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Disgraced Gotti guard goes berserk

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A former federal law enforcement agent who was disgraced after signing on to arrange a hit for former mob boss John Gotti kept dozens of police officers at bay outside his Eastchester Road home. He ranted to cops about a government conspiracy setup to destroy his life.

Joe Principe, who according to published reports turned 48 while the standoff took place, was a former federal corrections officer at Supermax prison in Colorado. He served 18-months in prison for trying to arrange a jailhouse hit for Gotti.

Principe held himself up at his family’s home at 2410 Eastchester Road in a 23-hour standoff with police beginning at around noon on Tuesday, November 18.

Sources close to the investigation said that the standoff began when Principe was visited by his parole officer, and indicated that he was suicidal. According to those reports, Principe refused medical attention and barricaded himself in the house, beginning the standoff.

NYPD hostage negotiators were seen escorting family members onto the scene, though despite initial reports circulating among the press corps, Principe apparently ran amuck in his house alone. Police at the scene did not comment on the standoff prior to press time last week.

“He did not have a gun,” said 49th Precinct community affairs officer Victor DePierro, after the standoff ended. “No one else was in the house.”

The standoff ended when at 11:40 a.m. on Wednesday, November 19 after Principe leapt off the house’s roof onto an airbag police had placed below. He was taken to Jacobi Medical Center for psychiatric tests.

Neighbors indicated Principe’s mother, who may have been vacationing while the standoff took place, lived in the house with Principe after he moved back to the neighborhood.

“From seeing him around the neighborhood, I can tell you he wasn’t wrapped too tight,” said Linda Rivera, who lives nearby.

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