Eleven alleged members of the Gambino crime family were tossed in jail this week on federal charges, including threatening people who owed them money. Federal agents alleged one was told to pay $100,000 or lose his teeth. (ABCnewsgo.com)
Court documents cited other recordings that provide a vivid, behind-the-scenes look at the fallout from the murder of a Gambino leader – Franesco Cali – earlier in 2019 outside his home in Staten Island.
Federal agents said the federal racketeering case against the crime family that was once run by vicious mob boss John Gotti shows that obstruction of justice, loansharking, extortion and bribery, and other crimes are still common.
Some of the mobsters have already gone to jail, were released, and went right back to their usual criminal activities, according to William Sweeney, the chief of the FBI’s New York office.
The alleged mobsters were supposed to appear in court late yesterday in Brooklyn. The names of their attorneys have not yet been released.
Campos Threatens to Punch Out Victim’s Teeth
Federal documents describe how Gambino chief Andrew Campos and soldier Vincent Fiore allegedly made a threat of violence over a $100,000 debt. They said that Fiore told the victim that when he would get punched in the face and have his teeth knocked out, he would not find it funny.
Campos and Fiore also allegedly helped the Gambinos investigate the slaying of Cali in March 2019. They speculated how the murder would affect the hierarchy of the Gambino family. While they were under FBI surveillance, the men had secret meetings with several others in the crime family. Fiore later said in a phone call that he had viewed a security videotape from Cali’s house that talked about a possible motive for the death related to a woman who was at Cali’s home the day of the murder.
Anthony Comello Accused of Killing Cali
Anthony Comello from Staten Island has pleaded not guilty to the shooting and is still being mentally evaluated. Comello has claimed to his attorney that he killed Cali because the boss was part of ‘the deep state,’ which means he is a member of a large liberal government-connected group trying to undermine President Trump. (NYTimes.com)
At one court appearance, Comello wrote on his left hand a symbol and phrases that are associated with far-right conspiracy theories.
Now, Comello’s paranoia is being discussed in the Staten Island Court. His attorney has taken the first steps in a legal fight that hinges on a key question: At what point does your belief in a far-right conspiracy theory make you legally insane?
How the crime’s three major aspects – Comello the aimless drifter from Staten Island, a Gambino crime family boss, and a far-right conspiracy theory – all came together on a dark street in Staten Island resulting in murder has perplexed police officials and mob watchers in New York City.
Comello is 25 and is accused of engaging in one of the city’s most brazen mob killings in US history. Prosecutors allege that he shot and killed Cali for no known reason. Comello’s lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, has said his client was deluded by conspiracy theories. It is alleged the accused went to Cali’s home to arrest him and give him over to the military. He then shot him when he resisted being arrested.
His attorney said Comello strongly believed that Cali was a major member of the deep state and was a proper target for a citizen’s arrest.
At the time, Gottlieb said these delusions were strong evidence that Comello should not stand trial and should be given psychiatric treatments. The judge has now imposed a gag order, and Gottlieb has not commented further on the legal proceedings.
Legal Bar for Insanity Is High in New York
In New York, there is a high legal bar for an insanity defense. It must be shown that the defendant does not just have a mental illness, but that that illness prevented them from grasping the consequences of their actions, or from understanding they were morally wrong.
Federal prosecutors have acted in court as if Comello is mentally fit to stand trial and can be held responsible for the actions that lead to Cali’s death. At an October hearing, the lead prosecutor stated that Comello’s mind was clear when he waived his right to have an attorney during an interview with detectives.
How Comello started to associate Cali with far-right political conspiracy theories is unknown. On an Instagram page related to Comello, he posted several deep-state memes and symbols that are associated with the QAnon theory. This theory claims that a large number of undercover agents are in the government fighting against a bureaucracy that is plotting to bring down President Trump.
Attorneys say that people like Comello can be easily sucked into the type of networking that is done online to promulgate these far-right conspiracy theories.