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Hundreds Attend Gotti Wake

Tribute: Mobster to get two days of private viewing. A memorial Mass will be after burial.

June 14, 2002|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Hundreds of mourners filled a funeral chapel overflowing with flowers Thursday to bid private farewell to a very public mobster: John Gotti, once the most powerful Mafia boss in the country.

Gotti, renowned for his $1,800 suits, pinkie ring and lavish lifestyle, was returned to his native New York after his death Monday from cancer. His wake was held in a funeral home in a working-class neighborhood in Queens borough.

The wake was scheduled for a second day today, with burial Saturday. There will be no funeral Mass for Gotti, the Diocese of Brooklyn decided, although a memorial Mass will be held after the burial.

At the Papavero Funeral Home, a closed coffin containing the "Dapper Don" sat in the front of the chapel. Dozens of wreaths--many in red and white carnations--filled the room.

"To the chief," read the card on one wreath, while another bore the name of Gotti's old Queens hangout, the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club.

"John, we love you," read another card. "You will always stay in our hearts."

Gotti, 61, died in a prison hospital in Missouri a decade after his conviction for murder and racketeering ended his run as mob boss. He ascended to the top of the Gambino crime family in 1985 with a street hit on his predecessor, Paul Castellano.

Among those expected to miss the wake were Gotti's two brothers, Gene and Peter, and his son John.

All three were behind bars when Gotti died.

Gotti's gold coffin was flanked by a pair of candles flickering behind red glass.

A collection of family pictures was on a table near the coffin; on a glass coffee table stood a framed photo of a tanned, smiling Gotti.

Men in dark suits greeted one another with a kiss on the cheek. Within the first hour of the wake, several hundred people had already come to visit with the Gotti family.

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