Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali was the head of the Gambino crime family in New York
Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali was the head of the Gambino crime family in New York

Mob boss killed outside NYC home

GAMBINO crime boss Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali has been assassinated in front of his Staten Island home in a stunning gangland hit that recalled some of the most infamous Mafia killings in city history.

Cali, 53, was shot several times and run over in front of his brick mansion in the lavish Todt Hill neighbourhood at about 9:20pm (12:20am AEDT).

His wife and young children were inside, police sources told the New York Post .

One man collapsed in front of the home crying: 'Papa! Papa!' as a woman shouted into her phone: 'Why doesn't the ambulance come? He's not breathing!'

New York Police Department and New York City Fire Department units respond to the Francesco “Franky Boy” Calia shooting. Picture: AP
New York Police Department and New York City Fire Department units respond to the Francesco “Franky Boy” Calia shooting. Picture: AP

 

The gunman sped off in a blue pick-up truck after the hit, which one source described as "disrespectful" because it took place near his family home in an outer borough.

Cali is the first mob boss to be slain in New York City since a fresh-faced John Gotti ordered the murder of then-Gambino boss Paul Castellano in 1985 at Sparks steakhouse in Midtown.

"Even Gotti had more respect," one police source told The Post. "He did it out in Manhattan."

Paul “Big Paul” Castellano, former head of the Gambino crime family. Picture: Supplied
Paul “Big Paul” Castellano, former head of the Gambino crime family. Picture: Supplied


Cali was rushed to Staten Island University Hospital North, where he was declared dead.

A 911 caller reported hearing six or seven shots at the scene, but it was unclear how many bullets struck Cali, police sources said.

The last picture of John Gotti from October 17 2001, months before he died. Picture: Supplied
The last picture of John Gotti from October 17 2001, months before he died. Picture: Supplied

 

Residents in the neighbourhood were spooked by the old-time rub out in the quiet neighbourhood.

"I've seen the (mob) movies … but I've never seen any activity that we feel at all that there's something strange about this area," said Prashant Ranyal, 39, who lives blocks from the scene.

"You never know who your neighbours are," a 58-year-old local named Salvatore told The Post.

The hit reminded many of mob shows like The Sopranos.  Picture:  AP
The hit reminded many of mob shows like The Sopranos. Picture: AP

 

Investigators, including the FBI, are now probing whether the rub out was sanctioned by the commission of New York's five families - or whether it was carried out by a "cowboy" gunman.

Cali, a native of Sicily, was believed by Mafia watchers to be the opposite of exuberant former boss "Dapper Don" John Gotti, because "no one ever sees him."

He was married to John Gambino's niece and served on the family's ruling panel for several years before being promoted to acting boss in 2015, replacing the previous leader Domenico Cefalu, also known as 'Greaseball'.

Police respond to Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali’s assassination. Picture: AP
Police respond to Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali’s assassination. Picture: AP


Cali "was a real quiet old-school boss," a police source told The Post.

He infused the family with a new crop of immigrant Italian gangsters and focused on the heroin and OxyContin trade, sources told The Post in September.

He had just one criminal conviction: on an extortion rap in 2008 for an attempted shakedown of a trucker working at a proposed NASCAR racetrack in Staten Island. Cali served just 16 months in the prison on the conviction.

The mob hit comes as New York has experienced a resurgence in mob activity in recent months.

In October, Bonanno associate Sylvester Zottola, 71, was gunned down at a Bronx McDonald's drive-through.

Sylvester Zottola known as “Sally DAZ” was killed in October 2018. Picture: Family handout
Sylvester Zottola known as “Sally DAZ” was killed in October 2018. Picture: Family handout

 

John Gotti's brother Gene, 71, was recently put back on the streets after spending 29 years in prison for dealing heroin.

He was photographed by The Post outside his family home in Valley Stream, Long Island, following his release on parole from a federal lockup in Louisiana in September.

 

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished here with permission


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