Frank Cali

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Frank Cali
Francesco Paolo Augusto Calì

(1965-03-26)March 26, 1965
DiedMarch 13, 2019(2019-03-13) (aged 53)
Staten Island, New York, U.S.
Cause of deathGunshot wounds
Other names"Franky Boy"
OccupationBoss of the Gambino crime family
Criminal statusReleased April 6, 2009
Criminal chargeRacketeering, extortion, and conspiracy (2008)
Penalty10 months

Francesco Paolo Augusto Calì (March 26, 1965 – March 13, 2019),[1] known as "Frank" or "Franky Boy", was an American crime boss of the Gambino crime family.[2] Law enforcement considered Cali to have been the Gambinos' "ambassador to Sicilian mobsters" and had linked him to the Inzerillo Mafia family from Palermo. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Lipton, he was "seen as a man of influence and power by organized crime members in Italy".[3] Cali was shot and killed outside his home in Staten Island on March 13, 2019.[4] At the time of his death, most outlets identified him as a "reputed" boss of the Gambino crime family.[5][6]

Early years[edit]

Frank Cali was born in New York City[1] to Augusto and Agata Cesare, both natives of Palermo, Sicily. His father ran a household goods store in Palermo and a video store in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. He had a clean police record in the United States, even though he was mentioned in the Pizza Connection investigation, when police discovered that he was a partner of Domenico Adamita, allied to Sicilian Mafia boss Gaetano Badalamenti.[1]

Frank Cali was the nephew-in-law of Sicilian mobster John Gambino, and had close ties to the once powerful Sicilian Mafia family led by Salvatore Inzerillo. Cali was also a great-nephew of Bonanno crime family mobsters Giovanni Bonventre and Vito Bonventre.[citation needed]

As a young man, Cali bonded with Gambino mobster Jackie D'Amico, a lieutenant of Gambino boss John Gotti who operated a crew on 18th Avenue in Brooklyn. In January 1997, the FBI reported to Italian authorities that Cali had been "combined" into the Gambino family.[1] Cali was promoted to acting capo when D'Amico became acting boss.[7] Cali ran several import-export companies in Brooklyn, including Circus Fruits Wholesale in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn.[1]

Sicilian Mafia ties[edit]

Cali also maintained ties with the Sicilian Mafia. He married Rosaria Inzerillo, a sister of Pietro Inzerillo and a relative of Gambino associate Frank Inzerillo,[8][9] a member of the Palermitan Inzerillo family.

In the early 1980s, after losing the Second Mafia War against the Corleonesi of Totò Riina, the Inzerillo family was forced to flee Sicily.[10] Cali and old Palermo boss Filippo Casamento supported the return of the Inzerillos to Palermo, according to Italian authorities.[7][11]

According to the Italian Polizia di Stato (State Police), Cali was also a member of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra.[7] He was the contact for Sicilian mafiosi who traveled to New York to meet him, do business, and update him on Sicilian affairs. "He's our friend and he is everything over there", confided Sicilian mobster Gianni Nicchi to his boss Antonio Rotolo, after a trip in 2003. Nicchi is known to be one of Cali's "men of honor" who went back and forth between Palermo and the US for drug trafficking. Nicchi finally settled in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he was known to employ high school students as drug runners. [1][12]


In early 2003, Cali and fellow captain Leonard "Lenny" DiMaria began extorting 'mob taxes' from Joseph Vollaro, the owner of a trucking and contracting company that was involved in building a NASCAR speedway on Staten Island. Vollaro was eventually forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars as tribute to D'Amico and Gambino boss Nicholas Corozzo. In 2004, to avoid prison time for a cocaine conviction, Vollaro began working with federal authorities as an informant. Vollaro's undercover work led to a massive indictment four years later.

On February 8, 2008, Cali and 61 other New York Cosa Nostra associates were arrested and charged with federal racketeering charges.[7] as part of Operation Old Bridge. Old Bridge terminated the drug trafficking between the Sicilian Mafia and the Gambino family. Prosecutors claimed that Cali acted as the Gambino "ambassador to the Sicilian mobsters" and as a liaison between D'Amico and the Sicilian connections to the Inzerillo family.[13] Cali was charged with racketeering, extortion, and conspiracy along with D'Amico and DiMaria.

On June 4, 2008, Cali pleaded guilty to conspiring to extort money from Vollaro. Cali was incarcerated at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York. On April 6, 2009, he was released from prison.[14]

Around 2009, Cali's uncle John Gambino was elevated to the family's ruling panel, according to court papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court. The U.S. Justice Department demanded that Cali avoid all contact with Gambino, except for weddings or holiday celebrations approved in advance by Cali's probation officer.[15]


In October 2012, Cali was identified by New York crime reporter Jerry Capeci as the new underboss of the Gambino crime family.[16] Capeci has previously identified Domenico Cefalu, a member of the same Sicilian faction as Cali, as the current boss of the group. Though his status remains unclear, the promotion of both men follows a period in which John Gambino was a street boss within the family, showing that the Sicilian group has remained dominant in recent years. In July 2013, it was reported that Cali turned down the position of boss of the family.[17][18]


In August 2015, Daily News reported Cali had taken over as acting boss of the Gambino family.[19] A September 29, 2018, report stated that Cali "infused the family with 'zips' — hoodlums from the old country — and bulked up its heroin and OxyContin business". A gangster in Italy was quoted as having stated that Cali "is everything over there" (New York).[20]

In March 2019, police investigating Cali's death confirmed that he was "the acting boss" of the Gambino organized crime family.[21]


Cali died on March 13, 2019, at the age of 53 at Staten Island University Hospital after being taken there following a violent incident in front of his home on Hilltop Terrace in Dongan Hills, in the Todt Hill area, at about 9:20pm.[22] Cali's murder was the first murder of a boss since the 1985 assassination of Paul Castellano.[23] Surveillance video shows a pickup truck striking his parked Cadillac, a subsequent altercation between the driver and Cali, and then the shooting; Cali had tried to evade the killer by using his vehicle as a shield. He was hit ten times with bullets from a 9mm handgun.[24] As of March 16, 2019, the motive was under investigation.[25][26]

On March 16, 2019, a 24-year-old man was arrested in Brick, New Jersey by US Marshals, and will face "murder charges" on Staten Island. A pickup truck was also recovered at another location. [27] The shooter is reported to be 24 year old Anthony Comello.[28] The investigation was continuing as to motive and whether other parties were involved.[21]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Franky Boy, the invisible boss who wanted to have Palermo back, La Repubblica, February 8, 2008
  2. ^ Staten Island mobster takes Gambino leadership: report, New York Daily News, August 21, 2015
  3. ^ Marzulli, John (February 20, 2008). "Reputed Gambino crime capo's house bought with mob cash?". New York Daily News. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  4. ^ Gambino crime family boss Frank Cali shot and killed outside Staten Island home: sources, New York Daily News, March 13, 2019
  5. ^ "New Clues In Murder Of Reputed Gambino Crime Boss". CBS 2 News. March 17, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  6. ^ "WFrank Cali, the Slain Gambino Boss, Was a 'Ghost' Who Avoided the Limelight". New York Times. March 14, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019. Francesco Cali, reputed leader of the Gambino crime family, in a mugshot taken in 2008 by the Italian police.
  7. ^ a b c d Feds bust Gambino bigs, New York Daily News, February 8, 2008
  8. ^ Lemire, Jonathan (February 28, 2008). "Sicilian mobsters may become New York's latest big Italian import". New York Daily News. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  9. ^ "New York Mafia: What's happening to the Five Families?". BBC News. March 1, 2016. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  10. ^ The Case of the Exiled Mobsters, Time, February 7, 2008
  11. ^ "A look into 'Franky Boy' Cali — the alleged mob boss assassinated in New York". ABC News. March 16, 2019.
  12. ^ Dozens Arrested in Italy and US in Major Mafia-busting Operation, La Repubblica, February 7, 2008
  13. ^ 'Mafiosi' held in US and Sicily, BBC News, February 7, 2008
  14. ^ "Inmate Locator".
  15. ^ Feds trying to stop reputed capo Frank Cali's rise, New York Daily News, May 29, 2009
  16. ^ Gambinos Mine Their Sicilian Roots To Find New Underboss, Gangland News, October 25, 2012
  17. ^ Mob Pick for Gambino Godfather Turns Down the Job Archived July 20, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, DNAinfo New York, July 18, 2013
  18. ^ Franky Boy Cali Turns Down Offer To Be New Mob Godfather, Business Insider, July 18, 2013
  19. ^ Staten island mobster takes Gambino leadership, Nydailynews
  20. ^ "Where in the world is Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting ever sold?". New York Post. September 29, 2018. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Reputed crime boss' killing doesn't appear to be mob-related, source says". CNN. March 17, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  22. ^ "Reputed Gambino Mob Boss Is Shot and Killed on Staten Island". New York Times. March 13, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  23. ^ "Frank Cali, Reputed Gambino Family Mafia Boss, Shot Dead In Staten Island". March 14, 2019.
  24. ^ "Reputed crime boss' killing doesn't appear to be mob-related, source says". CNN. March 17, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  25. ^ "Man Arrested in Connection to Killing of Gambino Mob Boss Francesco Cali: NYPD". NBC New York. March 16, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019. NYPD cameras positioned on the pair of roadways that lead in and out of Todt Hill ... The two shake hands, the license plate from the suspect's vehicle falls off, the suspect picks up the license, hands it to Cali, then pulls a gun and shoots as Cali puts the license in his own car, according to the source.
  26. ^ "What we know about Anthony Comello, the mob killer arrested in N.J." New Jersey On-Line LLC. March 17, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019. While the motive for the killing remains unclear, preliminary information suggests it might not be related to organized crime, according to The New York Times. The report, however, noted that an official cautioned that determination, saying it was still early in the investigation.
  27. ^ "NYPD: Man arrested in death of Frank Cali, reputed Gambino crime family boss". USA TODAY.
  28. ^ "Arrest made in shooting death of reputed Gambino family mob boss". CBC, The Associated Press. March 16, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019. The 53-year-old Cali, a native of Sicily, was shot to death by a gunman who may have crashed his truck into Cali's car to lure him outside.

External links[edit]

American Mafia
Preceded by
Arnold "Zeke" Squitieri
Gambino crime family

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Domenico Cefalù
Gambino crime family

Succeeded by