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Local Little League coach a murder vic?

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A vicious assault on a manager at an east Bronx supermarket could now become a murder.

Detectives are awaiting a city Medical Examiner’s report to determine if the victim died almost a month later as a result of his beating.

Salvatore Zambuto, 40, was initially charged with felony assault after punching out Michael Cavallari, 32, an assistant manager at the Super Foodtown on Bruckner Blvd. and Crosby Avenue in Waterbury-LaSalle on Dec. 17.

On Sunday, Jan. 5, Cavallari, who coached at the Throgs Neck Little League, was found dead in his Howard Beach, Queens home.

Police are now awaiting the results of an autopsy and further tests by the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Medical Examiner’s spokeswoman Julie Bolcer said a ruling on the cause of death was “still pending further studies.”

A police source said a final determination on whether Cavallari’s death will be ruled a homicide “could take anywhere from eight to nine weeks. We’ve been checking every week.”

Police charged Zambuto punched Cavallari, 32, in the face, causing a broken right eye socket and broken right cheek bone.

The victim had to undergo surgery that put “plates” in his face, according to Captain James McGeown of the 45th Precinct, speaking at the 45th Precinct Community Council Meeting on Thursday, Jan. 9.

According to the criminal complaint, the 5-foot-10, 225 pound Zambuto “with a very large physique” was caught on video surveillance entering the store while placing black gloves on his hands, then seen punching the 5-foot-6, 140 pound Cavallari in the face.

Zambuto was arraigned on January 10 in Bronx Criminal Court and released in his own custody. His next court appearance date is set for February 24.

The cause of the attack is unclear.

According to one source, Zambuto just walked into the store and blind-sided the dairy dept. manager, reportedly because of Zambuto’s girlfriend being recently fired from the store.

Another version goes that it was a case of mistaken identity.

According to that source, Zambuto’s wife and child were in the store when a manager escorted them out for allegedly attempting to steal merchandise.

Zambuto supposedly went to the market and asked to see the manager. He was supposedly misdirected to Cavallari, who was not the manager who escorted the pair out of the store.

Local resident Kenneth Reynolds, who does most of his shopping at Super Foodtown, said that he remembers Cavallari as an nice guy who would often discuss baseball with him while he shopped.

“We all get into disagreements and arguments, but to do something like this is just sick,” said Reynolds.

Another local resident who asked not to identified, said that Cavallari was a “real sweatheart” who had worked at Super Foodtown for about three years.

Even though he was not from Throggs Neck or the Bronx, he nevertheless volunteered his time as a coach for the Throgs Neck Little League for three years, and also coached the TNLL All-Stars.

““He tried to get involved with the community,” said the resident, “and that is what counts.”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393
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