Suspect in NYC Mafia boss killing has pro-Trump slogans written on hand in court

The 24-year-old suspect is alleged to have killed Francesco "Franky boy" Cali outside his home. Investigators believe the crime was unrelated to Cali's mob activities.
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By Tim Stelloh

The man suspected of gunning down a New York City mob boss appeared in court Monday with the phrases "MAGA Forever" and "United We Stand MAGA" scrawled across his left hand.

President Donald Trump's campaign slogan appeared on the hand of Anthony Comello, 24, at a hearing in Toms River, New Jersey, in which the suspect agreed to be extradited to New York.

Authorities allege that Comello killed suspected Gambino crime family leader, Francesco "Franky boy" Cali, 53, outside his home in Staten Island, New York, on March 13.

Anthony Comello displays writing on his hand during his extradition hearing in Toms River, New Jersey on March 18, 2019.Seth Wenig / AP

The killing is believed to be unrelated to Cali's mob role, law enforcement sources told NBC New York.

Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, a former underboss of the Gambino crime family, also said he doesn't believe the murder was a mafia hit because Cali was gunned down in front of his house.

"That's not something we actually do," Gravano said Tuesday on "Today." "Right away that sends signals that maybe this wasn't a mafia hit."

At Monday's hearing, "Patriots in Charge" was also inked on Comello's hand, NBC New York reported.

Comello's lawyer, Brian Neary, refused to discuss the written phrases and said only that "handcuffs" were on his client's hand, NBC New York reported.

Another lawyer representing Comello, Robert Gottlieb, did not respond to messages seeking comment, the station reported.

Wearing green-and-white striped clothing, Comello showed his hand to the news media while sitting in the courtroom's jury box, according to NBC New York.

Comello, of Staten Island, was arrested Saturday in Brick, New Jersey.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea declined to say if Comello and Cali knew each other, saying that authorities were investigating a potential relationship.

Nor would Shea say if Comello had targeted Cali.

Before Comello's arrest, Shea said it appeared a gunman may have lured Cali to his death after deliberately backing into Cali's SUV with a pickup truck. When Cali stepped outside his home to investigate, a man fatally shot him six times.

After the arrest, Gottlieb said that the "people who know [Comello] best, his family and friends, cannot believe what they are hearing. There is something very wrong here and we will get to the bottom of it.”

Tim Stelloh

Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News, based in California.

Erica Byfield contributed.