This story about Michael Franzese was originally posted on April 29, 2015 at 7:00am ET. It was updated at 7:40am May 1, 2015
Michael Franzese is the son of a notorious underboss of the violent and feared Colombo crime family in New York. Only Al Capone earned more money for the mob than Franzese.
Franzese’s involvement with the mob ended 25 years ago. Since then, Michael Franzese served 10 years in federal prison, renounced the mob and became a devout Christian.
Today, even authorities in the U.S. who once tried to incarcerate him accept he’s a reformed man.
Australia apparently has its doubts.
Franzese’s colorful and riveting history has earned him the biopic God the Father, and speaking gigs in Canada, United Kingdom, Antigua, Bulgaria, Singapore, Malaysia and many other places.
But DADDYHOOD has learned that an upcoming event in Australia is in serious jeopardy since that country has been reluctant to allow Franzese entry into the country because of “character” issues.
“I’m hopeful Australia will not just consider the first half of my story,” says Franzese, a father of seven who range in age from 16-38. “I hope they strongly consider the rest of my story—the past 20 years. They should realize I’m a different person now.”
The apparent sticking point for Australia is Section 501 of the Migration Act which establishes those character requirements: “The purpose of the character requirements is to protect the public through the refusal of visa applications or cancellation of visas to non-citizens who may be of concern for reasons such as their criminal record or associations, past and present criminal or general conduct, or the risk they pose to the community if allowed to enter or remain in Australia,” the Act says.
Billed as “An Evening with The Godfather,” the Michael Franzese events are set for May 25 in Melbourne and May 26 in Sydney. Tickets run $70-$508 (AUD). That’s $55-$400 in U.S. dollars.
The whole thing will fall through if Franzese isn’t allowed into the country.
Franzese, who pronounces his name the Americanized Fran-zees and not the Italian Fran-say-zee, hopes Australia has a change of heart so he can share his harrowing mafia stories, how he ended up the target of the federal government, how he became a man of God and how he was ultimately able to renounce the mob and live to talk about it.
UPDATE: May 1, 2015 7:40am: Australia granted Michael Franzese a Visa to enter the country.