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Micheal Franzese is a former American mobster who had his base in New York and he was also the caporegime or the head of the crime family of Colombo. Michael is the son of the former underboss, John Sonny Franzese.
Micheal has gathered a lot of money to his name by doing a lot of illegal things over the years and that shows in the Michael Franzese net worth, maybe not in the present net worth but if you got to hear how much his net worth once was, you will be shocked.
The Michael Franzese net worth of the present, compared to what it was at his peak is almost nothing. The huge amount of money that he had gathered tells you what kind of a mafia he worked in. Any crime family controls the flow of money and a lot of illegal things in certain regions and that is why you would find that they are insanely rich.
Micheal or his crime family was no different in that regard. He had been studying in a pre-med program but he left it so he could make some money after his father had been sentenced to 50 years of prison because of a bank robbery in 1967.
Michael had even helped implement the scheme that defrauded the federal government out of the gasoline taxes during the early 1980s. You can guess how influential he had been by the fact that when he was around 35 years old, he had been 18th on the list of the ‘50 Most Wealthy And Powerful Mafia Bosses.
If you want a rough estimation of what the Michael Franzese net worth was around this period, Franzese had said that he was generating about $8 million per week. And you know what the interesting part is? That is not even close to how much he was generating at his peak.
Although Michael had a lot of influence, he still got stuck in things and he was sentenced to 10 years of jail in 1986 because of conspiracy charges and was released in 1989 to be rearrested in 1991 because he violated parole and then he was released in 1994. In this article, we will find out what the Michael Franzese net worth is and how his life has played out so far.
Michael Franzese’s Early Life
Before we get to the Michael Franzese net worth, let me walk you through how his life had been at the early stages. Michael was born in the Brooklyn borough of NYC on May 27th, 1951. His father was John Sonny Franzese and his mother, Cristina Capobianco-Franzese.
Michael had been in doubt initially that John might not be his actual father and that he had been adopted by him after his mother had divorced Frank Grillo. Michael thought that Frank was his biological father and until he turned 18, he had been going by the name Michael Grillo.
Michael later found out that John had been married and already had 3 kids when he got together with a cigarette girl, Capobianco, at the Starck Club in Manhattan and she got pregnant and they both married to avoid a child being born out of wedlock. John had divorced his first wife for Christina. She had been only 16 at the time of Michael being conceived.
Michael had moved to Long Island after a while and he had entered a pre-med program after high school at Hofstra University in 1969 as his dad had wanted him away from all the crime but he decided to drop it when his dad got sentenced to 50 years of jail and that is how his career in crime, along with the journey to the huge Michael Franzese net worth started.
Start Of Michael’s Mafia Days
After Michael decided that he would start getting into what his dad had been doing and earn a lot of money, he started getting acquainted with his dad’s friends, one of which included Joseph Colombo. Michael later became inducted as a made man, i.e. the full member of the Mafia, on Halloween night in 1975 and the foundation to the Michael Franzese net worth was set.
His boss was Tommy DiBella at the time and as a ritual, he had to swear a blood oath and omerta, which is to never reveal anything about his mates under the police’s questioning. Michael had been inducted along with his friends like Jimmy Angelino, Joseph Peraino Jr., Salvatore Miciotta. Vito Guzzo Sr., John Minerva, etc.
It might be a bit of a surprise that everyone who was inducted along with Michael, died within the next 20 years. Michael was being mentored by the Colombo soldier Joseph Joe-Joe Vitacco and he met the Gambino crime family boss John Gotti.
Michael even got contacted by a flea market owner who complained that his partner had been selling drugs in the Bay Ridge market in Brooklyn and he agreed to scare him and became his new partner. Michael had been in awe of Gotti and praised him too.
In the year 1980, Michael himself became the head of a crew of about 300 people and that is how he started to gain the huge Michael Franzese net worth that would be the subject of envy for anyone on this planet.
Michael Franzese Net Worth
Now to get to the thing that you all started reading this article for, the Michael Franzese net worth is currently about $1 million. Yes, you read that right, it’s not a billion, but rather just a million. I did tell you that his current net worth is rather disappointing when you compare it to what it once was.
When he was at his peak, that is around 1984-85, the Michael Franzese net worth was estimated to be around $20 billion. Now that seems right, doesn’t it? And shocking too, I bet. What wouldn’t you give for such a huge amount of money? Some of you might even be willing to give your life and that is exactly what happened with Michael.
While his days as a Mafia lord lasted, they were great. But when Michael got arrested, well things didn’t really go uphill from there. It would obviously take a disaster to happen to reduce the Michael Franzese net worth from around $20 billion to just $1 million. Michael obviously could not get back to what he had been doing after he got out of jail.
Although Michael might not have been a great person while he was a crime lord, one thing that you can be sure of was that Michael was a fighter and fought he did, not with people but with his fate. He decided that only he gets to decide how his life goes and hence, he became a motivational speaker and a writer, teaching things to people what he had learned from experience.
This had started when Michael was in jail and he wrote his autobiography, while he had been out on parole, which is titled Quitting the Mob. He even has a foundation named Breaking Out Foundation that helps the college kids in empowering and educating themselves and that is done by Michael motivating them to do what is best for them.
So even though the Michael Franzese net worth has been reduced to less than a 10,000th fraction of what it was, it has not deterred Michael from living his life and he is living his life so he can guide the youth to the correct path and I feel that is one of the best redemption stories.
Where Did The Michael Franzese Net Worth Generate Its Money From?
When I talk about how the Michael Franzese net worth generated money, I am talking about the time when he was a crime lord, we will get to Michael’s life after prison in a bit but let us concentrate on his criminal life for a bit.
Michael rose rapidly in the ranks of the Colombo family because he got involved with the gasoline bootlegging rackets. And this was the thing that made him a billionaire. This had happened in the late 1970s. By the time 1982 came, Michael had become a multi-billionaire and a very powerful man as well.
Michael sold billions of gallons of gas while working with the Russian Mafia. The mob would collect the state and federal gas taxes and keep the money for themselves and around the same time, they had also started selling gas at a much lower price than what the gas stations sold.
It was around this time, in the mid-1980s, that Michael was listed the 18th most powerful and wealthiest gangster in the world by Fortune Magazine. Michael didn’t just make billions for himself from this but the whole of Five Families prospered from this. The Five Families are the 5 major NYC organized crime syndicates of the Italian-American Mafia.
This was how the Michael Franzese net worth reached $20 billion in 1984 and he became one of the richest gangsters of all time. If the federal reports are to be believed, Michael became the richest mafia don after Al Capone himself.
Other Things That Helped The Michael Franzese Net Worth of Old
Other than the gasoline bootlegging, Michael also was a partner with the booking agent Norby Walters in his firm around 1980. Michael’s role has been to intimidate both new and old clients. Michael has even succeeded in extorting a role for Norby in Michael Jackson’s US tour in 1981.
Norby was being dropped as the agent for Dionne Warwick by the singer’s manager but Franzese managed to let him keep Norby. In 1985, both of these became partners in a sports management agency, and later it was also revealed that Norby has used Michael’s name to frighten college students into signing management contracts with them.
Another way that the Michael Franzese net worth earned the money was through filmmaking as he was the co-founder of Motion picture Marketing which has distributed movies like Savage Streets with actress Linda Blair, whom you might know from The Exorcist.
In 1984, Michael met Camille Garcia during the production of a movie. Garcia was an evangelical Christian dancer from L.A. and Michael and Garcia eventually went on to marry each other. Michael revealed that he became a Cristian because of Garcia.
Michael’s Jail Time
Along with a great rise, comes the great fall and that is exactly what happened with Michael. In 1985, Michael was indicted on 14 counts of racketeering, counterfeiting, extortion, etc. The gasoline bootlegging played a role in it all as well. The next year, he pleaded guilty on 2 of those charges and got sentenced to 10 years of prison time with a $14 million restitution payment.
In late 1987, when Michael was in prison, he decided to quit the Colombo family and he was released on parole after he had served prison for 43 months. He moved to L.A. after that. The prosecutors thought that Michael would out his fellow family members as he knew all the ongoing inside the family.
Michael got sentenced to 4 years of jail in 1991 because he had violated the parole conditions. He had been arrested in L.A. for a tax fraud accusation and was sent to NYC for a probation hearing. The prosecutors claimed that Michael was not cooperative. Even with all that, he got released in 1994 and this started the downfall of the Michael Franzese net worth.
Michael As A Motivational Speaker
As you already know, Michael wrote his autobiography Quitting the Mob in 1992 while he was on parole. He had described all his criminal activities as well as his life with his dad and even his interactions with John Gotti.
Michael has founded the Breaking Out Foundation as I already mentioned and it is dedicated to educating and empowering the youth to face any of life’s challenges and especially with the addiction to things like gambling.
Michael has spoken on more than 400 Division 1 college campuses and motivated students to do the right thing and try to make the best out of their lives. He has even addressed professional athletes with Major league Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, etc.
All these things tell you that the Michael Franzese net worth may have gone down by a lot but it came with a boon. Michael found his purpose in life, which was not to terrify people and extort money but rather to inspire the youth in being a better version of themselves. He even published the book Blood Covenant, which has his life story in a lot more detail than before.
Michael Franzese had been a fearful mafia boss but what matters, in the end, is that he redeemed himself. He may have been one of the most powerful and rich mafia bosses at one point in his life but now, because of him, a lot of youngsters have been motivated in doing the right thing.
Michael has truly become an inspiration for a lot of people. You learn from him that even though you once were a bad person, that does not mean you cannot change yourself and become a good person. What matters, in the end, is whether you redeemed yourself or not.