The man who is accused of fatally shooting a New York City mob boss in a brazen crime that shocked observers and the law enforcement community allegedly thought he had the protection of President Trump and was trying to arrest the mob boss as part of a battle against the "Deep State," new court documents claim.
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Anthony Comello is charged with the murder of Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali, the reputed head of the infamous Gambino crime family.
Authorities initially feared a possible mob war in the wake of Cali's shooting death in March, but later Comello, who has no known mob ties, was identified as the suspect. He has entered a not guilty plea to murder and weapons possession charges.
In new court documents submitted Friday, Comello's defense attorney details how his client -- who he is arguing suffers from mental defect -- allegedly was a believer in the "conspiratorial fringe right-wing political group" QAnon.
QAnon has found its way out of the recesses of the internet with references on Alex Jones' "InfoWars" and from celebrities like Roseanne Barr. Trump supporters were also spotted wearing "Q" T-shirts at rallies in June 2018. Then-press secretary Sarah Sanders said the "president condemns and denounces any group that would incite violence against another individual" in response to a question about QAnon.
Comello's family "began to notice changes in his personality" following the presidential election in 2016, noting that he took an interest in politics, which was "something he had not previously been involved in," the court document states.
Comello allegedly "became increasingly vocal about his support for QAnon,'" about a month-and-a-half before Cali's murder, the documents state.
"But Mr. Comello's support for QAnon went beyond mere participation in a radical political organization, it evolved into a delusional obsession," the legal memorandum states.
According to the memo, QAnon follows the "postings of an individual (or group of individuals) who write using the pseudonym 'Q'." Devotees believe that there are people working in the so-called "Deep State" who are trying to ruin America and President Donald Trump and his supporters are battling against them.
"As part of his delusion, the defendant believed that he had been given secret knowledge about the Deep State, and that Q was communicating directly with him so that the defendant could play a grand role in the conflict to save the American way of life. Because of his self-perceived status in QAnon, Mr. Comello became certain that he was enjoying the protection of President Trump himself, and that he had the president's full support," the court document states.
His attorney's document notes how Comello tried to make citizen's arrests of three prominent politicians, all of whom are Democrats and vocal critics of Trump -- New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, and Representatives Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff. All three of those citizen's arrests, in February 2019 or shortly after, were unsuccessful.
In the de Blasio case, the mayor's security detail thwarted him and in the case with the members of Congress, U.S. Marshals did not help him, which Comello allegedly believed they would. His lawyer said Comello believed de Blasio was guilty of "election fraud" and the two members of Congress were "guilty of breaking the law."
Comello allegedly intended to perform another attempted citizen's arrest when he went to confront Cali as well, but the incident escalated, according to the court document.
"In addition to politicians and celebrities, Mr. Comello concluded that the Deep State also includes individuals associated with organized crime. He ardently believed that Francesco Cali, a boss in the Gambino Crime Family, was a prominent member of the Deep State, and, accordingly, an appropriate target for a citizen's arrest," the memorandum states.
The documents detail how Comello drove to Cali's Staten Island home on March 13 and "struck" the mob boss's car which was parked outside of the residence.
The noise apparently prompted Cali to leave the house and speak to Comello about the damage to the car.
"While the two men were standing near their respective vehicles, Mr. Comello informed Mr. Cali of his true intention to effect a citizen's arrest, and ordered Mr. Cali to submit to detention," the document states, adding that Comello "brought handcuffs with him, and planned to restrain Mr. Cali and bring him to the appropriate authorities to answer for the criminal actions which Mr. Comello believed he had taken part in."
"After a heated exchange, Mr. Cali made a furtive action with his hand and Mr. Comello became afraid for his life. He reached into his vehicle, withdrew his gun, and shot Mr. Cali in self-defense," the document states.
Comello's defense attorney has already submitted a notice of intent to show evidence of mental disease or defect, the documents state.
"Had Mr. Comello simply intended to lure Mr. Cali out of his house and murder him, there would have been no need to bring any elements of restraint," the document states. "The presence of these handcuffs demonstrates that Mr. Comello was actually planning to effect a citizen's arrest on Mr. Cali, rather than shoot him."
A judge denied Comello's attorney's request for bail in May.
The documents were filed in connection to a request for specific pieces of evidence to be submitted as discovery, and the next court appearance is slated for Aug. 13.