Frank Cali, the reputed boss of the Gambino mafia crime family, has been shot and killed on Staten Island on the evening of March 13, 2019 in what appears to be a brutal gangland hit, according to police and multiple New York news reports. An initial report said that Cali was gravely wounded, but multiple news outlets now say the purported mob boss, who ran John Gotti’s former empire, is dead.
Cali, described as a quiet “old-school boss,” was 53. His nickname was “Franky Boy.”
There is no word on a suspect or arrests. It’s been a long time since a major New York Mafia family boss was shot to death. According to PIX11, you have to go back to 1985, when Paul Castellano, a notorious Gambino boss, famously met his end in an assassination orchestrated by Gotti. The Gambino family is one of the Five Families of New York Mafia legend. There were other big stories involving New York crime families the same week as Cali’s death. Reputed Bonanno mob boss Joseph Cammarano Jr. was acquitted at trial and Colombo boss Carmine Persico died in prison, the New York Times reported. He was 85.
Authorities have now confirmed the shooting death. According to CBS, police said they responded to a 911 call of an assault in progress in front of 25 Hilltop Terrace and found Cali with “multiple gunshot wounds to the torso.” EMS responded and Cali was transported to Staten Island University North where he was pronounced deceased. He was identified by police as “Francesco Cali.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Reports Say a Gunman in a Blue Pickup Truck Shot Frank Cali Six Times
The New York Daily News initially reported that the mobster “was gunned down and run over Wednesday night in a gory mob hit.”
Frank Cali’s cause of death? According to the Daily News, Frank Cali was shot six times in the chest and run over by a blue pickup. The hit occurred outside his home and he died at the hospital, Daily News reported. However, the newspaper later hedged that account and said that, although a family member reported that Cali was run down as well as shot, authorities are still investigating that detail. The New York Times also reported that Cali was shot six times.
Other sites have also reported that Cali was also run over by the assailant.
The New York Post reports that, although a 911 caller heard six to seven shots, it was unclear how many times Cali was struck. Cali was “whacked,” the Post reported.
2. Cali Was Shot Outside His SUV in an Upscale Neighborhood on Staten Island, Reports Say
A witness told the Daily News: “The man was on the ground face-up. His head was by his SUV, and the truck was open.” A neighbor told the New York Times that it sounded like all of the gunfire came from one weapon.
Pix11 reports that the New York Fire Department received the call around 9:18 p.m. and responded to a home listed under the name of Rosaria Inzerillo “in the upscale Todt Hill section of Staten Island.” Rosaria Inzerillo is Frank Cali’s wife, according to multiple published reports. Daily News reports that she is related to the Inzerillo crime family of Sicily, which was trying to rebuild inroads in the U.S.
Initial reports said that Cali was gravely wounded.
“#BREAKING: Source tells @PIX11News reputed #Gambino crime family boss Francesco #FrankCali was shot and gravely wounded on Staten Island after 9 pm tonight. Cali at SI University No. Hospital after shooting in Todt Hill. He has ties to Sicilian mob,” Mary Murphy, Pix11 investigative reporter, wrote on Twitter in one of the first accounts of the shooting. However, she later updated her story to say he was fatally shot. Michael George, a WNBC reporter, wrote on Twitter: “A law enforcement source confirms to me Gambino crime boss Frank Cali was murdered outside his Staten Island home.”
3. Frank Cali Was Born in New York to a Sicilian Family & Was Married to Wife Rosaria Inzerillo
Frank Cali’s roots in the Italian mob ran very deep and all the way back to Sicily. According to About the Mafia, Frank Cali was born Francesco Paolo Augusto Calì in New York. His parents were Sicilian, and he’s related to John Gambino and Vito and Giovanni Bonventre of the Bonnano crime family, the site reports.
His wife Rosaria Inzerillo has ties to major crime figures.
Daily Beast reports that his wife “is the niece of Gambino capo John Gambino, and his brother Joseph and brother-in-law Peter Inzerillo are well-known Gambino soldiers.” Cali was initially a capo in the family.
4. Cali Was a Less Flashy Man Than Former Gambino Boss John Gotti
The About the Mafia site notes that the Gambino crime family’s most famous member – John Gotti – was a flashier boss than Frank Cali, who was described “as being unassuming and low key the polar opposite of the Dapper Don.”
You can see a timeline of Gambino family leadership here. NationalCrimeSyndicate.com says that the Gambino mob family was founded in 1910 by Salvatore D’Aquila, a member of the Morello Crime Family in New York. It began a bloody era; D’Aquila was shot dead 15 years later, the site reports.
A new era of mobsters learned anew that being too high-profile in the media and otherwise brought down the heat in an era with RICO as a law enforcement tool. Better to stay under the radar, the thought went.
In September 2018, The New York Post reported that the new mob learned from the mistakes of Gotti and opted more for privacy than flash. The Post reported that Gotti’s brother Peter ran the Gambino family until 2015, when Domenico Cefalu and then Frank Cali allegedly took over.
5. Frank Cali Was Unique In That He was Part of Crime Families Both in Sicily & the United States, Reports Say
According to Staten Island Live, in 1997, an FBI agent “notified Italian police of Cali’s distinctive standing as a member of crime families on both sides of the ocean, after he was ‘combined’ into the Gambino family.” This was unique and stemmed from his marriage to the daughter of a powerful Palermo Mafia family.
The Post reported then that Frank Cali “lives in Staten Island and has deep ties to Sicilian wiseguys.” According to the Post, he also allegedly “bulked up its heroin and OxyContin business.”
His only conviction was an old extortion charge, the Post reports, likely due to his low profile.