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Judge to Gotti Jr.: Steer clear of barroom brawl victims

By
HENRY G. LOGEMAN

MINEOLA, N.Y. -- A judge Wednesday warned the son of reputed Gambino crime family godfather John Gotti and two buddies to stay away from two men and a woman they allegedly attacked in a mob-connected Long Island bar.

But Judge Thomas Adams refused to issue a formal order protecting the three from the defendants, who were arrested on second-degree assault charges after the Sunday night fracas that left one man hospitalized.

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John Gotti Jr., 25, of Massapequa and co-defendants Steven Kaplan, 21, and John Alite, 26, both of Queens, all nattily dressed in business suits and ties, nodded their heads in agreement when the judge asked if they understood his orders.

There was no mention during the Nassau District Court hearing of the alleged underworld activities of John Gotti Sr., who reputedly runs the powerful Gambino family. The senior Gotti was not present in the courtroom.

Prosecutor Stephen Treglia said his request for a formal order of protection is 'not unusual.'

'When the case involves a barroom fight, we feel that that there should be a court order of protection, so that there will be some assurance of the safety of the victims,' Treglia said.

The hearing was held to determine whether the assault charges should remain in district court, be heard in a felony hearing or be presented to a grand jury. No decision was reached and the case was put over to June 28.

The heavily muscled Gotti, who runs a Brooklyn trucking firm, remained free on $1,000 bail, as did his co-defendants.

The assault charges stemmed from a brawl that began inside Sprat's II, a bar in North Long Beach overlooking the Atlantic about 10 miles from New York City, and spilled out to the parking lot, Nassau County detective James Cereghino said.

Alite grabbed the arm of a newlywed woman and tried to engage her in conversation, then allegedly punched the woman's husband in the face when he intervened, the detective said.

Gotti and Kaplan then joined in a scuffle with the woman's husband, as did several of the husband's friends.

As the newlywed couple and and another couple tried to leave, Gotti, Alite, Kaplan and several other men attacked them outside the bar, Cereghino said.

Most seriously injured was Kevin Sherlock, 25, of North Bellmore, who suffered a facial fracture near his right eye and who was expected to undergo surgery at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.

Michael Hughes, 26, and Lisa Cardinale, 21, also of North Bellmore, were treated for cuts and bruises.

Attorney Richard Rehbock, who represented Gotti when he was acquitted of 1987 that charges of assaulting a rookie cop in a Queens diner, alleged that the people injured in the fight actually were the 'aggressors.'

'They started the fight. They jumped on one of the defendants,' Rehbock said without saying which defendant he meant.

Rehbock is defending Alite and Kaplan. Gotti's attorney, Melvyn Roth, said his client would be cleared of wrongdoing.

Sprat's II is owned by Philip Basile, who was convicted in 1983 of conspiring with Lucchese crime family boss Paul Vario to give a convicted drug dealer a 'no show' job in a bid to sway the parole board.

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