Infamous mafia turncoat Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano was set free after serving 17 1/2 years behind bars, on Monday, September 18. The release comes nearly five years short of the full 20-year sentence he received for pleading guilty to running a $500,000-a-week drug ring in 2001. Gravano’s lengthy detention is not to be confused with the five-year sentence he was handed – of which he served less than a year – after helping to bring down Gotti and the New York mob in the early 1990’s.
Following Gravano’s historic plea deal, which virtually did away with the fate he would otherwise be facing for admitting to 19 murders, he lived under the witness protection program for a time, before relocating to Arizona. Gravano was a marked man as it was, considering his testimony as an informant on the witness stand in Gotti’s murder and racketeering trial led to the conviction of the Gambino Family boss and 39 other high-profile mobsters across the city’s five-family Cosa Nostra syndicate. But he’d draw an even larger target on his back by organizing a nearly 50-member team of ecstasy drug dealers to work for him, while under the watchful eye of the FBI.
Gravano will remain under federal parole for the rest of his life, per the orders of federal Judge Allyne Ross during his sentencing in 2002.