The mafia's all over Internet
gambling, ex-mobster tells students
By Ryan M. Monk and Rebekah M. Bradway
October 20, 2006 | A former member of the Colombo crime
family, Michael Franzese, spoke to USU students about
the dangers of gambling Tuesday.
Franzese, who is rumored to have been one of the biggest
moneymakers for the mob since Al Capone, said, "[Organized
crime] is a subculture of everything that exists."
Franzese warned that the billion dollar gambling industry
is now getting much of its money from students. People
love the rush in poker, he said; playing it isn't bad,
the addiction is. He told of a college student who started
out playing penny poker in his dorm ending up so much
in debt that he killed a man to settle it. The student
not only murdered that person but also two innocent
bystanders. Later the student hung himself in his closest,
Franzese said to say away from all sports betting
websites, as they are all illegal this country and therefore
not subject to be regulated by the government. If you
give your credit card information to these sites, he
said, you could easily be the victim of identity theft.
Any statistic you see on how much the legal gambling
business brings in, he said, you can bet the illegal
gambling is bringing in much more.
Franzese is an oddity among former mobsters. He was
not only able to organize scams ranging from union kickbacks
to a "multi-billion dollar gasoline tax scheme," but
quit the mob family without testifying on other members
or going into the Witness Protection Program.
He left of the mob after meeting his wife, Cammy,
and pleading guilty to racketeering, a charge a young
federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani couldn't stick to him
years earlier, accepting a 10-year prison sentence.
He said it was Cammy's religious nature that made him
give up the business to be with her.
Franzese was quick to point out "the Feds did me dirty"
when he got out of prison. He said they put his name
on a witness list, causing his former mob to think he
was going to rat on them. His life was in danger.
He now travels the country speaking to students and
sports teams about gambling addiction. He said every
time he gives a speech, by the time he gets back to
his room and checks his email, someone new is asking
for help with an addiction.
You can learn more about Michael Franzese and gambling
addiction at his Web site, www.michaelfranzese.com
or from his book, Blood Covenant.