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Michael Franzese (born May 27, 1951), is a former New York mobster with the Colombo crime family who was heavily involved in gasoline bootlegging in the 1980s. Since then, he has publicly renounced organized crime, created a foundation for helping youth and become a motivational speaker.

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Member of Colombo family

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Franzese is the son of reputed Colombo Underboss John "Sonny" Franzese. As a young man, Michael Franzese joined the Colombo family. By the 1980s, he had become a caporegime, or captain, of a crew. Franzese's rise in the Colombo family came from the infamous gasoline bootlegging rackets, which were very lucrative for the family. Working with the Russian Mafia, Franzese sold millions of gallons of gas. The family would collect the state and federal gas taxes, but keep the money instead. At the same time, they were often selling the gas at lower prices than at legitimate gas stations. In the mid-1980s, Fortune Magazine listed Franzese as number 18 on its list of the "Fifty Most Wealthy and Powerful Mafia Bosses". According to a Federal report, Franzese made more money for a crime family than anyone since Chicago Outfit boss Al Capone.

Franzese was involved in many business ventures, from operating automobile dealerships to producing movies. Franzese was also a silent partner with Norby Walters and Lloyd Bloom in a sports management agency. Franzese later testified that Walters invoked his name to frighten college athletes into signing contracts designating Walters as their agent for negotiating contracts with professional sports teams. Bloom was later found murdered in a hotel room. While no connection linking the murder to Michael Franzese was ever made, the Columbo crime family is thought by law enforcement to have been behind the murder. Franzese was also a co-founder of the film company Motion Picture Marketing, which distributed such films as Savage Streets with Linda Blair.

Eventually, Franzese was sent to prison for his role in the gasoline rackets.[1] While Franzese was in prison, his sports management agency was put out of business by the government before any money was made.

Change in direction

In 1986, Franzese was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida producing a film called Knights of the City when he met 20 year-old Camille Garcia, a dancer from Los Angeles and a Born-again Christian. Garcia and Franzese soon fell in love and eventually married. According to Franzese, it was his wife's influence that persuaded him to become a Christian, and in December of 1987 decided to leave the Colombo family and organized crime while still in prison.

Motivational speaker

After leaving prison in January of 1991, Franzese started receiving invitations to address church congregations. He was also recruited to speak to both professional and student athletes about the dangers of gambling. In 1992, Franzese authored an autobiography, Quitting the Mob.[2] In 2003, he published Blood Covenant, an updated and expanded story of his life.[3] In these books, Franzese discusses his criminal activities, life with his father, and interactions with former Gambino crime family boss John Gotti, whom Franzese knew from an early age.

Franzese is the founder and chairman of the Breaking Out Foundation.[4] According to the foundation's website, it is dedicated to educating, empowering, and equipping youth to face life's challenges, especially gambling addiction. He has spoken on more than 250 Division 1 college campuses, speaking to student athletes as an NCAA life skills speaker. In the U.S., he has addressed professional athletes with Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Football League (NFL). Franzese is featured at corporate events as a keynote speaker and leads seminars for business and law students. He frequently speaks at Christian conferences, events, and churches. His Website is [www.michaelfranzese.com]

Franzese is a frequent media contributor. He has been interviewed on the Jim Rome Show, ESPN, Home Box Office (HBO), Fox Sports, Cable News Network (CNN), CNBC, MSNBC, NatGEO, Fox News Channel, and USA Today.

In popular culture

Franzese was a contestant in the American version of the television show 1 vs. 100. He was asked which U.S. coins did not have ridges on them. After giving the wrong answer, Franzese remarked, "I only deal with bills."

In Martin Scorsese's 1990 film Goodfellas, Franzese is portrayed as the character "Mikey Franzese" by Joseph Bono.

References

  1. ^ La Cosa Nostra – State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation 1989 Report - The Colombo/Persico/Orena Family
  2. ^ Franzese, Michael (1992). Quitting the Mob. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780883688670. 
  3. ^ Franzese, Michael (2003). Blood Covenant. Whitaker House. ISBN 9780883688670. 
  4. ^ http://www.breakingout.org

External links








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