A trove of long-hidden FBI files make clear how slain Gambino boss Frank “Franky Boy” Cali ascended from a household soldier within the Nineties to head of the highly effective crime syndicate till his surprising killing in 2019.
The closely redacted files, obtained by The Post by means of a Freedom of Information Act request, provide to date maybe probably the most revealing look into Cali’s rise to power — because the mafia kingpin was often known as a “ghost” who saved a particularly low profile to keep away from federal prosecution.
Cali — who was gunned down outdoors his Staten Island mansion at 53 — was arrested simply as soon as in a 2008 extortion conspiracy, regardless of years of being eyed by the FBI and surveilled by brokers in Brooklyn, a testomony to his skill to keep off the radar.
After he was shot useless by an obvious QAnon devotee within the Todt Hill neighborhood, one legislation enforcement official told the New York Times that Cali was the polar reverse of flashy Gambino boss, John “Dapper Don” Gotti.
“He’s basically a ghost,” the official mentioned.
But in accordance to the FBI files, Cali fell on the bureau’s radar within the spring of 1996, when he was about 30 years outdated, for serving to to skipper a cellphone card fraud scheme for the Gambinos from a Park Avenue office constructing.
By November of that year, FBI brokers in New York believed a number of Gambinos had been concerned within the “production and distribution of telephone travel cards” — and that they dedicated quite a few federal crimes as a part of the scheme, together with money laundering, earnings tax violation, mail fraud and wire fraud.
“It goes without saying that the telephone card industry is one of the most important sources of illegal income for the Gambino LCN Family,” one FBI official wrote.
At the time, Cali was listed within the FBI file as a “proposed soldier” for the Gambino household — and the feds believed he had not but been “made,” or taken a blood oath of loyalty to the syndicate he would later lead.
In October 1997, FBI particular brokers in New York contacted the bureau’s Atlanta subject office to appraise them of an obvious $94 million cellphone card “bust-out scheme” led by the Gambinos that focused Georgia-based Worldcom.
“The method was to sell as many phone cards as possible on the street by charging the best price per country and offering the best discount to the distributors,” one of many FBI reviews states. “[Redacted] paid Worldcom only a small percentage of his outstanding balance throughout the ten-month scheme.”
It provides: “Gambino members such as [redacted] Frank Cali and others lined their pockets with millions in cash from the aforementioned scheme.”
Cali, together with Gambino members John D’Amico and Joseph Watts, allegedly created a company known as CNC to distribute the cellphone playing cards, flooding the market with the playing cards that might later be billed by Worldcom.
“Due to the flood of cards, the debt owed to Worldcom grew exponentially. In the beginning, CNC paid their debt and was considered trustworthy by Worldcom. However, CNC did not continue to pay their debt,” a March 7, 1997, FBI paperwork state.
Around that point, the feds appeared to take an elevated curiosity in Cali, in accordance to the paperwork.
They started tailing him in Brooklyn, photographing him with associates on 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst, and interviewing confidential sources in regards to the Gambino soldier.
In one October 1997 report, an FBI agent recorded doing a “spot check” on a location on 18th Avenue between 72nd and seventy fifth Streets in Bensonhurst, in accordance to the files. The agent recorded an unidentified mark strolling with Cali earlier than coming into the “Point After Sports Bar and Grill.”
In July of that year, an agent drew up a report titled, “Surveillance of Frank Cali on 18th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY,” which included pictures of Cali and a number of other different folks as they visited Tony’s Luncheonette within the neighborhood.
The FBI additionally listed him as a “recently made member in the Gambino Family” in a March 1997 communication.
A federal grand jury associated to Cali was convened in 1998 within the Eastern District of New York, however expenses in opposition to him had been by no means introduced, the paperwork present.
Federal expenses for a cellphone card scam had been later filed in opposition to John Gotti Jr., the reputed chief of the Gambino household on the time, however later dropped by prosecutors.
“I was a victim. I lost a lot of money on that deal,” Junior advised The Post on the time.
After his one arrest in 2008, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn highlighted Cali’s involvement within the cellphone card scheme in arguing he be locked up pending trial.
At a detention listening to, prosecutor Joey Lipton advised the decide Cali — who had risen to the rank of captain on the time — had been a profitable felony due to his skill to conceal from the highlight.
“Cali, like other members of the family, has sworn a blood oath to the organization to commit criminal activity,” Lipton mentioned. “Cali has been successful in fulfilling that oath, in large part because he’s been careful.”
In the 2008 case, Cali pleaded responsible to extortion conspiracy and was sentenced to 16 months in jail.
After his launch, he continued his meteoric rise within the household, reportedly rising to the boss in 2015 after the performing don Domenico Cefalu stepped down.
Cali’s hidden picture exploded into worldwide headlines when he was shot and killed outdoors of his house in March 2019.
The alleged gunman, Anthony Comello, an obvious QAnon conspiracy theorist, was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial in 2020.
A spokesperson for the Staten Island District Attorney’s office mentioned in an electronic mail Wednesday that they might not present any details about the case.