Michael Franzese: The Ex-Capo is Now an Entrepreneur, Family Man, and Public Figure

‘Fear City: New York vs The Mafia’ is a Netflix docuseries that follows how the federal agents worked together to dismantle the organized crime families who were terrorizing the city back in the 70s and 80s. It opened up with some very detailed information about how the city was functioning at that time, and as it progressed, we saw things only getting worse. The five “families” – Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese – were the ones who were running the city, not the government or law enforcement. They had their hands in every industry, whether it be legit or not, and seeing a couple of mob figures give interviews and explain what they were doing only made it much more terrifying. Especially when one of them was the stone-faced Michael Franzese.

Who Is Michael Franzese?

Born May 27, 1951, Michael Franzese is a former New York mobster and caporegime/captain of the Colombo crime family. Being the son of former underboss John Franzese, he grew up watching the activities within the Mafia families, but still, his father didn’t want him to be involved. And so, in 1969, Michael enrolled in a pre-med program at Hofstra University, in Hampstead, New York. Unfortunately, in 1971, he had to drop out to help his family earn money as his father was sentenced to 50 years in prison for bank robbery.

Michael became acquainted with his father’s friends and got involved in little crimes over time. On Halloween of 1975, he was inducted as a made man and officially joined the family. He took the blood oath and swore the code of silence. In 1980, he became captain and was responsible for a crew of over 300. His gasoline bootlegging scheme, that he talked about on the series started that year itself, and he claims that at his peak, he was making $8-10 million per week from it. He then moved on to legitimate businesses, having a stronghold in the world of car dealerships, leasing companies, auto repair shops, restaurants, nightclubs, movie production and distribution companies, travel agencies, and video stores.

Where Is Michael Franzese Now?

In April 1985, Michael was acquitted of racketeering charges. However, in December of that year, he was one of the 9 individuals who got charged with 14 counts of racketeering, counterfeiting, and extortion from the gasoline business. On March 21, 1986, he pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy and one count of tax conspiracy, thereby, getting sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. Along with that, he was ordered to pay over $14 million in restitution, which made him sell his mansion in Old Brookville, New York, and use the proceeds from the 1986 film, ‘Knights of the City,’ which he had produced.

After 43 months, he was released on parole. But, in 1991, he got sentenced to four more years after violating his probation – he was accused of tax fraud in Los Angeles and was sent back to New York for the hearing. Ultimately, he was released on November 7, 1994. He retired from the mob the next year and permanently moved to California with his second wife, Camille Garcia, and kids. The relocation also came after he received multiple death threats and contracts on his life, including one that was approved by his father.

Fortunately, while he was in prison the second time around, he was given a bible by a guard which helped him become a born-again Christian. With that, he now frequently speaks at Christian conferences and churches. And, having denounced the life of organized crime, he has legitimately turned into a motivational speaker for the youth; never passing up an opportunity to speak at schools or community events. As far as we know, he still resides in California, in Orange County, and is now the father of seven children.

As of 2023, he has written and published 7 books: ‘Quitting the Mob’ (1992), ‘Blood Covenant’ (2003), ‘The Good, the Bad and the Forgiven’ (2009), ‘I’ll Make You an Offer You Can’t Refuse’ (2011), ‘From the Godfather to God the Father’ (2014), ‘Blood Covenant: The Story of the ‘Mafia Prince’ Who Publicly Quit the Mob and Lived,’ (2018) and ‘Mafia Democracy’ (2022). He has publicly stated that he isn’t afraid of retribution from the mob because he has never testified against anyone in court and, even if something does happen, he’s not afraid of dying.

Michael has even started his own YouTube channel to be more honest with himself and the world and to let others know about his experiences to hopefully provide help. Moreover, this former film producer has since co-founded a national franchise pizza restaurant by the name of Slices Pizza, all the while developing a line of Armenian wines named Franzese Wines.

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