N.Y. mob boss Franzese Sr. gets 20 years

July 9, 2010 at 12:11 AM
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NEW YORK, July 9 (UPI) -- Reputed New York Mafia leader John "Sonny" Franzese Sr. could go to prison for 20 years following his conviction for shaking down strip clubs, officials said.

Franzese, 93, the reputed underboss of the Colombo crime family -- one of five Italian-American Mafia crime families said to control organized crime in New York -- was convicted of extorting cash from the Hustler and Penthouse strip clubs in midtown Manhattan. He was incriminated, in part, by testimony of his son, John Jr., a 50-year-old former drug addict who recorded hundreds of hours of conversations with his father as a government informant.

Jurors deliberated for a week, rejecting defense claims Franzese was simply an old man living on Social Security. A juror who didn't give her name told reporters age was not a factor in the jurors' decision.

Co-defendant John Capolino, who remained free on bail, hugged Franzese and kissed him on both cheeks after the verdict was read.

"'Z,' save a space for me," the New York Daily News quoted Capolino as saying.

Franzese's estranged wife of 55 years, Cristina, age 75 -- who stopped Franzese's wheelchair during the trial as he went to the men's room and urged him to plead guilty -- said Franzese would "do jail time standing on his head."

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Cogan did not set a sentencing date.

Franzese, rumored to have been involved in dozens of murders, once regularly partied with Frank Sinatra and was a financial backer of the 1972 pornographic film "Deep Throat."

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