Federal prosecutors are seeking to raid the prison commissary account of a 98-year-old former Colombo underboss to pay off the forfeiture bill he owes for shaking down the Hustler strip club, the Daily News has learned.
John "Sonny" Franzese is the oldest inmate doing time in the federal prison system, but that’s not cutting him any slack with the feds.
Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Laura Mantell has filed papers to seize the $10,089 in the oldfella’s account, which he uses to purchase items in the prison commissary, then leave him with $250 in spending money.
“The government should be as diligent fighting ISIS as they are trying to take food money from a 98-year-old inmate,” Michael Franzese, the gangster’s son, told The News.
“Believe me, it really hurts him what they’re doing,” he said.
The wheelchair-bound Franzese was convicted in 2010 of racketeering charges, including the extortion of the jiggle joint, and ordered to fork over a $116,500 forfeiture judgment.
John "Sonny" Franzese is a former Colombo underboss.
John "Sonny" Franzese (center) in younger days leaves court with his lawyer Murray Edelbaum (left).
He was sentenced to 96 months in prison, which he is serving at the Federal Medical Center, Devens, in Massachusetts.
But neither Franzese nor co-defendant Joseph DiGorga has contributed a nickel toward the judgment, the prosecutor contends in court papers. At the same time, the feds can’t locate any assets of Franzese other than the commissary account.
Michael Franzese pointed out that the money in the account isn’t really his father’s, it was sent by family members.
“He doesn’t have any money. He’s broke,” Michael Franzese said. “He uses the money to buy eye drops. He buys Cup-A-Soup, hygiene items. He doesn’t eat any junk food, but once in a while he eats ice cream.
“He can’t even make phone calls because they put a lien on the account. It’s unbelievable,” he fumed.
Michael Franzese, John's son, is trying to him sprung from prison.
John "Sonny" Franzese was convicted shaking down the Hustler Club.
Franzese is scheduled to be released to a halfway house in February 2017 — just in time for his 100th birthday.
While Franzese may be hard of hearing and have poor eyesight, the prosecutor reminded Federal Judge Brian Cogan that he didn’t make it this far without being tough.
“From a very young age, he engaged in relentless and increasingly brutal violence, and ultimately committed so many murders that he even struggled to keep track of them,” Mantell argued.
Franzese’s family has applied to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons under its “compassionate release” policy to allow his father to spend whatever time he has left alive at home instead of behind prison walls. They have not yet received an answer, according to Michael Franzese.