Following a four-week trial, a federal jury in Brooklyn today found John Burke, a long-time associate of the Gambino organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Gambino family”), guilty of a racketeering conspiracy spanning 1980 through 2008. As part of the racketeering conspiracy, the jury found that Burke had participated in four out of five racketeering acts alleged in the indictment, including the 1991 murder of Bruce Gotterup and the 1996 murder of John Gebert, drug trafficking involving cocaine and marijuana, and an attempted robbery. The jury also found Burke guilty of the murder of John Gebert in aid of racketeering, murdering John Gebert as part of a continuing criminal enterprise, and a firearms charge.
The verdicts were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.
The evidence at trial established that Burke shot Gotterup in the back of the head on the boardwalk in the Rockaways in retaliation for, among other things, stealing money from Gambino family associates and for showing disrespect to a relative of a powerful Gambino family member. Gebert’s murder was part of an effort by Burke and others to take control of the drug trafficking trade on Jamaica Avenue in Queens and to protect the members of a crew of Gambino family associates from possible reprisals by Gebert relating to past disputes with members and associates of the Gambino family. At trial, the defense presented evidence and argued unsuccessfully that Burke had withdrawn from the Gambino family and that he had an alibi for the night of the Gebert murder.
“Today’s racketeering conspiracy conviction of a trusted Gambino family enforcer and drug dealer sends a powerful message that those who choose a life of organized crime will be held accountable for their crimes,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “The defendant spent over half his life pursuing a career of murder and violence. He will now be held to account for the destruction and pain he inflicted on his victims and their families and will have the rest of his life to contemplate the choices he made. We sincerely hope that today’s verdict helps bring to an end the long wait for closure for the families of Burke’s victims.” Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency responsible for leading the government’s investigation; the United States Department of Justice-Office of the Inspector General for its assistance in the prosecution of this case; and to the United States Marshals Service for its assistance during trial.
When sentenced by United States District Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr., John Burke faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Evan M. Norris and Whitman G.S. Knapp.