Gunman may have staged car accident to lure mob boss from his home: NYPD

March 14, 2019 - 8:09 am

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The reputed boss of the city's Gambino crime family, Franceso Cali, was shot to death in front of his Staten Island home Wednesday night by a gunman who may have staged a car accident to lure him outside, before executing an apparent classic mob-style hit. 

Police said Thursday they were reviewing surveillance-camera video of the attack on Cali, 53, who was gunned down at his red-brick colonial-style house in the Todt Hill neighborhood. The assailant sped off in a pickup truck, police said. No immediate arrests were made.

Cali, aka "Frank" or "Franky Boy," was born in Brooklyn and was the nephew-in-law of reputed mobster John Gambino; he was also related to Gambino crime boss Paul Castellano. 

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Cali emerged from his home around 9:15 p.m. after the gunman backed his pickup into Cali's Cadillac SUV, damaging it, according to police. "With what we know at this point in time, it's quite possible that was part of a plan,'' NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Video showed the assailant pulling a 9 mm handgun and opening fire on Cali about a minute after they started talking, according to Shea. At least 12 shots were fired. After getting shot several times, Cali tried to crawl under his SUV to hide, Shea said.

He was reportedly shot in the chest six times, police say twelve shots were fired.

The motive for the attack was under investigation, police said. Shea said it was still an open question whether it was a mob hit.

Shea said the gunman was between 25 and 40 years of age. 

Police sources told ABC News Cali received a call or text that lured him outside onto his front terrace before he was shot.

Sources also told ABC News a male witness heard gunshots that he initially mistook for fireworks.  He also said he saw someone running towards the driver's side of a blue pickup truck while keeping a hand near his waistband.


Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Thursday afternoon, "We thought those days were over. Very surprising but I guess old habits die hard."

Cali was arrested in 2008 on Federal racketeering charges and pleaded guilty to extortion and served less than a year in jail.

In October of 2012, he was said to be the new underboss of the Gambino crime family, and the Daily News in 2015 referred to him as the acting boss of the Gambino family.

Neighbors reacted with surprise to the mob hit around the corner.

"We're not used to having these things happen in our neighborhood," one man said.

Karen, another neighbor, said she thought the mob had moved off Todt Hill.

"We've been about four, five years... we never heard," she said.

Another man added that most residents keep to themselves and that there aren't a lot of 'neighborhood BBQs.'

The last crime family boss to be shot in New York City was Paul Castellano. The Gambino crime boss was assassinated outside Sparks Steakhouse in Manhattan in 1985.

John Gotti's brother Gene was recently released from prison. According to amNY, mob experts have been wary of possible conflicts within the Gambino family. Some in law enforcement have speculated that Cali's death could be related to Gotti's release.

Gotti spent 29 years in prison for heroin trafficking, and would theoretically be entitled to a role in the family upon release.

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