John (Sonny) Franzese was the oldest prisoner in federal custody when he was released in 2017 at age 100. In subsequent exclusive interviews with Newsday after he was freed, Franzese shared details that became the foundation of a deep look into his life, the Mafia and the justice system itself.
Franzese was acquitted in a hitman’s murder during the era when he was a high-profile figure in city nightclubs, especially the Copacabana. The club drew the era’s most famous performers, and Franzese mingled with them all.
Franzese had beaten a dozen cases before. His supporters say he was framed, but prosecutors say his guilt was beyond dispute.
Sonny Franzese’s inability to stay out of prison, along with the other pressures of mob life, devastated his wife and children. Their bond unraveled in dramatic ways.
His brother Michael had become an informant too, but John Franzese Jr.’s testimony was far more damaging to the mob. And it helped send Sonny Franzese back to jail at 93.