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Former Mafia Kingpin: Congress Just Like Us

Tuesday, 24 Mar 2009 10:38 AM

By Michael Franzese

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The House of Representatives passed a bill last week taxing the bonuses that were paid out to a number of AIG executives at 90 percent. I heard a congresswoman from New York say that congress was "acting in record time" to protect the major shareholders of the company, the American people, against the unbridled greed of the AIG executives.

After all, the government should be calling the shots now. It’s what I would have done when I was on the streets.

Twenty years ago, I would have applauded the government’s move to control the AIG bigwigs. When I was doing business for the Colombo Crime Family, I would often "bail out" a failing company. When the boss had nowhere to go, when no legit lender would lend him a dime, or when his suppliers were threatening to throw him into bankruptcy, he came to me. Mob guys looked for business opportunities like this every day. Great way for us to own a business.

Once the owner took my money, or used my name, I owned him. He wasn’t about to get a pay hike when he owed me money. He wasn’t buying a new car or taking any paid vacations either. I didn’t care how hard he worked. And if he didn’t toe the line, I would throw him out and take the company over.

From what I’m hearing, the government knew about the bonuses some time ago. Some of them even approved of the payouts. Some of them even got campaign contributions from the AIG exec’s. So the tax thing was a good cover up. Good work, guys! It’s a move right out of Machiavelli’s play book.

You know Machiavelli? He’s the Mafia’s champion. As a former capo regime of La Cosa Nostra’s Colombo Crime family, I am very familiar with Machiavelli. For almost 20 years, I lived and conducted business under his philosophy.

“A Prince must have a mind disposed to turn itself about as the winds, able to do good when he can and evil when he must,” Machiavelli wrote. “Still, even though on the inside he is able to scheme, he should appear to him who sees and hears him altogether merciful, faithful, humane, upright and religious.”

Sound familiar?

In his sixteenth century treatise entitled, "The Prince," Niccolo Machiavelli wrote those words advising his prince of the "virtues" he must exercise in ruling his kingdom. Seems like convicted money manager Bernard Madoff and some of the CEOs of AIG, Lehman Brothers, Countrywide Mortgage, Enron and a few dozen more of America’s corporate honchos … and now, the government itself has taken Machiavelli's advice to heart in the operation of their respective enterprises.

I would not be surprised to find a copy of "The Prince" on the desks of more than a few of Washington's elite. Would you? Their misguided and in some cases illicit leadership contributed significantly to the financial meltdown of the United States economy, the magnitude of which has not been seen for decades. If you think they will get off scot free, FUGGEDABOUTIT!

At the height of my operation, I was bringing $8 - $10 million a week into the Colombo Family coffers from business interests I had in the gasoline, entertainment, auto and gambling industries. Although I enjoyed success for a time, Machiavelli’s business philosophy eventually brought me three racketeering indictments, $15 million in fines and restitutions, untold legal fees and a 10-year federal prison sentence.

Mob guys ought to be worried. First the government took a tip from them and realized there was big money in gambling. Now the government is taking control of businesses the same way. And they don’t even have to worry about the racketeering indictments they slammed me and my former associates with for doing the same thing. They called it extortion when the mob did it. Seems like I left the life just in time. Too much competition!

Michael Franzese was once one of the biggest mob money earners since Al Capone - and the youngest individual on Fortune Magazine's “50 Biggest Mafia Bosses.” Michael’s new book, “I’ll Make You an Offer You Can’t Refuse – Insider Business Tips from a Former Mob Boss” will be released on March 31. Go Here to pre-order.

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