STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — In a brazen murder that harkened back to some of Staten Island's most notorious mob incidents of decades past, reputed Gambino leader Francesco Cali, 53, was gunned down Wednesday night in front of his home on Hilltop Terrace.
The killers remain at large and the NYPD was unable to provide a description of the suspects or a motive as of Thursday morning.
Witnesses saw a blue pickup truck speeding away from the scene, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.
Here is what is known about Cali at this time:
Francesco Paulo Augusto Cali, also known as "Franky Boy," was born in Brooklyn in March of 1965. He married into the Inzerillo family of Palermo, and cultivated close ties with members of the Siderno cartel in Italy, according to Advance archives.
In January 1997, an FBI agent reportedly notified Italian police of Cali's distinctive standing as a member of crime families on both sides of the ocean, after he was "combined" into the Gambino family.
Two years later, reputed Gambino soldier Frank Fappiano of Tottenville was nabbed by the feds, then gave up Cali's name as a "wiseguy," an Italian media outlet reported at the time.
Later, another Gambino Islander, Michael (Mikey Scars) DiLeonardo, formerly of Eltingville, ratted out Cali to the feds, according to archives.
Cali was charged in a massive 80-count racketeering indictment involving 62 alleged mob bosses, underlings and associates of the Gambino, Bonanno and Genovese crime families.
Cali pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court in the 2008 to extortion conspiracy, stemming from his part in a scheme to get money from a trucker working at the former proposed NASCAR site in Bloomfield.
He served more than a year in federal prison.
RISE TO POWER
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn had referred to Cali as the Gambino underboss in court filings in recent years, according to media reports. In 2015, Cali reportedly became the leader of the family.
Cali was said to have strong ties to the Sicilian Mafia, and experts suggested that his ascension was part of an attempt by the Gambinos to lower their high-profile image created by former godfather John Gotti.
Cali has been just that since, largely keeping to himself and hardly generating headlines.
"If you weren't into organized crime, you wouldn't know who this guy was," a police source told the Advance.
He infused the family with a new crop of immigrant Italian gangsters and focused on the heroin and OxyContin trade, the New York Post reported.
Cali was the first New York crime family boss shot since 1985, when Paul Castellano, the head of the Gambino crime family who owned a mansion on Todt Hill, was executed as he arrived at Sparks Steakhouse in Manhattan.
On Dec. 16 of that year, four men wearing matching Russian fur hats and white trench coats unleashed a torrent of bullets.
Castellano, 71, was shot six times and killed in the attack.
The unsanctioned mob hit was ordered by John Gotti.
A week later, Gambino soldiers gathered for Gotti's coronation as the head of the Gambino family.