Police: Man to be charged in killing of reputed crime boss
A 24-year-old man has been taken into custody in connection with the shooting death of reputed New York crime boss Francesco “Frank” Cali, the New York Police Department said.
Cali’s killing does not appear to be mob-related, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on Sunday.
Anthony Comello is being held in a New Jersey jail and will be charged with murder formally when he’s extradited to the borough of Staten Island, where the killing happened, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said at a Saturday news conference.
“While we believe we have the shooter in custody for this incident, the investigation is far … from over,” he said. “The investigation will turn to were other parties involved in this, gathering future and additional evidence and working on the motive for this particular crime.”
Shea didn’t give details about how Comello became a suspect.
But the source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Comello had some kind of relationship with one of Cali’s family members, and the mob boss disagreed with the relationship. Comello took offense to that, the source said.
Comello has residences in several places, including Staten Island, Shea said Saturday. Shea said Comello “has crossed paths in some limited circumstances with the NYPD” but wouldn’t say whether he has a criminal record. Comello received a parking summons for his truck on Staten Island the day of the killing, Shea said.
When asked about Cali’s reputation as a crime boss, Shea said, “We are well aware of Mr. Cali’s past. That will be a part of this investigation as we determine what was the motive.”
Robert C. Gottlieb, an attorney for Comello, said in a Sunday statement that Comello’s family and friends “cannot believe what they are hearing.”
“There is something very wrong here,” Gottlieb said, “and we will get to the bottom of it.”
Gun not recovered, detective says
Cali, 53, was a high-ranking member of the Gambino organized crime family and was believed to be the acting boss, a law enforcement source confirmed.
He was found dead Wednesday night after being shot 10 times in the torso outside his Staten Island residence, the NYPD said.
Cali was home with family members when a truck hit a car outside the residence, Shea said earlier in the week at a news conference. He went out to see what happened and the suspect pulled out a gun and began shooting, Shea said.
When Cali tried to take cover behind his car, the pickup truck drove into it and “rocked” it significantly, Shea said.
Cali was taken to Staten Island University Hospital North, where he was pronounced dead.
It’s “quite possible” that the incident was staged to draw Cali outside and into a confrontation with the suspected shooter, Shea said.
Detectives have recovered a truck they think was involved but not the firearm used in the shooting, Shea said. Fingerprints on Cali’s vehicle will be compared to the suspect’s, Shea said
Who was Frank Cali?
Cali was an associate in the Gambino family, according to court documents, when he was indicted in 2008 with more than two dozen other Gambino members for a range of alleged crimes.
Later that year, he pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy related to the planned construction of a NASCAR speedway on Staten Island — a plan that eventually was scrapped.
Authorities alleged Cali and others arranged, through force and threat of force, to receive cash payments from someone who had worked on the project.
Cali was sentenced to 16 months in prison and was released in 2009.
He had been considered a unifying figure in the years after then-Gambino boss John Gotti, “Dapper Don,” was convicted of murder and racketeering in 1992 and sent to prison for life, CNN affiliate WPIX reported.
Gotti died in prison of cancer in 2002.