The 24-year-old man charged with killing the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family wrote a string of slogans on his hand, including “MAGA Forever,” and flashed them before a court hearing Monday.
Anthony Comello held up his left hand while waiting for a hearing to begin in Toms River, New Jersey, in which he agreed to be extradited to New York.
On it were scrawled slogans including “MAGA Forever,” an abbreviation of President Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.” It also read “United We Stand MAGA.”
It’s unclear what his motivations were for showing off the hand-written words.
Comello was arrested Saturday in New Jersey in the death of Francesco Cali last week in front of his Staten Island home.
Comello’s lawyer, Brian Neary, would not discuss the writing on his client’s hand, nor would he say whether Comello maintained his innocence.
The New York Times reported Monday afternoon that Comello told detectives he was high on marijuana and allegedly shot Cali because he feared for his life.
Police said Cali, 53, was shot 10 times.
Federal prosecutors referred to Cali in court filings in 2014 as the underboss of the Mafia’s Gambino family, once one of the country’s most powerful crime organizations. News accounts since 2015 said Cali had ascended to the top spot, though he never was charged with leading the gang. His only mob-related conviction came a decade ago, when he was sentenced to 16 months in prison in an extortion scheme involving a failed attempt to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island. He was released in 2009, and hadn’t been in legal trouble since then.
The last Mafia boss to be rubbed out in New York City was Gambino don “Big Paul” Castellano, who was assassinated in 1985.
Officials haven’t confirmed that the Gambino crime family has posted a bounty on Comello, but “the general feeling is that there’s an ‘X’ on this guy’s back,” one source said.
“He’s going to have some issues in jail,” a high-ranking NYPD official said.
“Maybe there’s some guys who are wiseguys in jail who will show their allegiance to the Gambinos and say, ‘We’ll take care of this guy.’”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.