Michael Franzese is the only high-ranking official of a major crime family to ever walk away, without protective custodies, and survive.
The son of John “Sonny” Franzese, notorious Underboss of New York’s Colombo crime family, Michael is reported to have made more money for a crime family than anyone since Al Capone, at his peak generating an estimated $5 to $8 million per week from legal and illegal businesses.
“My life was filled with power, luxury and deadly violence,” Michael recalls. “I spent more than 20 years on the street, every day in violation of both God’s laws and the laws of man. I could have easily been dead or in prison for the rest of my life, like most of my former associates. The fact that I’m both alive and free makes me one of the most fortunate, blessed men alive.”
The change came about through an encounter with Jesus Christ. Michael recounts his spiritual transformation in a major motion picture, God the Father, now in theaters (https://godthefathermovie.com).
The movie follows Michael as he drops out of college to become a mobster and eventually a captain in the Colombo family. He goes on to make more than $1 billion in undocumented income for the family. But in time the realization he’s heading for an early grave and the revelation that his father has gone along with a hit put out on him motivates Michael to leave the “Life.”
Another major reason to leave was his wife, the former Camille Garcia, whom Michael married in 1985. “I left because I saw her faith—and that of her mother’s, Irma Garcia—in Jesus, was sincere and very real. I knew my life was a direct contradiction to what these women believed and realized if I wanted Cammy I had to make a change.” In time Camille convinced Michael to plead guilty on racketeering charges and accept a 10-year prison sentence.
Although now a Christian, it’s not until spending more than 29 months in “the hole” that Michael discovers the Bible for himself, devours its contents and develops a vibrant faith.
Michael came out of prison a changed man. For more than a dozen years he has spoken across the country and around the world about the life-changing power of the gospel. He has also written several books, including Quitting the Mob, Blood Covenant, I’ll Make You an Offer You Can’t Refuse and The Good, the Bad, and the Forgiven.
“I have a blessed life,” Michael says, “ but the baggage from the old life doesn’t just go away. I still visit my 97-year old dad in prison. I still get periodic warnings from law enforcement about death threats but I don’t look over my shoulder. I choose to look ahead and to give hope to others that they can come out of their own dark places. This movie is just another way to do that.
Michael’s connection to Pinnacle Forum came about through Partner John Luppo in New Jersey. “Meeting John and later hearing Steve Fedyski’s passion to expand the vision and mission of Pinnacle Forum,” Michael recalls, “I engaged as a Partner.”
For his part, Steve says, “I encourage each of our Pinnacle Forum Partners to rally their churches, colleagues, friends and families to advocate to bring this transformational film to every community in America and beyond.”