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A sworn member of the Colombo crime family in New York City, Michael Franzese was considered the biggest moneymaker in the mob since Al Capone. At age 35, he was number eighteen on Fortune Magazine's list of the fifty most wealthy and powerful Mafia bosses in America. But then he did the unthinkable. He quit the mob. Franzese met Camille Garcia, who turned his world upside down with her innocent beauty. He fell in love with her, married her and began a new life that didn't include the Mafia. Nobody of Franzese's rank ever just walked away from the mob and lived to tell about it. But Franzese has somehow managed to avoid the grave after he turned his back on the past. But what made him leave the lavish lifestyle of the Mafia? And how has he escaped what should have been sure death after he quit the mob? Now, in one of the most fascinating books ever written about today's Maifa, Michael Franzese reveals answers to the many mysteries surrounding his incredible life. Walk the streets with him and find out how and why he has done what no one else managed to do-and live. Journey with him through a life defined by two blood covenants. The first bound him to the mob. The second set him free.
1. As of the last date mentioned in your autobiography, which was 2002, what have you been doing with your life?|
I have been doing my best to follow what I believe is Godís purpose for my life. I have been working with my publisher to promote the message contained in the book of Godís awesome power and mercy. I have also been following up on the many opportunities to give my testimony at various churches around the country. The NCAA and affiliated athletic programs at universities across the country are continuing to provide me with opportunities to speak with student athletes about the dangers of gambling in their sports. I continue to work on developing my ďBreaking OutĒ program for at-risk youth, which provides them with an opportunity to develop a career in the sports or entertainment industries. The program has shown great promise so far and I am now gaining support for the program within the city of Los Angeles. I really want to reach out to kids who come out of rough neighborhoods and might have gang affiliations. God has given me a powerful platform from which to speak to those kids. Because of my prior mob affiliation, I have instant credibility with them and immediately get their attention. I tell them that I walked away from the biggest gang in the world and that they can do it too, with Godís help. There really is no other credible explanation for my having been able to publicly renounce my former life, refuse government protection and live in the open as I do. To my knowledge, no other former member of La Cosa Nostra has ever been able to do that. Proverbs 16:7 tells us that ďWhen a manís ways are pleasing to the Lord, even his enemies are at peace with him.Ē Amen!
2. Have you had any contact with your former associates since the writing of this book? If so, what
is the reaction of them in regards to this book?|
I actually did hear from a former associate for the first time this past week by e-mail. He told me that he wasnít going to read my book because he had heard it was ____, but then decided to read it anyway. He really opened up to me, saying he was disgusted with the life and that he was going to try to make his break. We have started a dialogue now through e-mail and I believe he is on his way to accepting Christ. Honestly, this does not come as a surprise to me. Having been around mob guys most of my life, I believe many of them would love to find a way out, just like I did. They just need to know that Jesus is the way out. I hope what I wrote in the book will provide the inspiration they need to open their hearts to the Savior. Often times, we put a blanket condemnation on people because of their affiliations. We need to remember that God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. Only He knows what is in a manís heart. I can tell you first hand, not all the men in that life are bad people. Some are just misguided and need to be led in the right direction, towards Jesus.
|3. The last mention of your father was that he was currently serving time at the age of 84-has anything changed since then?|
He has not been freed as of yet. He is currently in prison on another parole violation. He will be there until February of next year unless he is released to a halfway house, in which case heíll be out in October. It is a violation for alleged mob members to associate with other alleged mob members or with known felons while on parole. You canít even sit down together, have a cup of coffee and talk about the Yankees. My dadís been in violation four times while on parole and each time he was charged with associating with people who either had prior felony convictions or who were alleged to be part of that life. His view is, ďMichael, who else do I know? These people are my friends, the people I associated with all my life.Ē Itís been a problem with him and hopefully this time, when he comes out, heís going to find a way to avoid that.
4. You mention very personal aspects of your life, including your childhood and your former marriage. What made you decide to write this book about your life? |
God has a purpose for everyoneís life, no matter who you are or where you came from. I believe mine is to use the experiences of my life to inspire people to open their hearts to Jesus. I am passionate in my belief that Jesus is truly the Son of God. The evidence in support of Him being the Savior is both overwhelming and totally conclusive. Believe it or not, my experiences as a mob soldier and captain have helped to make that truth crystal clear to me. Jesus commanded all believers to preach the word of the Gospels to all of creation. My dear friend and advisor, Rob Michaelís, suggested that I write a book that would intersect the experiences of my former life with my belief and faith in Jesus. When the people over at Whitaker House offered me the opportunity to do that, I felt it was part of Godís plan for my life and it just came together.
The reader needs to understand that when I was in the mob, I lived every day in conflict with the laws of God and of man, just by virtue of being a made member of the life. When I was riding high, the last thing I cared about was God. It was only through an incredible series of circumstances that God reached into my heart and completely turned me around. What was even more incredible was that he did it through a young Christian woman. And then, He navigated a course for me over a period of almost ten years that allowed me to publicly walk away from the life without ever living in hiding or in fear. There is no precedent to this. It just isnít done. But with God, all things are possible. I certainly did not deserve the blessings God bestowed upon me. I donít deserve them anymore today then I did ten years ago. But that is what people need to know and it is the message that I hope comes through clearly in the book. Salvation is a ďgiftĒ offered to all people through Jesus Christ, even to a former mob capo.
5. When you were growing up, what were you told that your father did for a living? |
I grew up idolizing my dad. I loved him dearly and to me, he was the greatest father in the world. I believed he was a businessman who had various interests. A dry cleaning store in Brooklyn. An auto body shop in Long Island and a partnership in a very successful record company known as Buddah Records. Of course I became aware of his alleged ties to the mob through newspaper articles and in conversation with others. And it was a bit weird, I guess, that our family was constantly being followed by law enforcement whenever we left the house with my dad. But I didnít care. My father never sat me down and said, hey, Iím a member of organized crime. When he was indicted back in the 60ís for a number of crimes, he said he was innocent. That was good enough for me. I never questioned him. As far as I was concerned, law enforcement was the enemy. My dad was the good guy.
6. As for your own children, what knowledge did they have of your business dealings? What were their feelings on the matter? |
They didnít have much knowledge, actually. When I was in my heyday, in my prime, my kids were young. They didnít really experience what I had experienced with my dad. Law enforcement techniques and tactics had changed. They werenít following me around openly every minute although there were certainly intense investigations going on around me. It didnít affect my kids as much when they were younger but obviously it did as they grew up. I never lied to them. My business was something that I just didnít discuss with them. I also had various legitimate businesses that my children were aware of. I owned automobile agencies. I was producing and distributing feature films. I tried not to let my mob affiliation affect their lives although it obviously did. It is impossible to protect your family from the inevitable consequences of that life.
7. Did you want to add anything that you feel our readers should know about you and your book? |
Speaking to women who might be struggling with the lifestyle choices of their husbands, boyfriends or fathers, you need to understand the powerful impact my wife [Cammy] had on me. She was the tool or mechanism God used to open my heart to Jesus. Believe me, I was a tough case. Renouncing my life in the mob was not an easy decision. God was not an easy sell to me at first. What made her task all the more difficult was the fact that mob guys did not hold women in very high regard when it came to their exerting influence over our business or lifestyle decisions. But she persevered, remained in constant prayer and God blessed her. The same way He will bless you and answer your prayers, in His time. It might be difficult. It might take years. Your man may have to be broken and hit rock bottom before he will open his heart. Donít give up. Stay strong in your faith and God will honor your prayers. I get several e-mails from women struggling with this situation and I offer this encouragement to all of you out there. Fight the good fight. God will bless you.
For all of you that do have an opportunity to read my book, I encourage you to e-mail either myself or Cammy with any questions or observations you might have. Fellowship among believers, or those who might be seeking Christ is so important. I look forward to hearing from you. Be Blessed!