According to local media in NY, he took the helm of the Gambino family in 2015, replacing Domenico Cefalu.
NY media say it is the first targeted killing of a mob boss in the city since 1985.
The 53-year-old reportedly ascended to the top spot in the gang in 2015, taking over from Domenico Cefalu. Gotti's brother Gene Gotti spent 29 years in prison for heroin distribution, but he got out in September 2018, leading to speculation as to what that could mean for the future of the organization. They also ran over him with a truck in what the New York Daily News called "a gory hit".
Cali kept a much lower profile than Gotti and was killed in far less spectacular fashion than Castellano.
The reputed boss of New York's Gambino crime family was struck at least six times when he was shot to death in front of his Staten Island home not long after dinnertime Wednesday, marking the city's first mafia don killing in more than three decades.
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Legendary New York Post and Daily News crime beat writer Murray Weiss, now a producer for CBS News' "48 Hours", extensively covered the Gambino crime family and told WCBS 880's Steve Scott he has a theory that Cali's murder may also have a connection to the Gotti family.
He began ascending within the ranks under capo John D'Amico, who went by Jackie and became the family's acting boss in 2005 - after which Cali became an acting captain, according to court documents.
Following Castellano's murder, Gotti headed the Gambino family until his incarceration for conspiracy and murder in 1992. Gotti then took control of the family. "Very surprising, but I guess old habits die hard".
Police added he was taken to Staten Island University North hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Rudy Giuliani, then US attorney for the Southern District of NY and now President Donald Trump's personal attorney, was handling the prosecution. He served a 16-month sentence. During a bail hearing in February 2008, Assistant US Attorney Joey Lipton noted that "Cali is seen as a man of influence and power by organized crime members in Italy".