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Former mafia boss shares darkest moment of life in crime that still haunts him 25 years later

Former mafia boss shares darkest moment of life in crime that still haunts him 25 years later

Michael Franzese walked away from his life of crime, but he wasn't able to shake his memories of it so easily.

As a former mafia boss, Michael Franzese has probably got plenty of skeletons in his closet - but there is one dark experience in particular that really keeps him up at night.

The ex-mobster, 72, was a respected lieutenant in the notorious Colombo crime family who turned his back on New York's murky underworld and somehow lived to tell the tale.

Dubbed the 'Prince of the Mafia', he ditched his pre-med course at Hofstra University in order to take the reigns from his father Sonny Franzese after he was sentenced to 50 years behind bars for a bank robbery in 1967.

Describing his dad as the 'John Gotti of his day’, Franzese explained that the mob boss' incarceration triggered a chain of events which saw him become fully initiated in the mafia to take his place in a Sopranos-like initiation.

He was officially inducted as a 'made man' on Halloween in 1975 after 'waiting for 20 years', but admitted that he was able to jump the queue ahead of a lot of other gang members 'out of respect for his father'.

And it was as dramatic as the movies - the former mobster took a blood oath and swore he would follow the code of honour and conduct, known as omerta, alongside his five best friends.

Michael Franzese revealed what haunts him from his days in the mafia.

Jimmy Angelino, Joseph Peraino Jr, Salvatore Miciotta, Vito Guzzo Sr, and John Minerva also pledged their allegiance to the Colombo gang that night, which was one of New York's 'Five Families' who controlled organised crime in the US city.

But over the next twenty years, Franzese would go on to lose every single one of his pals.

The Brooklyn-born mobster - who notoriously made millions of dollars defrauding the federal government out of gasoline taxes - made Fortune Magazine's list of 'Fifty Most Powerful and Wealthy Mafia Bosses', while Vanity Fair claimed he was 'one of the highest earners the Mob had seen since Al Capone'.

Franzese certainly managed to fill his father's shoes, that's for sure - but those rankings don't exactly impress him.

In an interview with Metro, he said: "What’s kind of sad is that 48 of those men are dead, and number 49 is still in prison. "I’m the only one alive and free out of that list."

The former Colombo crime family boss is now a motivational speaker.
Angela Weiss/WireImage

Following the second of two lengthy prison spells, Franzese found God while locked up and decided to quit the Mob, seeing him flee the Big Apple with his family - which was obviously pretty risky for someone of his stature.

But it worked, and the fearless former mafia captain became the only head of a major crime family who was able to walk away without police protection and survive.

Although he left that life behind, unfortunately, he wasn't able to shake his memories so easily.

Discussing the experiences which still haunt him 25 years on, Franzese said: "I think the darkest moment was seeing friends, you know, get killed, especially those that I thought it wasn’t warranted.

"And you know, that happened to quite a few guys around me, unfortunately. And those are dark moments.

You can check out the entire interview here:

"I tell people all the time, murder is a horrible thing and to see it happen, or to know it happened to somebody that you really care about, it’s tough, at least for me.

"One of the real horrors of that life is you make a mistake, or you’re in trouble, your best friend walks you into a room and you don’t walk out again. I mean, that’s part of the life."

The former mobster has now become a motivational speaker who works to inspire youths and vulnerable adults against a life of organised crime.

Franzese will embark on his 'Re Made Man Tour' across the UK and Ireland next month.

Featured Image Credit: Angela Weiss/WireImage/Getty Images/Jim Cummins/Newsday/Getty Images

Topics: Crime, True Crime, US News, World News