Fear City: After Leaving the Mob Life, Here's What Michael Franzese Is Doing Now

Stacey Nguyen
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Former New York mobster/captain of the Colombo crime family Michael Franzese arrives at the premiere of 'God The Father' at The Los Feliz 3 Cinema on October 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Former New York mobster/captain of the Colombo crime family Michael Franzese arrives at the premiere of 'God The Father' at The Los Feliz 3 Cinema on October 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/WireImage)

Detailing the New York City mob crackdown in the mid-'80s, Netflix's Fear City: New York vs. the Mafia brings to life its three-part docuseries with real accounts from FBI agents, attorneys, and past mob members. One of its key featured players is Michael Franzese, a former caporegime for the Colombo family who lived the gritty life himself. We don't hear too much about Franzese's postmob situation in the documentary, but he has had quite the career arc, going from a mobster to a motivational speaker. While no longer a member of the mob, the 69-year-old certainly uses his past as a talking point in his lectures and interviews today.

Born in 1951, Franzese grew up the son of Colombo underboss John "Sonny" Franzese. Though he studied pre-med at Hofstra University in 1969, he dropped out to take care of his family when Sonny was put in prison. Franzese became deeply involved with the mob himself, taking a membership oath on Halloween 1975. His rank was that of a caporegime (similar to a captain), and he once supervised 300 men.

As Franzese mentioned in Fear City, he was involved in a gas-tax scheme that earned him up to millions per week. In 1986, Fortune even listed Franzese, then 35, as No. 18 on a list of the top 50 wealthiest and most powerful mob leaders. The same year, Franzese also pleaded guilty to charges of federal racketeering and tax conspiracy. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Outside of the law, former allies also came after him when he left the mob life, a change he made after becoming involved with his wife, Camille Garcia, a devout Christian woman.

Franzese was released in 1989 but violated his parole. He was then released again in 1994. Later, he moved with his family to Los Angeles to leave the mob life for good, denying witness protection from former mob allies. Franzese had a falling out with his father, but they mended their relationship before Sonny's passing in February 2020.

Franzese's career in California took off as he lectured on his experiences with crime, religion, gambling, and fraud at schools, churches, and more. In addition to talking about his life, the former mob man has also written six books. Franzese is active on Twitter, where he vocally critiques the Democratic Party. Right before the release of the Netflix docuseries, Franzese also became active on his YouTube channel, which currently has 30K followers.

More From

  • Thank Your Calves For All They Do With This Bodyweight Leg Workout

    If you aren't showing your calves some love come leg day, you may want to think twice - these muscles bring more to the table than you probably realize. "The calf works seamlessly in conjunction with the entire body to walk, run, and jump," Michelle Pualani Houston, a NASM-certified personal trainer, says - and that includes the ankle joints that mobilize the foot and toes and the knee to flex or bend. Did you know that the calves are actually made of two muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus? Houston explains that each muscle functions differently while working cohesively, which is why stretching and strengthening are equally important during a workout. "To prevent calf injuries, it's best to take a multidimensional approach to your training or exercise protocol," Houston says. "Incorporate varied types of movement in different environments to avoid overtraining and to prepare the body for more dynamic ranges of movement that sometimes catch you off guard." Another important takeaway from Houston is that calves are only as effective and strong as their supporting muscle groups. That's why her calf workout incorporates the quads, hamstrings, and glutes to boost stability, strength, and mobility. Houston suggests resting for 10-15 seconds between sets, but feel free to take more breaks when needed. Related: Loosen Up Your Tight, Painful Calves With These 6 Simple, Expert-Approved Stretches

  • 7 Ways a Biden-Harris Administration Will Support American Moms

    The coronavirus pandemic created an immediate juggling act for moms across the country. When K-12 schools closed, we were thrust into how to help our kids adjust to distance learning even as we maneuver work and other household responsibilities while under quarantine.

  • The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Is Coming, and We Want These 10 Designer Bags ASAP

    The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is back, and dare we say it, better than ever. The sale officially starts on Aug. 19 and lasts to Aug. 30, but Nordstrom card holders can start shopping before everyone else, starting right now. Until you're able to shop, you can still preview the deals ahead. If you're like us, you love a good bag, and now, there's 10 designer bags on serious sale. Whether you want a sleek, hands-free crossbody or a zippered tote thats both practical and pretty, these 10 bags belong in your closet ASAP. Plus, at discounts up to 50 percent off, there's really no reason not to shop. Keep on reading to see our top picks from the sale. Related: Valerie Madison Has Both Everyday Jewels and Statement Diamonds You'll Swoon Over

  • How to Elevate Your Hoodie, T-Shirt, and Joggers For Fall - Because Girl, It's Time

    I've been living in T-shirts and sweats for the past six months, and I really can't complain. But I also know that if I don't jazz up my outfit ideas soon, I'm going to lose sight of my personal style. For me, that's really important to hold onto, and I think the change of season has made that all the more clear. Fall is when I usually reflect on my wardrobe and decide what new trends I'm interested in trying. If you're beginning to feel the same, I have a few ideas for making the transition easy. Listen, I know you don't want to get rid of your tie-dye tee, cozy joggers, or oversize hoodie - they've been your best friends, and rightfully so. Mine are from the new unisex POPSUGAR x Old Navy collection - which is for tweens, but a size XXL happens to fit me perfectly (I'm 5'1" and normally wear a women's size 0 or XS) - and they're deliciously soft. I promise you I've never owned a relaxed tee in this comfortable of a fabric, and I truly love the encouraging message on the neon sweatshirt I'm wearing above: "We're gonna be alright." The slogan is an important reminder everyone needs to hear right now, no matter how old they are, so why not wear it bold and bright on your sleeve? You don't have to retire these feel-good essentials, but just try wearing them with more elevated pieces in your closet. A few months ago, I'd have been all about teaming up the slacks, tee, and sweatshirt to make one solid, Netflix-and-chill outfit, but instead, I'm separating each item and creating looks that are equal parts cozy and sophisticated. Keep reading for my own personal experience with the size chart, in case you want to make the POPSUGAR X Old Navy tween line work for you too, and I hope you'll take my advice when it comes to styling your own basics at home. Related: Genius Ways to Style Denim in 2020, According to Tweens