trust being broken again and again by the government.

At such times, if a figure rises who is somehow able to hide his flaws and cover them with a $2000 suit while portraying that he cares for his people and looks after them, then it becomes hard not to admire him. Such a phenomenon is not exclusive to the United States of America, but such things have happened in other countries too, where an outlaw has garnered so much popularity that people start looking at him like he is some Robin Hood, even though in reality, they are just hardened criminals. It’s a battle of narrative, and we saw that, in Get Gotti, John won that battle against the US government, and he had actually garnered a lot of support from people who were not even benefiting from his activities. Moreover, this man wasn’t scared of the media, and he actually liked being in front of the camera. He treated the media like his own paparazzi, and he liked it when news channels reported on him because he believed that any publicity was good publicity. During the trial, a lot of people came out in his support, and they rooted for him and celebrated when he got acquitted as if their favorite NBA team had won the competition. Gotti swayed people with his confidence and his aura, and his popularity was on par with the A-listers of Hollywood, though even they didn’t feature on the cover of Times magazine.

Why did Sammy Gravano betray John Gotti?

We don’t know what exactly went inside Salvatore “Sammy The Bull” Gravano’s mind during the trial that made him go against his boss as he shared a very close bond with Gotti. Gotti trusted his right-hand man, so much so that he had given him the authority to rule in his stead in case things didn’t turn out favorably for him in the trial. Now, it could be a possibility that Sammy would have realized that this time the FBI was going to get him, and instead of going to prison for 100 years, because he didn’t want to be called a traitor, he would rather go against the kingpin and save himself. The FBI investigation had caused a rift in the otherwise loyal family, and now people like Sammy were fending for themselves, as they knew that there was no novelty in going down with a sinking ship. Even the FBI agents, the prosecutors, and everybody else were shocked at his decision and, at first, believed that this was some sort of plan from the mafia family to get the better of them. They believed that Sammy would take the entire blame and the Dapper Don would be acquitted, but it was not so, as Sammy was actually trying to just look out for himself. The entire Gambino crime family would have been very disappointed with Sammy, as these were not the ideals they associated with. Loyalty was everything to them, and probably that’s how they had gotten the better of law enforcement authorities for so long.

Where is Sammy Gravano now?

Though Get Gotti does not show us what Sammy had to face once he decided to go against the boss, we believe that he would have been scared for his life for at least a short period of time after the trial got over and Gotti got sentenced for life. Sammy stayed in witness protection after he served a sentence of 5 years, but soon, he got bored with the environment and decided to once again go back to the world of crime. Sammy, soon after that, got convicted in a drug trafficking case, and once again, he pleaded guilty to all the charges in 2001. In 2017, he was released, and after that, he opened a YouTube channel by his own name and created a podcast by the name “Our Thing.” Sammy Gravano’s YouTube initiative was a success, and as of now, the man has around 574 thousand subscribers. He currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has become quite a social media personality.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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