“The Prince of the Mafia” and the “Yuppie DonAccording to the Fed’s, Michael Franzese, son of N.Y.’s legendary Colombo Family Underboss John “Sonny” Franzese, was the biggest money earner for the Mafia since Al Capone. A 1986 Fortune Magazine cover story titled, “The 50 Wealthiest and Most Powerful Mafia Bosses,” ranked Franzese number 18. At 34, he was by far the youngest on the list. Referred to by the media as, “The Prince of the Mafia” and the “Yuppie Don,” he was reputed to be a “rising star” in the family, destined to become boss one day. At the height of his career, he was generating $6-8 million a week masterminding legal and illegal activities that included a gasoline distribution network that sold a half-billion gallons a month, a gambling operation that impacted athletes, union rackateering, auto dealerships and feature film production. His holdings included millions of dollars, several homes, a helicopter, lear jet, and luxury boats. So intricate were his activities, the justice department organized a 15 man multi- agency task force comprised of federal, state and local officials, with the sole purpose of bringing down the mob’s most prolific young star. Famed Manhattan U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani led one of five prosecutions of Franzese, none of which after lengthy trials resulted in convictions.
Law enforcement remained undaunted, however, determined to bring him down. The mob life is a turbulent one, filled with treachery and deceit. At a relatively young age, Franzese appeared to be very adept at navigating the often dangerous waters of La Cosa Nostra, and insulating himself from law enforcements ever expanding web while increasing his power and influence along the way. But, God had another plan for Franzese. And it began on the set of a movie Franzese was producing in south Florida titled, “Knights of the City.” The cast included Sammy Davis Jr., Smokey Robinson and a beautiful, 19 year old dancer from Anaheim, California --- Cammy Garcia. “I was relaxing by the hotel pool when I saw this beautiful young woman emerge from the water.” All of a sudden, I was watching her in slow motion. Like Rene Zellweger’s line from the movie, “Jerry Maguire,” “You had me at hello,” this young beauty had me as she exited the pool slowly, shaking the water from her hair. I was captivated!”