Hi Reddit, I'm Michael Franzese, a former captain in the Colombo crime family. I'm back for another AMA. I had a great time answering your questions earlier this year. You can see that AMA here: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1uq5bw/iam_michael_franzese_a_former_made_boss_in_the/

My father was once the most feared underboss in the Colombo family. I followed in his foot steps and spent 20 years on the street as a "made man." I made a ton of money for the mob and eventually served my time in prison. I'm currently making a movie about my life called "God the Father."

OK, let's get this going. Ask me anything about my former life, my current life or the work I'm doing now with my film. I'll leave some links up here to my social network pages and the film's website.




proof: http://michaelfranzese.com/?page_id=433

Comments: 235 • Responses: 76  • Date: 

Apothecary39618 karma

My friend Greg Vita is petitioning to have your father, Sonny, released. He's been in contact with Sonny's counselor and an attorney willing to take the leap. Your father is 97, do you believe his age can compliment a federal pardon?

Michael_Franzese34 karma

he will never get a pardon. HOPEFULLY, a compassionate release. a long shot, even at 97. the feds do not have much compassion for mob guys.

FL-Orange18 karma

What was the best that the mob has done for the community that you've seen? We always hear of the bad that the mob has done, little in the way of good things unless the family saw it as a favor for a future favor.

My wife's grandfather told me this story. He had a print shop down near The Old Homestead Steakhouse, the original (he used to trade print work for a tab). He told me that the shop was getting unionized, against the wishes of his employees. He tried to do what was right by his employees, even offering benefits that were unheard of at the time. Being that his family was from the Bronx he knew mob guys but never had any business with them. Unions were starting to get physical with his employees and when one of his guys or girls got hurt he reached out to one of his friends to help get the union off his back. All he said was that they took care of it and he had no other big problems from that point on until he sold the business, retired and moved to Florida. I'm sure his "friends" had a marker on him but he stated he never had to do any favors. I didn't get a chance to follow up on this story before Alzheimers took hold and he passed away shortly after.

Michael_Franzese29 karma

we always took care of our own neighborhoods. that's for sure. helped people in many ways and certainly kept the crime out. always safe to walk the streets.

nice story about your grandfather and sounds right on.

karmanaut17 karma

Is there anything that you really miss about that lifestyle?

Michael_Franzese41 karma

of course. miss the guys, the camaraderie we had. i miss the money, also. jet plane - helicopter... the whole bit. it was pretty cool for a time.

wurzn16 karma

You are mentioning camaraderie often, but also mentioned treachery. Was it always clear whom to trust?

Michael_Franzese31 karma

no. at times it was never clear. in that life, your best friend can walk you into a room and you don't walk out again... hard to trust anyone totally. i learned that big time.

jarhead2315 karma

When you and Camille were married and you were on your way of the mob did you have a clue as to how you were going to support her and the child she was carrying as far as having legit employment? By the way thank you again for speaking at Christ's Church, Jacksonville.

Michael_Franzese30 karma

fortunately, i had some money remaining after taking my plea and settling with the government to the tune of millions. i always had a business head. knew i could make a living. i loved speaking at your church. say hello to jason and his lovely wife. great people.

PunchyCoolidge15 karma

Hi Mike! How do you think the dissolution of the classic Italian neighborhood has affected OC? I know there are still Italian enclaves but now, do you think that the younger guys being third, fourth, fifth generation Americans from the suburbs has had an effect on the structure and function of the mob?

Also, I feel like it would make sense for the Mafia to abandon the typical hierarchical structure and go more toward the way Russian OC groups operate - kind of decentralized - it makes more sense for longevity. Your thoughts?

Michael_Franzese13 karma

I agree with you on both your observations. it's a longer discussion, but you are right on.

soapandfoam15 karma

Hello Mr. Franzese, what do you believe happened to Jimmy Hoffa? They have many theories. Can you shed some light maybe? Thanks for the AMA!

Michael_Franzese35 karma

murdered as a result of his defiance to some powerful friends. they will NEVER find his body. you're welcome, my friend.

mRNA-13 karma

Also is there a difference between Chicago mobs and NYC mobs; i.e. personalities, culture, or the way they deal with "rats"? Sorry to bombard you with questions, but this is a really interesting AMA! Thanks for sharing.

Michael_Franzese22 karma

there are 5 families in NY, one in Chicago. operate a little different but at the core, the same...

PunchyCoolidge11 karma

I read a book about Sam Giancana when I was younger. I remember him mentioning that in Chicago they don't "make" guys like they do in NY. You're either in or out and your status is based around what your good at. He said there were plenty of guys who were good money makers but didn't have the stomach for murder so they weren't asked to do so. Any of that true?

Michael_Franzese17 karma

yes, to a degree, that is true. NY more structured then anywhere else in US.

Jux_13 karma

Since you renounced organized crime, have you ever gotten any threatening letters or calls or anything else trying to shake your confidence in the non-criminal phase of your life?

*edit: looks like you addressed this mostly in your first AMA. You mentioned they put a hit on you; did that die down or is there still a constant threat in the background of it?

Michael_Franzese27 karma

had a contract on my life, until this day. yes, received many threats along the way. it's a tough life and many upset with my leaving. but NO ONE ever went to jail because of me. I never hurt anyone in that way. that helped me out.

Jux_6 karma

How do you keep that from stopping everything you do? Do you get in your car each morning and think "maybe today's the day" as you start it?

I would lose my mind. Clearly I'm not cutout for that life.

Michael_Franzese23 karma

I don't live in fear. the life actually prepared me for what i would have to deal with by leaving. it taught me i could face death. i saw death all around me and had an incident when i was walked into a room, thinking i would be killed. i am a person of faith now and i believe we control what we can and God handles the rest. when it's our time, it's our time.... you would handle it if you had to, my friend.

I_Need_To_Go_To_Bed12 karma

How accurate do you think The Wolf of Wall Street was in portraying an extravagant lifestyle? Did you ever feel like that?

Michael_Franzese32 karma

that was over the top movie. he was pretty out there, though. i dealt with a lot of wall street guys. they were eccentric. mob guys were not. we didn't care much for them. took advantage of wall street guys. they feared us, of course.

thedaringelephant12 karma

Hey Michael, thanks for doing this. As much as Hollywood has glorified your former lifestyle, which specific actor or performance nailed the personas you were regularly exposed to the most?

Also, where's the money buried?

Michael_Franzese36 karma

JOE PESCI!!! Number 1. Deniro next... But Pesci is the best... "Do I amuse you? Funny, funny how, like a clown...? I knew a bunch of Pesci's.

calai11 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA! Looking back on your time in the mob, how did it feel to be a capo in one of the most notorious crime families in New York? Also, obligatory Donnie Brasco question, did you ever cross paths with him while he was involved with the Colombo Family?

Michael_Franzese34 karma

For a time, it felt great... But when the heat of the life and law starts getting to you.... Yes, i met Pistone 2 or 3 times on the street. fortunately, never did anything with him..

17bravo11 karma

Did the italian mafia have more power than the mexican cartels? Sorry if my english is not good, spanish is my mother lenguage.

Michael_Franzese27 karma

Mafia had much more influence in every fabric of society. mexican cartels are built around drugs. a bad business. take drugs away and they fall apart. we were into everything form politics to business to the street.

man_mayo10 karma

The mafia seems to be romanticized in movies and TV show. How do you feel about that?

Michael_Franzese16 karma

it's an evil life! why? because families and people are destroyed and devastated. Not calling guys evil. i was one of them. but the life is evil. it should not be romantizised. I am against that.

peddiewolf9 karma

thanks for doing this AMA! What would you suggest that we tell youth who are actively pursuing a life of crime. For often crime does pay unfortunately. How do we persuade youth to fly in the right direction?

Michael_Franzese13 karma

tell youth crime is a dead end street. no doubt. you don't get away with it. jail or death awaits. and tell them that "you are who you hang out with." they MUST surround themselves with good people. i work with youth all the time.

Majnuninho9 karma

sorry to keep asking questions. If one is the head of the family, or a made man, it's pretty well known who they are and what they do, even if they keep a low profile. How does one evade the police or avoid charges when its basically accepted (without physical proof) that someone is in the mob?

Michael_Franzese14 karma

you don't in today's day and age. the law is too sophisticated against oc. too many weapons. too many informants on the street. you cannot beat them anymore.

dcsportshero9 karma

What was the best part about the mob that looking back on it now makes you go "damn I miss that"?

Michael_Franzese14 karma

the guys! we had a great camaraderie, my men and me. i miss that. that was powerful.

cobaltcollapse9 karma

What's the worst physical pain you've endured while in the mob?

Michael_Franzese20 karma

got shot at, they missed. was an accident. no physical pain as a mob guy. more mental.

drz400s9 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA. Your father influenced your decision to work for the Colombo family. Today he is 97 years old and living in Italy. What is your relationship like with him? How has he changed in his advanced age, if at all?

edit: brainfart.

Michael_Franzese25 karma

dad not in italy. he's in prison. oldest living federal inmate. relationship strained for a while. he didn't agree with my decision to leave the life. he is more mellow now. but at his core, he is still the same guy. but i will always love him. he was a good father to me growing up.

dayofthedead2049 karma

Hi Michael,

Thanks for doing this AMA!

During the audio commentary on “Goodfellas” the real Henry Hill said that during his time in the mafia he was constantly afraid that he’d be killed at any moment. During your time in the mob – did you feel the same way? If so – how did you deal with it?

Michael_Franzese15 karma

no, Henry was not a made guy. he was an associate. big difference. he had a drug problem, you die for that. but I did feel the heat at times because i know of many that lost their lives.

dayofthedead2046 karma

Thanks Michael - did you know Henry Hill personally along with Jimmy Burke and the rest of the family that Goodfellas made famous? Any long lasting impressions of them?

Michael_Franzese15 karma

i knew them all. liked jimmy a lot. henry was a poor soul. always in a mess. drug addict, alcoholic, gambler... they are all dead now. sad.

theaussiedrummer9 karma

Hi Michael! How accurate is the movie, Goodfellas, in depicting life in the mob? And do you keep in contact with any of your former mob associates and friends?

Michael_Franzese29 karma

Goddfellas is pretty accurate. i knew all those guys well. im the only one mentioned in the movie still alive today. not really in touch. most all either dead or in prison.

Maccas759 karma

Great to see you have turned your life around (and those of others) in a positive way, Michael. What were the key reasons that made you finally realize you needed to leave the life of organized crime? And; how much influence do you think the mob has on New York City these days?

Michael_Franzese18 karma

I learned over time that the life is evil because families are devastated... The mob still exists, won't go away in my lifetime, but not at the level it was when I was there.

Frajer8 karma

Was there anything you saw the mob do that was positive or helpful ?

Michael_Franzese17 karma

i learned alot from the life. how to be a good listener, slow to condemn others. how to negotiate. be a leader. all positive. also, RESPECT and how to obey orders. very important.

Octitavia8 karma

What have you done that you regret the most?

Michael_Franzese20 karma

tough life, my friend. seen many friends die for wrong reasons. i regret being a part of a lifestyle that causes that to happen.

mRNA-8 karma

  1. What do you feel as your greatest accomplishment as a member of the mob? 2. Are members of the mob easy to find, lets say, for asking the boss for a favor? 3. Can you give me an offer I can't refuse?

Michael_Franzese16 karma

definitely the money I brought in. almost $10 million a week at my height. they are easier to find in NY, Chicago... Bigger cities. Offer - See the movie, God the Father on 10/31.

shouldbeworking238 karma

Were you ever threatened in jail by opposing mob members?

Michael_Franzese22 karma

never directly. only had one run in with a wannabe, but i handled it. put him in his place quick.

my_work_acccnt8 karma

In the mafia or in general that type of previous profession of yours, is it expected to serve time? Do you grow up in the mob, bettering your standing within it, all the time knowing that whatever empire built will ultimately come crashing down? Is it expected, sort of in a circle of life kind of way?

Michael_Franzese22 karma

yes, you always know your day will come. But in the old days, you did a few years at best and then go home and get right back into the swing of things. since the 80's and Rico, they kill you with time.... It's over.

DXGypsy7 karma

Why was nobody ever able to get Henry Hill? The guy was a loon and never kept a low profile. Hell, he used to go on Howard Stern all the time so it was well known where he was and at what times.

Also, Since I'm from South Jersey I always wanted to know, what was New York's reaction to Angelo Bruno and Phil Testa's murders? And then Stanfa and Merlino's war? I hear New York was responsible for giving us that wackjob Nicky Scarfo in the first place, and most of the top appointments since. Is it fair to say New York pretty much really ran Philly?

Michael_Franzese19 karma

henry was not important enough for people. the movie made him out to be a lot more then he was. NY reacted like they do to any other murder. part of the life. you move on. i like Nicky sacrfo. we got along. NY had a big influence on Philly. Didn't run it.

zenontherocks7 karma

What's do you think is the difference between the mafia and the government, aside from scale?

Michael_Franzese15 karma

you don't want to get me started on that. I could write a book on that.

Majnuninho7 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. My question- is everyone in the mob as paranoid all the time as I imagine a mobster would/should be? Also, what is John Gotti like in real life?

Michael_Franzese22 karma

no, some paranoid, some not. I wasn't... Gotti was great socially, a nightmare in business... tremendous ego. but we got along for the most part. had our run ins at times.

Astridasteroid7 karma

Were there any mob fore-fathers you idolized as a boy growing up? Did that have influence over your path in life?

Michael_Franzese16 karma

idolized my dad, sonny franzese. today at 97, oldest living made man. i really liked Fat tony Salerno, genovese boss.

Astridasteroid5 karma

Any thoughts on Bugsy Siegel? He was always my fave.

Michael_Franzese15 karma

pretty cool guy with a vision, but too flashy. guys like him and Gotti just don't last.

TubeZ7 karma

What do you think is the most accurate aspect of the way the media portrays the mob, and the least accurate (most surprising)?

Michael_Franzese39 karma

so much to say hear... Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco - accurate. Sopranos??? A mob boss seeing a psyc? he would be in the trunk of a car by the end of the week.

BorderColliesRule7 karma

What aspect of your past have found the most difficult to leave behind?

Michael_Franzese7 karma

again, the relationship with some of my men. and the money also. its a hard fall from where i once was... took me a while to adjust. but so much better now.

BorderColliesRule6 karma

Have you been able to assist some of your former colleagues with transitioning out of the mob and building new lives?

Michael_Franzese8 karma

not directly, except for one. but indirectly from things i have heard, yes - i believe so.

notthatcbailey6 karma

What do you think your legacy will be? Do mobsters in prison have it easier than non-mob inmates?

Michael_Franzese14 karma

i don't worry about my legacy. i just try to stay on the right path with my family, friends and the rest of the world i come in contact with. the rest will work itself out.

richardwrinkle6 karma

Are you fluent in Italian? What is your favorite country to visit (outside of USA and Italy)? Does the Italian Mob ever work with other "mafias" i.e. Mexican, Russian, etc.?

Michael_Franzese14 karma

not fluent, but understand a bit. i loved singapore and the islands. italy terrific. rome and florence just great! we did work with others on occassion if the money was right.

danceswithsquirrelz6 karma

Are you restricted from seeing anyone in your family? Like your father, mother, and siblings?

Michael_Franzese20 karma

i have no restrictions. mom passed away 2 years ago. dad in prison. one brother in witness protection program. family pretty messed up... very sad.

rowmac896 karma


Michael_Franzese15 karma

they didn't fix games. they just gambled on them like players on other teams in every sport, pro and college. and yes, it goes on today. games compromised, not fixed due to gamblers and organized crime.

Michael_Franzese14 karma

didn't have to persuade them. yankees players didn't fix games. they just gambled, like players on other teams in pros and college... yes, gambling in sports is huge and yes, games are fixed, or compromised, i should say. more today then ever.

michael07146 karma

Henry Hill said he thought the best boss of the Mob in history was Frank Costello. Do you agree?

Michael_Franzese8 karma

to a degree - yes... he was one of the great one's as far as a boss go's.

jarhead236 karma

Once you left the mob and were released from prison did you have plans on how you were going to take care of Camille? Do you still "look over" your shoulder? How and when did you and Camille decide to spread the gospel as you do today? Thank you for speaking at Christ's Church.

Michael_Franzese7 karma

i really didn't have a plan... decided to let God chart my course and he did. never had a plan to spread the gospel. it just evolved through the course God navigated for me.

Jayrobinson925 karma

When you decided to leave the Mob, was it a simple matter of just saying you wanted out? I feel like it wouldn't be that simple. Thanks a lot

Michael_Franzese16 karma

NO WAY!!! Can't do that. you die for it... wasn't received well. a lot of people upset with me. and have never got over it.

Accent125 karma

Did you ever have any interactions with Scarfo? If so, what was he like as a person? Thanks!

Michael_Franzese12 karma

yes. Nicky and I were going to unionize security guards in atlantic city. but both interrupted with our legal issues. i liked him a lot.

shouldbeworking235 karma

Was it as glamorous as movies make it out to be (being in the mob)?

Michael_Franzese8 karma

glamorous until disaster hits and it always does for all of us.

TubeZ5 karma

To what extent was the police corrupt(able)?

Michael_Franzese14 karma

honest for the most part, but always people you can reach. and we did reach them at times.

daftmoniker4 karma

Have you ever watched Goodfellas and thought to yourself "Man, Joe Pesci's character reminds me of my old buddy, X"?

Michael_Franzese9 karma

see answer above... all the time!

strangejosh4 karma

Hi Michael,

thanks for doing this AMA. Three questions.

How often did you guys you Zips?

How common is it for made guys to switch families. I know it has happened before.

How closely do the five families work together?

Michael_Franzese8 karma

not too often. not in my crew. not common at all. a guy would probably have been in trouble in one family and saved by the boss of another to switch. pretty close at times. they don't go to war. they work things out. money always the objective.

ShadowStacks4 karma

What's the best memory you have from your times living large as a mobster?

Michael_Franzese9 karma

wow! there are many. it was my life! Good times with the guys... really a lot of good memories. i had a lot of money and it brought a lot of good times for my crew.

[deleted]4 karma

In your travels, what is the most interesting/bizarre/cool flavor of potato chip (or other snack food) youve seen and/or tried?

Michael_Franzese8 karma

just came back from singapore... didn't know what i was eating all the time but it was darn good. they did have a spicy potato chip at the hotel. loved it.

kevie3drinks3 karma

Is this question the new 100 duck sized horses?

Michael_Franzese6 karma

got to explain this one. have no idea what you are asking.

TheyShootBeesAtYou4 karma

You say "made man." I'm under the impression that's a title reserved for those who've killed others. Is that true?

Michael_Franzese2 karma

it's men who have taken an oath and became formerly inducted into the family by the boss. i took mine, 10/31/1975.

tonya663 karma

Hello Michael!! I was watching The 1o Commandments of the Mob--that is how I learned of you. What made you decide to do the show?

Michael_Franzese8 karma

credible network. good producer. i did two others on History channel and Nat geo.

Evilton3 karma

What was the best/worst thing about being involved in the mob?

Michael_Franzese12 karma

best - my relationship with my men... worst - treachery, constant heat from the law.

I_Am_Intoxicated3 karma

Hi Michael. Just came here to say we have a very close relationship regarding your former life that I cannot say online.

My question is, who do you think is the best mob boss of the 20th century? (In terms of a mind of business, leadership and respect)

Michael_Franzese17 karma

carlo gambino did it right. low key. very powerful built his family and kept it strong. but there were others who were like him frank costello was a good boss. he also did it right.

shouldbeworking233 karma

Do you ever miss the life of being in the mob?

Michael_Franzese9 karma

i do miss it at times, yes. there are some plusses for being involved, but would never go back even if i could. not a good life.

gottj3 karma

Hi Mr. Franzese, God bless you for all of your work for God and His family. I would like to know if you like fishing (fresh water or ocean)? I frequently fish at the Balboa Pier near Newport Beach, and I take regular trips to Northern California to fish the lakes up there as well. During my times fishing, I see many people that would benefit from hearing from you. I would witness to them if I could, but I stutter. They need God in their hearts to make their lives more meaningful. If you are in those areas, see if God points you towards them. Take care!

Michael_Franzese11 karma

thank you. not a fisherman, but love the ocean and boating... BTW, we are neighbors.

gottj4 karma

Thank you. I actually drive 70 miles (I live in Yucaipa) to get there to fish. I also attend Harvest Church with Pastor Greg Laurie. Enjoyed seeing you at the Crusade while I worked as an usher all 3 nights. God does amazing things! I could use a new restaurant recommendation in the Newport Beach area : )

Michael_Franzese8 karma

I love Greg and Cathe! they have become close friends. New restaurant - Italian. Forget the name, but on e coast highway where kentucky fried chicken used to be. Greg loves it also.

Zaktastic3 karma

Do you know much about the Westies? An Irish crime gang, supposedly very violent.

Michael_Franzese9 karma

Yes. Jimmy Coonan was a friend. worked with them on occassion. tough group.

Exciter792 karma

Did the mob have any influence on wall street? If so how?

Michael_Franzese2 karma

yes. we had brokers working with us. a lot of phony stock deals and pump and dump schemes.

SlappyPenisburg2 karma

Did you ever come to Montreal on business? If so, how'd you like it?

Michael_Franzese9 karma

toronto yes, montreal no. i really like toronto.

Dylan_Ram_Brick2 karma

Are there any politicians that you know for a fact to be "owned" by organized crime?

Michael_Franzese9 karma

maybe not owned, but highly influenced and "obligated" - yes! don't discount the Kennedy's. mead esposito from NY. there are a few more i knew. you would be surprised, or maybe not. LOL!

shouldbeworking232 karma

What was your main reasoning for leaving the organized crime biz?

Michael_Franzese12 karma

met a woman, now my wife. girl of faith, like i am now. Could not have both and I wanted her, but knew by that time that the life would lead to death or life in prison and didn't want that for my wife and kids.

tonya662 karma

Are you planning on doing events in NE Ohio? If so when and where would love to come and hear you speak.

Michael_Franzese4 karma

i will be in Defiance, Ohio and Columbus this year. I believe this month and next. 2 churches. don't have names in front of me. email me at michaelfranzese.com and will let you know. my movie will be playing in springfield in october. thanks!

tonya662 karma

Since accepting Jesus how has your life changed and how has it affected you personally?

Michael_Franzese19 karma

I'm alive and free because of my acceptance of Christ. I have a ministry and a mission and through all my struggles, and there are many until today, He has guided and blessed me. I am forever grateful! Jesus was the only true "Man's Man" to ever walk the earth... Powerful!

Aquaboy401 karma

How does one get "recruited" into the mob?

Also, those in the mob, are there a variety of ethnic backgrounds or is it mostly a single ethnicity?

Thanks for doing the AMA

Michael_Franzese1 karma

in La Cosa Nostra, Mafia, one must be "proposed" by another member. then he must go through a recruit period and prove himself. In LCN, father must be Italian.

a_satty1 karma

What is your opinion on present day gangs? Like the ones from the Chicago and L.A. areas?

Michael_Franzese1 karma

don't really have one. other then they are a dead end street for those involved.

airhoodz1 karma

How many mobs are still left today? What's even the point? I feel like you can't beat the cops anymore or even function as a true mob besides small drug rings anyways

Michael_Franzese1 karma

still 5 families in NY, but correct, not nearly as powerful or influential.

PatternWolf1 karma

Were you ever seriously hurt or almost killed in during your career?

Michael_Franzese1 karma

was shot at one time. never seriously hurt. came close to death one time..

MadeUAcctButIEatedIt0 karma

How many (percentage?) of the American mafia now still speak/understand Italian/Sicilian?

Michael_Franzese1 karma

you mean Italian... alot of the oldtimers spoke italian. not all LCN members are sicilian. many napolitano like me.

EatingSandwiches10 karma

Here in New Jersey, what is the best Italian restaurant?

Michael_Franzese1 karma

haven't ate too often in NJ lately. Can't help you there.