This was no Italian job: Mob author eyes ‘other people’ in Cali hit

Mike Montone
March 15, 2019 - 10:46 am
Frank Cali and Gianni Russo

(Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images) (Egan-Chin, Debbie/NY Daily News via Getty Images)


NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- It's the most high-profile mob hit in New York City in years.

There's still no word on who gunned down reputed Gambino family boss Frank 'Franky Boy' Cali outside of his Staten Island home.

Reports say the killing may have come, not from another family, but as a result of an internal power struggle possibly tied to the release from prison of John Gotti's brother Gene.

RELATED: Gunman may have staged car accident to lure mob boss from his home: NYPD | A look into 'Franky Boy' Cali — the alleged mob boss assassinated in New York | Reputed Gambino crime boss shot to death in New York City

Not everyone agrees that Italians were behind the murder; author and actor Gianni Russo, who claims to have ties to the mob, says things just don't add up.

“In my knowing what I’ve known all my life around Italians, this wasn’t an Italian hit,” he told 1010 WINS' Sweetina Kakar, “They would never kill a made guy like him, a respected guy like him in front of his family.”

Russo says the killing was likely the result of a business dispute with rival gangsters, not an internal power struggle.

 “I think he’s maybe has problems with making a lot more money, and he’s pissing off other people…people other than Italians,” he said.

It's the point of view of a man who claims to have been closely connected to some of history's most notorious hoodlums.

"I’m just 12 or 13-years-old when Frank Costello 'The Gentleman Mobster' took me under his wing, and I was with him until he died,” Russo recalled.

Russo's book 'Hollywood Godfather' details his days working for Costello and Meyer Lansky, and a friendship with Paul Castellano's driver Tommy Bilotti.

Bilotti, who Russo says served as best man at his wedding, was killed along with then Gambino boss Castellano outside of Spark's Steakhouse. That hit was orchestrated in a power grab by Castellano successor John Gotti.

It's based on that experience, he explains, that the odds of Cali's death being an Italian job, are slim.

“That’s why this, when I heard this last night and how it was done, I can’t believe it was Italians. It’s part of the code you don’t do that. Think about how many bosses were killed in front of their families, none,” he said, “As soon as I heard that, and it was in front of his house, and his wife and kids are inside, doesn’t sound like an Italian situation.”

If it was Italians, Russo says, the hit would have gone down in a much more public fashion.

“Think of all the hits, you can go back into history, they’re done in restaurants, on sidewalks, look at Joey Gallo, I can go down the list of every mob hit,” he explained.

That's why he believes the finger will eventually be pointed at criminals of a different ilk.

“There’s so many organized groups right now from different countries other than Italy,” he told WINS.

As far as underworld plotting goes Russo says he's seen it all, even a blackmail scheme involving Marylin Monroe.

“I was at the last meeting up in Cal Neva when the five families where gonna try to set up John the president, and Robert the attorney general to get one more picture with them together (with Monroe) to disgrace them and blackmail them," he said.

It's similar to a tactic that was rumored to have been used on FBI Director J Edgar Hoover.

"They had pictures of J Edgar Hoover crossdressing so he denounced that there was a mob," Russo explained.

It was the result of the erosion of a mutually beneficial relationship between the Kennedys and the Italian mob.

“Joe Kennedy went to Costello to get his sons into the positions they were,” he said, “They were supposed to invade Cuba and get their casinos back. It was a win-win for everybody."

But he says things went south when Bobby convinced his brother not to invade Cuba out of spite for his father. Russo believes it's that betrayal that lead to the murder of John and Bobby Kennedy.

It was the brother. Bobby became crazy with this righteousness stuff because he hated his father and all his friends,” he said, "They waited and waited and waited and nothing was happening, they started pulling the plug and they told Joe. Senior knew what was going to happen, so they took John first and they took the other three years later.”

Cali's embodiment of the low profile gangsters of yesteryear makes his death a tough pill to swallow for the Gambino family. Russo had initially predicated a lengthy career for the young boss.

"This guy was a gentleman... I thought he had a good 20 years running this thing," he said. "He was a breath of fresh air, being incognito. Nobody knew about this guy."

Russo says Cali eschewed the flashiness of infamous Gambino boss John Gotti, who he blames for destroying the mob.

“In the three or four years all I heard is how good this kid is. He’s old school, he is old school, he’s from the other side and he’s not out flashing around. He just does what he does, he don’t go anywhere…it’s what it used to be. That was a secret organization,” he said.

When it's eventually determined who was behind the murder, Russo says payback will be meted out.

“This is not gonna go without any kind of retribution, believe me."

Even if he's unsure of who exactly pulled the trigger on Cali, Russo can say one thing with certainty.

“People are going to think maybe I’m doing this for the publicity, but I have nothing to do with all this,” he said.

Like 1010 WINS on Facebook and follow @1010WINS on Twitter to get breaking news, traffic, and weather for New York City.