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Sentenced at Age 93, Mob Underboss Was Wiseguy’s Wiseguy

John "Sonny" Franzese/wikipedia photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

The story line of Colombo family underboss John “Sonny” Franzese, 93, of New York reads something like this: He knew Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. He got booted from the Army in World War II for displaying homicidal tendencies. His son testified against him in trial last year. And the feds recorded him talking about hiding bodies — though he was never convicted of murder.

And now Franzese, a wiseguy’s wiseguy who a federal prosecutor said was responsible for the “glamorization of the Mafia over the past century,” could spend what’s left of his life in prison.

His grandchildren and daughter wrote gushing letters to the judge asking for leniency, but Franzese was sentenced last week in a Brooklyn, N.Y., federal court to eight years for shaking down Hustler and Penthouse strip clubs in Manhattan and a Long Island pizzeria for protection. He reportedly could become eligible for parole at age 100.

“He’s very resilient,” his attorney, Richard B. Lind, told AOL News, commenting this week on Friday’s sentencing. “He took it like a man.”

Franzese was the underboss — or the second in command — of the Colombo crime family, one of five Mafia families in New York. He got there by taking wrong turns every step of the way, authorities say.

“From a very young age, he has engaged in relentless and increasingly brutal violence, starting with an assault arrest at the age of 19 in 1938, then escalating to rape of a waitress in a garage in 1947 and armed bank robbery in 1967,” Brooklyn Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cristina M. Posa and Rachel J. Nash wrote in a court document last month, weeks before sentencing.

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