mafia

Greenpoint’s Notorious Sonny Franseze Released from Prison at Age 100

NY Daily News photo

The reputed local crime boss, John “Sonny” Franzese was recently released from the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Massachusetts. The hundred-year-old reputed member of the Colombo crime family had been serving a fifty year sentence for bank robbery that dated back to 1966. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons confirmed that the Greenpoint native had been the oldest prisoner in Federal custody until his release. He had been paroled at least six times since his 1967 conviction, but always violated his parole, ending up repeatedly back in prison.

Franseze lived for many years locally on Engert Avenue. Mob aficionados credit Franseze with introducing the kiss into mafia family culture. It all started when “Sonny” Franzese and Joey Brancato, both alleged members of the Colombo crime family, bumped into each other on the corner of Lorimer Street and Metropolitan Avenue. As a gesture of peace, they kissed each other on the cheeks. The only thing anybody on Metropolitan Avenue knew was that they had never seen it done before. After the men kissed, it quickly became a mafia trademark. Continue reading

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Greenpoint’s Most Famous Reputed Living Gangster Turns One Hundred Years Old

John “Sonny” Franzese turned 100 in federal prison on February 6, 2017. Franzese, from Leonard Street, is the oldest inmate in the Federal Prison system and was denied compassionate release last year even though he is blind, deaf and in a wheel chair. Today the aged Franzese seems harmless, but that was not always so. In his day he became one of the most feared Mafiosi in New York Franzese is reputed to have killed sixty men. A ruthless man, franzese, Federal Prosecutors allege, once recommended that the best way to dispose of body parts was to dry them out with a microwave and grind them up in a garbage disposal. Franzese was also recorded on a federal wiretap saying, “Today, you can’t have a body no more…It’s better to take that half-an-hour, an hour, to get rid of the body than it is to leave the body on the street.” Continue reading

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A History of Greenpoint in 25 Buildings: The Motion Lounge

The Motion Lounge. Illustration by Aubrey Nolan
The Motion Lounge. Illustration by Aubrey Nolan

420 Graham Avenue seems like many other wood frame houses in our area. Today, it is an architect’s office, but in the 1970’s it was the Motion Lounge, the clubhouse of the infamous local Mafioso “Sonny Black” Napolitano. The Motion Lounge also witnessed the most successful F.B.I. undercover operation against the mafia in its history when agent Joe Pistone posed as a jewel thief called Donnie Brasco and over time won the confidence of Napolitano to such a degree that Napolitano sponsored Brasco’s entry into the mafia as a “Made Man.” Continue reading

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