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NYC mob hits through the years: Paul Castellano, Joseph Gallo and more

Frank Cali is the first purported organized crime leader to be killed since the assassination of Gambino boss Paul Castellano in 1985.

Paul Castellano, reputed head of the Gambino crime

Paul Castellano, reputed head of the Gambino crime family, leaves court after posting bail in New York City on Feb. 26, 1985. Photo Credit: Newsday/Chris Hatch

The shooting death of purported crime boss Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali on Staten Island has sparked renewed public interest in the city’s infamous organized crime families.

Cali, the alleged leader of the Gambino family, was shot 10 times outside of his house on March 13, according to police. Investigators believe the suspected gunman, Anthony Comello, purposely crashed his car into Cali’s to lure him out of his home on Hilltop Terrace in Todt Hill.

Frank Cali in a photo provided by the

Francesco Cali

  • Reputed Gambino crime family boss
  • Known as "Franky Boy"
  • Fatally shot on March 13
  • Suspect Anthony Comello arrested 
  • Motive remains under investigation

Cali, 53, is the first purported mob leader to be killed since the assassination of Gambino boss Paul Castellano in 1985. However, police said Comello’s motive may not have been related to organized crime – though they haven’t ruled it out yet either.

The Gambino family is one of five Italian-American organized crime families that have historically dominated in the metropolitan area. Take a look back at some of the most famous mob hits and attempted assassinations in New York City.

Paul Castellano

The death of Paul Castellano in December 1985 reads as if it were ripped from the pages of a movie script: Three men in trench coats and fur hats approach a mob boss as he exits a Lincoln Town Car outside of a restaurant on the East Side and open fire, leaving him and his driver riddled with bullets during the height of rush hour. The deaths of Castellano, 70, the purported leader of the Gambino crime family, and his driver Thomas Bilotti, 45, were described by the FBI at the time as a “significant professional assassination.”

Authorities speculated Castellano’s murder was the result of internal strife. The heir apparent of the Gambino family, John Gotti, was convicted of Castellano’s murder as part of a sweeping racketeering case in 1996.

Carmine Galante

The reputed boss of the Bonanno crime family was eating lunch in the garden of an Italian restaurant in Bushwick when he was gunned down by a group of masked men armed with automatic weapons in July 1979. Carmine Galante was 69 years old. Restaurant owner Giuseppe Turano, 48, and Leonardo Coppola, 40, an associate of Galante’s, were also killed by the hail of bullets. Galante’s murder was likely approved by the “Commission,” the governing body of organized crime leaders, authorities had said at the time.

Joseph A. Colombo Sr.

The attempted assassination of purported Colombo family leader Joseph A. Colombo Sr. in 1971 took place during a Unity Day rally organized by the Italian-American Civic Rights League in Columbus Circle. The attack was carried out by Jerome A. Johnson, who was subsequently shot and killed during the melee, according to police.

Colombo, was treated for gunshots to his head, neck and jaw at Roosevelt Hospital. He survived the shooting, but died of complications related to his injuries in May 1978.

Though no one was charged in the attempted hit, Johnson was suspected of acting on the behalf of Joseph Gallo, the leader of a faction of the crime family who was challenging Colombo’s control.

Joseph Gallo

Known as “Crazy Joey,” Joseph Gallo was fatally shot in front of his family while celebrating his birthday at a restaurant in Little Italy in April 1972. The 43-year-old was a leading member of the Gallo Brothers gang, a Brooklyn subset of the Profaci crime family, which later became the Colombo family.

He was notorious for his role in clashes with then-boss Joseph Profaci in the 1960s that resulted in at least 12 deaths as well as a challenge to Colombo family boss Joseph A. Colombo Sr. a year earlier.

Although no one was convicted in Gallo’s death, it’s speculated that the hit came from within the Colombo crime family as retribution for the attempted assassination of Colombo Sr.

Albert Anastasia

In October 1957, Albert Anastasia, known as the “high executioner” of Murder Inc. and the boss of what would later become the Gambino family, was gunned down in a barbershop inside the Park Sheraton Hotel. Though police said they had interviewed more than 100 people in the investigation, no one was charged with Anastasia’s murder.

Giuseppe Masseria

The boss of the Genovese crime family was fatally gunned down in a Coney Island restaurant In 1931. He was known as “Joe the Boss” and famous for dodging bullets in a previous assassination attempt.

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