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Michael Franzese

Michael Franzese is an American former mobster once affiliated with the Colombo crime family. Most notable for his gas-tax scheme from the mid 80’s, it is estimated that Franzese at one point was personally making eight million dollars a week. At his height Franzese had achieved the rank of Caporegime, or the equivalent of a captain or general within the mob ranks, and was nicknamed the “Yuppie Don” as well as the “Prince of the Mob,” by his contemporaries. In 1986, Franzese was sentenced to 10 years in prison for conspiracy charges, and despite being released early, spent the next decade in and out of jail. In 1994 he was finally released, chose to retire from crime, and bought an estate in Florida. Since then he has traveled the world as a public speaker, and has written many books about his life and crimes, such as 1992’s Quitting the Mob, or his most recent 2022 publication, Mafia Democracy.

Books Mentioned on The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast #302 with Michael Franzese:

Breaking Good: The Transformation of Michael Franzese

Michael Franzese’s journey from a high-ranking member of New York’s Columbo crime family to a reformed Christian is a tale of intrigue, moral conflict, and profound transformation. This first part of the article series, based on the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast #302, explores Franzese’s early life, the influence of his father, and the initial steps towards his eventual redemption.

Early Influences and Entering the Mob

Michael Franzese grew up in Brooklyn, New York, as the son of Sonny Franzese, the underboss of the Columbo family, one of New York’s notorious five Mafia families. Despite his father’s original intent for Michael to lead a lawful life, the constant law enforcement scrutiny and Michael’s perception of them as the enemy pushed him towards the mob. Michael’s story isn’t just about the allure of power and money; it’s deeply rooted in familial ties and a son’s desire to protect and support his father.

The Rise to Power

Franzese’s journey into the mob was marked by a rigorous process of proving his worthiness. He describes a life of discipline, authority, and an unspoken commitment to the family above all else. His rise to power was meteoric, becoming one of the most financially successful mobsters since Al Capone and featuring on Fortune Magazine’s list of the 50 biggest Mafia bosses.

The Turning Point

A critical moment in Franzese’s life came when his father was sentenced to 50 years in prison for a bank robbery conspiracy. This event led Michael to abandon his medical studies and fully commit to the mob to help his father. It highlights the complex interplay between familial loyalty and the path to criminality.

Reflections on Violence and Morality

Franzese candidly discusses the violent aspects of his life in the mob and his struggle with actions that conflicted with his inner moral compass. This internal conflict lays the foundation for his eventual transformation and departure from the mob life.

The Seeds of Change

Throughout the interview, Franzese reflects on his actions and decisions, questioning the true nature of ‘self.’ His introspection and acknowledgment of the moral ambiguities in his past actions set the stage for his eventual redemption. The deep dive into Franzese’s early life and mob career not only paints a picture of a man deeply entrenched in crime but also foreshadows the extraordinary changes that lay ahead.

Facing the Depths of the Mafia and Personal Transformation

In the second part of our exploration of Michael Franzese’s life, based on the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast #302, we delve into the pivotal moments that led Franzese to reevaluate his life within the Mafia and the seeds of his eventual transformation.

A Turning Point: Questioning the Mafia Ethos

Franzese discusses a life-threatening encounter that caused him to question the foundational ethos of the Mafia. This incident, where he narrowly escaped death, highlighted the volatile nature of power within the mob and the fragility of loyalty in that world. This realization began to sow doubts about the life he had embraced and led him to reflect on the true nature of loyalty and morality.

The Impact of Family and Relationships

Franzese’s relationship with his father, Sonny Franzese, plays a crucial role in his story. He describes a complex bond of love and loyalty, despite his father’s criminal activities and the familial destruction that ensued. This relationship, along with his deep connection to his wife, whom he met during his mob years, becomes a catalyst for change, leading him to reevaluate his priorities and the direction of his life.

The Influence of Christianity

A significant aspect of Franzese’s transformation was his embrace of Christianity. During his time in solitary confinement, he began to explore various religious texts, eventually finding solace and guidance in the Christian faith. This spiritual awakening provided a new moral framework, contrasting sharply with his previous life’s ethos.

Confronting the Past and Embracing a New Identity

Franzese reflects on his past actions and their consequences, grappling with the notion of atonement and forgiveness. He openly discusses the difficulty in leaving the mob life, the challenges of adapting to a new identity, and the ongoing internal conflict between his past and present selves.

The Final Stretch Towards Redemption

In the concluding part of Michael Franzese’s story from the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast #302, we explore the culmination of his journey from a life of crime to one of faith and redemption. This phase of his life reveals the challenges and realizations that propelled his transformation.

The Critical Encounter: A New Perspective on Law Enforcement

A significant turning point for Franzese was an interaction with an FBI agent who demonstrated unexpected trust and respect. This experience profoundly altered his view of law enforcement, helping him see beyond his ingrained perceptions of them as enemies. It was a pivotal moment, signaling a shift from a world defined by fear and power to one where trust and mutual respect could exist.

Embracing Christianity in Solitude

Franzese’s time in solitary confinement played a crucial role in his spiritual awakening. During this period, he deeply engaged with the Christian faith, studying various religious texts and focusing on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. This exploration solidified his belief in Christianity, guiding him towards a path of moral and ethical transformation.

A New Ethical Framework

As Franzese grappled with his past actions and their implications, he began to redefine his understanding of loyalty, truth, and morality. This reevaluation led him to appreciate the importance of love-based loyalty over fear-based allegiance, a significant departure from his previous life’s ethos.

The Power of Relationships and Family

The unwavering support of his wife and her family, especially during his time in prison, was instrumental in his transformation. This support, coupled with his newfound faith, provided the strength and conviction needed to leave his old life behind.

Reflecting on Past and Present

Franzese openly discusses his struggles with reconciling his past actions and current beliefs. He acknowledges that while he cannot undo his past, his Christian faith has allowed him to seek forgiveness and move forward with a new purpose.

Conclusion: A Life Reclaimed

The final part of Michael Franzese’s journey is a testament to the power of personal transformation. His story highlights the complexity of human nature and the potential for change, even in the most unlikely circumstances. Franzese’s life, now dedicated to speaking and writing about his experiences, serves as an inspiring example of redemption and the profound impact of faith, love, and truth.