By Danielle Wallace
Published March 14, 2019
Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, a reputed mob boss, was fatally shot Wednesday night by a hitman in front of his home in a lavish Staten Island neighborhood with links to mafia history.
Although such an attack might shock the doctors, lawyers and stock brokers who live in the million-dollar homes in the opulent Todt Hill neighborhood, the killing isn’t unfamiliar to those who know mafia history there – especially that of the Gambino family, according to the New York Times.
Paul Castellano, former leader of the same organized crime group, wielded power from the comfort of his Todt Hill mansion before his murderous demise in 1985. The Gambino family, once the country’s most influential mob, is no stranger to attacks such as the one on Cali.
Crime boss John Gotti ordered Castellano’s murder in front of a steak house in Manhattan in 1985 to seize power of the Gambino mob, according to The New York Times.
Police have not commented on whether they believe Cali was a victim of mob crime or if the crime boss was gunned down by a rogue killer. Officials have not released a name or description of the hitman, if they have one.
Over the years, many other mobsters have found solace in Todt Hill’s wooded properties and custom-style mansions, including hitman Salvatore Gravano, or Sammy the Bull, who informed on Gotti.
The streets are quite literally out of “The Godfather.” The opening scenes of the film, where Vito Corleone welcomed guests into his home for his daughter’s wedding, were shot at a house on Longfellow Avenue.
Four hundred feet above sea level, Todt Hill sits on the highest point on the Eastern seaboard south of Maine. Offering panoramic views over the New York City skyline, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, New York Harbor and the New Jersey shore, the neighborhood serves as the perfect lookout spot for any conspiring crime lord.
Todt Hill normally enjoys relatively low crime rates. According to records from the 122nd Precinct, which serves a portion of the South Shore of Staten Island, there were only 4.7 major crimes for every 100,000 residents between January 2018-2019. The precinct containing Todt Hill is among 15 precincts in New York City with under 8.6 major crimes per 100,000.
Though considered a very safe area now, a string of crimes in the 1990s once wreaked havoc as mob bosses became the victims of incessant burglaries. In one burglary, court records from 1992 show thieves stole a diamond pin, a necklace and a bracelet set valued at $95,000. In another, they took almost $250,000 in cash.
After both the mob and the police worked together to track them down, Michael McLean and Robert Mede were convicted--- their stash houses from their frequent sprees revealed antique furniture, Persian rugs, fur coats, artwork, appliances, $125,000 in cash and more than 7,000 pieces of jewelry, from Rolex and Cartier watches to custom-made brooches and ruby earrings, the New York Times reported in 1996.
Regularly attracting doctors, lawyers and real-estate brokers, Todt Hill homes are on the market for around $4 million, according to current real-estate listings. The Richmond County Country Club attracts upper class members who relax playing golf and tennis while their children attend the area’s Staten Island Academy, an elite school for students pre-K through 12th grade.
“It’s a lot of fun getting lost driving around the winding roads and looking at all of the beautiful homes—when they aren't blocked by gargantuan cast iron gates, that is,” Donna Carotenuto of City Habitats recalled in a 2017 interview for Brick Underground.
“The neighborhood is upscale and, plainly put, often extravagant.”
Fox News' Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.