Gambino Underboss Cali has Strong Ties to Sicily

Frank Cali, a mobster with strong Sicilian roots, has been named as the Gambino family's new underboss, according to Jerry Capeci's PPV column

Frank Cali circa 2008.

Cali, along with Gambino family boss Domenico "Italian Dom" Cefalu, who officially named Cali his number two, and Gambino capo Bartolomeo "Baboots" Vernace are believed to all have strong ties to Sicily.

In fact, although all five New York crime families have ties to the old country, the Gambinos are believed by law enforcement to have the strongest.

Cali had been on the Feds' radar. He has been considered to be the Gambino "ambassador to Sicilian mobsters" and he is linked to the Inzerillo Mafia family, from Palermo. "Cali is seen as a man of influence and power by organized crime members in Italy," according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Lipton.

Salvatore Inzerillo (Palermo, 1944 – Palermo, May 11, 1981) was an Italian drug dealing mafiosi who rose to be a powerful boss of Palermo's Passo di Rigano family. He was killed in May 1981 by the Corleonesi of Totò Riina, who opposed the established Palermo Mafia families, which included Inzerillo.

As Wikipedia notes: "The Inzerillo family had been on the verge of total extermination by the Corleonesi. With the intervention of relatives in New York, including associates of the Gambino crime family, a deal was worked out that allowed the surviving Inzerillos to take refuge in the U.S., with the agreement that none of them, or their offspring, could ever return to Sicily. Many went to the New York area and joined forces with the Gambino family...

"However, after the arrest of Totò Riina and other hardline Corleonesi like Leoluca Bagarella, the Inzerillos started to come back to Sicily. Francesco Inzerillo was allowed to return in 1997 after he was expelled from the U.S."

Cali's promotion marks something of a comeback for the Sicilians in La Cosa Nostra, Capeci reports.

"Back in the 1920s, American mobsters, led by Lucky Luciano and others, fought a war of independence from the old-school Sicilian mobsters who had long dominated the Mafia. While so-called “zips” – Sicilian-born gangsters – have long been employed as hit men in the U.S., and occasionally been “made,” they haven’t held leadership posts in any of the major families – until now."

Cali, Capeci adds, is also the nephew of capo John Gambino, the leader of the crime family’s delegation that met with the Philadelphia mob in New Jersey last year," Capeci adds. Unfortunately for them, that meeting, in May 2010, was recorded by then-cooperating witness Nicholas "Nicky Skins" Stefanelli and will be played sometime during the racketeering trial of Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi. (See story.)

The Philly case mostly involves illegal gambling and loansharking in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and there's little violence alleged.

Stefanelli committed suicide earlier this year, as reported; but, the former North Jersey mobster had already done the damage, having recorded dozens of conversations along the East Coast for about two years.