NYC 'Junior' Gotti jury signals possible deadlock

NEW YORK "We are unable to reach a verdict," the jurors wrote in a note to U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel on the seventh day of deliberations in federal court in Manhattan.

Castel called the jurors in at about 3 p.m. and told them to keep deliberating. He sent them home about an hour later, saying they would return Monday.

"My advice to you is to try not to think about the case ... and to return rested and refreshed on Monday morning," Castel said to the jurors before dismissing them.

The judge earlier told lawyers, with the jury out of the courtroom, that it was "way too early in the game" to use a so-called Allen charge -- a more strongly worded order meant to prod juries toward a unanimous verdict.

"The jury's working hard," the defendant's sister, Victoria Gotti, said afterward. She and other family members have been camped out in the courthouse awaiting the trial's outcome.

The trial is the fourth federal prosecution of the 45-year-old Gotti in the same courthouse in five years. Three previous cases ended in hung juries in 2005 and 2006.

Each time, prosecutors alleged that he orchestrated a kidnapping and attempted murder plot against Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa.

In the latest case, they renewed the Sliwa accusation and added charges that accused Gotti of being involved in a series of gangland murders dating to the 1980s. One of the victims was a Gambino crime family associate who made the mistake of ignoring an order from John "Dapper Don" Gotti.

Attorneys for "Junior" Gotti claimed he quit the Mafia in 1999. They also argued that lying turncoat mobsters were trying to frame him in exchange in a bid for leniency in their own cases.

The elder Gotti also had a knack for evading convictions on a variety of mob indictments brought against him, earning him his other nickname, "Teflon Don." He finally was convicted in 1992 murder and racketeering conviction and died in prison.

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