Hitman handed license plate to mob boss before shooting him to death

Lamar Ellis
March 16, 2019

According to reports, Cali's death marks the highest ranking member of a NY crime family to be murdered in decades.

The 53-year-old Gambino crime family boss was shot several times in front of his Staten Island mansion around 9:20 p.m. "In trying to elude additional gunfire, fled to the rear area of his private vehicle and somebody probably thought he was run over, but it was more he was trying to get underneath the truck to elude gunfire", Chief of Detectives Dermott Shea told reporters at a news conference, as The New York Post reported.

Cali family members raced into the street, yelling and crying, as the assailants sped away.

Meanwhile, on March 13, two heads of the Bonanno family, Joseph Cammarano Jr. and John Zancocchio, were acquitted in court on conspiracy and racketeering charges, the New York Times reported. Cali was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

It is unclear who killed Cali, who reportedly became the head of the crime organization in 2015. They remain powerful players in the black market, however, in loan sharking, gambling, prostitution and the drug trade, according to law enforcement.

According to local media in NY, he took the helm of the Gambino family in 2015, replacing Domenico Cefalu.

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A caller to 911 said that as many as seven shots were heard, but police have not reported how many times Cali was hit.

Cali's only criminal conviction came from an extortion charge in 2008 for trying to shake down a trucker; he spent 16 months in prison. In 1985, Paul Castellano was executed as he arrived at Sparks Steakhouse in Manhattan.

The Gambino family is one of New York's five historic Italian Mafia families - along with the Genoveses, Luccheses, Colombos and Bonannos. Gotti took over the crime organization; he died of cancer, in prison, in 2002.

Last October, 71-year-old Sylvester Zottola of the Bonanno family was shot dead while waiting in his auto for an order from a Bronx McDonald's.

Affluent Todt Hill is renowned for its crime connections.

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.

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