- Last Updated: 11:09 AM, July 1, 2012
- Posted: 1:33 AM, July 1, 2012
The bronze casket of John Gotti Sr., godfather of the Gambino crime family, was wheeled into a crypt at St. John’s Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens. It was June 2002, and the Mafia boss had spent the last decade of his life in prison, slowly dying of throat cancer while the family he ruled as the notorious Dapper Don unraveled.
He wanted his body to be placed next to that of his son, Frank, who died in a tragic accident at age 12.
Gotti left these instructions not with his widow or brothers or children but with the man who served for years as his financial consigliere, a garment executive the don considered his “Matzo Boy” son — Lewis Kasman.
This did not sit well with the Gottis.
Daughter Angela suspected Kasman had stolen millions from her father. Other family members were jealous of Kasman’s cozy relationship with the godfather. Brother Richard, who had been given $50,000 from the mob’s coffers to pay for the funeral, exploded at him.
“Look at the dirty f--king Jew,” he yelled.
Kasman, trying to position the casket so Gotti’s head would be adjacent to his son’s, ignored him.
“I ain’t paying for the funeral,” Richie continued. “You pay for it — you’re his f--king pet.”
“But what about the money Uncle Pete gave you?” Kasman asked.
“I’m keeping it.”
Kasman, who says he had been warned by Gotti about this type of treachery once he was gone, exploded.
“F--k you!” he shouted. Heated exchanges and angry insults bounced off the walls of the tomb. Finally, Kasman unleashed the most cutting words of all:
“Your brother,” he hissed, “always called you a thieving pee-pee brain.”
So began the final chapter of the once-mighty Gotti clan, according to Kasman, 55, who tells the story with a sad chuckle.
The former right-hand man to the world’s most recognizable and powerful gangster has agreed to meet in, of all places, a chapel, hours from the secret location he calls home. He’s skittish — after John Gotti was jailed in 1992, Kasman wore a wire for the feds, helping indict the Gambinos’ top echelon. A deal to put him in witness protection fell through, so he walks around in dark sunglasses, trailed by two ex-Navy SEALs he’s hired for protection.
But he’s ready to talk, having reached out to The Post to tell his story for the first time, about how he managed millions in illicit gambling, drugs and shakedown operations. The Dapper Don could be ruthless, but he was also a hopeless gambler who, rather than relying on the tough language of “Goodfellas,” used childish put-downs like “pee-pee brain.”