Chameleon Man: one of the most famous gangsters has died in the USABy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/chameleon-man-one-of-the-most-famous-gangsters-has-died-in-the-usa
A member of the Colombo crime family, John Franzese Sr., also known as Sonny ("Son"), died in a hospital in New York. Just three years ago, he was released from prison because of his advanced age — then the gangster turned 100 years old.
John Franzese was born back in 1917 in Naples, Italy. He was the youngest of 19 children. As a boy, he moved to Brooklyn with his parents. After graduating from school, he worked in his father's bakery, and then was drafted into the army. Franzese's temper was hot-tempered and intolerant, because of his penchant for murder, he was expelled from the army.
With such inclinations, the guy would not have lived for a long time if he had not attracted the attention of the mafia at the age of 33. Over time, he became a member of the Profaci mafia family, which would later become known as Colombo. Sonny's career was not fast, but he gradually gained the trust of reputable leaders.
For the first time, Franzese was convicted in 1967 and then served a sentence for organizing robberies of four banks at once. During his "career" Sonny repeatedly had to be killed, and the total number of crimes in which he was directly involved is indescribable.
Until the 1990s, he was the second most important mafia in the hierarchy of the Colombo family. By the way, law enforcement officers considered him one of the most terrible mafia killers — ruthless and merciless. The last time Sonny went to prison in Massachusetts was for racketeering strip clubs in Manhattan. He spent several years in prison, and was released when he turned exactly 100.
During this last case, Sonny's wife asked the judge for leniency, assuring that she and the convict love each other very much. However, the elderly mafioso was clearly not released because of the affection of the spouses. In 2017, 100-year-old Sonny was released and went to his family in Brooklyn.
By the way, he himself treated being behind bars quite calmly, saying that there is no difference where to die, because it will have to be done someday anyway. The gangster's son Michael, who renounced ties with the mafia in 1995, compared his father to a chameleon.
Sonny died at the age of 103. He is survived by three sons, two daughters and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.