Just-out-of-jail Gene Gotti — released from prison six months ago after serving 29 years for dealing heroin — may be under the watchful eye of authorities looking for links to the brutal execution of a reputed Gambino gangster, sources told the Daily News Thursday.
Cops are chasing down several theories over who was behind the bloody assassination of Frank (Franky Boy) Cali, an alleged Gambino boss — including whether Gotti, the younger brother of late Gambino godfather John Gotti and a capo before going to prison, is now looking to claw back his stake in the family business.
Cali, 53, died in a hail of gunfire outside his Staten Island home late Wednesday. The gunman fired up to 12 times, striking Cali six times in the chest on Hilltop Terrace near Four Corners Road in Todt Hill about 9:15 p.m.
Cops on Thursday were searching the area and Staten Island’s bridges for surveillance video that might have caught the getaway vehicle — a blue or silver pick-up truck — as it fled the borough.
But the vehicle may also have been ditched at a demolition site, a law enforcement source said.
Cali’s family didn’t cooperate with police requests to review the surveillance video captured on their home security system — forcing cops to get a warrant to review the recordings, sources told The News.
His execution ignited fears of a civil war within the Gambino family sparked by the 73-year-old Gotti’s return — or a mob war, if it turns out Cali was killed by a member of a rival family.
“It’s total speculation,” a source said about a possible Gotti link. “But it’s also something to look out for. Was Gene trying to reclaim some of his business and Cali wasn’t going for it?”
Investigators are looking at other angles as well: a rubout by Cali’s underlings or someone who had a personal beef with the Sicilian-born mobster.
Mayor de Blasio on Thursday echoed the shock felt by the city in the wake of the vicious slaying.
“We thought those days were over,” the mayor said. “Very surprising, but I guess old habits die hard.”
Neighbors, watching as cops loaded a silver SUV onto a police truck outside Cali’s home Thursday, were equally stunned.
“It’s shocking,” said Karen Curitore, 62. “It’s one thing if somebody’s house was robbed, but to hear that someone around the corner has been gunned down in their driveway, that’s disconcerting.”
Cali, who served on the Gambino family’s ruling panel for several years, was elevated to acting boss in 2015, replacing then 68-year-old Domenico Cefalu, authorities say.
His murder recalled the 1985 execution of Gambino boss Paul Castellano, who was ordered shot dead by John Gotti in front of Midtown’s Sparks Steak House, in the most infamous mob hit in the city’s recent history.
John Gotti, who took over the Gambino family after Castellano’s shooting, died in prison in 2002. Cefalu reportedly ousted Gotti’s kin to head the Gambino family in 2011.
Cali’s ties to the mob ran deep. His wife is the niece of Gambino capo John Gambino. His brother Joseph and brother-in-law Peter Inzerillo are reputed Gambino soldiers.
He rose quickly through the ranks of organized crime, becoming a powerful capo before the age of 40, less than a decade after he became an inducted member, according to court papers.
Federal authorities tried to put a stop to Cali’s rise in the late 2000s after he completed a 16-month sentence for an extortion scheme connected to a failed bid to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island.
With Jillian Jorgensen