Gotti was short tempered and easily angered. Gotti always wanted to be a gangster as he saw them in his neighborhood everyday. His first step towards this was when he joined local mobsters along with his brothers. He quit school at fifteen and joined a teenage gang, Fulton-Rockaway Boys. Gotti was arrested five times between 1957 and 1961.
John Gotti's criminal career started with the Gambino family with fencing stolen goods from the John F. Kennedy International Airport then known as Idlewild Airport. In 1978 in the month of February Gotti was arrested for the United hijacking and two months later while Gotti was on bail he was arrested a third time for hijacking a cargo of cigarettes worth $50,000. He was later found accountable for the Northwest hijacking and was sent to Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary to serve four years in jail.
After his release he returned back to his old crew and started working for capo regime Carmine Fatico, who was charged of loan sharking and made Gotti capo of the Bergin Crew, he was accountable to Aniello Dellacroce and Carlo Gambino. Paul Castellano was declared the head of the family after Gambino's death; however he did not earn the respect of his subordinates.