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Obituaries

Man Who Led Colombo Family's Long Island Rackets Dies

John 'Sonny' Franzese, Sr.
John 'Sonny' Franzese, Sr. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

John “Sonny” Franzese, Sr., a Colombo mob underboss who ran the family's rackets on Long Island, has died.

Franzese, of Roslyn, died on Sunday, Feb. 23 of natural causes in an upstate New York nursing home. He was 103 years old.

Franzese took over the mob family’s operation on Long Island in the 1960s and was renowned for his business interests in Nassau and Suffolk County, including financing the 1972 porn film “Deep Throat,” which reportedly made millions.

In 1967, Franzese was arrested and sentenced to 50 years in prison for bank robbery, though he was paroled in 1978.

He served several more stints in prison in the years that followed for multiple crimes, including extortion and parole violations. His last release was in June 2017, when he was 100 years old.

According to reports, Franzese’s son Michael alleged that when the judge sentenced his father, Franzese declared, "You watch. I'm gonna do the whole 50”.

Franzese’s final indictment and sentence was for running a loanshark operation and extorting a Long Island pizzeria.

Born in Naples, Italy, in 1917, Franzese and his family moved to New York when he was a child. He died in a nursing home in upstate New York.

California resident Ori Spado, who had been Franzese’s cohort and friend for more than four decades, confirmed his death on social media.

“Good morning. I just received a call my dear friend of over 40 years John Sonny Franzese has passed away at 103 years old. A man a true legend and my dear friend. Please remember him in your prayers. Thank you."

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