An eloquent, supportive and neatly handwritten note to a pen-pal by the name of Aneisha Howard, written in 1999 on the inside of a motivational greeting card. The sender – ‘not the guy that the media has portrayed’ – happened to be John Gotti, a notorious American gangster and one-time head of the Gambino Family in New York City who, at the time of writing, was seven years into a life sentence for ‘thirteen counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering, obstruction of justice, illegal gambling, extortion, tax evasion, and loansharking’.

More can be learnt about the unlikely pen-pals in this New York Times article from 2002.

Transcript follows.



I hope this finds you, Caleb and Jazzrufa in good health and happy. As you can see I received your letter. Judging from your letter you have lots of energy, lots of ambition, and are a very caring mother – very unique these days. I’m sure your projects will be super successful one day soon – at least I wish it so. By the by, you’re right – I’m not “the guy that the media has portrayed”, and I want to compliment you for keeping an open mind and being able to see through their hype! I also want to thank you for your concern, I am fine. Take care, and stay strong!


John Gotti