Frank Cali, the reputed boss of the powerful Gambino crime family, was married to a woman with a powerful Sicilian Mafia pedigree. Cali’s wife, Rosaria Inzerillo, has ties to one of the most powerful mob clans in Palermo history.
New York police have confirmed that Franky Boy Cali was shot to death outside his home on Staten Island in the late evening hours. The suspect is still unknown, and there have been no arrests, but the hit was particularly brazen because, according to TMZ, Frank Cali’s wife and kids were inside the family home when he was slain.
It was the first murder of a New York mob boss since 1985, when John Gotti had Paul Castellano whacked so he could take over the family. After Gotti went to prison, Frank Cali purportedly took over the family in 2015. If you weren’t familiar with Frank Cali’s name, that was the point. The dapper don brought too much federal attention on the mob family, which opted for a lower profile among its leaders after Gotti’s downfall. The Gambinos are one of the infamous Five Families of New York.
Here’s what you need to know about Frank Cali’s family:
1. Frank Cali Was Married to Wife Rosaria Inzerillo, Who Is Related to a Powerful Mafia Clan
Rosaria Inzerillo is Frank Cali’s wife, according to multiple published reports. Daily News reports that she is related to the infamous Inzerillo crime family of Sicily. For decades, the Inzerillo family was one of the most powerful Mafia clans in Sicily. However, that changed when they lost a war with the Corleones.
The Inzerillo mob clan was later referred to as exiles and runaways after they were allowed to leave Sicily to come to the United States by a Corleone mob boss who prevailed in a bloody war with them. They were told to never return to Sicily, Time Magazine reports.
According to La Repubblica, Rosaria’s family hails from Passo di Rigano, where they serve “plates of pasta…on the tables of Nino’s Restaurant.” The site reports that various members of the Inzerillo family have settled back in Palermo over the years, returning there from the United States, as members from the old mob wars die.
Frank Cali was considered powerful on both sides of the ocean. Furthermore, Carlo Gambino was an Inzerillo cousin, which fortified the clan’s ties to the Gambinos in New York.
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 the powerful Palermo Mafia family.
Some of the Inzerillos have also met violent ends. One, Pietro Inzerillo, was beheaded in New Jersey in 1981, according to The New York Times.
Daily Beast reports that Frank Cali’s 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 Gambino family before he climbed the ranks.
2. A Family Member Rushed Outside Shouting ‘Papa,’ Reports Say
Mob hits aren’t supposed to invade a Mafioso’s family sphere. The most infamous violation of this supposed mob code on screen came when Tony Soprano was eating with his family when the ending of that show came. In real life, the assassination of Frank Cali is alleged to have occurred when “Cali was home having dinner with his family when this truck pulled up. He was shot outside the home,” Daily Mail reported through sources.
According to the New York Post, the hit against Cali was deemed particularly disrespectful because his wife and children were inside the family home when it occurred. One family member ran out shouting “papa! papa!” said the Post. A woman shouted, the Post reported, “Why doesn’t the ambulance come? He’s not breathing!”
The Daily Beast reported that he was run over after being shot and that his body bore 16 wounds.
New York police released a statement confirming that Frank Cali was shot to death in a homicide. They referred to him by his given name of Francesco Cali. 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.
The New York Daily News initially reported that the mobster “was gunned down and run over Wednesday night in a gory mob hit.” However, the second part of that claim was not confirmed by authorities and the news site later hedged that account and said that a family member reported that Cali was run down but police were still investigating that detail.
The New York Times reported that Cali was shot six times. Other news sites have also reported that Cali was run over.
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.”
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.
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.
3. Frank Cali’s Father Ran Stores & Was Born in Palermo, Sicily
A profile on Frank Cali’s ascent in Mafia world by La Repubblica, states that his parents are Augusto Cesare and Agata Cali.
The profile describes Cali’s dad as a Palermo native who ran a store in that city “selling household goods and electrical materials.” After moving to New York, he opened a video store called “Arcobaleno Italano Inc.”
The parents still live in Palermo for a couple months every year, and Cali’s father doesn’t have a criminal history although he has been questioned before by the FBI. According to the Italian news site, Frank Cali was “the invisible boss who wanted to have Palermo back.”
4. Frank Cali Has Ties to Members of the Bonnano Mob Family Too
According to About the Mafia, Frank Cali was born Francesco Paolo Augusto Calì in New York. He’s also related to John Gambino and Vito and Giovanni Bonventre of the Bonnano crime family, the site reports.
USA Today reports that the Gambino link also came through Cali’s wife who is “the niece of Gambino head John Gambino.” The Post reported then that Frank Cali lived “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. The Inzerillo-Gambino syndicate was involved in heroin trafficking, authorities believe.
5. Cali’s Death Was the First of a Purported Family Boss Since Paul Castellano’s Murder
Cali, described as a quiet “old-school boss,” was 53.
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 all the way back to 1985, when Paul Castellano, then head of the Gambino family, met his maker in a hit later revealed to have been orchestrated by Gotti.
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.