Sunday, November 22, 2015

Turning it all around: Michael Franzese

I get a lot of emails calling me a rat, and others who chose to go down the same path experience the same.  Some people want to argue with me about how the life of crime is good.  One more time: there are no happy endings in the Cosa Nostra.

I just watched a DVD with Michael Franzese talking about his life.  I've had it for years and it has moved with me at least twice.  I had never watched it and the other day I sat down and started watching.  The funny thing is I am sure that I got it from someone in law enforcement at some speaking engagement I’ve done in the past - I can’t remember when or how.

It has taken me ten years to come to grips with my former life.  I take responsibility for my life and all I've done.  I lay it all out and tell it like it was and is now.  

Michael has a great Christian testimony, one of the first things he speaks about is the toll that being in the life takes on those around you.  All these people that think the Cosa Nostra is about a bunch of guys cracking jokes, living the high life are wrong.  The toll it takes on the families is huge and that is an untold story.  I know a number of family members from the life and it was never as good as the movies portray, in fact it was more like a horror movie.

Michael had to live a life growing up where law enforcement contact became normal.  The police arriving to arrest his father Sonny, or to search the house was routine.  To read about Sonny in the newspapers and to have friends like the Hawk and the Chubby Brothers.

Michael did go to Catholic school and he did study the Bible, but they were just subjects in class.  He would lose his father to a 50 year prison sentence for a string of bank robberies.  
It is crazy that Sonny would get convicted for that crime when there is no way he would deal with such low lifes.  I spoke to Jerry Zimmerman about it and he told me it was crap. A set up.  The problem is, Sonny lived the life and committed many more crimes that in reality were worse.

Michael would lose a sister to drugs.   There was another sister in LA who passed away a few years ago.  John Jr., his brother, was a drug addict who was in Los Angeles for a time.  I knew him and he was just a sad guy.  He could not live in his father's shadow.  He would end up going back to New York to work as a helper for Sonny after he got out of prison in the 2000’s for his 5th parole violation.  John Jr. would end up wearing a wire on his father and even testifying against him.  

John was home with his wife in Los Angeles one day and he went into the garage and that was the last she saw of him.  He was whisked away into the WITSEC program.   So even in the storied Franzese clan there are no happy endings.  In the American Cosa Nostra or as the media likes to say it the Mafia you do not get much higher than Sonny Franzese.

Michael far surpassed his father in money making.  Michael made money in car dealerships and traditional Organized Crime activities.  It was when he partnered up with Fat Larry Iorizzo in the gas business that he went into the stratosphere of mob moneymakers.  I've written about guys in his crew that worked in the gas business with him.  They had huge homes and helicopters. They made huge amounts of cash by stealing the federal and state gas tax.  Jerry Zimmerman, who moved to California to get into the movie business, had a picture with a large cooler sized stack of cash from those days.  

Michael’s life changed because of Jerry Zimmerman but he had no idea at the time.  Jerry got him involved in a movie that would be called Knights of the City.  It was a breakdance movie and even though I've not seen it in years I'm sure it represents that time period well.

Michael would meet his future wife on set.  What Michael did not know was that he was setting the foundation for him to completely change his life.  I've heard it all about Michael. I've never met him, but like I said we have many former friends in common.

Michael’s life was not to be spent in prison or murdered on some street in Brooklyn. Michael had no idea that by sending Jerry Zimmerman out to California he would touch people all over the world.  Like Michael or not, he has a powerful message that people listen to and understand.

Michael found that he could be forgiven through Jesus.   The best part of the DVD is when Michael says that it was not until he surrendered his life to God that everything changed.
It has been many years now and Michael is alive and well.  He has never gone back to the life. The proof is there.

That is the message in a nutshell.  We can all try and force things to happen.  Do what we think is right.  It will not be until we surrender to God and do what we were put here to do that we will find peace and happiness.

The money and the power that comes with being a Mafia boss is nothing.  You would never be happy or have a good life. I'll say it again, in that life there are no happy endings.

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