It is no secret that the mob has taken over the entire city for decades and put the FBI through hell. There are shows like The Sopranos and films like The Godfather that give insight into what it’s like being in these powerful families. Many members of these groups end up getting caught and sentenced to life behind bars or unfortunately dead in some cases. One member who felt the wrath and is still facing the fear of his action is Michael Franzese
Franzese known for being part of the Colombo family for many years was one of the top mobsters. He has now changed his life around. Let’s take a look at his interesting life in the mob and why after all these years of being in danger why he won’t go into witness protection.
Who Is Michael Franzese
Michael Franzese is known for being part of New York’s “Five Families” which are American-Italian gangs in the 1930s. His father John Franzese Sr. was the underboss of the Colombo family for 50 years. John Sr. had no interest in his son joining, he apparently wanted his son to be a doctor. Franzese listened to his father and joined the pre-med program at Hofstra University.
This is similar to The Godfather how in the movie Don Vito Corleone didn’t want his son to join the mafia either or be involved with that lifestyle.
Everything changed in the ’70s when John Franzese Sr. was sentenced to 50 years in prison for his role in bank robberies. He was released in 2017 at the age of 100, is considered the oldest inmate in the federal prison system. One of his other sons John Jr testified against him in court and said that his father taught him Mafia tactics. After being sentenced, John Sr. proposed his other son, Michael to join as a member and follow in his steps.
Who Is The Colombo Family?
Franzese was part of one of New York’s “Five families” the Colombo Family. Many people don’t know but this doesn’t mean that an actual family, it’s actually a gang that does crimes together. They are considered one of the youngest of the five, and during Franzese’s time in the group, it was run by Joseph Colombo.
Colombo ran the group from 1963-1971. Franzese was given the name Caporegime of the Colombo family, which stands for captain or head of a family in Italy.
Life After Michael Firenze Joins The Mob
During his years in the mob, Michael Franzese began making a name for himself. Being a part of many schemes of extortion and embezzlement, by the time he was 35 he was allegedly pulling in a whopping $8 million a week. Many magazines recognized his success in the mafia and published him as a successful Caporegime. Some magazines that featured him were, Fortune magazine in 1986 ranked him as the 8th most wealthy and powerful mafia boss.
The success he had was not going unnoticed and he was becoming feared. Unfortunately, that success didn’t last as he was arrested and plead guilty to federal racketeering and tax conspiracy. Firenze was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 5 years probation. His release came quick in 1989 he was released but violated his parole.
After violating his parole, he is back in prison till his final release in 1994.
Changing His Life and Moving On
Following his years in prison, Michael Firenze quit the mob and his membership in the families. This doesn’t go unnoticed by the mob families and he left prison in danger. Despite this, Firenze refuses to give in to fear and will not go into witness protection like many usually do. He sat down and had a conversation with the Las Vegas Sun about why he didn’t go into the program.
“What happened throughout the years, just about everybody I ran with is either dead or in prison for the rest of your life. So I kind of outlasted everybody. I still don’t take things for granted. When I’m in certain places, I make sure I have resources around me I should have. I was part of that life and there are guys there that are very capable of doing things.” He explained.
Michael Firenze continues to live his life out in the open and tries to help others is not making similar mistakes. He works sometimes as a motivational speaker in prisons. Also, he has a couple of books such as “The Good, the Bad and the Forgiven”sharing his experiences. Lastly, he speaks in the Netflix documentary Fear City: New York vs The Mafia.This series focuses on the FBI’s investigation into new yorks crime families.