The Chicago Syndicate: After Murder of Frank Cali, Who is Boss of the Gambino Crime Family?

Thursday, April 04, 2019

After Murder of Frank Cali, Who is Boss of the Gambino Crime Family?

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

Following the death of Gambino crime boss Frank (Franky Boy) Cali, experts say his successor will have 21st Century issues to deal with.

“Whoever takes over right now is a media magnet,” said Louis Ferrante, a former mobster with the Gambino family whose crew was investigated at one time for some of the most lucrative heists in U.S. history. “Look, you and I are talking about it ... in today’s world, a lot of (mobsters) don’t wanna be bothered with that."

He said it’s possible that whoever is in line for the promotion taps someone else to be the face, while they continue to pull in money from their rackets and influence the family’s operations from the proverbial shadows.

“If I were the underboss I would probably put someone there as a front for me. I would pick someone who’s in my crew that’s close to me,” said Ferrante.

In the days following Cali’s death, a convicted Genovese mobster and a former Gambino hitman -- both turned-informants -- expressed shock over Cali’s murder considering he was known as a non-violent mob boss who ran his crime family like a corporation, according to a USA TODAY report.

Experts say the “to-do” list for whoever takes over could include dealing with Cali’s suspected killer.

Police said Anthony Comello, 24, of Eltingville, smashed into Cali’s car outside the Hilltop Terrace home, then, shot him while the reputed mobster’s wife and children were inside the house. The motive remains unclear, but every theory at this point indicates Cali was targeted by his killer.

Mob experts and law enforcement sources say it’s unlikely the murder was related to organized crime, based on the fact there was no backup car to potentially finish the job in what would have been an ill-conceived plan. And if months or years from now it turns out it was a planned hit, “It was the most brilliant mob hit in the world," said Ferrante.

Sources have described Comello as a “mob-obsessed” conspiracy theorist, while former classmates have described him as aloof in class, but at times a hot-head who got into fights. A New York Times report quoted friends who claimed he wrestled with drug addiction.

Defense attorney Robert Gottlieb has pointed to right-wing hate speech as playing a factor in the incident, while stopping short of saying his client committed the murder.

One name tossed around by law enforcement experts and Mafia historians as a possible successor to Cali is Lorenzo Mannino, a Gambino capo and member of the family’s Sicilian faction. “Mannino is a Brooklyn crew boss who is Sicilian and was heavy in to drug (trade) with Franky Boy,” said Mafia historian Scott Burnstein.

Other names mentioned include Gene Gotti, the brother of John who recently was released from prison after doing 29 years on drug charges. “If I was a member of organized crime today, Gene Gotti would be the greatest boss I could have,” said Ferrante. “He’s a man of men, within the context of that life.”

Experts say the business of La Cosa Nostra has seen better days.

In terms of the drug-trade, New York City’s streets are now dominated by Dominican gangs paying lower prices to Mexican cartels who are able to ship the drugs by land rather than by sea, said James Hunt, formerly of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who worked as an undercover agent in the famous “Pizza Connection” drug case.

That being said, Cali had deep ties with the Sicilian Mafia, which along with Colombian cartels maintain a profitable heroin trade in Europe, said Hunt, which in turn could be a selling point for Cali’s successor.

Stateside, it can get messy when it comes to drugs, said Ferrante. “If you want to get in to that game, your playing with Asians, Russians, Albanians, Colombians,” he said. “There’s only so many pieces to that pie."

A drug trade still exists for mobsters, but more so on a local level -- unlike the 80s when they’d ship in the drugs from Turkey and Sicily, then sell in bulk to mid-level dealers in Harlem, experts said. And while the days of controlling unions and waste companies are all but over, loansharking and extortion continue to provide a steady stream of income.

“They’ll never stop trying to sneak their way back in,” said Hunt. “It’s harder for them to make a living than they used to, but they’re not going to get jobs.” And where there’s reward, there remains risk.

In the months leading up to Cali’s death, an associate of the Bonanno crime family was gunned down in a McDonald’s parking lot by shooters allegedly hired by an Albanian crime outfit.

Days prior to the murder, a reputed mob enforcer in Rhode Island was shot dead in a case with ties to the Gambino family, according to multiple reports.

Thanks to Kyle Lawson.

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