"God the Father," a film based on the life of former Colombo family Captain Michael Franzese, hits theaters Friday, and the ex-mob boss says that while he's left the life of crime behind, the lessons he learned continue to help him today.
"I learned things [from my old life] that help me in business. I wrote a business book about it because a lot of things I learned on the street [help me today]," the mafia prince-turned-Christian motivational speaker said during a recent Q&A when asked what positive traits he's carried over from his old life into his new one.
"Listen, you sit down and negotiate with a guy [like] John Gotti, like I had to do a couple of times, you learn some things. You learn how to read people and how to know what it is you want before you get in a meeting."
The mob life also taught Franzese some other valuable lessons, including disciplines such as being on time and being respectful. "The things that I took from that life, it's not all bad in that regard," he said. "The problem is that it gets corrupted."
Franzese also discussed the negative aspects of the mob life, which still affect him today. His father, Sonny Franzese, is now doing life in prison after Michael's brother testified against him.
"I don't know any family of any member of that life that hasn't been totally devastated, including my own," he said. "My mother [went] 33 years without a husband. She died two years ago of cancer. My father, the last 35 years of his life, you wouldn't want his life, he's been in prison. I had a sister die of an overdose of drugs at the age of 27."
"My younger brother, a drug addict of 25 years, he's only alive because we saved him. [He] got himself in trouble this last time, made a deal with the feds, went into the witness protection program where he is now and testified against my father. And that's why my father's back in prison at the age of 97."
The destruction of the families is a common thread among those involved in organized crime, according to Franzese. The former boss also made sure not to demonize his former associates, but he did say the mob life, along with gang life, are "evil" since they both destroy families.
Michael Franzese was one of the highest earning mob bosses during the 1980s. In order to preserve his own family with his Christian wife, Camille, he left behind organized crime to become a legitimate businessman and squared things up with the FBI by doing some time in prison. When he got out, life was hard with the mob out for his head and the government on his tail.
He eventually ended up serving a second sentence. This is where he came to faith in Jesus Christ. This story is documented in the film, "God the Father."