New York City police on Thursday were investigating the bold, fatal shooting of accused Gambino crime boss Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali outside his Staten Island home.
Cali, 53, was shot six times in the chest by a gunman who then roared off in a blue pickup, local news media reported, citing police sources. He was rushed to Staten Island University Hospital North where he was declared dead.
Federal prosecutors have described Cali as a top leader of New York’s notorious Gambino crime family. His murder marked the most notable killing of a Gambino boss since 1985, when Paul Castellano was shot dead in front of the Sparks Steak House in Manhattan. Cali lived less than a half-mile away from Castellano’s Staten Island mansion.
Cali was a native of Sicily, and his wife is the niece of Gambino capo John Gambino.
The New York Daily News and other media outlets in the city have reported that since 2015 Cali had ascended to the top spot in the gang, although he never faced a criminal charge making the claim.
Cali’s only mob-related criminal conviction came a decade ago, when Cali pleaded guilty in an extortion conspiracy involving a failed attempt to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island, New York. He was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison and was released in 2009.
The Gambino Family was once among the most powerful criminal organizations in the United States, but federal prosecutions in the 1980s and 1990s sent its top leaders to prison and diminished its reach.
Iconic Gambino leader John Gotti died in federal prison in 2002. Gotti’s brother, Gene, 71, was released from prison last year after serving almost 30 years for dealing heroin.
Another former leader of the group, Carmine John “The Snake” Persico Jr., died last week while serving a 139-year prison sentence. He was 85.