FILE – In this March 18, 2019, file photo, Anthony Comello gives the writing on his hand with a pro-Donald Trump slogans during his extradition hearing in Toms River, N. J. Comello is accused of the killing of the reputed boss of the New York Gambino crime family Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, and for that, Comello can be more than legal problems to worry about — namely, whether the Mafia to go his hands on him. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
NEW YORK – As Anthony Comello is in jail on murder charges, he can be more than legal problems to worry about — namely, whether the Mafia to go his hands on him.
The man is accused of killing was the famous leader of the New York Gambino crime family Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, and for that, Comello is almost certainly is marked for death by the underworld. And it makes no difference that the killing may have been that mob business and stem in place of a romantic dispute.
“Someone is going to try to get him,” predicted Selwyn Raab, author of “Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires. “It is a part of the Mafia code.”
Comello, 24, is behind bars in New Jersey since his arrest last week on charges that he shot Cali outside the mobster’s Staten Island home. He is expected to be brought to New York City for a court appearance on Monday better-than-usual security measures that underline the mob’s bloody track record for revenge.
“We have asked for protective custody, and he is that,” said Comello’s lawyer, Robert Gottlieb. “The reason is obvious.”
New York City jail officials would not specifically comment on Comello. But the inmates in danger of retaliation are usually housed separately and more closely in the holes.
“We evaluate each case on an individual basis and take all necessary precautions,” Correction Department spokesman Jason Kersten said.
Authorities say Comello lured Cali from his home on the night of 13 March by smashing his truck in Cali parked car. After talking quietly for a few moments, Camello allegedly pulled a 9 mm pistol and kept multiple balls in Cali’s body in a scene recorded by security cameras in the house.
In contrast to the previous Gambino employers, including the swaggering “Dapper Don” John Gotti, Cali, 53, was a deliberately low-profile gangster.
Comello the background of the more obscure, but there is no allegation he is linked to the mob. The motive for the shooting are still under investigation. News reports have said Comello told the researchers that Cali had been warned to stay away from a female family member of Cali is he was interested in romantically.
And then there was Comello’s bizarre behavior during his first appearance. He smiled inappropriate at times, and flashed a hand scrawled with slogans such as “MAGA,” a reference to President Donald Trump ‘ s Make America Great Again motto. Weeks ago, he tried to make a citizen’s arrest of New York’s mayor, police said.
“I don’t need to clear my name,” he told the Daily News in a short and cryptic jailhouse interview.
History teaches us that even if the killing was an ordinary citizen who is not a beef specific to the mob, the Cali kill a great goal on Comello back.
Exhibit A: John Favara, a neighbor of Gotti’s who accidentally struck and killed Gotti’s 12-year-old son with his car in 1980 while the boy was riding a minibike. Five months later, Favara vanished, and was never seen again. Prosecutors later said Gotti ordered Favara killed. An informant reported that the body was dissolved in a vat of acid.
Then there is the case of James “Whitey” Bulger, the ruthless Boston crime boss and a government informant who was beaten to death in a West Virginia prison last year. Among the prisoners who are suspected in the attack: a former Mafia hit man who said to hate “rats.”
The way Comello allegedly killed Cali — shot, right outside the house where he lived with his family would have violated the strict rules of respect adopted by the Sicilian faction now in charge of the Gambino family, Raab said.
“For them it is the ultimate insult,” he said. “It can’t be excused because he was a screwball. … He will be a marked man the rest of his life.”
Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report.