100-year-old crime boss beats the odds, is released from prison
Geriatric gangster John “Sonny’’ Franzese — the oldest guest of the federal prison system — is a free man at the age of 100.
The Colombo family underboss was rolled out of the Federal Medical Center in Massachusetts in a wheelchair Friday and headed to the home of his daughter in Brooklyn, Newsday reported.
At the age of 93, he was sentenced to eight years in prison for shaking down the Hustler and Penthouse strip clubs in Manhattan.
Authorities said at the time the doddering don — whom they believed responsible for the murders of between 50 and 100 people — could be released at the age of 100 if he behaved himself in the lockup.
Assistant US Attorney Cristina Posa doubted Franzese would live that long. She told Judge Brian Cogan, who sentenced him, that “for him to die now as a criminal in jail is not an inappropriate response to the lifestyle he lived.”
Posa added, “He is largely responsible for the glamorization of the Mafia over the past century.’’
And he did live a glamorous life.
He was often seen hanging out with celebrities such as boxing champ Jake LaMotta and Frank Sinatra at the Copacabana.
His lawyer back then, Richard Lind, argued that his advanced age and array of illnesses — he was hard of hearing, had kidney problems and a bad heart — made a long sentence pointless.
But Cogan was not impressed. He said he wanted to send a message that “you can never escape the consequences of a lifetime of organized crime.”
Franzese’s criminal career began at the age of 19 when he was busted for assault.
He was too violent even for the US Army, which discharged him in 1942.
In 2008, the FBI arrested Franzese in a mob takedown.
A jury found him guilty on racketeering and several other charges in 2010.
His own son, John Franzese Jr., a former Colombo associate-turned- informant, testified against him. John Jr. is currently in witness protection.
The title of oldest federal prisoner now belongs to Philadelphia mobster Salvatore Sparacio.
He’s only 95.