Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese, and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

FBI and NYPD look on as slain Gambino family boss is laid to rest

The murdered head of the Gambino crime family was buried on Staten Island on Tuesday after a service attended by a little more than a dozen mourners — all under the watchful eye of authorities armed with high-powered cameras across the street.
Around 9:30 a.m., several cars including black Mercedes and a Chevy Suburban pulled up to the Scarpaci Funeral Home in Tottenville and drove around back for a service for Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali.
A pewter-gray Maserati Quattroporte remained in front of the funeral home as its male driver hopped out and went inside, leaving a woman dressed in black in the car.
Meanwhile, four unmarked black law enforcement cars were parked across the street, each with a male driver armed with a hand-held radio that they used to communicate with each other — and cameras with 500mm lenses about a foot wide.
As the cars drove by, the authorities snapped photos. At least two of them confirmed to The Post they were “law enforcement,” and a source separately said they were both FBI and NYPD.
“That’s just Standard Investigation 101,” the source said of the authorities’ photos. “They want to know who shows up, who the players are, who’s going to possibly take over, who’s active, who‘s not, the pecking order.
“Unfortunately, it’s very limited,” the source added of the scope of the group. “But they have to take what they can get.”
Then at 10:30 a.m. on the dot, cars began racing from the funeral home and headed to the Moravian Cemetery in New Dorp, where Cali was buried.
He was gunned down last Wednesday night outside his home, allegedly by right-wing nut and construction worker Anthony Comello.


Mafia associates pay $45k cash for burial plot for murdered Gambino boss

It’s a burial spot to die for — and bought in true Mafia style.
Slain Gambino crime family boss Francesco “Franky Boy’’ Cali was laid to rest in a white-pillared, red-marble mausoleum on Staten Island on Tuesday — after his associates “came in with a suitcase on Saturday and paid my boss $45,000 in cash,’’ a gravedigger there told The Post.
“He’s up in the mausoleum, in the middle section,’’ the longtime worker said of Cali’s final resting place at the Moravian Cemetery, pointing to the top of a sprawling hill where the murdered mob chief now occupies a space on the lower level of the two-tiered structure — with a view of the ocean.
About three dozen long-stemmed white roses were scattered in front of Cali’s crypt, which bore a temporary white-tape label that read “FRANCESCO CALI 1965 2019.’’
The worker said that after Cali’s entombment, the small group of people who attended it walked down to the parking area, which is near the cemetery’s chapel and office.
“Some guy from ABC was asking a question in the office. And [a] mob guy said, ‘Get the f–k out of here before I blow your f–king head off,’ ” the worker said, chuckling.


Cops let shooter of Gambino boss loose a month before murder

The right-winger accused of killing a Mafia boss landed on the NYPD’s radar last month for erratic behavior — but cops let him walk away without investigating further, police officials acknowledged Tuesday.
On Feb. 21, “There was an incident at the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan where he showed up asking to make a citizen’s arrest of a number of elected officials,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller of Anthony Comello, 24, who is suspected of fatally shooting Gambino crime family chief Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali last week.
“These were rambling statements, but it involved that he wanted to make citizen arrests of Maxine Waters, Congressman Schiff,” Miller said.
Waters and Adam Schiff are both Democratic representatives from California.
Comello also “blamed Nancy Pelosi and all kinds of other people for stealing the election,” the deputy commissioner added.
Pelosi is the Democratic House speaker from California.
“Based on that incident and the language used there, his description and image, police officers who were assigned to Gracie Mansion recognized him as an individual they encountered the following day, Feb. 22, as somebody who showed up asking to make a citizen’s arrest of the mayor,” Miller said.
“They engaged in conversation with him, and while they were waiting for a sector car to show up, he walked off. That was the extent of the contact.”
Less than a month later, Comello gunned down Cali in front of the mafioso’s Staten Island home, possibly in a snit over being barred from dating the mobster’s niece, law enforcement sources have said.
Comello showed up in court Monday covered in scrawls related to President Trump and the conspiracy-theorist QAnon movement.
The suspect’s pals told The Post that in recent months, Comello appeared to become unhinged as he posted anti-Democrat and pro-Trump posts.


Shooter of Gambino boss exhibited erractic behavior before alleged murder

The construction worker charged in the murder of Gambino godfather Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali seemed unhinged leading up to the brazen hit, friends told The Post on Tuesday.
Anthony Comello — who showed up for his first court appearance Monday with “MAGA forever” and references to the conservative QAnon movement scrawled on his hand — managed the Instagram account “realamericasvoice_” which is filled with anti-Democrat and pro-President Trump posts, said the pals, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“He had a secret Instagram. He used to post crazy things about politics and Trump and Democrats,” a source said.
The account kicked off in October with a post about Christine Blasey Ford, the sex-harassment accuser of US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“Horrible how they can try to ruin a man and his family name and it was all fake just to win. I hope you Dems never get power,’’ raged the writer.
Another post was of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence from Jan. 20 with the caption, “This has been the greatest and amazing two years in this great country (THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA) for god, for country, for family @realdonaldtrump @vp you rocked the world. We the people are blessed for your SELFLESS PATH FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. THANK YOU.”
The 24-year-old suspect also used the social media platform in his bizarre bid to boot Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo out of office.
“He was on Instagram live in front of the mayor’s house a few weeks ago demanding de Blasio comes outside because he was under citizen’s arrest,” a source said. “He was reaching out to people to sign a petition to get the governor and mayor out of office.”
The source said Comello had been messaging him lately to sign the petition.
“I thought he was whacked out so I didn’t call him,” the person said. “In high school, he was a good kid. He hung out with the wrong crowd and did pills and smoked weed and got into fights, but now it’s like he’s someone else. It’s strange.”
Police sources said Comello showed up outside City Hall a few months ago in an attempt to make a citizen’s arrest of the mayor.
Investigators believe Comello may have whacked Cali because the Mafia kingpin barred Comello from dating Cali’s niece.
It’s unclear whether Comello knew whom he was dealing with, one of his friends said.
“I’m not sure if he knew who Cali was but I know that it was over a girl, and if you ask me, he wasn’t all in the head,” said the person. “And it’s sad, because of who he killed, it’s a matter of time before he’s found dead in jail.”
Comello is expected to be extradited to New York to face charges following his court appearance in New Jersey.
His lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, didn’t return messages.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Suspected shooter claims Gambino boss came at hime with gun first

The Staten Island man accused in the ambush shooting death of a Mafia family boss said told cops he smoked pot before the killing and tried to float a self-defense theory, law enforcement sources said.
Anthony Comello, 24, told investigators that Gambino crime family boss Frank Cali came at him with a gun — forcing him to shoot.
Cops found no weapon on Cali — and are still trying to figure out what drove Comello to shoot the 53-year-old mob kingpin right outside his Todt Hill home.
Investigators are looking into the possibility the killing was by lovesick rage unrelated to mob business. Cali may have tried to prevent Comello from dating his niece, police sources said.
Comello was busted Saturday in Brick Township, N.J., about 50 miles from the scene of the crime, where his family owns a house.
Police investigate the scene where Frank Cali was shot in front home in the Todt Hill Section of Staten Island on March 13, 2019.
Police investigate the scene where Frank Cali was shot in front home in the Todt Hill Section of Staten Island on March 13, 2019.
The suspect is locked up in the Ocean County Jail in New Jersey. He plans to waive extradition at a hearing Monday, his lawyer, Robert Gottlieb told the Daily News.
The night of the shooting, Comello plowed his pickup truck into Cali’s Cadillac Escalade SUV around 9:15 p.m., while Cali was enjoying a late dinner with his family.
Cali left the dinner table to investigate. While he was outside, Comello shot at him 10 times.
Cali, who kept a low profile after taking over as head of the Gambino crime family in 2015, collapsed behind the rear bumper of his Cadillac Escalade SUV.
Comello hit the gas on his pickup truck and headed toward the Jersey Shore, police sources said.
Police searching Comello’s Staten Island home found at least one gun, but it wasn’t the murder weapon, sources said.
Despite the theory about Cali’s niece, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said Saturday that police are still investigating all angles of the case, including whether he was acting alone, or working with — or for — someone else.
Staten Island Judge Charles Troia signed off an arrest warrant that said Comello will be charged with murder, assault and weapons possession.
Comello’s friends and family are dumbfounded by the crime, said Gottlieb.
“The people who know him best, his family and friends, cannot believe what they are hearing,” the lawyer said. “There is something very wrong here and we will get to the bottom of it.”


Law enforcement anticipates assassination attempt on man susepcted of killing Gambino boss

Law-enforcement authorities anticipate a possible assassination attempt against the Staten Island man suspected of gunning down mob boss Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, sources told The Post on Sunday.
Officials haven’t confirmed that the Gambino crime family has posted a bounty on Anthony Comello, but “the general feeling is that there’s an ‘X’ on this guy’s back,” one source said.
“He’s going to have some issues in jail,” a high-ranking NYPD official said.
“Maybe there’s some guys who are wiseguys in jail who will show their allegiance to the Gambinos and say, ‘We’ll take care of this guy.’ ”
Sources said Cali’s gangland cronies would likely wait until Comello, 24, was serving time in an upstate prison before making an attempt on his life.
But that wouldn’t prevent another inmate from taking matters into his own hands to try to score a reward or simply to boost his reputation behind bars, sources said.
Comello is locked up in New Jersey’s Ocean County Jail pending charges in Wednesday night’s fatal shooting of Cali, 53, outside his home at 25 Hilltop Terrace in the Todt Hill section of Staten Island.
Investigators believe the execution-style slaying may have been revenge for Cali preventing his niece from dating Comello, sources have said.
Cali was shot 10 times after being lured outside by a killer who used a pickup truck to intentionally ram the mafia don’s parked Cadillac Escalade SUV.
Comello, a construction worker, was tracked down and taken into custody on Saturday at his family’s waterfront vacation home in Brick Township, New Jersey.
Once he arrives in the Big Apple, city correction officials will likely ask Comello, “Do you want protection? Do you feel threatened?” a source said.
“If he does, they’ll put him in segregation. They might just do it anyway just out of an abundance of caution,” the source added.
A former city correction officer said Comello could either be held in protective custody, or in a jailhouse medical unit, as was done with infamous “Son of Sam” killer David Berkowitz.
“We are concerned for [Comello’s] safety but we deal with high-profile prisoners every day, and we make whatever arrangements are necessary to protect them.”


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Personal dispute might have led to murder of Gambino boss

The man cops believe gunned down Gambino mob boss Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali may have done so because of a “personal dispute” — and not because of any mafia-related business, law enforcement sources told The Post.
The suspect, who the sources say is a 24-year-old Staten Island resident with no criminal record, is being questioned in connection to the brazen Wednesday night shooting, and cops are looking into the “possibility” that he had some sort of beef with the powerful mobster.
He was arrested by the US Marshals’ New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force in Brick, N.J., where he has family, according to sources. He was awaiting extradition Saturday afternoon.
The shooting was definitely not mob-related the sources said.
Authorities got the suspect’s fingerprint off the license plate of Cali’s silver Cadillac Escalade SUV — which he handed to the mobster after allegedly smashing into the car, the sources said.
Cali, 53, was shot several times in front of his brick mansion in the lavish Todt Hill neighborhood at about 9:20 p.m. His wife and young children were inside, police sources told The Post.
He shook hands with the shooter before he was killed, a source said.


NYPD has suspect in custody of murder of Gambino boss

A suspect is in custody in connection to this week’s slaying of reputed Gambino mob boss Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali outside his Staten Island home, police sources told The Post Saturday.
The suspect, who the sources say is a 24-year-old Staten Island resident, is being questioned in connection to the Wednesday night shooting
Authorities got the suspect’s fingerprint off the license plate of Cali’s silver Cadillac Escalade SUV — which he handed to the mobster after allegedly smashing into the car, the sources said.
Cali, 53, was shot several times in front of his brick mansion in the lavish Todt Hill neighborhood at about 9:20 p.m. His wife and young children were inside, police sources told The Post.
He shook hands with the shooter before he was killed, a source said.


Slain Gambino boss shook hands with killer before his murder

Slain Gambino crime boss Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali shook hands with his killer before he was gunned down in a fusillade of bullets, a high-ranking police source told The Post Friday.
The interaction was captured on surveillance footage from Cali’s brick mansion in the Todt Hill section of Staten Island.
Cali, 53, exited his home shortly before 9:20 p.m. Wednesday after a motorist in a blue pickup truck reversed the vehicle into the mobster’s parked Cadillac Escalade, causing it to “rock significantly,” Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea has said.
Footage from the property, which authorities obtained using a search warrant, shows Cali and the man having a conversation and shaking hands before the man passes Cali the license plate that fell off the Cadillac during the crash that lured the Gambino don outside, sources said.
The hit man — approximately 25 to 40 years of age — opened fire with a 9 mm weapon as Cali turned his back and was putting the license plate in the trunk of the Escalade, according to sources.
“It’s not like they came out, started a fistfight,” the high-ranking source said. “The importance of that is — it’s almost as if proof of the concept that hitting the car was contrived.”
“It doesn’t look like there was any rage,” said the source.
The gunman fired 12 rounds, shooting Cali at least six times.
“I heard five shots. Two at first and then three more. I was frightened,” said a longtime neighbor, Rose Zaccaria, 90. “That night it looked like a murder mystery. A lot of vehicles and lights and commotion. Like a scene from the movies.”
Cali tried to escape the hail of bullets by hiding under the Cadillac, which initially led investigators to believe that he had been run over during the attack. Police no longer believe that was the case.
The city Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Friday that Cali died from gunshot wounds, an ME source said.
Cali’s body was transferred from the Kings County Hospital morgue on Friday to the Scarpaci Funeral Home on Staten Island where a wake will be held for him, sources said.
Meanwhile, officers armed with a search warrant removed electronics, including cellphones and laptops, from Cali’s home Thursday as police deepen their investigation into the slaying, sources said.
Authorities continue to eye 72-year-old Gene Gotti, a brother of the late Gambino crime boss “Dapper Don” John Gotti, in the killing, according to law enforcement sources who say the hit on Cali was not sanctioned by New York’s five Mafia families.
Gene Gotti was released from prison in September 2018 after spending 29 years behind bars for heroin dealing.
“Everything was running smoothly. Everybody was making money and something like this is only bad for business,” a law enforcement source said. “Now they’re back on the front page.”


Murder of Gambino boss sparks mafia rumor mill

Mobsters and ex-mobsters — even those who have been exiled to the Witness Protection Program — gossip like schoolgirls. So when Gambino crime family boss Frank Cali was shot dead Wednesday night in front of his Staten Island home, the stunning break in decades of relative mob peace set phones of members and alumni of La Cosa Nostra alight with speculation as to the actors and motive behind his murder.
“Is it buzzing?” former Gambino captain Michael “Mikey Scars” DiLeonardo asked rhetorically about the current state of the mobster rumor mill. “It’s on fire!”
DiLeonardo, 63, was a powerful figure in the crime family who lived in a Staten Island manse of his own before he testified against former associates, including John A. "Junior" Gotti, and temporarily entered government protection. DiLeonardo says he knew Cali when the future crime boss was only the broke young son of a Brooklyn storeowner and “a kid who hung around the Gambinos.”
“I used to shylock him every week,” DiLeonardo said fondly, meaning he gave him high-interest loans. He also took credit for Cali getting “straightened out” — or “made” — and elevated to captain status on his way to the crime family’s highest rungs.
Michael DiLeonardo, right, accused of being a member of the Gambino crime family, right, followed by his attorney Craig Gillen, left, leave the federal building in Atlanta, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2001. With no explanation from defense attorneys and prosecutors, testimony in the Gold Club trial was abruptly canceled Wednesday, and the proceedings were put on hold.
DiLeonardo, confessed former Gambino hitman John Alite and convicted Genovese killer Anthony Arillotta, all mobsters-turned-informants, in interviews with USA TODAY expressed shock over Cali's murder considering he was known as a nonviolent mob boss who ran his crime family like a corporation.
The ex-gangsters, each of whom have firsthand experience in responding to mob crises, said that while authorities attempt to solve the murder, wise guys associated with Cali are likely conducting their own investigation. The result could be a lasting return to the violence of a flashier, more trigger-happy era of organized crime.
“If this is still the Mafia, that guy’s got to get killed that did the shooting,” mused Alite, 56, who has confessed to involvement in several murders and has since authored books including Darkest Hour II, his second mob tell-all. “And anybody that helped them. Anybody who was associated with this murder, whether it was mob related or not, a couple of guys got to get killed now.”
Arillotta — a Massachusetts gangster who confessed to two murders, testified in New York City mob trials and spent eight years in prison — echoed Alite’s assessment.
“It could be a freak thing, wrong place, wrong house, wrong time,” Arillotta said. “They'll kill that guy. Either way there’s going to be more violence.”
Retired FBI supervisor Bruce Mouw said that rampant speculation among mobsters follows every hit and was likely even stronger this time because Cali’s murder was the first rubout of a Gambino made man in decades. 
Mouw called mob-related murders “the hardest cases to investigate,” and cautioned that the public might never learn who was behind Cali’s death, or only after a cooperating witness comes clean about it years from now.
“I can’t really remember one that they solved in a traditional way in twenty years, because nobody sees nothing, especially in Staten Island,” Mouw said.
He downplayed the idea that revenge was imminent and recalled advice he used to give: “I always told my agents, don’t speculate — find out.”
The ex-mobsters USA TODAY spoke with didn’t follow that discipline. Drawing from spare details released in early news reports and the grist of fellow chattering gangsters, they discussed the possibilities that the hit was a sanctioned killing, a “personal matter” gone wrong (like an illicit affair) or even a road rage incident completely unrelated to Cali’s organized crime status. They also said there were rumors that Cali was involved in the drug trade.
But they acknowledged that each of these motives are unsatisfying in that they clash with Cali’s reputation as a buttoned-up gangster who tried to move the crime family away from the attention-grabbing violence of its former patriarch, the elder John Gotti.
Cali was reportedly shot six times, and neighbors saw a pickup truck fleeing the scene. The ex-mobsters leaned on their expertise to deduce that the number of vehicles involved could reveal whether this was a true gangland hit.
“Until I find out how many cars there were, I won’t know,” said DiLeonardo, speculating that a true mafia murder plot would involve hitmen in multiple vehicles.  
Alite used the same logic: “When you hit a boss there are three cars — two on each corner and one in front,” said the former Gambino gunman. “He’s not getting away.”
Alite said that the fact that Cali was apparently alone and unguarded outside of his Staten Island home was an indication of how much the mob had changed. Gone are the days when regular violence necessitated fortified compounds and armed entourages for its bosses.
DiLeonardo partly credited Cali’s own management style for the recent peace. He said Cali took a foothold in the family in the 1990s due to a power vacuum created when its top figureheads, including Gotti, were imprisoned or dead. Following Gotti’s murder conviction in 1992, DiLeonardo said, “we didn’t have one sanctioned hit,” though “there was a couple of sneak things” resulting in murders without official permission.
FBI supervisor Mouw, who said he first met Cali when the future top mobster was a young grifter involved in an alleged calling card scheme, took issue with the post-mortem chorus declaring him the Steve Jobs of crime.
“He was a mobster, pure and pure,” Mouw said. “He was Sicilian, very smooth, a moneymaker and a good businessman, so he’s smarter than your average mobster. But you can dress him up, buy him a nice house in Staten Island, he’s still a mobster.”
Mouw credited the long lull in violence not to Cali but to tougher organized crime statutes with devastating sentences for those convicted of mob-related murder. Mouw also stated that though multiple news outlets have referred to Cali as the reputed boss of the family, his information is that Cali was underboss, and the top job belongs to another Gambino, Domenico Cefalu.
DiLeonardo suggested that jostling at the top of the crime family could determine the response to Cali’s killing. He said that Cali’s close confidant, Lorenzo Mannino, will likely be handling the de facto sleuthing of what happened to Cali. Mannino, who could not be reached for comment, was previously sentenced to fifteen years in federal prison for racketeering and a mob rubout that occurred in the late 1980s.
“Lorenzo’s in the Frank Cali mold,” DiLeonardo said. “Very smart, low key. But Lorenzo’s a killer. Where Frank wasn’t a killer, Lorenzo is a killer."


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Slain Gambino boss was an old school mobster who avoided the limelight

Francesco Cali wore the label quietly: old school. The reputed boss of the Gambino crime family was nothing like John J. Gotti, the flashy “Dapper Don” who ruled the same operation when Mr. Cali was a young man.
He kept a low profile not just in his business dealings but in his Staten Island neighborhood. Yet he met the same bloody fate as many of his predecessors on Wednesday night, gunned down in the street outside his brick home in a brazen killing that recalled the mob wars of decades past.
Mr. Cali, 53, represented a shift in Gambino leadership in recent years, a boss who sought to avoid the limelight in favor of discreet meetings — face to face, no telephones — while at the same time reaching across the Atlantic and tapping Sicilian networks for foot soldiers and drugs, law enforcement officials said.
In short, he was “an earner,” one who brought to his leadership his relative youth and a reputation for spreading the wealth among the Gambino family while deftly avoiding the traps and wiretaps of law enforcement.
“He was the polar opposite of John Gotti,” said one law enforcement official who investigates the Mafia, speaking anonymously for security reasons. “He’s basically a ghost.”
None of those cautious instincts would serve him on Wednesday night. Investigators said it was too early to tell whether his killing was the latest twist in a decades-old power struggle inside the Gambino family, an outside attack or even mob-related at all.
Shortly after 9 p.m., a blue pickup truck backed into Mr. Cali’s vehicle outside his home in the Todt Hill section of Staten Island, and Mr. Cali emerged from his home, the police said. There was a brief conversation before the driver opened fire with a handgun, firing 12 shots — “pow-pow-pow-pow-pow,” one neighbor said on Wednesday night. Mr. Cali was struck at least six times. Mortally wounded, he crawled under the rear of his vehicle.
Mr. Cali, 53, was shot six times outside his home in the Todt Hill section of Staten Island on Wednesday night.CreditStephanie Keith for The New York Times
It was unclear on Thursday whether the driver, described as being between 25 and 40 years old, struck Mr. Cali’s vehicle to lure him outside, or whether the two men knew one another.
The bloody attack, in some ways, did not bear the hallmarks of hits from the past. Mafia hit men once considered it taboo to kill a rival at his home, near his family. It was also unusual in previous eras for a single gunman, rather than a team, to execute a high-ranking mobster.
And yet, even against its serene setting on Hilltop Terrace, with its stately homes, circular driveways and swimming pools, the image of Mr. Cali’s body lying on the street was a throwback to the black-and-white photographs of Mafia assassinations past.
The last time the boss of a Mafia family was assassinated was in 1985. The former Gambino boss Paul Castellano was gunned down outside Sparks Steak House in Midtown, a power grab orchestrated by a young Mr. Gotti, who ran the family through the late 1980s in his trademark showy style.
Mr. Cali rose quickly through the ranks of the family, becoming a “made” member in the late 1990s, on the way to a “swift promotion” to acting captain in less than 10 years, a prosecutor, Joey Lipton, said at a 2008 detention hearing after Mr. Cali’s arrest in an extortion case. In Federal District Court in Brooklyn, Mr. Lipton said Mr. Cali had “familial and blood ties” to the Gambino family, tracing back to Sicily.
His wife, Rosaria Inzerillo, had several relatives associated with the Gambino family, including her cousin, Tommy Gambino, court papers from that hearing said. Mr. Cali started out in a crew under a rising captain, John D. D’Amico, known as Jackie the Nose, who became the acting boss of the family around 2005.
Mr. Cali’s swift rise did not please everyone. One Gambino soldier, Joey Orlando, was overheard on a wiretapped call that was disclosed at the hearing complaining about Mr. Cali, whom he described as “Jackie’s guy,” becoming a captain in the organization.
“Jackie made him a skipper,” Mr. Orlando was overheard saying. “Some snot-nosed, 30-year-old kid.”
That “kid” would rise by 2014 to become the family’s underboss, under the leader at the time, Domenico Cefalu, and a year later, would become the acting boss when Mr. Cefalu stepped down.

Paul Castellano led the Gambino crime family until he was murdered in Manhattan in 1985.
Prosecutors said Mr. Cali tapped his connections in Italy, importing many members and associates in his crew from Sicily, where he was seen as a man of “influence and power.” In one wiretapped call, two mobsters speaking in Italian were overheard discussing Mr. Cali’s status in New York. “He’s a friend of ours,” one said. “He is everything over there.”
Mr. Cali’s contacts with Italy were part of a broader trend in the 21st century of crime families importing Italian-born men, the law enforcement official said.
“They have what they believe are the old values, because the American-born kids don’t have the right stuff anymore,” the official said.
Mr. Cali was observed by law enforcement at Gambino family events as early as 1990, when he was in his 20s, prosecutors said. He was present at the wake of his famous predecessor, Mr. Gotti, who died of cancer in 2002 after a decade in prison, and at several other Gambino wakes in the years to come. Prosecutors said Mr. Cali’s own Christmas party in 2007 included among its guests Mr. D’Amico and others from the family.
Mr. Cali was arrested only once, in the 2008 extortion case, a small part of a much broader indictment that charged dozens of Gambino family members, associates and others with a wide array of crimes.
The extortion case involved a failed attempt to build a Nascar track in Staten Island. The Gambino family controlled the trucking operation that would have hauled the dirt to fill the track’s foundation. Mr. Cali pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy in the case and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
“As a client, Frank was smart, mild-mannered and low key,” his lawyer at the time, Harlan J. Protass, said. “I feel terrible for his wife and children, who he loved very much.”
Prosecutors in that case said Mr. Cali — at the time a captain in the family — committed other crimes for which he was never charged. He installed illegal Joker Poker video machines in a cafe in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and split the profits with the cafe’s owners after the requisite 10 percent cut for the Gambino family, according to the memo from the 2008 detention hearing.
John Gotti ran the Gambino family through the late 1980s in his trademark showy style.
He also took a percentage of the proceeds of an annual Italian feast in the neighborhood, and in the mid-1990s, was involved in a swindle related to selling calling cards with airtime minutes from telephone companies, a lucrative venture in the days before cellphones, the prosecutor’s memo said.
In 2014, federal prosecutors identified Mr. Cali as an associate of Franco Lupoi, a Brooklyn baker suspected of playing a role in a heroin pipeline from Italy to the United States. The case attracted significant attention because it seemed to suggest that the Italian crime group behind the pipeline, ’Ndrangheta (pronounced n-DRANG-gay-tah), was seeking to expand to New York, something the authorities said was a new development.
Mr. Cali had substantial real estate holdings in the Dominican Republic, where he sometimes vacationed. He also owned a business that imported tomato sauce, olive oil and mineral water, and opened a large fruit store in Brooklyn, and later an Italian supermarket.
On Hilltop Terrace, he was remembered as a decent but private neighbor. “He waved to me, I wave to him, I don’t ask no questions,” said Mike Deluca, whose house was behind Mr. Cali’s.
Mr. Cali rose to power largely by avoiding detection, law enforcement officials said. Other captains were not allowed to call him directly, and he avoided speaking on the phone. He chose to meet in person. “Cali did not have to get his hands dirty,” Mr. Lipton said in court.
For a Mafia boss, Mr. Cali did not have a reputation for violence. “I never heard of Frankie ever having a fist fight, let alone killing anybody,” said one former Gambino family member, who has testified in federal court for the government in several organized crime trials.
The Gambino family was once the nation’s largest and most influential organized crime group, but several of its leaders were convicted in the 1990s of crimes that included murder and racketeering. Mr. Cali’s death arrives amid a recent spate of violence in the Mafia underworld, including the assassination of a reputed Bonanno crime family associate at the drive-through window of a McDonald’s in the Bronx.
The chain of events in the underworld is “more than we generally have seen in the last couple years,” the chief of detectives of the New York Police Department, Dermot Shea, said on Thursday. “And all of this will be part of the investigation going forward.”


The Gambino Crime Family since the 1950s

Decades have passed since the era when the notorious John J. Gotti strutted around Manhattan and the Gambino family virtually dominated New York City’s organized crime world.
In the years since, the organization’s power has declined, and apart from a few relatives starring in reality television shows, Gambino bosses have kept a relatively low profile.
But on Wednesday, the family was vaulted into the spotlight after its reputed boss, Francesco Cali, was fatally shot outside in his home on Staten Island.
The killing was striking for how it seemed to connect Mr. Cali, a publicity-shy don, with the ill-fated ends of past Mafia bosses.
To understand how, you’ll need to know the history of the Gambino family.
Carlo Gambino
Though the crime organization in question had been operating for decades, the Gambino family’s name came from Carlo Gambino, who was the family’s boss from 1957 to his death in 1976.
The five major families who controlled organized crime in New York came to prominent attention because of hearings on Capitol Hill during that time. All five Mafia families were named after their leaders, and those names — the others are Bonanno, Colombo, Genovese and Lucchese — have stuck since.
American Mafia families generally have similar structures. At the top is a boss who runs the show. His second-in-command is known as an underboss. He also has a consigliere, a counselor or adviser.
Underneath all of them are capos, or captains, who run crews of soldiers. Soldiers are the lowest formal members of a Mafia family, but they have usually proven themselves and have taken an oath to the organization.
He died of natural causes at age 74.
Mr. Gambino had been suffering from a serious heart condition for years before he died. Law enforcement officials at the time didn’t suspect foul play in his death.
But it’s a fair question, considering the fates that met other mob bosses — including the man who took over for him, Paul Castellano.
Paul Castellano
He was murdered outside a Manhattan steak house.
Mr. Castellano, Mr. Gambino’s brother-in-law, took the reins of the Gambino family in 1976. By then, it was one of the largest and most powerful crime organizations in the United States. He held the position for nine years, until he was gunned down outside Sparks Steak House in Midtown.
Mr. Castellano’s killing — which, before Mr. Cali’s death, was the last time a Mafia boss was killed in New York City — was said to be a power grab orchestrated by Mr. Gotti.
John J. Gotti
Unlike the heads of families past, John J. Gotti courted publicity and flaunted his power from the time he took control of the Gambino family in 1985 to his imprisonment in 1992.
In the tabloids, Mr. Gotti was given the name the “Dapper Don.” He often appeared in smart suits with luxe silk ties and was known for lavish spending.
His other moniker, “Teflon Don,” came from how often he managed to avoid prosecution. He was acquitted in three high-profile trials during his first five years as the Gambino boss.
But Mr. Gotti’s notoriety also came from his ruthlessness. He was known for having a furious temper and for ordering the killings of people he suspected were informants.
It was an informer who would prove his undoing. Salvatore Gravano, Mr. Gotti’s underboss, testified as a government witness at Mr. Gotti’s fourth trial on murder-racketeering charges.
Salvatore Gravano
Mr. Gravano, also known as “Sammy the Bull,” testified about Mr. Gotti’s involvement in Mr. Castellano’s murder, as well as in other crimes.
Ultimately, Mr. Gotti was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Federal prosecutors said at the time that Mr. Gotti had appointed his eldest son, John A. Gotti, as the acting boss. But the younger Mr. Gotti went to prison in 1999, after pleading guilty to extortion. He has since said that he quit the mob around that time.
John A. Gotti
Investigators later said that they believed John J. Gotti was still controlling the Gambino family — acting through his older brother, Peter — until his death in prison in 2002.
Peter Gotti, who is now 79, was reputed to have become the official boss of the family after his brother’s death. He went to federal prison in 2004, serving sentences for racketeering, money laundering, extortion and plotting to kill Mr. Gravano.
Peter Gotti
With Peter Gotti in prison, the Gottis were seemingly no longer running the daily operations.
Besides John J. Gotti, the leaders of the Gambino family generally kept a low profile. The next time the family came to widespread media attention was 2008, when law enforcement arrested 62 people on federal racketeering charges.
The indictment filed by federal prosecutors said the reputed acting boss was John “Jackie” D’Amico.
John “Jackie” D’Amico
He was succeeded by Domenico Cefal├╣, according to a report from The New York Daily News in 2011. He ran the family until Mr. Cali took control.
With Mr. Cali’s murder, it was not clear who would take the reins of the Gambino family.
The family has retained its fame. In 2004, John J. Gotti’s daughter Victoria, and her family, starred in a reality television show called “Growing Up Gotti.” The show ran for three seasons before it was canceled.
Ms. Gotti later competed on “The Celebrity Apprentice” and made appearances on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and VH1’s “Mob Wives.”
Karen Gravano, right, with fellow “Mob Wives” cast members.
Karen Gravano, right, with fellow “Mob Wives” cast members.
She’s not the only Gambino-adjacent woman on reality shows. Karen Gravano, the daughter of the man who helped send Ms. Gotti’s father to prison, also appeared on “Mob Wives.”
Ms. Gravano went on to become an executive producer on another reality show, MTV’s “Made in Staten Island,” which starred her daughter, Karina Seabrook. The show was met with outcry from city officials, and MTV pulled it from the air after three episodes.


Staten Island neighborhood of slain Gambino boss is known for mob ties

Cloaked in green, perched high above the city and offering the kind of privacy that would appeal to mob bosses, Todt Hill on Staten Island would in many ways be a fitting location for an old-fashioned Mafia hit.
It has the history. Paul Castellano, who led the Gambino crime family until he was murdered in Manhattan in 1985, conducted business from his Benedict Road mansion. It has also been the home of many other reputed mobsters, including Salvatore Gravano, known as Sammy the Bull, a onetime hit man who informed on his boss, John Gotti.
It also has the look. A Tudor-style house on Longfellow Avenue famously served as the setting of Vito Corleone’s home in “The Godfather,” where the Mafia don greeted guests during his daughter’s wedding in the opening scenes of the movie.
On Wednesday night, Francesco Cali, the reputed boss of the Gambino family, was fatally shot outside his home on Hilltop Terrace, opening a new chapter of Mafia folklore for a typically peaceful neighborhood with some of New York’s City’s finest views and homes. Mr. Cali was shot six times and pronounced dead at Staten Island University Hospital.
Topping out at about 400 feet, the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard south of Maine, the neighborhood’s homes offer panoramic vistas of the New York City skyline, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, New York Harbor and the New Jersey shore. It is filled with opulent, custom-built mansions currently listed for as much as $4 million.
A home in Todt Hill that was used in the movie “The Godfather.”
A home in Todt Hill that was used in the movie “The Godfather.”
It tends to attract doctors, lawyers and executives who value their privacy and aren’t planning any neighborhood cookouts. The irregular streets have no curbs or sidewalks. Well-aged trees offer natural separators between the large plots of land. One resident said on Wednesday he had lived in his house for 12 years and never met his neighbors.
“It’s not very conducive to bringing people pumpkin pies,” Ella Goldin, a Todt Hill resident, told The New York Times in 2011.
The neighborhood is seen as a serene getaway from the bustling city. About 20 miles from midtown Manhattan — about an hour and 15 minutes by car, or an hour and 45 minutes by train and ferry — it has no restaurants or shopping, mostly just trees and homes. Centers of activity include the Richmond Country Club and the elite Staten Island Academy.
“It is charming and elegant, and sometimes when I come up the hill, I feel like I’m in Europe,” Michelle Nicolo told The Times in 2005, shortly after moving in.
Though the neighborhood has generally low crime rates, a brazen crime spree in the 1990s laid bare the neighborhood’s Mafia connections. Investigators tracking a series of burglaries learned that several organized crime members had been victims, leading to an uneasy chase between the police and the mobsters to find the burglars first. The thieves had made off with more than $2 million in cash, electronics and jewelry, including pinkie rings.
The culprits, Michael McLean and Robert Mede, were eventually caught after Mr. McLean used two Broadway tickets he had stolen. The Todt Hill victim went to the theater, tipping off a police officer after they took their seats.


Neighbors recall gunfire that led to murder of Gambino boss

Neighbors on Staten Island recalled on Thursday hearing the terrifying spray of gunfire that took down Gambino crime boss Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali.
The reputed mobster, 53, was shot dead just outside his Todt Hill mansion around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday — as his wife and young children were inside.
“About 9 last night, we were watching TV and we heard, ‘Pop! Pop! Pop!’ I thought it was fireworks,” said Fred Guinta, who lives directly behind Cali’s home in the quiet, upscale neighborhood. “My wife said, ‘Those are gunshots!’ It was six or eight shots.”
The gunman ran over the bleeding Cali — who was still alive — with his blue pickup truck before fleeing, sources said.
Another neighbor who didn’t want to be named also heard the shots.
“Then I looked out and saw a blue pickup zoom past my house and fly off the block,” he said. “I looked back and saw a guy and woman screaming. I ran back inside.”
Meanwhile, a nurse at Staten Island University Hospital North said he was working in the trauma unit when Cali came in, clinging to life.
“He came in alive, a level-one trauma case,” said the male nurse, who stopped by the scene of the murder Thursday morning. “Then he was listed as ‘code infusion,’ which means we were giving him massive infusions because of the extreme blood loss. He was pronounced just after.”
The stunned nurse added, “They must have worked on him for almost 15 minutes at the scene. He was shot at 9:17, EMS was done with him on scene around 9:30 and we got him at the hospital at 9:45.”
Cali was shot multiple times in the head and the body, sources said.
The hit at Hilltop Terrace occurred less than half a mile away from where Paul Castellano — the then-Gambino boss who was rubbed out on an order from John Gotti in 1985 — lived on Benedict Road.


Recently released brother of John Gotti eyed in murder of Gambino boss

Just-out-of-jail Gene Gotti — released from prison six months ago after serving 29 years for dealing heroin — may be under the watchful eye of authorities looking for links to the brutal execution of a reputed Gambino gangster, sources told the Daily News Thursday.
Cops are chasing down several theories over who was behind the bloody assassination of Frank "Franky Boy" Cali, an alleged Gambino boss — including whether Gotti, the younger brother of late Gambino godfather John Gotti and a capo before going to prison, is now looking to claw back his stake in the family business.
Cali, 53, died in a hail of gunfire outside his Staten Island home late Wednesday. The gunman fired up to 12 times, striking Cali six times in the chest on Hilltop Terrace near Four Corners Road in Todt Hill about 9:15 p.m.
Cops on Thursday were searching the area and Staten Island’s bridges for surveillance video that might have caught the getaway vehicle — a blue or silver pick-up truck — as it fled the borough.
But the vehicle may also have been ditched at a demolition site, a law enforcement source said.
Cali’s family didn’t cooperate with police requests to review the surveillance video captured on their home security system — forcing cops to get a warrant to review the recordings, sources told The News.
His execution ignited fears of a civil war within the Gambino family sparked by the 73-year-old Gotti’s return — or a mob war, if it turns out Cali was killed by a member of a rival family.
“It’s total speculation,” a source said about a possible Gotti link. “But it’s also something to look out for. Was Gene trying to reclaim some of his business and Cali wasn’t going for it?”
Investigators are looking at other angles as well: a rubout by Cali’s underlings or someone who had a personal beef with the Sicilian-born mobster.
Mayor de Blasio on Thursday echoed the shock felt by the city in the wake of the vicious slaying.
"We thought those days were over,” the mayor said. “Very surprising, but I guess old habits die hard."
Neighbors, watching as cops loaded a silver SUV onto a police truck outside Cali’s home Thursday, were equally stunned.
“It’s shocking,” said Karen Curitore, 62. “It’s one thing if somebody’s house was robbed, but to hear that someone around the corner has been gunned down in their driveway, that’s disconcerting.”
Cali, who served on the Gambino family’s ruling panel for several years, was elevated to acting boss in 2015, replacing then 68-year-old Domenico Cefalu, authorities say.
His murder recalled the 1985 execution of Gambino boss Paul Castellano, who was ordered shot dead by John Gotti in front of Midtown’s Sparks Steak House, in the most infamous mob hit in the city’s recent history.
John Gotti, who took over the Gambino family after Castellano’s shooting, died in prison in 2002. Cefalu reportedly ousted Gotti’s kin to head the Gambino family in 2011.
Cali’s ties to the mob ran deep. His wife is the niece of Gambino capo John Gambino. His brother Joseph and brother-in-law Peter Inzerillo are reputed Gambino soldiers.
He rose quickly through the ranks of organized crime, becoming a powerful capo before the age of 40, less than a decade after he became an inducted member, according to court papers.
Federal authorities tried to put a stop to Cali’s rise in the late 2000s after he completed a 16-month sentence for an extortion scheme connected to a failed bid to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island.


Gambino boss was lured outside home by car crash before murder

The person who whacked Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali lured the Gambino crime boss out of his Staten Island home by smashing into the mobster’s car — and then started shooting at the mobster while he was distracted by a busted license plate, law enforcement sources said Thursday.
Cali, 53, came out of his Todt Hill house Wednesday night after the shooter and a driver backed his blue pickup into Cali’s silver Cadillac Escalade SUV, according to police.
The crash knocked the Cadillac’s front plate off, and Cali picked it up and went around to the trunk of his car to put the plate inside.
That’s when the trigger man started shooting, sources say.
Cali dropped to the ground and the gunman stood over him firing off shots — while the mafia bigwig tried to seek cover under his vehicle, according to sources.
Cops say Cali was hit at least six times, and 12 shell casings were found at the scene. The gunman eventually fled, and Cali was rushed to Staten Island University Hospital North, where he was declared dead.
The pickup hasn’t been caught on camera crossing any bridges out of Staten Island since, sources say.
“You’ll never see that car again,” said a source. “It’s already the size of a stamp.”
Cali is the first mob boss murdered in the Big Apple since 1985, when then-Gambino boss Paul Castellano was gunned down at Sparks steakhouse in Midtown on the orders of John Gotti.