STATE OF THE MOB

The murder of a reputed mafia boss has put a spotlight on the New York mob. But, with new competition in the underworld, how much power and influence does the mafia still have?

Aired on May 13, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> FOR A MOMENT, IT FELT JUST LIKE THE MOB WARS OF OLD.

A SUSPECTED CRIME BOSS GUNNED DOWN.

POLICE SWARMING THE SCENE AND SPECULATION MOUNTING OVER WHO CARRIED OUT THE HIT.

BUT THIS IS 2019, NOT 1985.

THE MARCH 13th KILLING OF FRANCESCO CALI OF STATEN ISLAND CAME WITH A TWIST WHEN POLICE ARRESTED A MAN WITH NO APPARENT MAFIA TIES AND A REPORTED BEEF WITH CALI OVER THE MOBSTER'S NIECE.

MOB HIT OR NOT, CALI'S MURDER HAS PUT THE SPOTLIGHT BACK ON NEW YORK CITY'S NOTORIOUS FIVE ORGANIZED CRIME FAMILIES.

BUT JUST HOW MUCH INFLUENCE DO THESE FAMILIES ACTUALLY STILL HAVE?

AND WHAT COULD CALI'S MURDER MEAN FOR THE MOB?

JOINING US WITH ANSWERS TO THESE AND OTHER QUESTIONS IS JOURNALIST AND MAFIA EXPERT JERRY CAPISI.

JERRY, WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.

.

IT'S A PLEASURE TO BE HERE.

FOLLOWING THE MURDER OF THE REPUTED GAMBINO BOSS FRANKLY BOYD CALI, THERE WAS A LOT OF SPECULATION AMONG LAW ENFORCEMENT AND THE PRESS THAT THIS WAS THE BEGINNING OF A 21st CENTURY MOB WAR.

AND YOU SUSPECTED RIGHT AWAY THAT IT WAS NOT.

HOW DID YOU KNOW?

WHAT GAVE IT AWAY FOR YOU?

WELL, I DIDN'T KNOW.

BUT I SUSPECTED IT.

THE MOB JUST DOESN'T KILL PEOPLE THE WAY ANTHONY CAMELO ALLEGEDLY KILLED FRANK CALI.

WHAT IS IT THEY DON'T DO?

THEY GENERALLY WILL HAVE AT LEAST TWO CARS AND USUALLY THREE CARS.

ONE WOULD BE A CRASH CAR TO STOP ANY PURCHSUERS, AND THE SECOND WOULD BE A LEAD CAR USED TO PICK UP THE SHOOTER AND DUMP OFF THE CAR THAT WAS USED FOR THE HIT.

THIS WAS A LONE GUNMAN IN A PICKUP TRUCK WHO GOT OUT OF THE CAR AFTER SPARKING INTO FRANK CALI'S CAR.

AND I THINK HE WENT AND RANG THE BELL AND GAVE CALI THE LICENSE PLATE THAT HE KNOCKED OFF HIS CAR.

AND SOMETHING ELSE THAT MOB HITS DON'T DO, RIGHT, THEY GO TO THE GUY'S HOUSE IN FRONT OF HIS FAMILY.

THIS IS WHAT I READ.

DEFINITELY, DEFINITELY, THAT'S ANOTHER THING.

AT LEAST IN NEW YORK THERE IS THIS RULE WHERE YOU DON'T KILL A GUY, ESPECIALLY A HIGH RANKING MOBSTER LIKE FRANK CALI IN FRONT OF HIS HOUSE.

AND FRANK CALI WAS THE UNDERBOSS, WHICH MAKES HIM LIKE THE SECOND IN COMMAND?

EXACTLY.

ALLEGEDLY.

FRANK CALI WAS THE CRIME BOSS OF THE FAMILY, THE NUMBER TWO GUY.

HE WOULD BE JOHN GOTTI'S NUMBER TWO.

HE WAS THE SAMMY OF THE GAMBINO CRIME FAMILY.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT CALI'S REPUTED KILLER?

NOT MUCH, EXCEPT THAT FRANK CALI DIDN'T LIKE HIM BECAUSE HE WAS -- HE FELT HE WAS UNWORTHY TO BE DATING HIS NIECE.

AND APPARENTLY HE WAS CORRECT ON THAT ASSUMPTION.

HERE HE IS, THIS GUY COMES AND KILLS THE GUY BECAUSE HE DIDN'T LIKE --

AND HE WAS NOT MOB CONNECTED IN ANY WAY?

AS FAR AS ANYBODY KNOWS.

AND IT'S PRETTY WELL ESTABLISHED HE HAD NO MOB CONNECTIONS AT ALL.

IF HE HAD SOME MOB CONNECTIONS, HE PROBABLY WOULD HAVE THOUGHT TWICE OR THREE TIMES ABOUT KILLING THE UNDERBOSS OF THE GAMBINO CRIME FAMILY.

HE IS GOING TO HAVE A TOUGH, LONG INTERESTING LIFE, NO MATTER HOW LONG IT GOES FROM HERE ON IN.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT.

I MEAN, HE IS NOW IN JAIL.

I'M GUESSING THAT THE GAMBINO FAMILY HAS GOT A TARGET ON HIS BACK.

WHAT KIND OF DANGER IS HE IN JAIL?

THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT THE GAMBINO FAMILY IS NOT HAPPEN ABOUT THE FACT THAT HE KILLED FRANK CALI, AND THERE WOULD BE A, YOU KNOW, A TARGET RIGHT ON HIS BACK FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.

WHETHER SOMEONE IS ABLE TO GET AHOLD OF HIM IN PRISON IS ANOTHER STORY.

AND WHETHER HE WILL BE ABLE TO BEAT THE CASE FOR SOME REASON OR ANOTHER, THAT'S ANOTHER STORY.

UNLIKE JOHN GOTTI, THE DAPPER DON, WHICH AS THE EXPRESSION SAYS WAS A VERY FLASHY GUY, CALI, THE REPUTED UNDERBOSS OF THE GAMBINO FAMILY, WAS VERY LOW-KEY.

IN FACT SOME LAW ENFORCEMENT CALLED HIM A GHOST HE WAS SO INVISIBLE, SO DISCREET.

IS THAT INVISIBILITY AND DISCRETION THE NEW NORM FOR MAFIA LEADERS?

OH, NO QUESTION ABOUT IT.

THE MOBSTERS OF TODAY LEARNED A VERY IMPORTANT LESSONS FROM JOHN GOTTI.

YOU DON'T PARADE UP AND DOWN MULBERRY STREET ON BROADWAY IN LITTLE ITALY POKING YOUR THUMB IN THE GOVERNMENT'S EYE AND SAY COME AND GET ME.

FRANK CALI WAS THE EPITOME OF A 2019 GANGSTER.

LOW-KEY, AN EARNER, SOMEONE WHO MAY NOT HAVE EVEN KILLED SOMEBODY TO GET INTO THE CRIME FAMILY BECAUSE IN THE MID-'90s, THE MOB DECIDED, YOU KNOW, LET'S NOT KEEP THIS UP.

EVERYBODY IS GOING AWAY FOR LIFE FOR MURDER.

LET'S CUT THIS OUT.

LET'S PROTECT OURSELVES.

AND SO THEY ISSUED A RULING WHICH BASICALLY PROHIBITS SANCTIONED KILLINGS THESE DAYS.

IS THAT WHY PAUL CASTELLANO WAS THE LAST MOB BOSS, GAMBINO MOB BOSS WHO WAS KILLED IN A MOB HIT?

GOTTI GOT HIM KILLED.

AND THAT WAS 32 YEARS AGO.

THAT THE REASON WHY WE HAVEN'T SEEN THIS KIND OF KILLING?

BECAUSE THE MOB SAID THE MORE WE KILL, THE MORE WE SPEND OUR LIFETIME IN PRISON?

I BELIEVE THAT'S THE CASE, CORRECT.

THE MOB DID PUT OUT A RULING KAECADE ININDICATING THAT THE L SENTENCES THEY WERE GETTING FOR MURDERS WAS DEPLETING THE CRIME FAMILY.

THEY DECIDED THIS WAS NOT GOOD FOR US.

WE DON'T WANT TO GO TO JAIL FOR LIFE.

LET'S CUT IT OUT.

THERE WERE BODIES IN THE STREETS IN THE '80s EVERYWHERE.

I REMEMBER.

THE GOVERNMENT FIGURED THIS IS NOTED GOO THING, AND THE MOB REALIZED THAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS GOING AFTER THEM.

SO THEY CUT IT OUT.

SO LISTEN, JUST FROM READING THE PAPERS, YOU GET THE SENSE THAT THE MEXICAN AND COLOMBIAN CARTELS, GANGS LIKE MS-13 AND THE RUSSIAN MOB HAVE TAKEN THE SPOTLIGHT AWAY FROM THE MAFIA.

HAVE THEY ALSO TAKEN A LOT OF THE POWER AWAY FROM THE MAFIA?

I DON'T THINK SO.

NONE OF THEM HAVE REALLY GOTTEN INTO LEGITIMATE BUSINESSES AS WELL AS THE MOB DID.

THE MOB'S CLOUT, THERE IS NO QUESTION ABOUT IT HAS DISSIPATED QUITE A BIT IN THE LAST 15, 20 YEARS.

BUT THE OTHER EMERGING ETHNIC GANGS, THEY'RE NOT REALLY INTERESTED IN GETTING INTO LEGITIMATE BUSINESSES THE WAY THE MOB DID.

AND THE GOVERNMENT, THE LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMUNITY DOESN'T LET THEM GET ENTRENCHED INTO LEGITIMATE BUSINESSES IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS AND COMMUNITIES THE WAY THEY ALLOWED THE ITALIAN AMERICAN MOB TO DO IN ITS OWN NEIGHBORHOODS.

THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED IN THE '40s AND '50s.

THE MOB WAS IGNORED, YOU KNOW.

THE LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMUNITY IGNORED THE MOB, DIDN'T WORRY ABOUT THE FACT THAT THEY WERE INFILTRATING THEIR OWN NEIGHBORHOODS AND LET THEM GET ENTRENCHED.

AND THEN 20, 30 YEARS LATER THEY REALIZE THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM.

LET'S GO AFTER THEM.

SO LISTEN, THE FEDS HAVE BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL, AS YOU'VE SAID HERE, IN GOING AFTER THE MOB.

BUT JUST VERY RECENTLY, THEY WERE NOT HERE IN MANHATTAN.

TALK ABOUT THE CASE WHERE THE MOB BEAT THE FEDS.

EXACTLY.

THE SAME DAY THAT FRANK CALI WAS SHOT AND KILLED, JOE C.

CAMMARANO AND PORKY WERE ACQUITTED.

THE FIRST MAFIA BOSS TO DO SO SINCE JOHN GOTTI BEAT THE BOSS IN 1987.

THE GOVERNMENT WAS UNABLE TO PROVE THAT THESE GUYS WERE INVOLVED IN THE RACKETS THAT THEY PRETTY WELL ESTABLISHED AT TRIAL THAT THE BONANNO FAMILY WAS INVOLVED IN GOING BACK TO THE '80s AND '90s.

DO YOU EVER SEE A DAY WHERE THE MAFIA WILL DISAPPEAR?

I DON'T THINK THEY'LL DISAPPEAR.

I THINK THEY MAY BECOME LESS AND LESS POWERFUL AS THE YEARS GO BY, BUT I DON'T THINK THEY'LL DISAPPEAR.

I DON'T THINK THEY'LL DISAPPEAR IN MY LIFETIME.

WELL YOU HAVE A LOT TO WRITE ABOUT THEM.

WELL, JERRY, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

IT'S A PLEASURE, RAFAEL.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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