John A. Gotti has been charged with conspiracy for his role in a sprawling cocaine trafficking operation and in three mob-related killings in 1980s and ’90s, the United States attorney’s office in Tampa, Fla., announced on Tuesday.
Mr. Gotti, 44, who headed the Gambino crime family for a time, was arrested at his home in Oyster Bay, N.Y., early Tuesday morning on the federal racketeering and murder conspiracy charges, and was expected to be arraigned in Manhattan federal court.
Five others suspects were also charged in the wide-ranging racketeering indictments, Assistant United States Attorney Robert O’Neill said at a news conference in Tampa. He said all five — identified as John A. Burke, James V. Cadicamo, David D’Arpino, Michael D. Finnerty, and Guy T. Peden — were members of the Gambino organization.
Mr. O’Neill said the alleged criminal acts involved “the Gambino crime family reaching out to the Tampa Bay area,” and that the investigation had ranged widely, including work by federal investigators in New York, New Jersey, Miami and Philadelphia as well as Tampa.
If convicted, Mr. Gotti and the five others could be sentenced to life in prison.
Mr. Gotti has been prosecuted four times before on charges related to organized crime; he pleaded guilty in the first case but contested the later charges, resulting in three mistrials.
In New York, a lawyer for Mr. Gotti, Seth Ginsberg, said of the latest charges, “We’re confident that there is no strength to the allegations and that he will prevail once again.”
But Randy M. Mastro, a former deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani, said: “They’re old crimes, but the defense he used the last time — that he resigned from the mob — doesn’t work in this case. There’s no statute of limitations on murder.”
Mr. Ginsberg said that his client would probably be transported to Tampa quickly for arraignment.
He added, “I think Herman Melville already wrote this story,” referring to the government’s persistent pursuit of Mr. Gotti, who insisted at each of the trials that he had left the Mafia life.
In September 2005, after a six-week federal trial that included charges that he ordered the June 1992 kidnapping of Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels and WABC radio talk-show host, a divided jury failed to reach verdicts on three charges — kidnapping, racketeering and extortion and conspiracy — and voted not guilty on a fourth charge of securities fraud.
A retrial on the three unresolved charges ended in a mistrial in March 2006 when, after hearing from more than a dozen witnesses, the jury deadlocked for a second time.
Prosecutors made a third attempt in September 2006, but after a six-week trial, jurors again failed to reach a verdict, though they said they believed Mr. Gotti was guilty of organizing the kidnapping of Mr. Sliwa. At that point, the prosecutors, lacking any new evidence, chose not to try him a fourth time in the case.
Previously, in 1999, Mr. Gotti was sentenced to 77 months in prison after pleading guilty to six charges: bribing a labor official, conspiring to extort money from a construction company, understating his income on a loan application for $336,000 to refinance his mortgage, running an illegal gambling operation in Connecticut, understating his income on a tax return and loan-sharking. He was released in 2005.
His lawyers said he made the plea because he was tired of the relentless scrutiny that came with heading the crime operation he had taken over from his father, John J. Gotti, and because he did not want to risk spending a long stretch in prison and miss the chance to raise his children.
The latest charges against Mr. Gotti, leading to his arrest on Tuesday, involve the 1990 murder of Louis DiBono, a Gambino soldier and construction contractor, who was found shot seven times — with four bullets to his head — slumped in a Cadillac sedan in the parking garage of the World Trade Center, as well as the slayings of Bruce J. Gotterrup in 1991 and George Grosso in 1988.
The elder Mr. Gotti, known as the Dapper Don, who was convicted of murder and racketeering in federal court in Brooklyn in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison, was found guilty of authorizing the killing of Mr. DiBono, along with four others. Mr. Gotti died in prison in 2002 at age 61.
Jurors at his trial heard the elder Mr. Gotti boasting that Mr. DiBono was killed because he ignored orders to report to him.
“He’s going to die because he refused to come in when I called,” the elder Mr. Gotti said.