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Crime & Cases January 31, 2013  RSS feed

Mobster Sent Away For Life For 1996 Woodhaven Murder

Executed Rival Over Area Drug Deals
by Robert Pozarycki

John Burke John Burke A long-time member of the Gambino crime family was ordered last Friday, Jan. 25, by a federal judge to spend the rest of his life behind bars for murdering a rival in Woodhaven in 1996 and slaying a fellow mobster in the Rockaway five years earlier, law enforcement sources said.

John Burke, 51, was convicted by a jury on June 8, 2012 on charges of murder, racketeering, robbery and related counts in connection with his role in a number of criminal operations involving the Gambino family. At sentencing last Friday, he was ordered to serve life without parole (minimum 25 years); an additional 10 years was tacked on to the sentence.

According to the FBI, Burke shot and killed John Gebert, 30, outside a bar on Jamaica Avenue in Wood- haven on July 12, 1996. Reportedly, the convicted mobster pulled the trigger on Gebert following a number of disputes with him and to assume control of drug trafficking and deals in the neighborhood.

Burke was also found to be the gunman behind the slaying of Bruce Gotterup, 36, on the Rockaway boardwalk back on Nov. 20, 1991. Reportedly, the murder was carried out after Gotterup was suspected by Burke and other mobsters of stealing from associates and showing disrespect toward a ranking member of the crime family.

Initially, a Staten Island man was charged in 1995 for the Gotterup murder based on the accusations of the suspect’s girlfriend. After spending two years behind bars, the man was freed after prosecutors dropped the charges.

Burke was serving time in a state penitentiary for a separate case when he was indicted by the federal government in August 2008 along with a host of other reputed Gambino crime family members. Among those charged in the indictments was John Gotti Jr., son of the late crime boss John Gotti.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch announced the sentencing of Burke last Friday.

In a statement, she thanked the FBI, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Queens District Attorney’s office, the U.S. Marshals Service and other law enforcement agents for their assistance in the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Evan M. Norris and Whitman G.S. Knapp prosecuted the case.