U.S. News

Former mobster Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano released from prison

(Reuters) - Former mob underboss Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, who admitted to involvement in 19 murders and testified against Gambino crime family head John Gotti, has been released from prison after serving more than 17 years, his attorney said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Former Mafia turncoat and hitman Salvatore "Sammy the Bull'' Gravano is seen in this March 6, 2000 file photo during his hearing in Phoenix, Arizona. REUTERS

Gravano, 72, was freed from federal custody on Monday after completing his sentence for running a drug ring, his New York-based lawyer Thomas Farinella said by phone.

Farinella declined to say which facility released his client or where Gravano would live.

“Right now, he’s just enjoying the fact that he’s free after 17 and a half years,” Farinella said, adding he was spending time with family.

U.S. Bureau of Prisons officials could not be reached to provide information on where Gravano was held most recently.

In the 1990s, Gravano, then a mob underboss in New York, became the highest-level U.S. mob figure ever to testify against an associate when he helped bring down Gotti.

Gotti had the nickname “Teflon Don” for his ability to evade conviction before he was found guilty in 1992 of murder, racketeering, extortion and tax evasion. He died of cancer in 2002 while serving a life sentence.

Gravano, under the deal he made for testifying against Gotti, admitted to a role in the killings of 19 people, including his wife’s brother. He pleaded guilty to racketeering and served five years in prison, according to media reports from the time.

After spending time in the federal witness protection program, Gravano began peddling the drug ecstasy in Arizona, according to court documents.

He pleaded guilty in 2001 to a federal crime of conspiracy to distribute ecstasy.

He also pleaded guilty that year to related state charges in Arizona. Those included conspiracy, dangerous drug violation and participating in a criminal syndicate, according to court records for Maricopa County.

His federal and state sentences ran concurrently, said Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Andrew Wilder.

Gravano has been ordered to live under supervised release for life, according to a federal court filing. It was unclear if he would again be in the witness protection program.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Osterman