A former mafia boss who once swindled the US Government out of millions of dollars a week and featured in Goodfellas has swapped crime for wine.
Michael Franzese, 71, was a senior-ranking Caporegine known as the 'Yuppie Don' in the Colombo crime family who dominated New York for much of the 20th Century.
Fortune Magazine once placed him at number 18 on its 50 Biggest Mafia Bosses list and at the height of his crime career he raked in up to $8million (£6.6million) a week – making him the mob's biggest money maker since Al Capone.
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But after serving time for racketeering, Franzese walked away from the mafia and claims to be one of the few men to live to tell the tale.
Now a born-again Christian living in California with his seven children, Franzese tours the world as a motivational speaker.
And now, he has put his name to a wine brand which he hopes to sell in the UK – claiming it's "easier dealing with wine distributors than crime families".
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Speaking to the Sunday People, he said: “Wine is part of my culture. My grandfather used to make his own wine in the cellar.
“There’s nothing bootleg about this – we’re playing by the rules this time. We’ve been speaking with distributors and restaurants, and we’re very hopeful.
“A lot of people want the wine on the table and to tell the story behind it. It’s not a normal path for a former mafia boss but it is easier dealing with wine distributors than crime families.”
Franzese's wine which includes a Malbec, a white wine made from Armenian Kangoun, and a dessert wine – is already on sale in America and he hopes to bring the range to the UK this year.
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