Michael Franzese

Michael Franzese (May 27, 1951), is a former New York mobster with the Colombo crime family who was heavily involved in gasoline bootlegging in the 1980's. Since then, he has publicly renounced organized crime, created a foundation for helping youth and become a motivational speaker.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Franzese is the son of reputed Colombo Underboss John "Sonny" Franzese. As a young man, Michael Franzese joined the Colombo family. By the 1980's, he had become a caporegime, or captain, of a crew. Franzese's rise in the Colombo family came from the infamous gasoline bootlegging rackets, which were very lucrative for the family. Working with the Russian Mafia, Franzese sold millions of gallons of gas. The family would collect the state and federal gas taxes, but keep the money instead. At the same time, they were often selling the gas at lower prices than at legitimate gas stations. In the mid-'80's, Fortune Magazine listed Franzese as number 18 on its list of the "Fifty Most Wealthy and Powerful Mafia Bosses". According to a Federal report, Franzese made more money for a crime family than anyone since Chicago Outfit boss Al Capone. Franzese was involved in many business ventures, from operating automobile dealerships to producing movies. Franzese was also a silent partner with Norby Walters and Lloyd Bloomin a sports management agency. Franzese later testified that Walters invoked his name to frighten college athletes into signing contracts designating Walters as their agent for negotiating contracts with professional sports teams. Franzese was also a co-founder of the film company Motion Picture Marketing, which distributed such films as Savage Streets with Linda Blair.

In 1986, Franzese was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida producing a film called Knights of the City when he met 19 year-old Camille Garcia, a dancer from Los Angeles and a self-professed Born-again Christian. Garcia and Franzese soon fell in love and eventually married. According to Franzese, it was his wife's influence that persuaded him to become a Christian and leave the Colombo family and organized crime. Eventually, Franzese was sent to prison for his role in the gasoline rackets. While Franzese was in prison, his sports management agency was put out of business by the government before any money was made.

After leaving prison, Franzese started receiving invitations to address church congregations. He was also recruited to speak to both professional and student athletes about the dangers of gambling. In 1992, Franzese authored an autobiography, Quitting the Mob. In 2003, he published Blood Covenant, an updated and expanded story of his life. In these books, Franzese discusses his criminal activities, life with his father, and interactions with former Gambino crime family boss John Gotti, who Franzese knew from an early age.

Franzese is the founder and chairman of the Breaking Out Foundation . According to the foundation's website, it is dedicated to educating, empowering, and equipping youth to face life's challenges, especially gambling addiction. He has spoken on more than 250 Division 1 college campuses, speaking to student athletes as an NCAA life skills speaker. In the U.S., he has addressed professional athletes with Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Football League (NFL). Franzese is featured at corporate events as a keynote speaker and leads seminars for business and law students. He frequently speaks at Christian conferences, events, and churches. [2]

Franzese is a frequent media contributor. He has been interviewed on the Jim Rome Show, ESPN, Home Box Office (HBO), Fox Sports, Cable News Network (CNN), CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, and USA Today.

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