As implied by the title, Gambino boss Frank Cali has been assassinated. The mob boss to shot outside of his home in Staten Island on Wednesday night. At 9:17 p.m. eastern time, officers at the New York Police Department received a 911 call regarding an assault in progress at Cali’s home.
When the police arrived, they found 53 year-old Cali with multiple gunshot wounds on his torso the police told NPR. Frank had 6 gunshot wounds. He was rushed to the Staten Island University Hospital, but he was pronounced dead upon arrival. Witnesses of the assault told various New York media outlets that they heard several gunshots and saw a blue pickup truck flee the area quickly after the shots. The assault took place outside of the front of Cali’s home and several shell casings were located near his SUV.
The killing is reminiscent of the Mafia murders that took place in the 1980s. This is to say that the mob boss and other Mafia members have been gunned down in front of their homes or the in the streets. It’s also likely been committed as retaliation by a rival mafia and as a grudge; similar to previous murders that have occurred regarding other mob members.
Currently, there have been no arrest made regarding the shooting according to the police but there are a number of suspects.
Who was Frank Cali?
Francesco Paolo Augusto Cali was frequently referred to as “Frank” or “Franky Boy” by those closest to him. He was also believed to have deep roots stretching as far back as the Mafia in Italy.
According to Staten Island Live reports, Cali had been born in Brooklyn and later married into the Inzerillo family. This family was from Palermo and using their family ties, Frank got in close with members of the Siderno cartel located in Italy. He was the Boss of the Gambino crime family and had upheld this title for a significant stretch of time. Because of his ties to the Inzerillo family, many law enforcement officers considered the Gambinos to be the Sicilian mobsters’ ambassador.
In 2015, Frank ascended to the role of Mafia boss of the Gambino family. However, he might have been the boss for much longer; his ascension was first reported during this year, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the official start date.
Frank Cali made his home in Staten Island’s Todt hill section. His street was a beautiful, leafy one that was close to the Richmond County Country Club golf course. The golf course was private; only residents and members were allowed access to the greens and of course Cali was a part of it. Many people remember seeing the Mafia boss on the green plenty of times.
Frank’s house was also very close to the mansion that Castellano called home when he was the Gambino family boss. And just two short miles way, the house that was used as the Corleone estate in The Godfather rests. Perhaps being that close to the famed movie Mafia home served as inspiration for both of the former Gambino bosses.
Who Frank was a person
Unlike many Mafia members and our perceptions of them (especially give TV and movies), Frank wore his label quietly. He was considered by many to be “old school” and largely kept to himself. In other words, he didn’t go around flaunting his connections. He wasn’t boastful or prideful like many; most people didn’t even realize they were in the same room as a Mafia boss unless they were familiar with Frank’s appearance.
Those who knew him often said that he was nothing like “Dapper Don”, or John J. Gotti, who was the boss when Frank was nothing more than just a kid. “He was the exact opposite; his reputation didn’t precede him. You always felt comfortable around Frank and many people didn’t even know who he was. He kept to himself for the most part and never strolled into anywhere knee deep in men and guns. He was respectful.”
Frank also kept a low profile in his home on Staten Island. He knew his neighbors and was always friendly/helpful to them, but he never went out of his way to hang out with them. He also didn’t conduct business within his home; he kept his personal life and Mafia role completely separated. Just as was the case when Frank would step out into the public, many of his neighbors were completely unaware that they lived on the same street as a mob boss.
Unfortunately, his low profile and quiet demeanor didn’t stop him from meeting the same fate as many other Mafia members. On Wednesday night, he was killed outside of his brick home in what many are calling a “brazen assassination”. It also sparks feelings and memories of the mob wars that we’re decades removed from.
Frank’s arrest record
Surprisingly, Franky Boy’s arrest record is pretty damned clean; especially for a Mafia boss. His police record in the United States was clean (until the year 2008). Even when he was mentioned during the Pizza Connection investigation, Frank escaped jail time despite the fact that police discovered that he was Domenico Adamita’s partner. Adamita had ties to Sicilian Mafia boss Gaetano Badalamenti and the two mobs were allies.
However in 2008, Frank could no longer evade his criminal background. Frank along with many other Mafia members were arrested for charges regarding federal racketeering. Federal racketeering refers to criminal acts that are committed as part of an ongoing criminal organization such as a Mafia or mob. In other words, all the heinous deeds carried out by Frank and the Gambino family came back to haunt them.
Frank Cali pled guilty to extortion. In return for pleading guilty, Cali received a light sentence. He only spent 16 months in prison for the charges levied against him. At the time, those charges were specifically related to the role he played in a proposal to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island.
About the Gambino Family
The Gambino family had a notorious reputation and were practically a household name. They achieved this high profile under John Gotti who made the mob family something to be both feared and respected. Under Gotti, the last public execution of a Gambino crime boss took place in 1985. At this time, Paul Castellan was taken down just outside of the Sparks Steak House located in Manhattan. Unlike Frank, Gotti enjoyed the publicity and had no problems hinting that his family was responsible.
Once Frank Cali took the throne, the Gambino family quieted down so to speak. Their high profile started to fade and many who weren’t “in the know”, they assumed that the Gambino family had either disbanded entirely or were taking a hiatus. Suspected crime that would have been easily traced back to Gotti wasn’t as obvious under Cali.
The Gambino family is just one of five Mafia families that have been in place for a significant time in New York. They’re Italian-American run and of course, they’re organized crime syndicates (as implied by their ties to the Mafia). The other mob families currently in place include the Bonanno, Colombo, Genovese, and Lucchese. While not as well known as the Gambinos, they were nonetheless equally as dangerous.
What does it mean to be a Mafia boss?
A Mafia boss is often referred to as a crime boss, crime lord, don, kingpin, or mob boss. Regardless of the title given to them, they are all responsible for the criminal organization that they are a part of them. This means that they have absolute control and power over the other members; they’re essentially a king over peasants. With the title comes a great deal of respect as well as fear. Subordinates are often afraid to go against their boss because the boss isn’t afraid to take their lives in order to maintain control.
Crime lords are ruthless and will do whatever it takes to achieve their goal. If this means taking out rival family leaders then they orchestrate it. They also profit the most from the criminal acts that their family or Mafia commits. They are responsible for planning these activities and insuring that they are carried out properly. The mob boss is also responsible for maintaining any relationships with fellow criminal organizations.
Within a lot of groups, there are more than just two roles: boss and his followers. Some families have a much more complex organization that has any number of different ranks within. This varies family-to-family and culture-to-culture. Organized enterprises from Sicily (where Frank’s roots are tied) are significantly different from those in other parts of Italy. And of course they’re different American crime groups and European groups who are also organized differently than each other.
Size is also important. While national and regional gangs have more complex hierarchies than others, numbers are equally important across the board. Regardless of culture, the more members you have in your organization, the better off you are. Of course this means that the boss and other leaders must micromanage more people and there is a bigger risk for disagreements, but it is much easier for crime syndicates to carry out larger and more complex tasks with larger people. As the saying goes, there’s strength in numbers.
Sicilian American Mafia hierarchy
As stated above, different crime organizations have different hierarchies. Since we’re talking about Frank Cali, we’re discuss the hierarchy regarding Sicilian and American mafias.
The boss is the head of these crime organizations and is the decision maker. Aside from the boss, only the underboss or consigliere can make decisions or initiate others into the family. All of these actions must of course be approved by the boss. Those officially inducted into the family are henceforth known as made men.
The boss may of course promote or demote family members as he sees fit. This is done to inspire and influence members within the organization. If you mess up or aren’t carrying your weight, a demotion reminds the other members that they have a job they must do. It also teaches the person a lesson. Promotions work much in the same way. Those that do a good job will climb the ranks and have the boss’s favor. This encourages others to do their best.
A crime boss is also the only one who can sanction murders both in and out of their family. Those that act against the boss’s wishes are executed themselves publicly or tortured at length before being dumped into a river. Regardless of the method, death is a certainty for those who commit murder without the boss’s permission.
Should the boss be incarcerated or incapacitated, an acting boss is put into place. The boss picks whom he wants to be in charge. This person will then run the crime family and be responsible for decisions within the group. They cannot sanction murders, but they may choose to commit petty crimes. If the boss is killed or dies, the members within the family must choose a new boss. The new boss is almost always something within the organization. So because of Frank Cali’s death, the Gambino family must now select a new leader.
The family tree
Although we gave you a very loose introduction to the hierarchy of the crime families above, we figured we would break it down and explain each role a little better. Of course we’ll only loosely cover the role of boss since we’re spent quite a bit of time talking about it already.
- Boss of all bosses- Called the capo di tutti capi, this person is the “boss of all bosses.” However, this title really isn’t in use anymore and the position hasn’t been filled since the 1930s by any American mob. In the 1930s, Salvatore Marazano held the title and he was responsible for five New York families. After Marazano’s assassination, the role was never filled again due to the animosity it created between families and their bosses. Now the title is simply a de facto given to the boss of the most powerful crime family. Between the 1960s and 1990s, this was the Gambinos.
- Boss- The boss, or capo famiglia, is the CEO of the Mafia family so to speak. Everything done on the Mafia’s behalf must be cleared through him first and he is the only one who can sanction a murder. His men also pay a tribute to him as part of their position within the organization and because of this as well as other crimes committed, is a very wealthy man.
- Consigliere- The chief advisor or consigliere, isn’t actually a part of the hierarchy of the Mafia. However, he has one of the most important roles within the family. He is a close and of course trusted friend of the boss. He is also a confidant to the boss. Technically the function of the chief advisor dates back to the medieval times when a monarch would place his trust in an advisor. The advisor would provide sound advice as well as strategic information. In other words, he’s there to offer the crime lord advice.
- Underboss- The capo bastone is the underboss and is the second-in-command within the crime family’s hierarchy. The level of authority he is given varies from family to family, but stands at the ready to fill in for the boss at a moment’s notice. These men are groomed to takeover the family due to the violent and unpredictable nature associated with the crime world.
- Capo- Caporegime or capo for short, are essentially the lieutenants or head of a division that exists within the Mafia. Each capo has his own crew of soldiers that he is responsible for. The capo speaks directly to the boss or underboss that gives instructions to the capo. The capo then passes these instructions down to the soldiers and makes sure that they are carried out according to the boss’s wishes.
- Soldiers- Within the family, the soldiers are the lowest ranking members. They are grunt workers who handle the bulk of the “dirty work.” This is also where the majority of kids and hopefuls begin. They run errands, make deliveries, pick up cash, and generally put themselves in unfavorable positions in hopes of attracting the boss’s attention and proving their loyalty. Soldiers may also carry out murders if the boss wishes.
- Associates- As the name implies, associates are “associated” with members of the Mafia, but they are not actual members of their family. They team up with family members on criminal enterprises in order to accomplish goals. They could be money-laundering bankers that help the Mafia “clean” their money, crooked cops who look the other way, politicians/lawyers who watch the Mafia’s back, drug dealers, or anything that would create a symbiotic relationship between the associate and mob. They can also be newcomers who haven’t been turned into made men yet. These people are called cugines and may play minor roles in the Mafia’s operation.