Frank Cali

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Frank Cali
Francescocali.jpg
Cali's 2008 mugshot
Born
Francesco Paolo Augusto Cali

(1965-03-26)March 26, 1965
DiedMarch 13, 2019(2019-03-13) (aged 53)
Staten Island, New York, U.S.
Cause of deathGunshot wounds
Resting placeMoravian Cemetery, New Dorp, Staten Island, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Other namesFranky Boy
OccupationCrime boss, racketeer
Spouse(s)Rosaria Inzerillo
RelativesJohn Gambino (uncle-in-law)
AllegianceGambino crime family
Conviction(s)Racketeering, extortion, conspiracy (2008)
Criminal penalty10 months' imprisonment

Francesco Paolo Augusto "Frank" Cali[a] (/ˈkɑːli/, Italian: [franˈtʃesko ˈpaːolo auˈɡusto kaˈli]; March 26, 1965 – March 13, 2019),[1] also known as "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, a number of media organizations described him as the "reputed" acting boss of the Gambino crime family.[5][6]

Early years[edit]

Cali was born on March 26, 1965 in New York City, to Augusto Cesare Calì and Agata Scimeca,[1] 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]

Arrest and prison[edit]

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. Ten months later, 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]

Underboss[edit]

In October 2012, Cali was identified by New York crime reporter Jerry Capeci as the new underboss of the Gambino crime family.[16] Brooklyn Federal prosecutors had also referred to him as underboss.[17] Capeci has previously identified Domenico Cefalù, a member of the same Sicilian faction as Cali, as the current boss of the group. Though his status remained 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.[18][19]

Acting boss[edit]

In August 2015, New York Daily News reported Cali had taken over as acting boss of the Gambino family.[20] 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).[21] In March 2019, police investigating Cali's death confirmed that he was "the acting boss" of the Gambino organized crime family.[22]

Death[edit]

Cali died at Staten Island University Hospital on March 13, 2019, at the age of 53, after being shot at about 9:20 p.m. in front of his home on Hilltop Terrace in the Todt Hill area.[23] He was buried six days later at Moravian Cemetery in New Dorp, Staten Island.[24] This was the first murder of a New York crime boss since the 1985 assassination of Paul Castellano, who was also boss of the Gambino family. Surveillance video showed a pickup truck striking Cali's parked Cadillac, a subsequent confrontation between the driver and Cali, and then the shooting. Cali had tried to evade the killer by using his vehicle as a shield.[25] He was hit ten times with bullets from a 9 mm handgun.[22]

On March 16, 24-year-old suspect Anthony Comello was arrested in Brick, New Jersey, by the New York Police Department and US Marshals, to face murder charges on Staten Island.[25] Authorities originally believed the crime may have been related to a personal dispute (possibly a romantic matter)[26] and not organized crime activity.[27] On April 3, Comello was indicted and was being held in protective custody at an undisclosed New York City correctional facility.[28] On May 10, Comello pleaded not guilty to murder and weapon possession charges, although he had initially confessed to the murder to police.[29][30] One news report cited unnamed mob experts as stating that he "is almost certainly marked for death". Comello had already texted that his "family is marked".[30]

In July 2019, Comello's defense attorney stated that Comello had become obsessed with QAnon conspiracy theories, believing Cali was a member of a "deep state". Comello was convinced "he was enjoying the protection of President Trump himself" to handcuff Cali and place him under citizen's arrest, as Comello had attempted months earlier with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.[31] The New York Times reported that at his first court appearance, Comello "displayed symbols and phrases associated with QAnon scrawled on his hand in pen". The defense attorney is seeking to prove Comello "not guilty by reason of mental defect".[32] In December 2019, Comello refused to take a psychiatric exam, and was warned by the judge that his refusal could jeopardize his right to use an insanity defense; the judge also denied a motion to suppress Comello's initial confession.[29][33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Cosa Nostra-Lcn Connections: The Documents from Palermo Antimafia". La Repubblica. February 7, 2008. Archived from the original on January 19, 2020. Retrieved June 6, 2020. Born in New York on 26. 03.1965 to CALI' Augusto Cesare49 and SCIMECA Agata
  2. ^ "Staten Island mobster takes Gambino leadership: report". New York Daily News. August 21, 2015. Archived from the original on December 20, 2015. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  3. ^ Marzulli, John (February 20, 2008). "Reputed Gambino crime capo's house bought with mob cash?". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on October 11, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  4. ^ Burke, Kerry; Annese, John (March 14, 2019). "Gambino crime family boss Frank Cali shot and killed outside Staten Island home: sources". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on May 29, 2020. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  5. ^ "New Clues In Murder Of Reputed Gambino Crime Boss". CBS 2 News. March 17, 2019. Archived from the original on September 9, 2020. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  6. ^ "Frank Cali, the Slain Gambino Boss, Was a 'Ghost' Who Avoided the Limelight". The New York Times. March 14, 2019. Archived from the original on March 16, 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. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved September 27, 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. Archived from the original on March 15, 2019. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  10. ^ Israely, Jeff (February 7, 2008). "The Case of the Exiled Mobsters". Time. Archived from the original on June 6, 2020. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  11. ^ Keneally, Meghan (March 14, 2019). "A look into 'Franky Boy' Cali — the alleged mob boss assassinated in New York". ABC News. Archived from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  12. ^ Bolzoni, Attilio (February 7, 2008). "Dozens Arrested in Italy and US in Major Mafia-busting Operation". La Repubblica. Archived from the original on January 19, 2020. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  13. ^ "'Mafiosi' held in US and Sicily". BBC News. February 7, 2008. Archived from the original on January 12, 2009. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  14. ^ "Inmate Locator". www.bop.gov. Archived from the original on January 4, 2018. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
  15. ^ "Feds trying to stop reputed capo Frank Cali's rise". New York Daily News. May 29, 2009. Archived from the original on June 1, 2009. Retrieved June 1, 2009.
  16. ^ Gambinos Mine Their Sicilian Roots To Find New Underboss Archived March 9, 2019, at the Wayback Machine, Gangland News, October 25, 2012
  17. ^ Sorace, Stephen (March 14, 2019). "Frank Cali, reputed Gambino crime family boss, fatally shot outside Staten Island home: reports". Fox News. Archived from the original on December 7, 2019. Retrieved December 7, 2019. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn had referred to Cali in court filings in recent years as the underboss of the Gambino organization, related through marriage to the Inzerillo clan in the Sicilian Mafia.
  18. ^ Mob Pick for Gambino Godfather Turns Down the Job Archived July 20, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, DNAinfo New York, July 18, 2013
  19. ^ "'Franky Boy' Cali Turns Down Offer To Be New Mob Godfather". Business Insider. July 18, 2013. Archived from the original on December 28, 2018. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  20. ^ "Staten island mobster leadership of Gambino crime family: report". New York Daily News. August 21, 2015. Archived from the original on March 31, 2019. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  21. ^ "The new Mafia is wising up and keeping quiet". New York Post. September 29, 2018. Archived from the original on March 16, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  22. ^ a b Ellis, Ralph; Gingras, Brynn (March 17, 2019). "Reputed crime boss' killing doesn't appear to be mob-related, source says". CNN. Archived from the original on March 17, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019. Cali, 53, was a high-ranking member of the Gambino organized crime family and was believed to be the acting boss, a law enforcement source confirmed.
  23. ^ "Reputed Gambino Mob Boss Is Shot and Killed on Staten Island". The New York Times. March 13, 2019. Archived from the original on March 17, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  24. ^ Marino, Joe; Sheehan, Kevin; Celona, Larry; Shehy, Katy (March 19, 2019). "Slain mob boss Frank Cali laid to rest — as authorities look on". New York Post. Archived from the original on April 4, 2019. Retrieved June 6, 2020. 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.
  25. ^ a b "Man Arrested in Connection to Killing of Gambino Mob Boss Francesco Cali: NYPD". NBC New York. March 16, 2019. Archived from the original on 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. ^ "Prosecutors: Alleged mob boss killer knew he was 'marked'". CTV News. May 10, 2019. Archived from the original on July 23, 2019. Retrieved June 6, 2020. uthorities have said the March 13 killing may have been related to a romantic dispute, not mob business.
  27. ^ "Suspect in New York City murder of Gambino boss Frank Cali waives extradition". WABC-TV New York. March 18, 2019. Archived from the original on March 20, 2020. Retrieved June 6, 2020. Cali's wife and child were in the home at the time, which sources say is a highly unusual circumstance in the lore of organized crime -- which, in its heyday, followed certain rules that kept targets from getting whacked in front of their families.
  28. ^ "Grand jury indicts defendant in Staten Island mob boss slaying". Staten Island Advance. April 3, 2019. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  29. ^ a b Watkins, Ali (December 6, 2019). "Accused of Killing a Gambino Mob Boss, He's Presenting a Novel Defense". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 6, 2019. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  30. ^ a b "Prosecutors: Alleged mob boss killer knew he was 'marked'". CTV News. May 10, 2019. Archived from the original on July 23, 2019. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  31. ^ "Suspected mob boss killer tried to make a citizen's arrest of de Blasio". nypost.com. March 18, 2019. Archived from the original on December 6, 2019. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  32. ^ Watkins, Ali (July 21, 2019). "He Wasn't Seeking to Kill a Mob Boss. He Was Trying to Help Trump, His Lawyer Says". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 22, 2019. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  33. ^ "QAnon: Mafia murder suspect's belief in baseless far-right Trump conspiracy proves his insanity, man's own lawyer argues". Archived from the original on December 7, 2019.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Also spelled Calì.

External links[edit]

American Mafia
Preceded by
Arnold Squitieri
Gambino crime family
Underboss

2012–2015
Succeeded by
Unknown
Preceded by
Domenico Cefalù
Gambino crime family
Acting Boss

2015–2019
Succeeded by
Lorenzo Mannino