Former mobster Michael Franzese, 72, operated for many years as a caporegime in the Colombo crime family. He joined Fox News’ Jesse Watters on Thursday night to discuss the striking similarities between the Biden family’s alleged money laundering operation and his own experiences. (How much longer must we preface every mention of the Biden family’s activities with the word “alleged”?)
Franzese funneled money through a series of 18 shell corporations. He told Watters that these companies consisted only of a bank account through which funds could be laundered. Like the Biden family’s shell corporations, these businesses “had no brick and mortar office[s], we had no employees, we had no product that we were selling.” They were set up for the sole purpose of obfuscation.
Although Democrats repeatedly argue that, so far, none of the funds from foreign entities can be traced directly to Joe Biden, Franzese explained that is the whole point. “He [Biden] doesn’t want it, you know, attached to him in any way.” He noted that, “I didn’t put the money in my account. It went everywhere else and then I collected it in a different way.”
This is how influence-peddling schemes work. Rather than depositing funds directly into the bank account of the individual whose influence is being bought (or in Franzese’s situation, the individual who is trying to evade government scrutiny), payments are made through a maze of shell accounts to family members or significant others, as they were in the Biden’s case. The House Oversight Committee has traced millions of dollars of foreign money flowing into the accounts of nine Biden family members, including a grandchild, for no discernible business purpose. Those payments first passed through an elaborate network of shell corporations before hitting the accounts of the ultimate recipients as is typical in a money-laundering scheme.
In a recent New York Post op-ed, George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley wrote, “It is absurd to expect a deposit slip from a corrupt Ukrainian official to the account of Joe and Jill Biden, one of the most vulnerable accounts in the world to review and monitor.”
Franzese sees this as a “slam dunk RICO” case and said if he or any of his former associates had done this, they’d “have been indicted a long time ago.”
The segment can be viewed at the 26:30 mark here.
Full transcription of discussion:
Jesse Watters: This is a family with over 20 shell companies offshore bank accounts, bribe allegations, millions in dirty foreign cash, no taxes paid. Most people like that end up in jail with that kind of record. And my next guest did. Michael Franzese is a former mobster with the Colombo family.
So Michael, what did you do to get convicted?
Michael Franzese: Well, it was a RICO case that I pled guilty on. I actually had three RICO cases – two of them were federal, one brought on by Rudy Giuliani and the other one was a state RICO case out of Florida. So I spent several months on trial defending one. I was fortunately acquitted in that case. I pled guilty to a second federal RICO indictment and also pled guilty to a third in Florida, so I’m very familiar with the statute.
JW: So the statute you understand is a kind of a conspiracy deal and obviously there was some taxes not paid. How is that similar and what you were doing similar to the Bidens?
MF: Well Jesse, you know, I had 18 shell companies and when I say shell companies, all these companies had was a bank account. They had no brick and mortar office, we had no employees, we had no product that we were selling – nothing. All we did was collect money and the money that I was collecting was tax money that we were defrauding the government out of.
And the only purpose, again, for these companies was to collect that money so, um, you know, it’s, it’s exactly the same thing that I see going on with Biden and I’m wondering why they’re not asking certain questions. What service did you provide? What product did you sell? Why were you collecting this money? I mean these are easy questions, but there don’t seem to be any answers to them.
And, you know, I’m going to tell you this Jesse. I’m very familiar with the statute. You have suspicious bank accounts, you got money flowing into shell companies, you have money going into everybody but Joe Biden of course. He doesn’t want you to know – put this money in his account – you wouldn’t do that.
I didn’t put the money in my account. It went everywhere else and then I collected it in a different way. So you have all of this, you have text messages, you have emails, you have photos, you have witnesses. This is a slam dunk RICO indictment.
Now, I’m not saying there’s going to be a conviction. I don’t know, you’re innocent until proven guilty. But as far as an indictment, if this were one of my fellow associates on the street or myself, I’d have been indicted a long time ago – with the amount of evidence that I’m seeing just from a distance and what I’m hearing every day.
JW: Michael, you said that the money came into these shells and none of them actually hit your bank account. You got the money in other ways. What did you mean by that, because that’s what Joe’s saying? No penny hit his account.
MF: Well, of course, you wouldn’t hit his account if this is money he doesn’t want to be attached to him – if he’s influence-peddling or his son is going around selling Joe’s office or Joe’s, uh, illusion of, you know, being able to provide a service as vice president. Why would he have the money going into his account? He doesn’t want it, you know, attached to him in any way. So he could send it everywhere else.
But, you know, in this case, sending it to family members, there still has to be a service that these family members provided. Why is the money going into their accounts? What did they do for it? And, of course, the sources are questionable – you know China and Ukraine and so on and so forth.
Again Jesse, I’m not saying he’s innocent or he’s guilty. What I’m saying is, from my experience, and it’s vast, this is a slam dunk indictment. No doubt. There’s a pattern of racketeering here. This was done over a period of time. You could say that – there’s an argument can be made that the Biden [family] is a criminal organization if this money is coming in illegally, um, but it certainly looks that way to me. I mean and again, uh you know, not only did I defend my own but I’ve seen many of my former associates that had RICO indictments and the pattern is always the same and this looks exactly like that.
JW: Are you in the United States right now?
MF: No. I’m in Italy right now.