Gambino "Underboss" Arrested -- But Who Is He?

Palmeri is underboss?
REVISED: Jerry Capeci got confirmation about Palmeri's rank; he's not a member of the administration. We didn't get "confirmation," without which this kind of speculation is entirely warranted. 

U.S. and Italian law enforcement officers arrested Francesco Palmeri, 61, early today in his Brooklyn apartment. Also arrested were seven other gangsters, two in the U.S. and five in Italy.

According to the Italian arrest warrant, the Sicilian-born Palmeri is the underboss of New York City’s Gambino family.

However, Frank Cali supposedly holds that title.

So who is Francesco Palmeri?

Jerry Capeci has never once written about a gangster with that name. We couldn't find any relevant information about Palmeri, aside from the flood of reports regarding his arrest today.

An argument could be made that the Italian arrest warrant is simply incorrect and that Palmeri is, say, a member or associate of the crime family. Gangsters Inc. in fact refers to Palmeri as a "a high-ranking member of the Gambino family." A source of ours who we trust implicitly has told us the Italian police incorrectly identified him and that he could be an underboss in one of Sicily's many Mafia families. However, the arrests today are said to be related to a Ndrangheta-Gambino ring that law enforcement previously smashed apart.

We called the FBI and while we finally got a person on the phone, once we made our inquiry we were told to email our question. The FBI has not offered a response to Italian assertions.

Bottom line: If the Italian arrest warrant is correct it means Frank Cali is the boss of the Gambino family. 

Is Cali the boss?
An argument also could be made that Palmeri is consiglieri, as the family's previous consiglieri, Bartolomeo "Baboots" Vernace, was this year sentenced to life in prison for the 1981 "Shamrock murders," a double homicide.

Joseph "Jo Jo" Corozzo was consiglieri prior to Vernace; he remains in prison until 2016.

As was widely reported, Cali supposedly was offered the position of boss of the Gambino family in June of 2013. Newspapers initially reported that he had accepted the position. However, the next day it was widely noted that the original story was incorrect.

Who issued the correction?

Some in law enforcement have said that the story about Domenico Cefalu, who Jerry Capeci very recently named as Gambino boss, stepping aside for Cali was indeed true and that the Mafia was seeking to confuse the Feds about Cali's true role by asserting that the newspaper reports were false.

“Why would he turn down a job where all the other captains want him?” a skeptical veteran mob hunter asked. “If they thought he would not take it, they would not have picked him.”

Sources say Cefalu wanted Cali to take his place, as did other captains who preferred to have a vigorous young earner control the family.

In Gotti's day, Cali operated all over New York City, in Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey. According to the FBI, he officially became the Gambino "ambassador to the Sicilian Mafia" when Gotti and Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano were still in power. Cali had married into the Inzerillo family, a Sicilian Mafia family. Cali also is the nephew of John and Joseph Gambino, who made up the "Cherry Hill Crew," named for their home base in New Jersey. They were the Gambino family's "Zips" who were implicated in the drug smuggling case known as the Pizza Connection.

No doubt about it: Cali has the chops to be boss.

Palmeri, the "underboss" arrested today, and his group used tactics similar to those employed by the early-20th century extortion crime ring known as the Black Hand, to blackmail an Italian businessman for $1.23 million

Palmeri traveled twice to Italy last year to confront the businessman over a 1980s loan, according to Italian officials.. The businessman had received letters inquiring about payment -- all of which were signed by "friends in Brooklyn."

According to the MailOnline, the loan "likely came from international drug traffickers connected to deceased New York mobster Cesare Bonventre, who was born in the same Sicilian town as Palmeri, Castellammare del Golfo," according to Italian officials.

The MailOnline further noted that the extortion plot "emerged during a separate investigation into a trans-Atlantic drug smuggling and money laundering ring that involved members of the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta mob family and the Gambinos."

The Gambino and Bonanno families have long-established ties to the Sicilian Mafia, but the Calabria-based 'Ndrangheta syndicate in recent years has come to dominate its Sicilian competitors, as well as the Neapolitan Camorra.

The Gambinos are believed by law enforcement to have the strongest ties to Sicily.

Palmeri faces a maximum sentence of 20 years if convicted of criminal conspiracy to commit international extortion as part of the Mafia. He carried out the plot using the others, who were involved throughout.


  1. Ed , Vernace may get another trial? What is the details of that? Great article.

  2. Your correct, but that's why Montagna went to Montreal with a vengeance, and cause Nick Rizzuto's word "He's got no standing here" in Montreal. Fate was sealed. Rizzuto must of not thought straight, that Montagna was now used to being a boss, and he wasn't a "soft fat American" but a real Sicilian. Major mistake by Nick Rizzuto.

  3. Basically what happened was the Italian authorities wanted to extradite him from usa, and the feds said sure. Im also curious about bobby glasses vernace getting another trial. He was acquitted in the state trial but convicted on the federal trial. He should be out of jail due to double jeopardy!!!! What, has this overgrown government forgot about the constitution?!! Which btw is the supreme law of the land.

  4. Not a chance this guy is the underboss , like he would be sent to Italy to pick up a 30 year old loan from a bonnano . This guy is most likely a bag man who has been picked up and the press r trying to make him more important than he actually is

  5. No, I'm writing what interested me about this story. I forgot you know the name, rank and serial number of every member of the Mafia. Italian law enforcement has hours of wiretapped conversations. Every major news organization in America -- ABC, CBS, etc. -- named this guy an underboss and I'm trying to make him sound more important than he is?

  6. It was revealed that a turncoat who testified and helped put him away had returned to a life of crime years ago. I assumed this is widely known... if you don't knows me know and I'll do a story.... actually I'm not sure what's going on with that right now ... whether Judge Townes decided.

  7. Johnny, I note that in the book. What I don't understand is that historically it was decided the Sicilian crew would have 20 members. So I think Massino assumed George was a capo with 10 guys in the U.S. and 10 in Canada, one of whom was Vito... he wanted Vito to take over for George.... So in other words he thought George was the "boss" and Vito under him. What is your take on this?

  8. Cefalu does seem to be in charge, Cali doesn't need the heat. Its not like Cefalu is ancient he's only in his late 60s which isn't old for a mob boss. Perhaps Palmieri is close to the administration and maybe he acts as messenger for the NY fams in Italy.

  9. Its not that the 'Ndrangheta has "come to dominate its Sicilian competitiors, as well as the Camorra" its just that the Calabrian Mafia has the most power and wealth compared to the two. The police have been hitting the 'Ndrangheta pretty hard in recent years forcing their bosses underground. The Sicilian Mafia is still a force to be reckoned with its not like the Calabrian's are dictating policy to them or anything.

  10. Also i wouldn't call them competitiors with each other, if you read John Dickie's book he states that they are more likely to work together than compete with each other.

  11. I'm not saying you r trying to make him sound more important , I said the press seem to be so get off your fucking high horse , wen did I say I knew every mob member ?? There r guys under the radar but If he was the underboss the Feds would know about it . This guy is not on any gambino chart , I will bet my house this guy is not the gambino underboss ,

  12. Were did I say I know everyone in the mafia ? I didn't so get of your high horse , I said the PRESS was making him out to be more important than he is . I will bet my house this guy is not the underboss , your right Ste cefalu is in his late 60s and not his late 70s like some reported . Ed if u believe I'm clueless why do u message me asking my opinions on things ?? I'm done with this site it's shite

  13. So what does dominate mean? More power and wealth -- what else is there??

  14. Does Dom pay you to be his shill?

  15. I am well informed and well connected to "guys" in Toronto, NY, and Montreal, and since you ran this story I talked with my connections, was told that Palmeri is an under boss in Sicily, but spends a lot of time in NY. Told he is also a international carrier of messages between his clan and the Gambinos. This guy is very close to the Gambino top administration of Sicilian's Cefalu and Cali. Remember, the Sicilian "Zip" faction now runs the Gambino Family, not like the old days of John Gotti and brother Peter, so with the Sicilian's firmly in control of the Gambino's, their relation with their counterparts in Sicily are really strengthened and both sides are prospering because of it.
    Bottom line for story about Palmeri, he is an under boss of his clan in Sicily, spends a lot of time in NY with the Sicilian Zips that are now firmly atop the Gambino Family.
    Hope this clarification helps.

  16. The word dominate implies that they are in direct competition with each other which is false if you want to be pedantic about it Ed

  17. Which day? I've never heard of an intra-mafia war in Italy its never happened. The Mafia's of Italy work with each other rather than against, a bit like the 5 fams. That's not to say there aren't beefs but they tend to be squashed for the "higher" purpose of making money

  18. That's pretty much what I thought he would be

  19. You were the one who termed it competitors Ed when they aren't in direct competition with each other, rather they co-operate. You can define the word dominate all you like but you are incorrect about the Italian Mafia's competing with each other. Different territory's and they all recognise each other as "Men of Honour".

  20. No, there was no certain amount of Zips that was regulated by the Massino and or the Bonano Family. George was "the go between" NYC and Montreal, and ahead of the Zip faction of the Bonano's. Remember "Zips are not Sicilian's based in Montreal" but Zip's are Sicilian's born in Sicily that come to America to partake in the Mafia in NYC. Another words there is no such thing as a "Montreal Zip" Now moving to your second part, how can one say that George had 10 guys on each side of the border, when in fact there were over 60 made guys in Montreal under Ritzzuto. The FBI listed Vito Rizzuto as just a soldier in the Bonano Family, and that was the truth in 1981 when the three capos were killed with Rizzuto involved in the hit. But Vito stopped taking orders from NY after George got hit, while still paying tribute, and when Massino rolled over Vito stopped paying tribute to NY and broke away entirely, saying "I'm not taking orders from fat lazy Americans that break our rules,, they're soft over there"
    That's word for word what Vito said.
    Also, there was no "superior" between Vito and George, they were best friends since youth, and looked upon each other as equals. When Joe Lopresti was killed In 1992, they both agreed he had to go, best friends with Vito and George, he had become a real bad drug user. Vito and George agreed on that hit, as equals.By the way, not one Montreal based Sicilian mobster has ever rolled over. That is a great track record.
    Ed, looking toward your feedback.

  21. That is what my source said....Good point...

  22. Fifth Family mentions that there was an agreement that there'd be 20 members of the Montreal faction. I know there were more, I'm trying to put myself in Massino's POV... In his POV George must've been superior because Massino wanted to promote Vito to George's position after they hit George. In other words Massino was pretty clueless about Montreal.... interesting a Sicilian never rolled. What about the Calabrians? Does Canada have anything like a RICO act in the works? I know they seized a lot of mobsters in Canada during the war because we were at war with Italy... they used it as an excuse to round them up?

  23. What's with the secrecy after cooperating?! Who are the capos? Also can you give me some more info on the book and what's it about? Thanks

  24. If you click on the giant cover in the side column you'll be taken to the book's Amazon page, where you can view information and read an excerpt... As for Dom, he and I are writing a series of ebooks in which he will tell all. But on his own timeline. Believe me, I'm interested in knowing this stuff myself!!

  25. Check out the link here:

  26. Sounds good I am waiting. Will read an excerpt now. Come on this website every day now prefer it to the bbs. I like the fact you are a journalist and keep the opinions to a minimum. Great informative interesting site just wish you do more articles. Keep up the good work ed

  27. What kind of articles are you interested in? Breaking news, historical features.... trying to gauge what people want. Thanks!!!

  28. Philly, you still around? Haven't heard from you, hope you're okay.


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