The Chicago Syndicate: 90-Year-Old Sonny Franzese, Reputed Head of Colombo Crime Family, Jailed

Thursday, May 10, 2007

90-Year-Old Sonny Franzese, Reputed Head of Colombo Crime Family, Jailed

A 90-year-old Colombo crime family leader who rubbed elbows with Frank Sinatra and other celebrities during his heyday was arrested for associating with known mobsters, his fifth parole violation in 25 years, the FBI said.

John "Sonny" Franzese was arrested Wednesday when he appeared for a regularly scheduled visit with a probation officer, said Jim Margolin, an FBI spokesman.

It was the fifth parole violation for Franzese. Among the others: He was jailed for three years after a November 2000 meeting at a coffee shop with three Colombo family associates. Another time, he spent two years behind bars after federal agents watched him enjoying a bowl of spinach soup with mob associates at a restaurant.

Margolin had no details this time on where Franzese had violated his parole or what he might have been eating or drinking at the time.

Franzese was being held in jail and was to appear in court next week. He didn't have a lawyer, Margolin said.

Despite his age, Franzese reportedly ascended to Colombo underboss two years ago after family boss "Big Joey" Massino was convicted of racketeering and became a federal witness. Massino, who spent 14 years running the family, became the first sitting boss of one of New York's five Mafia families to flip. But Franzese was involved in organized crime long before Massino's ascension. He was a fixture at the Copacabana nightclub, where he often spent time with Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., according to Jerry Capeci, author of several books on organized crime and operator of the Web site

Franzese also had a financial stake in the legendary porn movie "Deep Throat."

Franzese's parole restrictions continue through 2020, when he would be older than 100. It was unclear how much prison time he might face on the parole violation.

Since going to jail in 1970 for a bank robbery, Franzese had spent more than two decades -- on and off -- behind bars. He was initially paroled on that charge in 1978, and the first of the parole violations was in 1982.

Franzese wasn't the only aging mobster in court Wednesday. Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello, 86, was sentenced in New Haven, Connecticut, to two years in prison for racketeering conspiracy and tax evasion. The case was part of a federal probe of the trash hauling industry in Connecticut and New York.

Thanks to CNN.

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