Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Former Mafia Boss To Meet With Canada's Top Cop

Picture of Rudy GiulianiImage via Wikipedia
“Anyone who’d want to come after me is either dead or in prison.”

Maybe so, but when former Mafia boss Michael Franzese sits down in a restaurant, he still has a reputation for choosing a seat where he can keep his eye on the door.

You can’t blame him. Once named the world’s 18th richest gangster and notorious enough to be featured as a character in the mob movie Goodfellas, Franzese did the one thing no made man ever does — he quit the Mafia.

“I certainly had my share of contracts and death threats on me, and that went on for years. For a long time, I was looking over my shoulder everywhere I went,” said Franzese.

“But I know the life, and I also know what people would do to come after me and what they wouldn’t.”

Franzese’s strategy for staying alive after stepping down as heir-apparent underboss to New York’s Colombo crime family apparently works.

Two decades after Franzese pulled the plug, no one has pulled the trigger.

The 53-year-old New Yorker remains the highest-ranking Mafia boss to ever leave a crime family without resorting to protective police custody.

It’s all the more remarkable given the high-profile life of a man once said to be the biggest Mafia money-earner since Al Capone, earning five to eight million dollars a week on an illegal gasoline racket.

“I make a little less than that now,” laughs Franzese.

His racket now is trying to steer kids and petty criminals away from organized crime, while offering advice to police forces on how deal with the mob.

Franzese arrives in Calgary late next month, on a tour promoted by After-Care Ministries.

His four-day itinerary includes an anticipated meeting with Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson, as well as speeches at four prisons, two churches and a high school.

Hanging out with high-ranking cops and voluntary visits to jail is hardly the life Franzese anticipated, on the day in 1975 when a Mafia boss sliced his thumb, sealing his blood oath as a newly made man.

Franzese’s father is notorious mob enforcer John (Sonny) Franzese, the 93-year-old Colombo underboss who reportedly bragged, “I killed a lot of guys ... you’re not talking about four, five, six, ten.”

The family connection resulted in Michael being brought into the family business — exactly how closely he followed in dad’s footsteps remains lost in a murk of rumour and innuendo.

What is clear is Franzese’s acumen with shady financial business, and he is credited as the mastermind behind a multitude of lucrative scams, involving gas taxes, car dealerships, and sports.

Prosecutor and future New York mayor Rudy Giuliani once went after Franzese, vowing to jail him for a century, but failing miserably, as did the next four indictments.

Franzese was a powerful captain with a bright future — but then the mob boss had a change of heart, literally, falling in love with a Mexican dancer he met on a film set.

Camille Garcia convinced her besotted Mafia suitor to embrace God, while giving up his life of crime.

Franzese copped a plea, announced he was quitting the Mafia, and then he cut a deal which saw him give evidence against two non-mob crime contacts, earning an early release.

Now, he tours the U.S., writing books and giving lectures on organized crime and his faith.

Franzese says his planned meeting with Calgary’s police chief is more than a handshake — he believes Chief Hanson and his officers can learn plenty from his Mafia past.

“Organized crime is organized crime, and I know you have issues up there in Calgary,” said Franzese.

“I can give the chief and his detectives insight into how the mob operates — they’re not exactly the same, but if you know one organized crime group, you know them all.”

Just as important, says Franzese, will be his talks at places like the Calgary Remand Centre and James Fowler high school, where his reputation earns him respect — and open ears.

“Credibility is everything, and I have that,” said Franzese.

“You don’t realize it when you’re in the life, the fascination people have with it — but people want to hear the mob guy, and I use that respect to get my message across.

“Hopefully, it’s helping people make the right choices.”

http://www.calgarysun.com/news/columnis ... 60276.html
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