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Man Sentenced in Guardian Angels Case

November 14, 2006 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ A judge sentenced a reputed mob associate to 20 years in prison for racketeering Monday, saying evidence showed he shot Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa at point-blank range in 1992 in retaliation for Sliwa’s radio attacks on the mob.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin sentenced suspected Gambino crime family associate Michael Yannotti, 43, to the maximum sentence she could for racketeering conspiracy, telling him there would be no way to promote respect for the law if the sentence were any shorter.

Sliwa, who testified that Yannotti shot him twice in the back of a locked cab before he managed to slither out a window onto a Manhattan street, wept as the verdict was read. He said the attack ruined his marriage, jeopardized his career and left him with painful intestinal injuries.

Scheindlin described his survival as miraculous, saying Sliwa saved his own life by demonstrating ``superhuman strength and ingenuity to escape that death car.″

Yannotti has insisted he did not shoot Sliwa, and shook his head each time Sliwa or the judge accused him of the shooting.

A jury acquitted him of attempted murder charges, but prosecutors asked Scheindlin to impose the maximum 20-year sentence for the one count of racketeering he was convicted of.

Prosecutors say John ``Junior″ Gotti ordered Yannotti and Joseph D’Angelo to kidnap Sliwa in retaliation for derogatory comments Sliwa made on his radio show about Gotti’s father, John Gotti, who died in prison in 2002 while serving a life sentence for a racketeering conviction.

Gotti denies ordering the attack on Sliwa, and prosecutors decided last month to drop their case against him after juries deadlocked all three times he was tried for the Sliwa shooting.

D’Angelo pleaded guilty to charges including murder conspiracy, loansharking, and gambling and securities fraud in July 2005 and testified for the government against Gotti.