She is, she says, just the hardworking daughter of a hardworking businessman named John Gotti. And even the FBI would have to agree with at least the first part of that statement: Victoria Gotti, who has just published her first novel, The Senator’s Daughter, may have an infamous Mafia don for a dad, but she rises at 6:10 each morning in her 14,000-square-foot white-brick colonial home on Long Island to write before her sons — Carmine, 10, John, 9, and Frank, 6 — go off to school. The rest of her day is taken up with fund-raising for the American Heart Association (she suffers from cardiomyopathy and has written a book on women and heart disease for the AHA), followed by after-school activities with the boys.
”I’ve worked very, very hard to get what I have,” says Gotti, 33, in her living room, which is studded with gold-tipped Corinthian columns and has a massive carved jaguar crouched by the fireplace. ”Nothing was handed to me.” Despite her French manicure, blond hair, and formfitting black Azzedine Alaia suit (”Yes, I cook in these clothes”), her manner is down-to-earth. She says she and her four siblings had a ”perfectly normal” upbringing, with Dad home for dinner every night. ”There were never any silver spoons,” she says. ”My father didn’t believe in spoiling us.”
Gotti herself held jobs all through college at St. John’s University and had a curfew until the day she left home at 21 to marry Carmine Agnello, 36, who owns an auto-scrap company. She believes her father drew so much media attention not for any criminal activity but because he was a consummate gentleman and a snappy dresser. As for the mountains of wiretaps compiled by the FBI: ”When you live under a microscope for 15 years,” she says, ”Mother Teresa would have a hard time.”
So readers hoping for an insider’s peek at Mob life won’t find it here. Set in Boston, The Senator’s Daughter opens with the murder of a union leader and has the district attorney’s office employing car bombings and payoffs to frame the wrong man. Is there some reference here to real-life events? No, Gotti says, but she adds, ”If I had to sum up [the book], it’s that things are not always as they seem.”