NEW YORK – John “Junior” Gotti wants his latest federal racketeering indictment transferred from Florida because he believes prosecutors want the case tried outside of New York in an effort to isolate him from the lawyers he needs to defend himself effectively.

In documents filed late Thursday evening in Tampa, Fla., federal court, Gotti, the son of the late Gambino crime boss, said the indictment is based almost entirely on allegations involving New York City.

Witnesses in New York

“Any witnesses to these crimes are likely in New York,” Gotti’s attorneys Charles Carnesi and Seth Ginsberg said in their request to transfer the case to federal courts in either the Brooklyn or the Manhattan borough in New York.

Gotti’s lawyers also stressed that it would be a major financial drain for Gotti to have his defense witnesses – perhaps as many as 30 – travel 1,200 miles to Tampa for trial.

“The expense involved would be prohibitive for Gotti and could well impede his ability to mount a defense effectively,” the lawyers said, adding that airfare, food and other costs for witnesses would total $50,000.

The attorneys also said Gotti will be hit for the travel costs of his New York attorneys. Tampa lawyer Henry Gonzalez is also working on the defense team.

10 days to file

Steve Cole, a spokesman for the Tampa federal prosecutor’s office, said the government has 10 days to file a reply with Judge Steven Merryday.

Gotti, 44, was arrested last month at his Oyster Bay Cove, Fla., home on charges he was involved in the mob from 1983 to July 2008.

Gotti was charged with drug dealing and involvement in three murders.

In three previous federal trials in 2005 and 2006, Gotti received mistrials after jurors couldn’t agree. Gotti’s lawyers insisted he withdrew from the Gambino crime family five years before the indictment.

Each “successive failure” to convict Gotti frustrated the Justice Department and forced prosecutors to use an “end-justifies-the-means” rationale to continue, said Gotti’s lawyers.

“Indicting Gotti in Tampa appears to be the culmination of that progression,” the court papers stated.

Gotti’s extensive family support network – his mother, two sisters, a brother – is absent in Tampa, the lawyers said.

Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-09-12-08 2326EDT

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