HISTORICAL VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH LEGENDARY COLOMBO POWERHOUSE JOHN SONNY FRANZESE

Additional videos added below
This is part one of an exclusive interview with Colombo capo John "Sonny" Franzese and longtime friend Gregory Vita.




John (Sonny) Franzese is 101 years old.

He’s spent 40 of the past 50 years in prison.

In February of 2017, Sonny turned 100 years old. A few months later, the prison commission approved his request for parole. On June 23, Franzese was released again.

Sonny Franzese's longtime friend -- for 40 years -- Gregory Vita, in video below, explains how Sonny's early release was likely due to clemency from President Obama and he has letters supporting the claim.

Vita has been caring for Franzese since Sonny’s release in 2017. Convicted of his own crimes and betrayed by family, Greg sits down with Sonny to discuss how they believe Obama's intervention led to Sonny’s early release.



According to law enforcement, Sonny still occupies a high position in the Colombo family.

According to his relatives (including Michael Franzese, former Colombo capo), the old man just wants to live at home.

"Sonny hears little and sees nothing. He needs the attention of relatives," one source said.

At 93, Franzese was convicted of extorting two Manhattan strip clubs and a pizzeria in Long Island, New York. He was largely confined to a wheelchair at the time.

Franzese fooled them all by outliving his sentence. He is now a free man residing in Brooklyn.



My father went through twenty damn years of aggravation, my mother’s a nervous wreck, my brothers and sisters are all wrecks. Where is all this honor and this baloney? You can’t believe in this damn oath when you’ve got a family to think of. What about them? My mother’s been alone for seventeen years. So which is the more honorable stand? My father’s position is: This is how I’ve lived all my life, and I don’t want anybody to ever say that I was a rat or a snitch, so I’m gonna die this way. O.K. I guess I can relate to that. But I’m in a different position. I’m thirtysomething years old. I’ve got six children, I’ve got a young wife. And I’ll be damned if I’m gonna put them through what my family had to go through. Especially for something I no longer believe in." --Michael Franzese


John (Sonny) Franzese was convicted of masterminding bank robberies back in the 1960s. Ever since, it has been widely believed by certain knowledgeable people that Franzese was framed.

He was sentenced to 50 years. Once paroled, he was sent back inside five times for visiting old friends, most of them convicted felons on the “do not associate” list.

Franzese was insultingly dubbed The Nodfather for his habit of occasionally nodding off during the three-week racketeering trial. Reports then noted somewhat comically how he jolted awake when the jury came in to deliver its verdict, convicting him of racketeering -- specifically, for shaking down the Hustler and Penthouse strip joints in midtown Manhattan.

After more than a half-century in the Mafia, the legendary gangster was done in by the testimony of his own son, John Jr., a drug addict who recorded hundreds of hours of incriminating conversations with his father as a government informant.

"It's hard to understand how a jury, all of whom have families, would tolerate a son setting up his father, essentially sending him to death behind bars," said Michael Franzese, Sonny's stepson and a former capo who left the mob years ago.

After Brooklyn Federal Judge Brian Cogan revoked bail, Franzese knew the routine that was to follow: he slipped his belt out of the pants loops, pulled fistfuls of cash out of his pockets, as well as his wallet and a wad of business cards and handed them over to his defense attorney, Richard Lind.

Franzese's advanced age was not discussed in deliberations, one juror later remarked.

Franzese's words, caught on tape, were incriminating. He boasted about being "official" underboss of the Colombo crime family, one of the nation's youngest and most violent.

As for the defense mounted by his lawyer, it was that Sonny was an insecure old man living on Social Security.

At least, the jury acquitted Franzese of shaking down a pizzeria while he was in jail; co-defendant Joseph DiGorga was recorded expressing his anger that the pizzeria saw fit to only give Sonny a free slice once in a while.

Back in the day, Franzese was fast friends with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.; he also was alleged to have been one of the financiers of Deep Throat, the most successful porn flick ever, pulling in so much cash, Colombo mobsters literally weighed it on a scale versus counting it out.


Sonny Franzese's friend Gregory Vita talks about his relationship with Sonny’s late daughter Gia Franzese and how their bond led to their friendship.


Years ago, Franzese -- in a move that made one newspaper reporter call him the William Levitt of the Mafia -- supposedly served as leading spokesman in convincing his criminal cohorts to move their families to Long Island. Following the law of unintended consequences, some believe that his call to "go East, young mob members" spawned a new generation of "young Turks" -- young mobsters who grew to be less insular than their immigrant parents or grandparents, as well as less bound by their codes.

Sonny Franzese was born in Naples and raised in Brooklyn. Eventually, he allegedly was Colombo crime family underboss and his sphere of influence extended from Queens to Long Island, where he lived.

He was acquitted of a 1964 gangland slaying, though in the bank robbery case, a prosecutor repeated allegations that Franzese had personally whacked some ''30 or 40 or 50'' mobsters during his rise to power.

Organized crime figures of Sonny's generation shunned the public spotlight -- they also lived frugally and only showed their gangster sides when safely ensconced inside their insulated social clubs. Most were either immigrants or first-generation Americans raised in neighborhoods where the Mafiosi dominated.

Last year a reporter asked him: "Weren't you afraid you'd die in prison?"

Sonny replied: "Who cares. I gotta die someplace."




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