A Mafia heir and a close friend of slain Gambino crime boss Frank Cali has paid tribute to the mobster after he was gunned down outside his family home.
Giovanni Gambino told DailyMail.com that 53-year-old ‘Franky Boy’ was a constant feature in the New York charity scene and was someone he looked up to growing up.
The head of the notorious family was shot and killed in a hail of bullets in Staten Island, New York, on Wednesday night in a slaying that shattered a 30-year peace between the Five Families in the Big Apple and could lead to more bloodshed.
‘He was the good wise guy that went after bad wise guys’, he said. ‘The wise guy that showed class. He was the one that had the “it” factor, growing up with my friends. We all looked up to him. He gave a great impression.’
‘Nobody gets away with anything . Especially killing a good man,’ he added.
Giovanni’s cousin Carlo founded the Gambino crime family in 1957 when he immigrated from Italy and his father Francesco ‘Ciccio’ Gambino was a leading captain in the syndicate.
Francesco died in federal prison in 2012 while serving a 30-year sentence for racketeering and trafficking heroin from Sicily to the United States. Giovanni was raised by his mother and other members of the crime family while they were under leaders like John Gotti and Domenico Cefalu.
Cali maintained a ‘low-key’ lifestyle, was a good friend to his family and always supported his passion to become a writer, Giovanni says. Cali is the basis for the protagonist in his novel, The Prince of Omerta.
Cali’s murder on Wednesday night was the first hit on a Mafia boss since John Gotti arranged the assassination of then-Gambino head Paul Castellano in 1985.
Gambino crime family boss Francesco ‘Franky Boy’ Cali was shot six times and run over by a pickup truck in front of his home in Staten Island on Wednesday night. His slaying shattered a relative peace between the Five Families in New York
Investigators are seen with forensic equipment outside the home of the mob boss who liked to shy away from the limelight
Hand prints, likely caused by officers dusting for fingerprints, is seen on the side of a SUV being pulled from the scene
Cali was shot six times and run over by a blue pickup truck outside his redbrick house in the upmarket Todt Hill neigborhood of Staten Island. Police are now hunting the killer.
The New York Post has also reported that he may have been lured outside his home when the killer smashed the pickup into his car in the driveway.
Giovanni Gambino told DailyMail.com that 53-year-old ‘Frank Boy’ was a constant feature in the New York charity scene and was someone they looked up to growing up
Neighbors have described the terrifying hail of bullets they heard from inside their homes.
It is understood Cali’s distraught family members ran outside after the shots were fired.
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!’
No arrests have been made and an investigation is ongoing as police search for a blue pickup truck that fled the gruesome scene after it is believed to have run Cali over.
A police source told DailyMail.com: ‘Cali was home having dinner with his family when this truck pulled up. He was shot outside the home.’
A witness told The New York Daily News: ‘There were like six shots, and then there were three more.
‘The man was on the ground face-up. His head was by his SUV, and the truck was open.’
Giovanni’s cousin Carlo (left in 1970) founded the Gambino crime family that inspired The Godfather and his father Francesco ‘Ciccio’ Gambino (pictured with him right) died in federal prison in 2012 while serving a sentence for drag trafficking from his time in the mob
One of Cali’s neighbors, 58-old-year Salvatore, told the New York Times he heard a burst of about seven gunshots. ‘I just heard the pow-pow-pow-pow-pow,’ he said, adding, ‘You never know who your neighbors are’.
And one resident, Prashant Ranyal, 39, who lives blocks from the scene, told the New York Post: ‘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.’
Neighbors have described the terrifying hail of bullets they heard from inside their homes
Cali’s home in the Todt Hill neighborhood of Staten Island. One man, believed to be a family member, ran outside, collapsed and cried, ‘Papa! Papa!’
Crime scene tape is draped around a tree near the garage of Cali’s home in Staten Island
There are reports Cali may have been lured outside his home when the killer smashed the pickup into his car in the driveway
The Sicily native, who is married to John Gambino’s niece, 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’.
Giovanni said Cali maintained a ‘low-key’ lifestyle, was a good friend to his family and always supported his passion to become a writer. Cali is the protagonist in his novel, The Prince of Omerta
The organization reportedly focused its efforts on heroin and Oxycontin trafficking under his leadership.
Among law enforcement officials, Cali was known as a ‘real quiet old-school boss’ – one police source told the New York Post.
He was considered to be a foil of his former boss John Gotti because ‘no one ever sees him’.
Cali only had one criminal conviction, having spent 16 months for a 2008 federal extortion charge in connection with a failed bit to build a NASCAR race track in Staten Island.
The hit on Cali comes as New York has seen a resurgence in mob activity recently.
In October, Sylvester Zottola, 71 – an associate of the Bonnano crime family – was gunned down at a Bronx McDonald’s drive-thru.
And John Gotti’s brother Gene, 71, was recently released after spending 29 years in prison for dealing heroin.
A cop is seen guarding the secure scene in Staten Island. As of Thursday afternoon, police had made no arrests in the slaying
Giovanni’s cousin Carlos, the head of the Cosa Nostra during the 1970s, was arrested for orchestrating a multi-million dollar bank heist before he died of a heart attack in 1976.
Giovanni thinks the FBI has a long history of corruption, especially when it comes to members of his Italian community, and their strategies should be under more of a microscope.
He recently called President Trump to pardon his father Francesco, claiming fired FBI Director James Comey, who was responsible for taking down his father, treated his family unfairly.
Giovanni decided to shun the mafioso lifestyle and instead went into the pizzeria business.
Police responding to a 911 call about an assault in progress just after 9.15pm arrived to find Cali with six gunshot wounds to the torso. He was pronounced dead at a hospital soon after. (Above, the scene of the crime)
A heavy police presence is seen outside his home in shooting that shattered 30 years of Mafia peace in New York City
Investigators were seen walking in and out of the home in Staten Island on Wednesday night
The hit on Cali comes as New York has seen a resurgence in mob activity recently. The crime scene outside his home is pictured
Neighbors suggested there was nothing on their street to suggest mob activity was going on
First Mafia boss hit since the day Big Paul Castellano was whacked outside a steakhouse
Cali’s murder is the first hit on a Mafia boss since John Gotti arranged the assassination of then-Gambino head ‘Big Paul’ Castellano – outside Sparks Steakhouse – in 1985.
The notorious assasination saw Castellano, 70, and his underboss Thomas Bilotti, 47, both shot in the face by a three-man hit squad just after the two victims had stepped out of their car.
Castellano’s reign as kingpin had begun in 1976 after the death of Carlo Gambino.
The Gambinos were the most powerful of the five families of the New York City mafia and worth an estimated $500 million a year
Gambino capo John Gotti (left) was part of a three-man hit squad that shot Mafia kingpin Paul Castellano (right) outside a steakhouse in 1985
Big Paul was made boss instead of the likely heir, the then-underboss Aniello Dellacroce – a decision which annoyed those loyal to Dellacroce.
They were further enraged by Castellano’s insistence on living as a recluse in his mansion in Todt Hill, Staten Island, which earned him the moniker, ‘the Howard Huges of the Mob’.
When Dellacroce died of cancer in 1985, Castellano disrepected the Family by not attending the funeral.
The bodies of Castellano and Bilotti lay in a pool of blood after they were gunned down outside Sparks steakhouse in Manhattan
The final nail in his coffin was when he made Capo Thomas Bilotti his underboss.
John Gotti, who had been loyal to Dellacroce and didn’t think Castellano was worthy of being the Don, and the irate Gambinos then decided to whack Castellano.
At the time, Castellano had been on trial in Manhattan federal court on racketeering charges involving three murders and an international stolen car ring but the trial was in recess.
On December 15, 1985 Gotti and the Dellacroce devised a plan to assassinate Castellano and Bilotti – by luring the boss to a meeting at Sparks Steakhouse on 210 E. 46th St., between Second and Third Avenues.
The scene of the crime. Big Paul was made boss instead of the likely heir, the then-underboss Aniello Dellacroce – a decision which annoyed those loyal to Dellacroce
At around 5.30pm, Gotti and Salvatore ‘Sammy the Bull’ Gravano were driving in Gotti’s Lincoln Town Car when they spotted the boss in his Black Lincoln Town Car.
Gotti drove on ahead and parked at a vantage point across the street from the restaurant.
At around 6pm, Castellano and his Underboss Thomas Bilotti pulled up at Sparks Steakhouse to attend a sit down with Frank DeCicco to apologize for missing Dellacroce’s funeral.
Just as they exited the car, the assassin shot Castellano six times. He fell to the pavement and died. Bilotti, who was in the driver’s seat was also shot dead.
Gotti then drove past the scene, while Gravano looked at Bilotti’s body, saying ‘he’s gone’.
Soon after, John Gotti became Boss, Frank DeCicco became Underboss, and Gravano became Consigliere in 1986.
THE GAMBINO CRIME FAMILY
The Gambino crime family is one of what is widely referred to as ‘The Five Families’ of Italian organized crime operations in New York City and other parts of the United States.
The Gambinos’ rise to become one of the most powerful mafia families in America started in 1957, when the family’s namesake, Carlos Gambino – an Italian immigrant – orchestrated the murder of Albert Anastasia, who had organized a collection of Italian gangs into what now would be considered a ‘crime family.’
Gambino headed the organization until 1976, when he handed power over to his brother-in-law Paul Castellano.
Like other mafia families, the Gambinos took their methods from the crime families in Italy – La Cosa Nostra – and were involved in illegal activities like loan-sharking, extortion, prostitution, gambling and money laundering – as well as the frequent assaults and murders associated with those types of business ventures.
In 1985, Gambino ‘capo’ John Gotti orchestrated the murder of Castellano to become the most publicized boss of the family.
Gotti’s reign came to an end when his underboss, Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano agreed to testify against him and other members of the family in a 1992 RICO trial.
Since Gotti’s downfall, the Gambinos – and other mafia families – have lost much of the power they once had over politicians, judges and labor unions.
The family was headed by Domenico Cefalu until 2015, when Frank Cali took over as capo.