25 years later, the haunting memory of being a ruthless Mafia boss still lingers.

"I am not a killer. I followed orders, but it's not something I like to do."

February 25th 2024.

25 years later, the haunting memory of being a ruthless Mafia boss still lingers.
Michael Franzese, now 72 years old, has a past that could easily be mistaken for a Hollywood movie. He was a captain in the Colombo crime gang, one of the notorious "Five Families" in New York City that dominated organized crime in the 20th century alongside the Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese, and Bonnano borgatas. But what sets Michael apart is his decision to walk away from the mob, risking his life and fortune, and the effects of that decision that still haunt him 25 years later.

His rise in the Colombo family was no easy feat. His father, John "Sonny" Franzese, was a legendary figure in the family and was known as the feared underboss of Joe Colombo. However, Michael's father never wanted him to get involved in organized crime. But when his father was sentenced to 50 years in prison for bank robbery, Michael dropped out of college to support his family. Convinced of his father's innocence, Michael joined the Colombo family in 1975 as a recruit and was eventually inducted as a "made man" on Halloween night. This was a significant move for Michael, as he jumped ahead of many others who had been waiting for 20 years to become a made member. But this was out of respect for his father, and Michael had to prove himself for two and a half years before being officially inducted.

The induction ceremony was a solemn and dimly lit event, with the boss, underboss, and consigliere seated at the top of a horseshoe configuration. Michael walked down the aisle and stood in front of the boss, who then cut his finger as part of the blood oath. Michael had to cup his hands, and the boss lit a picture of a saint in his hands, saying, "Tonight Michael Franzese, you are born again into a new life, into Cosa Nostra. If you violate what you know about this life, betray your brothers, you'll die and burn in hell like this saint is burning in your hands. Do you accept?" Michael said yes, and this was the oath that bound him to the family.

Michael's rise in the Colombo family coincided with that of other notorious mafia figures like John Gotti, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, and Vincent "Chin" Gigante during what was known as the Mafia's "golden era." They had tremendous control in the country, and even the CIA would come to them for help with tasks like assassinating President John F. Kennedy. Michael firmly believes that the mafia was behind JFK's assassination, as he has heard from the right people his whole life that it was a mob hit. According to Michael, Bobby Kennedy's turning on the mob led to their anger and desire for revenge, and this was their way of getting back at the government for double-crossing them.

One of Michael's most notable achievements as a mobster was his involvement in a massive gasoline tax swindle that brought in around $9 million each week. This scam was already in play when Michael joined the Colombo family, but he and his crew mastered it and made it into a lucrative business. The government couldn't figure out their system, making it nearly impenetrable and allowing them to rake in millions of dollars.

But in 1995, Michael did the unthinkable. He renounced the mob and walked away from that life, becoming one of the few men to do so and live to tell the tale. This decision still haunts him to this day, as he reflects on the dark moments he experienced while in Cosa Nostra. However, he has found a way to move on and share his story with others, as he prepares for a tour across the UK and Ireland next month.

During his interview with The Agency, Michael also touched on the role the mob played in JFK's assassination and the recent death of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. He firmly believes that the mafia was behind JFK's death and that Epstein could not have killed himself. Michael's top three most authentic mafia films include "Gotti," "Goodfellas/Donnie Brasco," and "A Bronx Tale," which he feels accurately portray the essence of that life. He also mentioned "The Godfather" as a brilliant movie, but it falls into a different category as it is a fictional story.

Despite his past as a mobster, Michael has found a way to move on and create a new life for himself. His decision to walk away from the mob may have been risky, but it has allowed him to share his story and hopefully inspire others to make better choices.
Michael Franzese, now 72 years old, used to be a high-ranking member, known as a captain, in the Colombo crime gang back in the day. This gang was part of the infamous 'Five Families' of New York City, along with the Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese, and Bonnano groups, which were the dominant forces in organized crime during the 20th century.

At the height of his power, Franzese made millions of dollars through various illegal activities. However, what sets him apart from other Mafia bosses is that he took a huge risk by walking away from the mob, despite the threat of death looming over him. Even now, 25 years later, he still carries the weight of his past decisions.

Franzese's most infamous operation was the massive gasoline tax scam that earned his crew a staggering $9 million per week. This scheme was even depicted in Martin Scorsese's classic gangster movie, 'Goodfellas'. But in 1995, he did the unthinkable and left the Mafia life behind, becoming one of the few men to do so and live to tell the tale.

In an exclusive interview with The Agency, Franzese shared his darkest moment in the Cosa Nostra, the secret role the mob played in the assassination of President John F Kennedy, and his thoughts on the recent death of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

His father, John 'Sonny' Franzese, was a legendary figure in the Colombo family, serving as Joe Colombo's feared underboss. Michael describes him as 'like the John Gotti of his day'. Initially, his father had no intention of getting his son involved in organized crime. However, when Michael dropped out of college to support his family while his father was serving a 50-year sentence for bank robbery, he ended up joining the Colombo family. He started as a recruit and was eventually inducted as a 'made man' on Halloween night in 1975.

Reflecting on his induction, Franzese says, "It was a very solemn ceremony, with a dimly lit room. The boss sat at the top of a horseshoe-shaped table, with the underboss and consigliere by his side. The captains were also present. I walked down the aisle and stood in front of the boss, holding out my hand. He took a knife, cut my finger, and some blood fell on the floor – it was a blood oath. Then, he cupped my hands, took a picture of a saint, lit it on fire, and said, 'Tonight, Michael Franzese, you are reborn into a new life, into Cosa Nostra. If you betray your brothers or violate the rules of this life, you'll die and burn in hell like this saint is burning in your hands. Do you accept?' And I said, 'Yes, I do.' That was the oath, it was quick and to the point."

Franzese's rise in the family was fast, and it coincided with the rise of other infamous Mafia figures like John Gotti, Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano, and Vincent 'Chin' Gigante during what was known as the Mafia's 'golden era'. He recalls, "We had tremendous control in this country, to the point where the CIA would come to us for help in assassinating John Kennedy, during World War II, and also to kill Castro during the Cuban crisis. That's how powerful we were back then. When the government comes to you for help, you know you've got some serious influence."

One of the most popular conspiracy theories surrounding John F Kennedy's assassination is that he was killed by the Mafia. And Franzese believes this to be true. He states, "It's not a theory, it's a fact. Look, I have nothing to gain from saying this. I'm not writing a book or making a movie about it. But ever since Kennedy's death, I've heard from credible sources that it was indeed the mob who carried out the hit. They were angry with him and his brother, Bobby Kennedy, for turning on the Mafia. Bobby wanted to expose the mob, and this made them very upset. We were supposed to have access to the White House, and they double-crossed us. So, the mob got even, and that's what I've been told my whole life."

When asked about the authenticity of Mafia movies, Franzese lists his top three favorites. First, he mentions the HBO film 'Gotti', praising the brilliant acting and realistic portrayal of the Mafia life. He also mentions 'Goodfellas' and 'Donnie Brasco' as movies that accurately depict the essence of the Mafia. Lastly, he mentions 'A Bronx Tale', calling it a brilliantly written and portrayed film by his dear friend, Chazz Palminteri.

Despite his past involvement in various illegal activities, what Franzese is most known for is his involvement in the gasoline tax scam that cheated the US government out of millions of dollars. He explains, "I believe there were others doing it, but we perfected it. Our system was impenetrable, making it impossible for the government to figure out."

In conclusion, Michael Franzese's life is a testament to the power and influence of the Mafia during its 'golden era'. He has come a long way since his days as a high-ranking member of the Colombo crime gang and is now using his experiences to educate others about the dangers of organized crime. As he embarks on a tour across the UK and Ireland, he hopes to shed light on his darkest moments, the truth behind JFK's assassination, and his thoughts on the recent headlines surrounding billionaire Jeffrey Epstein's death.

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