Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, believed to be the boss of the notorious Gambino crime family, was killed on Staten Island late Wednesday, the New York Police Department said.
Cali, 53, was shot six times outside his home shortly after 9 p.m. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, an NYPD official told HuffPost.
Although a blue pickup was reportedly spotted leaving the scene shortly after the shooting, authorities have not yet released details about a suspect.
Cali was arrested in 2008 as part of a sweeping indictment by the Justice Department against organized crime. According to The Associated Press, he pleaded guilty in an extortion conspiracy involving a failed attempt to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island. He was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison and released in 2009.
Six years later, Cali took over the Gambino crime family, replacing 68-year-old Domenico Cefalu, Gang Land News reported.
The Gambinos were once one of the most notorious and powerful crime syndicates in America and one of New York’s five major Mafia families. Then, in the 1980s, the federal government unleashed a sweeping crackdown on the mob. Former U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani won a highly-publicized criminal trial in 1986 that saw the heads of all five families indicted on charges of racketeering, murder and extortion. That victory would help Giuliani win the New York City mayoral race in 1993.
Cali’s death was the first major shooting of a crime boss since 1985 when then-Gambino chief Paul Castellano was assassinated outside a steak house, Pix 11 reported. Castellano’s murder was arranged by John Gotti, who then took over as the family’s leader. Gotti himself was convicted of racketeering and murder in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison. He died a decade later.
Cali’s murder also occurred on the same day Joseph Cammarano, thought to be the acting boss of the Bonanno crime family, was acquitted of racketeering and conspiracy to commit extortion charges, The New York Times reported. Cammarano’s attorneys had argued that federal prosecutors were unfairly profiling their client, and said that the Mafia no longer existed in New York.
Last week, Carmine J. Persico, the 85-year-old former head of the Colombo crime family, died in a North Carolina prison where he was serving a 139-year sentence. Authorities believe Persico had a hand in the assassinations of mob bosses Albert Anastasia and Joey Gallo. According to The Times, the gang reportedly made millions in illegal payoffs from labor racketeering, gambling, loan-sharking and drug trafficking during Persico’s tenure.