Since Michael Franzese was born on May 27, 1951, to New York’s Colombo Crime Family underboss John “Sonny” Franzese and Cristina Capobianco-Franzes, he literally grew up in the mafia. It thus comes as no surprise he eventually ended up right at the Capo title too, that is, until he chose to walk away as arguably one of the only high-rankers to do so and still live to tell the tale. So now that we’ve uncovered small pieces of his story in both Netflix’s ‘Fear City’ as well as Netflix’s ‘How to Become a Mob Boss,’ let’s learn more about his career trajectory plus earnings, shall we?
How Did Michael Franzese Earn His Money?
While there’s no denying Michael was raised in sheer comfort owing to his father’s underworld activities, the truth is neither of them ever wanted him to be a part of it due to the dangers involved. Therefore, this Brooklyn-turned-Long Island native actually enrolled in a pre-med undergrad program at Hofstra University upon graduating high school to build a much different life for himself. But alas, fate had other plans — his father wound up getting arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 50 years for a series of bank robberies, driving him to drop out in 1971 to support the family.
Michael honestly just followed what he’d been witnessing for years and acquainted himself with some of his father’s old friends to land a few odd jobs to prove his mettle before rising the ranks. In fact, while he did have the advantage of his last name as well as inner connections, his own skills were so impressive he was inducted as a Colombo Family made-man on Halloween 1975 at 24. Hence began his journey of rising the ranks by mentoring other soldiers, frightening rivals, plus operating under the underboss’/boss’ every rule to become Capo of 300 members a mere five years later.
Though little did Michael know this would subsequently set him on the path of “pleasure-seeking” in all the wrong things, which, in his own words, are the “things” such as money, luxury, jet planes, etc. At the time he should’ve sought a meaning or a purpose in life; he went after money through extensive gasoline bootlegging, sports management, entertainment production, and other businesses. He even had a stronghold on other legitimate local enterprises like auto dealerships, contracting firms, leasing companies, nightclubs or strip clubs, restaurants, travel agencies, and audio-video stores.
According to official records, Michael kept 75% of profits from his gasoline operation as the mastermind, which netted him either $1.26 million per month or, as an associate claimed, $1 million per week. Then there’s the fact he was a partner with booking agent Norby Walters in his organization by ostensibly providing him with the initial capital to launch it under a stipulation of receiving 25% of profits. He was also involved in the boxing industry, and eventually executive produced three 1980s films, on the sets of one of which he admittedly met the love of his life, California dancer Camille Garcia.
Camille is arguably the only reason Michael decided to turn over a new leaf — he was so moved by her innocent beauty as well as faith that he knew he had to be a better man for her once they married. Thus, following 15 years in the mafia and 15 years of actively evading capture, he pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy and one count of federal tax conspiracy on March 21, 1986. He was subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison with an order to pay $14.7 million in restitution, forfeit most of his assets, plus give up his proceeds from the ‘Knights of the City’ (1986) film.
Then came Michael’s sentencing for his state racketeering charges plea in Florida, which resulted in him being handed down nine concurrent years with an unwavering order to pay an added $3 million. Therefore, it was while he was still behind bars in 1991 that he evolved into a born-again Christian, leading him to finally realize his calling as a life coach, mentor, and public speaker to help others. Then came his autobiography ‘Quitting the Mob’ in 1992, followed by his release from prison in 1994, retirement from the underworld in 1995, plus relocation to California with his wife and kids in 1995-96.
Since then, Michael has truly embraced his new self by speaking at churches across the world, featuring in many radio, television, film productions, and targeting youths through social platforms. Moreover, he has co-founded a franchise pizza restaurant called Slices Pizza, all the while developing a line of Armenian wines named Franzese Wines and running an active YouTube channel. This ‘God the Father,’ ‘Let There Be Light,’ as well as ‘A Mob Story’ personality has also penned at least six other books over the last two decades, with the latest being ‘Mafia Democracy’ in 2022.
Michael Franzese’s Net Worth
As per Michael’s own accounts, he was generating at least between $5-$8 million per week from a combination of both his legal and illegal enterprises while he was at his most affluent in the 1980s. So, even if we consider his losses after his arrest before adding on his consistent earnings in the past 20 years – which will likely only increase as time goes on – it goes without saying he has accumulated significant wealth for his family. In fact, per our best conservative estimates, Michael Franzese’s net worth is close to $8 million.
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