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GOTTI PLOTTED HIT THAT MADE HIM THE BOSS, EX-ASSOCIATE SAYS

Violating a Mafia loyalty oath sealed in blood, John Gotti's former right-hand man testified Gotti plotted the hit that made him boss of the Gambino family, waiting around the corner while the job was done.

Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano, Gotti's alleged underboss, on Monday became the highest-ranking member of the Gambino family to turn government witness. His testimony was to resume Tuesday at Gotti's murder-racketeering trial.Gotti has been acquitted three times in six years on other charges, earning him the nickname "Teflon Don." But prosecutors have never before used a witness against him who was as highly placed within the Gambino family as Gravano.

Gravano's first day on the stand focused largely on the cornerstone of the government's case against Gotti: the 1985 slayings of then-Gambino boss Paul "Big Paul" Castellano and Castellano's driver and bodyguard, Thomas Bilotti.

Some Gambino family members felt that Castellano had become too greedy and "was selling out the family for his own basic businesses," Gravano said.

"We decided to act," he said.

The 46-year-old career hoodlum and "made member" of the Gambino family also described a life of crime, admitting to 19 murders and a list of other crimes.

Security was tight for Gravano's appearance in Brooklyn's federal court. U.S. marshals and FBI agents lined the courtroom.