Michael Franzese Biography

Michael Franzese, a former mobster and caporegime in the notorious Colombo crime family, has transformed his life from a world of organized crime to become an author, activist, and motivational speaker. Growing up in the midst of illegal activities, Michael followed in his father’s footsteps and rose through the ranks of the Colombo crime family. However, he eventually left behind his life of crime, embracing Christianity and dedicating himself to helping others through his motivational speaking and the establishment of the ‘Breaking Out Foundation’.

Quick Facts

  • Nick Name: The Yuppie Don
  • Also Known As: Michael Grillo
  • Age: 72 Years, 72 Year Old Males
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Camille Garcia (m. 1985)
    • Father: John Franzese
    • Mother: Cristina Capobianco-Franzeses
    • Siblings: John Franzese Jr
  • Gangsters
  • Public Speakers
  • Education: Hofstra University

Childhood & Family Background

Michael Franzese was born on May 27, 1951, in Brooklyn, New York, USA to Cristina Capobianco-Franzese and John ‘Sonny’ Franzese, Sr. His father, Franzese, Sr., did not want Michael to get into organized crime and instead wanted him to become a doctor. Michael completed his high school studies and enrolled at Hofstra University for a pre-med program. However, he dropped out of college in 1974 to take care of his father and became involved in the activities of the Colombo crime family. Michael’s mother passed away in 2012 while his father was in prison. Franzese, Sr. was released in June 2017 and is currently the oldest living gangster in the world.

Initiation into the Colombo Crime Family

Michael became a member of the Mafia on Halloween night in 1975 and was inducted into the Colombo crime family as a soldier. He underwent the Mafia initiation ritual and was mentored by Joseph ‘Joe-Joe’ Vitacco. In 1980, Michael was elevated to the ranks of caporegime or captain and was in charge of an associate crew of 300 to 500 members. He had dealings with various crime family bosses, including Paul Castellano, John Gotti, and Anthony ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno.

Involvement in the Gasoline Bootlegging Racket

Michael got involved in a gasoline racket with Lawrence Salvatore Iorizzo. They set up Panama-based stock-bearer companies and would move to the next company whenever one was suspected of fraudulent activity. Michael’s organization joined forces with Joseph ‘Joe Glitz’ Galizia’s organization, allowing them to sell millions of gallons of gasoline at lower prices. In 1985, Michael was arrested and indicted on multiple counts. He pleaded guilty to two counts and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Other Endeavors & Renouncement of Organized Crime

In addition to his involvement in organized crime, Michael also invested in legitimate businesses in the 1970s and 1980s. He partnered with booking agent Norby Walters and became a partner in Walters’ sports management agency. However, Michael resolved to renounce the Colombo family while serving a term in prison in 1987. He was released on parole in 1989 but faced another four-year sentence for violating probation rules. After being released in 1994, Michael left the crime world and relocated to California to be with his wife and children. He co-wrote a book titled ‘Quitting the Mob’ in 1992, which narrates his life story.

Life Thereafter

After leaving organized crime, Michael became a motivational speaker and has spoken at over 400 college campuses as an NCAA life skills speaker. He has also spoken to professional athletes and leads seminars for business and law students. He speaks at Christian conferences, church services, and prisons worldwide. Michael has written five books and has appeared in documentaries and TV shows about the American Mafia. He is also involved in helping Christian refugees from the Middle East.

Family & Personal Life

Michael met his wife, Camille Garcia, while producing a film in Florida. They got married in 1985, and Camille played a significant role in Michael’s decision to quit organized crime and his subsequent spiritual transformation. A documentary titled ‘God the Father’ released in 2014 recounts Michael’s spiritual journey.

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