A suspect in the crowd's head bangs pro-Trump slogans at hand



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TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) – The man accused of killing reputed head of the Gambino criminal family wrote pro-Donald Trump slogans and presented them to reporters before a court hearing on Monday.

Anthony Comello, 24, was arrested Saturday in New Jersey following the death of Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali last week outside his home on Staten Island.

While waiting for the start of a court hearing in Toms River, New Jersey, during which he agreed to be extradited to New York, Comello raised his left hand.

There were pro-Trump slogans, including "MAGA Forever", an abbreviation for the Trump campaign's "Make America Great Again" slogan. It also read "United We Stand MAGA" and "Patriots In Charge". In the center of his palm he had drawn a large circle. We did not know right away why he did it.

Comello's lawyer, Brian Neary, will not discuss writing on his client's hand, nor will he say whether Comello is maintaining his innocence. After the audience, interviewed by reporters about the content of Comello's hand, Neary replied "Handcuffs".

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Anthony Comello wrote on his hand during his extradition hearing in Toms River, New Jersey, on Monday, March 18, 2019. New York police announced that a suspect was in custody in the death shot by the alleged head of the Gambino family. Detective chief Dermot Shea said Comello, 24, was arrested on Saturday, March 16, 2019 following the death of Francesco Cali outside his home on Staten Island. (AP Photo / Seth Wenig)

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Anthony Comello wrote on his hand during his extradition hearing in Toms River, New Jersey, on Monday, March 18, 2019. New York police announced that a suspect was in custody in the death shot by the alleged head of the Gambino family. Detective chief Dermot Shea said Comello, 24, was arrested on Saturday, March 16, 2019 following the death of Francesco Cali outside his home on Staten Island. (AP Photo / Seth Wenig)

He referred all other questions to Comello's attorney in Manhattan, Robert Gottlieb, who stated in an e-mail statement that his client had been placed in pre-trial detention because of "serious threats" that had been made against him, without giving details about it. Océan County officials could not be reached immediately after working hours on Monday.

"The family and friends of Mr. Comello just can not believe what we told them," Gottlieb said. "There is something very wrong here and we will know the truth about what happened as quickly as possible."

The statement did not deal with writing on Comello's hand and a lawyer from Gottlieb's firm declined to comment Monday night.

Comello was sitting with a slight smile in the jury room in the courtroom Monday afternoon as dozens of journalists and photographers entered the room. When they were in place, Comello raised his left hand to display the writings as the click and shudder of the camera's lenses filled the room.

During the hearing, Comello did not speak other than to say "Yes, sir" to the judge so that he would answer several procedural questions.

Cali, 53, was shot dead last Wednesday by an armed man who may have crashed his truck into Cali's car to lure him outside. Police said Cali had been shot 10 times.

Federal prosecutors referred to Cali during his hearings in 2014 as a leader of the Gambino family of the mafia, which was one of the country's most powerful criminal organizations. Press accounts since 2015 have indicated that Cali had risen to the forefront, although he has never been accused of leading the gang. His only sentence in relation to the crowd came a decade ago, when he was sentenced to 16 months in prison for extortion and unsuccessful attempt to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island. He was released in 2009 and has had no legal problems since.

The police have not yet said whether she thought the killing of Cali had been a mob or whether he had been killed for another motive.

The last mafia leader to be eliminated in New York was Gambino don "Big Paul" Castellano, murdered in 1985.

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Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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