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

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Colombo underboss John "Sonny" Franzese betrayed by son, who'll testify against legendary mobster

Legendary Colombo underboss John "Sonny" Franzese, who turned murder into an art form and whose name made foes shudder in fear, is about to get the biggest double cross of his life.
While he's literally turned stoolies into mincemeat, the one set to betray the 93-year-old wiseguy in a courtroom Wednesday once held a special place in his infamous cold heart - his own son.
"What kind of despicable, subhuman person does that?" defense lawyer Richard Lind asked a Brooklyn Federal Court jury in his opening argument Tuesday.
When John Franzese Jr. takes the witness stand, he'll become the first New York mob scion to ever testify against his dad.
Crime bosses John Gotti, Carmine Persico and Carlo Gambino brought their sons into the Mafia life, but never had to endure an underworld disgrace as low as this.
Lind said it's mystifying what motivated Franzese Jr., a longtime drug addict, to become a turncoat other than hatred for his father.
"You'll see when he's first brought in he says, 'I don't want to testify against my father, I won't testify against him,' and it evaporates like that," Lind said.
The senior Franzese is one of the oldest mobsters to go on trial for racketeering, but the former Colombo leg-breaker, who uses a wheelchair, looks like he could barely break a fingernail.
Lind said Sonny Franzese is a shell of the capo with charisma he used to be, a man once so feared Frank Sinatra kissed his ring in public and the FBI dubbed him "a super-Dillinger."
"People use Sonny's name because Sonny's name meant something back in the age of Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson and maybe the age of George Washington," Lind said.
Back in the day, Franzese was the mob's top earner, a moneyman who put up the cash for the classic porn flick "Deep Throat."
He was once caught on tape bragging of his murderous techniques - how he put nail polish on his fingertips so as not to leave fingerprints at a crime scene and how he disposed of bodies by running severed limbs through a garbage disposal.
"But today, he has no power at all," Lind said. "They call him the underboss; he's really an underling. He's ignored. His own wife beats him up and abuses him."
Federal prosecutor Cristina Posa countered that Franzese was the second-in-command of the Colombo family, orchestrating the extortions of strip clubs in Manhattan and a Long Island pizzeria.
In contrast to the feeble old man who appeared in court Tuesday wearing a short-sleeve polo shirt and chino pants, with a package of tissues jammed in his back pocket, Franzese appeared more spry in earlier court appearances.
He even showed some of his old bluster, telling reporters he wasn't worried about going back to prison, where he has been for 25 of the last 40 years on bank robbery conspiracy charges.
"Who cares? I gotta die someplace," said Franzese, who remains on parole until 2020, when he'll be 103.


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