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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

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, he said.

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.

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