Miami Herald, The (FL) - November 13, 1982
Author: BOB MIMS Associated Press

There was a time when many people living near two drive-in movies snapped closed their living-room curtains when darkness fell.

The reason: R-rated fare on the nearby 40-foot-wide screens.

But nearly two years ago, the West Valley City, the state’s second largest city which is 10 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, passed a law creating a commission to review restricted films prior to showing.

Now, says one outdoor theater owner, it would be hard to find a truly R-rated film at the two outdoor theaters . They’re often either cut to remove objectionable scenes, or shipped back, unshown, to distributors.

"It’s a pain to be faced with this, wondering what you can play," said Wes Webb, owner of Valley-Vu Drive-In Theater . "It gives a small element of people the opportunity, whenever they see something on the screen they don’t like, to scream it’s time to enforce the law."

The Commission on Public Decency, the offspring of a local petition campaign, targets not only nudity and sex on outdoor screens, but eyes indoor theaters , sale and rental of video cassettes and distribution of adult magazines and books.

"We are reducing most of the R-rated movies to essentially PG-rated movies. We show very few R-rated movies any more," Webb said.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) defines PG movies as requiring parental guidance because some of the material may not be suited for children. R-rated movies should be restricted, according to the commission, requiring any viewer under 17 to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

For the recent run of Private Lessons, the story of a wealthy teenager seduced by the family housekeeper, Webb darkened the screen during scenes the commission thought were objectionable.

"The big thing we’ve got going for us is our bark, holding a sword over their heads," said City Attorney Ron Greenhalgh. "And the cooperation of the theater people has been great.

"We let the theater owners know we stand behind the
commission, and we’re not afraid to take legal action," he said. "When we talk about prosecution, we’re talking about minors being exposed to the materials."

Greenhalgh said the city could close down a theater "in the event of a couple of convictions."

Nine volunteer commission members, soon to be 12, serve one- year renewable terms at the discretion of the city manager. Under the law that created the panel, West Valley City theater owners must notify the city attorney when they are showing R- or X-rated films.

Webb said he complies with the law, but thinks it is "ridiculous, over-restrictive and very inconvenient."

Since most of the films are copyrighted and can’t be cut, theater operators often return them if they draw the committee’s ire, he said.

"If we really wanted to make money, we would challenge the law and overturn it," Webb said. "I still don’t think a soft-R picture with an occasional bare breast is offensive to children."

But Steve Allen, chairman of the Commission on Public Decency, said what may be acceptable at an indoor theater where restrictions can be enforced, can often be offensive when shown outdoors.

"Nudity, by Supreme Court standards, is not obscene," he said. "But if a lady was to stand outside a drive-in theater and take her top off, she could be arrested for indecent exposure. At the same time, we can show that same scene 40 times larger. That bothers me."

The 32-year-old father of six said although the commission is primarily concerned with the two drive-in theaters , it occasionally checks video cassette rental shops, store magazine shelves and the four indoor theaters in this city of 72,000.

Officials at Redwood Drive-In referred questions to Deanza Land and Leisure of Los Angeles, which manages West Valley City’s other outdoor theater . Company spokesman Steve Pentoney declined comment.

Meanwhile, West Valley City officials are confident their law, based on a similar ordinance in Orem, could withstand legal challenge. Webb said he has not decided whether to challege the commission’s authority in court.

But in Orem, 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, a Media Review Commission has modified its goals after theater managers began charging the city for use of equipment and projectionists during film previews.

"That got to be rather expensive," said commission secretary June Hair. "So now they go to the first showing and print the reviews in the paper."

If commission members see something they feel is legally obscene, they can notify the city attorney’s office for possible action. But primarily, the panel confines itself to developing the reviews, run as a city-paid feature in the local daily newspaper, Hair said.

"I don’t know what West Valley City is doing, but our ordinance was set up to educate people that some things are not as enjoyable or desirable to see as others," she said.


Herald Crime Report from 1983

A WOMAN WHO WAS YELLING AND SCREAMING "for a long time" Monday night during a movie at the Lincoln Cinema, 555 Lincoln Rd., was charged with aggravated assault after she threatened several movie watchers with a kitchen knife, police said. Mary Cruz, 45, who refused to give her address, threatened Benjamin Klein and other patrons with a knife after she was told to quiet down. When police were called, she became "very abusive" and was escorted out of the theater . She was taken to the Women’s Annex of the Dade County Jail.

And this. Not movie related but because it’s damn humorous:

Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 9, 1983
Author: Herald Staff

A Miami Beach man took too long in the bathroom Monday, so his neighbor stabbed him, according to a police report.

Alex Berrospi, 42, who lives in an apartment in the 1500 block of Drexel Avenue, shares a bathroom with a neighbor he knows only as "Maximo."

About 5:30 p.m. Monday, Maximo wanted his turn, but Berrospi was in the room. Maximo became angry, then violent. He knocked on the door. Berrospi finally opened it and Maximo stabbed him in the scrotum with a knife, Berrospi told police.

Police could not find Maximo.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - April 26, 1984

One person was taken to the hospital and several others suffered minor injuries when fighting broke out among a crowd of people waiting to see a horror show in Jacksonville Tuesday night.

Between 1,500 and 1,700 people were waiting in the parking lot of the movie theater when the fights broke out, police reported. A witness said Wednesday most of the people were local students on spring break.

"They were gathering all day long, said Lou Ella Johnson, a student at a nearby barber school. "By the time evening came, there was just a swarm of teenagers, not knowing what to do with themselves."

Marcus Hobby, 15, was treated and released from University Hospital after the crowd pushed him against a cashier’s window that broke.

Police said a similar disturbance took place last week in the theater ’s parking lot.

"There was a larger crowd this week, and it was very
violent," officer R.D. Williamson said.

The theater , which was showing Friday the 13th The Final Chapter, was closed after the fighting Tuesday.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 16, 1985
Author: ROBERT L. STEINBACK Herald Staff Writer

It’s strange enough that a kid would grow up wanting to make monsters for a living.

But what’s really weird is that Norman Cabrera is getting his chance.

Cabrera, and just about everyone else on the Davie set of the horror movie "Scarecrows," is immersing himself in the ultimate dream, or nightmare, come true.

The set of "Scarecrows," which begins shooting Monday, is really a sort of dream factory. Everyone from the set construction crew to producer-director Bill Wesley is trying to turn a personal fantasy into a hit movie.

Cabrera couldn’t have asked for a better break than a movie about scarecrow-corpses who come to life to deal with seven uninvited guests, including five murderer-thieves who happen to drop in on their abandoned farm.

"My house is like plastered with monsters," said Cabrera, 20, who is building the chilling creatures. "It started as a hobby. This is like my big opportunity."

Cabrera, who grew up in Miami, pursued his hobby watching movies rich in special effects and studying horror film magazines. He traveled to California to look over the shoulder of Rick Baker, the special effects genius behind Michael Jackson’s music video "Thriller" and the movie "An American Werewolf in London."

Cabrera has worked on some locally produced videos and cable TV presentations. But to work on a full-length horror movie full of blood and gore practically in his own back yard is like a promotion to heaven.

On the "Scarecrows" set, though, Cabrera’s story is typical. The crew is young -- director Wesley is only 30 -- and nearly all are working on their first feature movie.

The fact that the movie is being shot at all is the chance meeting of two dreamers: Wesley, who had always wanted to make a horror movie, and 36-year-old Dade millionaire Ted Vernon, who always wanted to make -- and act in -- a film.

Vernon, who owns a Miami luxury car dealership called the Ted Vernon Collection, bankrolled "Scarecrows" to the tune of $1.8 million and got one of the seven lead roles.

"Scarecrows" is the reality Cami Winikoff often dreamed about. Winikoff, who declined to give her age, but who would certainly be carded buying beer, is a self-styled "film creature" who can’t imagine life outside show business. She’s making the most of a golden opportunity.

"I was trying to get a job on ’Miami Vice,’-t" the New York native said. "Finally, the guy said, ’Leave me alone. Go call this guy Bill Wesley.’"’

Wesley hired Winikoff to answer telephones on the "Scarecrows" set. But she promptly organized the books, took over the paperwork and began handling business arrangements. She now sports the title "associate producer."

Tony Bondanella is a classic "starving actor" waiting for his big break. The 33-year-old Fort Lauderdale bartender with the California surfer good looks didn’t get one of the lead roles in "Scarecrows." But he’s helping out with set construction -- for no pay -- in hopes of landing a bit part in the movie.

" is interesting, and I can put it on my resume," said Bondanella, who had minor roles in "Spring Break," "Where the Boys Are ’84," and "Stick."

But the opportunity presented by "Scarecrows" was probably best expressed by 21-year-old unit production manager Barry Waldman, fresh out of the University of Miami’s communications school.

"This film is great," he said. "To walk out of college and become a production manager? There is a God!"


The Last Starlet

Washington Post, The (DC) - May 27, 1981
Author: Roger Ebert, Field News Service

When they write the history of the movies in the dark days after the passing of Hollywood's Golden Age, there ought to be a mention of Edy Williams, the Last Starlet. When, and if, she attends her last Cannes Film Festival, and era will have ended.

All of Hollywood studios used to have half a dozen starlets under contract.

Their duties were simple; They had to look gorgeous, attend acting classes, play bit parts in movies and, most important, pose for thousands of cheesecake photographs and be on call 24 hours a day for the opening of a supermarket, the christening of a boat or the dedication of a shopping center.

The primary duty of a starlet was to be photographed while in the act of being a starlet, and Edy Williams understands this in the innermost recesses of her ambition. She is so good at being a starlet, so tireless and dedicated, that she was, in fact, the last official starlet in Hollywood. She was under contract to 20th Century-Fox until 1971. Now she is the last starlet at Cannes.

To be sure, there are other girls who take off their bikinis on the beach or pose in motorcycle helmets and fishnet stockings. But they aren't trying to be discovered -- they're just being exhibitionists. Edy Williams hopes again this year, as she has at Cannes almost every year since 1974, to be discovered.

In the dreams of the starlet, I suspect, there is always that scene where the cigar-chomping producer spots a lovely young woman on the terrace of the Carlton Hotel and shouts, "Who is that girl? I must have her for my next picture. Sign her up immediately."

That has not yet happened to Williams, but she was on the terrace of the Carlton again the other day, breathlessly saying hello to genial Sam Arkoff , a man who founded American-International Pictures in 1954 and has already produced 450 movies without finding it necessary to hire Edy Williams. Now Sam has sold AIP and is back in independent production. Maybe this year?

"I just don't know what to do about my image," Williams said the other night, thinking out loud and a little poignantly. We were having dinner at Felix, one of the in spots along the Boulevard Croisette. Every waiter and busboy in the restaurant was making six trips a minute past our table to gaze in awe at her plunging neckline.

Across the table from her, Silver Dollar Billy Baxter shouted, "Irving, brang 'em on." The waiters, who have all been trained by Baxter to believe that their names are Irving, raced to his side with a glass of scotch. This was a conference of war. Silver Dollar Baxter, who is the second most visible American at Cannes (after Edy Williams), had agreed to counsel Williams on her image.

"Irving," said Baxter, "brang Miss Williams here some champagne. Good stuff. None of that cheap French crap. And Irving, do me a favor, huh? Clean aashtrays. And the menus. What do you recommend, apart from another restaurant?"

"Oh, Billy, you always know what to say," Williams said

"Only thinking of you, sweetheart," said Silver Dollar Baxter. "Now what are you complaining about? Look at that dress you're wearing. It covers up so much I can hardly see everything."

"Do you think it's right for evening?" asked Edy Williams.

"What's the stuff all over your b--bs?"

"Gold sparkle. It's my new makeup. Do you like it? But, Billy, I was thinking. You know, I'm not in my 20s anymore. I was thinking if maybe my bikini routine is getting a little dated."

"What bikini routine? You mean where you go down to the beach and take off your bikini?"

"You know what I was thinking? I brought along tapes of my nightclub act. I have a portable stereo that's real loud. I was thinking, what if I play my tapes and do my nightclub act on the terrace of the Carlton, huh?"

"What if you fall off the edge of the terrace and bust your a--?"

"I was thinking of a new image for my 30s. Maybe something a little more reserved."

"I can't believe my ears," Baxter said. "More reserved? We're talking about the girl who jumped into the ring before the Ali-Spinks fight and took off her clothes in front of 70,000 people in the Superdome."

"They were caught completely by surprise," Williams said.

"What did it feel like?" asked Silver Dollar Baxter. (As a public relations stunt he once had two starlets push a brass four-poster bed down the middle of Broadway.)

"What did what feel like?"

"Taking off your clothes in front of 70,000 people. You know, I'm not sure . . . I gotta check on this . . . I'll bet you are the only person in history to take off her clothes in front of 70,000 people. At once, anyway."

"It was real scary," Williams said. "The worst part was right before I did it. I was standing at ringside, and I was scared. What if they didn't like it? What if everybody booed? Or didn't pay any attention?"

"That's gotta be every girl's nightmare," said Silver Dollar Baxter. "There she is, she jumps in the ring, whe whips off her clothes in front of 70,000 people, and they all shout, 'Put 'em on!'"

"But it was the most unbelievable sensation, when I was in the ring and they were all cheering," she said. "I knew what Ali must feel like. Then they made me leave the Superdome. They wouldn't let me stay for the fight. And I had a ticket and everything."

"Irving," said Silver Dollar Baxter, "look at these flowers. It looks like you picked them up off the street."

"Somebody was telling me I was using too much makeup," Williams said. "But for the photographers, if you don't wear enough makeup, your eyes don't show up. And you never know when they're going to take your picture."

Two days later, in the daily English-Language at Cannes, there was a photo of Williams posing in front of the James Bond poster that covers the front of the Carlton Hotel. The poster, two stories high, shows Bond framed by two long, lovely female legs. Edy Williams was posing with her legs in the same position, and without her bikini top.

"Doesn't look like she made too extensive revisions in her image yet," Silver Dollar Baxter said. "Wait a minute. What's this? He was reading the daily gossip column by Peter Noble, editor of Screen International. "Says here Edy has a pilot for her new TV show. It's physical exercise show called 'Keeping in Shape With Edy.'"

Baxter was sitting by the pool of the Majestic Hotel, watching the fleet of nine airplanes flying past with banners advertising "Superman III." Just then, Williams appeared at poolside and planted a big kiss on his cheek. j

"What do you think about my pilot?" she asked him.

"Edy," said Baxter, "If you ask me, you could bring it in on instruments."


THE SEATTLE TIMES - March 27, 1985


It doesn't matter, I know.

But over there was a bowling alley run by a pornographer who once got arrested by telephone.

Down that way was a go-go joint with awful dancers, but if you complained, a barmaid swatted you with a stick.

That old topless bar at the end of the block? I forget the name. I only remember the blind man sitting there that one night, applauding.

Pike Street, old Pike Street. New Pike Street, now. This block across the way, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, a skyscraper is going in there, so most of it will be knocked down as the other places were knocked down over the years. And with the convention center going in up that way, the last Pike Street tombstones will be pulled down and paved over.

Not that it matters. I'm not saying that.

Let's see _ before the big hotel went in a few years ago, there was the Gay Nineties at the end of the block there, at Seventh and Pike. The Club Chi Chi was next to it, all run down and crappy and wonderful. And somewhere along there, the Flick XXX Theater . The Fun Zone, people called that block.

A man named Nick, who was ticket taker, popcorn vendor and film projectionist, called me up the day the Flick closed.

....After the last film ended, at 6:30 this morning,'' Nick said, ....I went down and woke up the last three customers.

....The workmen are starting to take out anything of value right now. They should be done in a coupla minutes.''

I asked Nick from the Flick what he thought of Pike Street's changes over the years. There were fewer prostitutes, fewer bars, fewer fights . Now its last porno house was folding.

....Oh! There's been a definite moral and spiritual decay,'' Nick said.

I like to remember those words.

Not that they mean anything, of course.

Around this side, now, what was here? The Magic Inn. A rough place. And Bob's Chili Parlor. Tough crew there. Over that way, across Sixth Avenue, I liked those places better. Let's go over there.

This is where the Nikko Garden was until recently. The Nikko had a bright awning and a striped front and a lot of little lights outlining the rooftop. It always had a sign in the window: ....Dancers wanted.'' Now, the sign says the Nikko has moved to another location, across the freeway, because the building is coming down. It says the Nikko would reopen on a Thursday. Thursday was spelled ....Thuresday'' twice. The sign also says:

....We hope to see there.''

I thought of going to see there myself. But didn't.

As I said, it's not important.

I walked over to where the old Orchard Room used to be. Once it was called Gabe's.

Gabe's was the first place in Seattle to do dope. Gabe's was where people went when they got out of Walla Walla and had no place else to go.

But Gabe did clean the place up after a while and it was more famous as a little rhythm-and-blues club.

Actually, there probably wasn't another place like it. Gabe had a jukebox with blues records that you could listen to with earphones.

You could sit at the bar or tables and plug in. The place would rock in silence.

Best remembered are the dirty blues songs.

Gabe collected the best of them, apparently in copyright violation, onto a record album. A lot of people still have copies.

....Gabe's Dirty Blues,'' it's called.

Which is probably irrelevant anyway.

Once on this corner, Sixth and Pike, I saw a man run by with a pulltab machine in his arms. I didn't ask.

I saw a man and woman having sex here, sort of, once.

This was the place for it. Once.

Years ago, they were already complaining that Pike Street was losing it.

One complainer owned a smoke shop called the Carcinogen. That means: Cancer-causing.

Actually, he sold dirty books and movies in the smoke shop, and always had a big sign in his window: ....Welcome Navy.''

The Navy never came, however.

....You know,'' he complained, ....some nights you could go out and throw a brick down this street and not hit anybody.''

People went out and threw bricks, anyway. It was that kind of street.

It has changed a lot since then. It was changing forever, yesterday. To the lament of I guess nobody.

Not that it matters any more. I should mention that.



Philadelphia Daily News (PA) - October 29, 1984
Author: United Press International
Police may turn to a psychiatrist for clues on why a man obsessed with the movie " Revenge of the Ninja " donned the garb of an Oriental warrior and killed two people before turning his submachine gun on himself.

Police say Gregory Eley, 24, dressed in his black "Ninja" outfit and armed with an arsenal of weapons, gunned down Arlene Jones, 47, and Wayne Massey, 42, a friend, Friday night at Jones’ fashionable Dutch colonial home.

Two boys hiding upstairs heard Eley cry out for God’s forgiveness before he pressed the Israeli-made Uzi submachine gun to his chest and pulled the trigger, hitting himself twice, said police Detective Sylvia Kaiser.

Kaiser said Jones was shot numerous times, while Massey was shot "a couple of times" in the neck. All three were dead when police arrived.

Authorities who found Eley’s body said he was armed with the submachine gun, two crossbows, a .45-caliber automatic pistol and three Oriental battle stars. He had blackened his face and pulled a mask over it.

Police say the motive for the killings may have been revenge for a soured real estate deal - Eley, his wife and three children had been evicted from their home last week - but they are considering seeking a psychiatrist’s opinion about why Eley "did the thing the way he did."

Annette Eley told investigators her husband watched " Revenge of the Ninja " often.

"His wife said he watched it as often as he could and really got involved in it," Kaiser said. "Evidently, he went out and bought the costume. When and where we do not know."


Miami Herald, The (FL) - July 10, 1984

Author: SUSAN SACHS Herald Staff Writer

The executive producers of a much-ballyhooed movie about breakdancing filmed in South Florida this spring are associates of organized-crime figures, law enforcement officials said Monday.

Last week, Cry of the City co-producer Michael Franzese was arrested in New York with 15 other men on a racketeering charge. He is accused of participating in a loan-sharking scheme and is identified in wiretapped conversations as a "high ranking member of an organized crime family," according to the federal complaint.

He was released on a $300,000 personal recognizance bond.

The other producer of the film, which showcased local teen- agers in a street-tough romance, is Jerome Zimmerman, who is identified by Florida and Los Angeles law enforcement authorities as a long-time associate of Franzese’s stepfather, underworld figure John "Sonny" Franzese.

The movie producers, who have a company called Miami Gold Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, have become minor celebrities in South Florida. Miami Beach officials, pleased that the moviemakers used South Beach as a location for a portion of the movie, gave them a key to the city.

In previous interviews, the producers said that Cry of the City, which features Sammy Davis Jr. in a small role, had a budget of $5 million. It is scheduled for release in September.

"Words are just allegations -- my partner is this, his father is that, there’s gangster money involved," said Zimmerman, contacted at Miami Gold’s offices on Monday to comment on Franzese’s arrest. "We made a picture we felt was very successful. We have another one, Game of Chance, that will start filming here in four weeks. We’ll be here."

Zimmerman said the financing for the movie came from "banks" and offered to respond fully to questions about the film company’s backers and the producers’ backgrounds Wednesday.

Michael Franzese, contacted in New York, denied any connections to organized crime and said he would plead innocent to the racketeering charge. He, too, said financing for the movie came from "legitimate lenders" but declined to identify them because "it’s not good business ethics to reveal the source of your financing to the world."

"I have never been convicted of a crime," Franzese added. "I guess it’s because I’m Italian that all this is coming out."

In previous interviews during the filming of Cry of the City, 33-year-old Franzese described himself as a one-time medical student who owned a Long Island car dealership with Zimmerman before the two got into the movie business.

Zimmerman -- six feet five inches tall and heavy-set -- described himself as a former stand-up comic.

Police investigators, however, said Zimmerman, 52, has been an associate of organized crime figures for years. He also is facing 6-year-old charges of grand theft in Los Angeles County in connection with an alleged "bustout" scheme involving several companies, including one of which he was president. The case, which involves charges of ordering merchandise with no intention of paying for it, has not gone to trial.

Los Angeles Police Detective Norm Bonneau said Zimmerman once was convicted of perjury in connection with his testimony before a New York grand jury investigating Sonny Franzese.

NBC News reported Monday night that police investigators had the two men under surveillance during a "wrap party" celebrating the conclusion of the filming in South Florida last month. The television report also suggested that Mafia money is financing the Franzese and Zimmerman feature films.

The elder Franzese, considered a leading figure in the Columbo crime family, served 11 years of a 50-year sentence for bank robbery and was in jail in Otisville, N.Y., until his release last month on separate racketeering charges. Local law enforcement authorities said Sonny Franzese spearheaded early organized-crime involvement in pornography.

The federal complaint against Michael Franzese in New York accuses him and others of lending to various businesses more than $1 million that was obtained from illegal organized-crime activities. The money was lent at "usurious" interest rates of 2 percent or more a week, according to the complaint.

The participants, charged under the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, also threatened their victims with physical violence and claimed, as a further threat, to be connected to organized crime families, the complaint said. If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in jail and fines of $25,000.

Michael Franzese is charged with participating in the loan- sharking operation. Executive Assistant U. S. Attorney Jane Parver said wiretaps made by the FBI also contain conversations in which Franzese is identified as a "high-ranking" organized- crime figure who had invested in the loan-sharking operation.

The operation was run out of a business identified at various times between August 1981 and February 1983 as Cooper Funding or Resource Capital Group in Lake Success, a New York City suburb, the complaint charged.

Although Zimmerman is not named in the New York complaint and no reference is made to his and Franzese’s movie-making activities, Zimmerman was at one time associated with a Woodland
Hills, Calif., company called Cooper Funding that is believed to be related to the New York business of the same name, according to police sources.

Los Angeles Police Detective Bonneau said investigators once called the New York office of Cooper Funding for information about financing and were referred to the Woodland
Hills office. The California company has been defunct for several years, he said.

During the filming of Cry of the City, Zimmerman and Franzese told reporters they had produced two low-budget horror films, one starring former evangelist Marjo Gortner, that did surprisingly well and provided them with money to invest in the South Florida movie.

The two films mentioned, Gates of Hell and Mausoleum, were released by a company called MPM . Zimmerman said Franzese owns a distribution company in Los Angeles called Motion Picture Marketing.

Dade County’s film coordinator, Marylee Lander, said she has received no complaints about the producers. "They paid their bills," she said. Several businesses in Broward County that provided services or locations for the filming also reported no problems in getting paid.

Recently, Zimmerman appeared on a local television station escorting one of the film’s amateur dancers to a furniture store. The youth had refused the producers’ offers to fly him to California and introduce him to the movie business there. Instead, the teen-ager had asked for furniture for the apartment of his mother, who is on welfare. The producers obliged, with local television crews present.


The Record (New Jersey) - January 28, 1986
Author: ANN CRAWFORD: The Record

A couple of weeks ago President Reagan was deploring mob infiltration of legitimate businesses. He could have taken for his text the extraordinary federal indictment returned last month in Brooklyn, charging movie producer Michael Franzese and a group of associates with predatory raids that crisscrossed the corporate landscape of the metropolitan area. Franzese's credits include " Night of the Zombies ," "Savage Streets," and the like. The New York Times critic said that "Streets" wallowed in it s own awfulness.

Franzese does a lot more than make bad movies, if one is to credit the details of the 99-page indictment. His enterprises include a disco, Mazda and Chevy dealerships, an auto-body shop, a carpentry firm, a window fabricator, a masonry contractor, a construction company, consulting firms with strange names (M&M Business Relations Corporation, for one), leasing agencies, an oil distributor, a gas station, and a bunch of labor unions.

This empire is reputedly run by Franzese and eight codefendant sidekicks from mansions on Long Island and Pompano Beach, each equipped with fleets of limos, yachts, and a private jet. The schemes alleged by the grand jury run the range of rapine:

A plot to beat New Jersey out of $3 million in gas taxes owed by the gasoline distributorship, Houston Holdings. The insurance company that bonded Houston (on the basis of counterfeit collateral) is now in receivership.

A scheme to con Beneficial Commercial Corporation into financing the purchase of scores of new cars for the two auto dealerships, using forged Treasury bills as collateral. Beneficial never got its money back, and the hapless car buyers never got clear title to their cars.

The body shop was used to defraud another insurance company for thousands in repairs that weren't done.

The grand jury also said that Franzese and his henchmen, as officers of the Allied Security Health and Welfare Fund, used the fund to buy certificates of deposit issued by Dome Insurance Company in St. Croix. Dome's now in receivership, too. The union fund lost hundreds of thousands. In return for the union's business, Dome's president made huge cash payments to Franzese sidekicks and took three of them on a junket to St. Croix. One vacationer was the unions attorney, Mitchell Goldblatt.

We've met Goldblatt before, as attorney for the Federation of Special Police and Law Enforcement Officers. The federation is a unit in the Allied Security group. It aims to organize guards in sensitive spots like the air-freight terminal at Newark Airport or the Meadowlands race track. Under the unsavory leadership of convicted labor racketeer Daniel Cunningham, the union also tried to move into the casinos in Atlantic City and the Three Mile Island, Indian Point, and Salem nuclear plants.

embezzling $225,000 from the union before he could get into nuclear-power plants.

In the Franzese indictment, Goldblatt is charged with simply stealing $50,000 from the welfare fund to share with the union's president, codefendant Anthony Tomasso, and with Cunningham's current wife, Susan.

The grand jury also charges a credit-card scam, in which counterfeit cards were used to ring up $13,000 in phony purchases at a marina in Babylon. There was a boat-insurance scam in which a 1978 Formula was falsely reported stolen. The insurance company paid out $24,000, though the boat's title proved to be a forgery.

Mobil was taken for $60,000 of gasoline delivered to the service station. The Franzese subordinate who ran it submitted a false armed-robbery report to explain to Mobil why he couldn't pay his bills. U.S. Attorney Raymond Dearie asked for forfeitures of $5 million in ill-gotten gains from this assortment of thefts.

It seems a modest enough figure, but it doesn't include reparations for the multiple counts of income-tax fraud. The IRS says that Franzese concealed his assets by placing them in his wife's name, by failing to report cash income, by shifting funds among scores of corporations, real and phony. Extensions were repeatedly sought on false grounds. Checks to the IRS bounced.

The conspicuous victims are big guys: Mobil, Chemical Bank, Beneficial Finance, Chubb and Son, and a flock of lesser banks, insurance companies, and bonding institutions. The unseen victims are all the rest of us.

Members of the union are stripped of protections they earned. Policyholders of the ruined insurance companies are left holding the bag. Dockage fees are up at the marina to cover higher insurance premiums. Credit-card fees will rise. Mobil's customers will make up the $60,000. Taxpayers will pay the tab that Franzese has allegedly avoided together with the immense cost of mounting this prosecution. Welcome to the president's war on the Mafia, and happy hunting.

The Franzese File A Porsche, a pool and not much informing for mobster set free.

Newsday (Melville, NY) - January 6, 1991

Author: Much of the reporting on this story was done by the late Tom Renner, Newsday organized crime reporter, who died in January, 1990. The reporting was completed by staff writer Letta Tayler, who wrote the story.

Less than two years after being released from prison, former Long Island mobster Michael Franzese has resumed his luxurious lifestyle, frustrating prosecutors who say he owes them $14.7 million in fines and information on organized crime.

When not relaxing in his swimming pool or sauna at his Southern California mansion, sources say, the 39-year-old Franzese - once described in Life magazine as the Yuppie mobster - is cruising in a Porsche, or sometimes a Mercedes. He's also working with a best-selling author on his memoirs and is discussing offers to sell his life story, complete with details of his days as a Colombo crime family captain and film producer, for a movie or a mini-series.

What rankles prosecutors in Suffolk County and Florida is that under the terms of a deal the former Brookville resident cut with the federal government, there's little they can do to force Franzese to pay up or begin talking.

Under the deal, Franzese was released from prison in May, 1989, after serving only 3 1/2 years of a 10-year sentence for racketeering and conspiracy. In addition, the pact gave Franzese immunity from prosecution on his past organized crime activities. It kept his five-year probation sentence and his fine.

In return, Franzese was to turn over everything he knew about his mob activities and associates - but prosecutors had only a year, until April 30, 1990, to pump him. He also was required to testify in any trial related to his information if the indictments were filed before April 30, 1990. Law enforcement officials said the time constraints in the deal were virtually unprecedented and made the cooperation clause essentially useless.

As a result, some prosecutors say that Franzese's biggest contribution as an informant has been his 1989 testimony against New York talent and sports agent Norby Walters, who was convicted of racketeering for illegally signing college athletes to professional contracts. But Walters' conviction was reversed in September on an unrelated legal technicality.

"The government gave up one of the most important, up-and-coming members of the Colombo organized crime family in return for information on a booking agent," said Ray Jermyn, chief of the rackets bureau in the Suffolk County district attorney's office, who provided the federal government with much of the information that helped indict Franzese in December, 1985. "We're deprived of his use as a witness, and we didn't get the money he owes us, either."

"Quite frankly, I think Michael ripped off the U.S. government," said James Stein, deputy chief U.S. parole and probation officer for the Eastern District, which includes Long Island.

In a lengthy telephone interview last week, Franzese conceded, "I'm not living in a ghetto." But he denied he was getting a free ride from the government and said he was under constant pressure to pay his fines.

"I can't say that I got away with the better bargain or that the government did great, either. It was a compromise," he said, calling his decision to sign the deal one of the toughest he ever made. ". . . I absolutely do not feel that I pulled the wool over anybody's eyes."

But Franzese, who refused to join the federal witness protection program, also said that "I really didn't hurt anybody" by providing information and that "most of the people I knew were already in jail."

The two officials who were key to engineering the pact with Franzese

- Anton Valukas, then U.S. attorney for Chicago, and Ed McDonald, then chief of the federal Organized Crime Strike Force in Brooklyn, which is now defunct - are now in private practice. In recent interviews, McDonald blamed the terms of the pact on a separate deal he said Valukas made with Franzese for testimony in the Walters case, but Valukas denied he had made any agreement.

John Gleeson, the chief of the organized crime unit in the Justice Department's Eastern District, who is overseeing the pact, refused to discuss the agreement on grounds that Franzese was still linked to pending investigations.

`It's entirely inappropriate for me to comment on whether it's a good deal or a bad deal for the government," Gleeson said. But he added that any time authorities strike a deal with an informant, there is always a critic claiming that "the government gave away the store."

Suffolk law enforcement officials, who were not consulted about the deal, say the time limit placed on Franzese's cooperation has kept them from seeking indictments in five major cases involving gasoline bootlegging and business fraud.

Suffolk did file one loansharking case by the deadline, but Franzese refused to testify, Jermyn said. As a result, the county indicted Franzese. He has been ordered to appear in Suffolk later this month to answer charges of contempt of court.

Asked about the loansharking case, Franzese said he does not intend to testify because "I don't know anything about it."

Because of his notoriety and his lifestyle, Franzese is also being investigated by the federal parole and probation office to see if he is violating his probation. The results of that probe are expected to be presented to a federal judge within two months.

Franzese is no stranger to the parole office. Stein, its second-in-command, was once the parole officer for Franzese's stepfather, reputed Colombo mobster John Franzese, known as "Sonny," who is in prison for parole violations linked to a bank robbery conviction. According to testimony by Lawrence Iorizzo, a former gasoline executive and mob associate who became a federal witness, Michael Franzese in the early 1980s discussed having Stein "whacked" - mob lingo for killed - because the parole officer's investigations into his stepfather's activities were interfering with family business.

Federal officials also plan to make Franzese testify in the next two months about his finances to find out why he hasn't paid the $14.7 million in fines, including about $4 million to Suffolk and $3 million to Florida.

The dark-eyed, smooth-mannered Franzese was considered the biggest - and youngest - money-maker for the Colombo crime family during his days in Brookville in the early and mid 1980s, making Fortune magazine's 1986 list of the top 50 mobsters. He also has been profiled in Life, and will be featured in an article in February's Vanity Fair.

Franzese now lives with his wife, Cammy, and their three children, and has three other children by a previous marriage. He was raised in Roslyn and joined the mob when his stepfather was in jail, prosecutors say. He cut off his biology studies at Hofstra University after three years and went to work for the "family" fulltime, specializing in complicated financial manipulations of legitimate businesses.

By the mid 1980s, investigators believed he was involved in dozens of illegitimate activities using night clubs, car dealerships, gasoline companies and other businesses as fronts. He reached the rank of captain, overseeing about 20 soldiers, prosecutors said.

In those years, Franzese lived in Brookville, docked his boat at the Fire Island community of Saltaire and was seen some nights holding court at the Casablanca restaurant in Huntington Station.

He also moved his interests and his money south to Florida, where he produced four B movies: "Mausoleum," " Night of the Zombies ," "Savage Streets" and "Knights of the City." In Miami Beach, he was given the key to the city and a Bible blessed by the Pope for his film-making enterprises. That was before officials discovered he was running a multi-million-dollar gasoline bootlegging ring in both Florida and Long Island - his biggest known scam.

The ring, which Franzese ran with Iorizzo, bilked the federal, New York and Suffolk governments of an estimated $1 billion in gasoline excise taxes from 1981 to 1985. Franzese created dummy corporations that claimed to have paid the taxes and then vanished once auditors got on their trail.

In December, 1985, acting on information from Iorizzo and Suffolk prosecutors, the federal government arrested Franzese on a 14-count indictment charging him with crimes including racketeering, conspiracy, embezzlement from a union benefit plan, using counterfeit credit cards, and extortion.

In 1986, he pleaded guilty to the racketeering and conspiracy charges in return for the 10-year prison sentence and the the $14.7 million in fines and restitution. That year, he also pleaded guilty in Florida to 65 counts of a state indictment linked to his gas-tax scam and was sentenced to 9 years in prison, to be served concurrently with the federal term.

Initially, Franzese resisted any deal, although he did provide some information about the mob in late 1986, federal officials said. Then along came the Norby Walters case in Chicago.

Franzese's testimony about how he used his mob muscle on Walters' behalf made headlines nationwide. He not only testified that he had contacted college athletes for Walters, but also revealed that he had tried to intimidate other agents into assigning Walters contracts for performers Michael Jackson, Dionne Warwick and the group New Edition.

According to McDonald, U.S. Attorney Valukas was so excited about using Franzese that, in return for testifying against Walters, he promised him he would not have to serve more than another year and a half behind bars - at a "camp" or other minimum-security center. Valukas also did not require Franzese to provide any information about his other crime activities in return for the promise of a shorter sentence, McDonald said.

At that time, Franzese faced at least three more years in prison, after routine reductions in his 10-year sentence for good behavior, parole records show.

McDonald said that he was informed of Valukas' deal with Franzese only after the fact. He said that as a result, the strike force had no choice but to offer Franzese an even better agreement to get any more testimony out of him - the pact signed May 18, 1989, that let him out of prison immediately.

"At that point, our bargaining chips were virtually non-existent" in cutting a deal to get Franzese to testify about additional organized crime activities, McDonald said.

Valukas called McDonald's version an "absolute fabrication." He said that although he considered Franzese one of the best witnesses he'd ever called to the stand, "no one ever went back to him and said, `You are only going to serve one more year.' " He said his office agreed not to return Franzese to a hard-time penitentiary, calling that common procedure for convicts who testify in important cases.

Franzese denied Valukas promised to shorten his term. However, he did say that Valukas wrote him a letter "that I could use with the judge or the parole board . . . and that he'd support whatever consideration they'd give me."

Moreover, Franzese said he was led to believe that "I would have done at the most another 14 or 15 months" after testifying in the Walters trial, but didn't say who gave him that information.

Federal officials in New York familiar with the case, who asked not to be named, supported McDonald's version. They also said that Valukas was able to make his deal because he had far more political clout with the Justice Department in Washington than McDonald, whose strike force was being abolished. McDonald "had to make the best of a sour deal," one source said. Justice Department officials in Washington refused to comment.

Franzese said he had placed the time limit on his testimony because "I wanted to get on with my life. . . I didn't want to become an organized crime witness who was paraded around the country to testify. That kind of thing sickens me.

"My goal in this whole thing was to get out and try to give my family a better life than what my mother and brother and sisters and I went through, because what happened to them was devastating," he said. ". . . There are certain people in government that maybe felt they personally worked on my case and would have liked to have gotten a piece of the pie. But that doesn't entitle them to a piece of me. I'm not a commodity to be cut up."

Apart from the Walters case, Franzese has testified in only one trial in return for his freedom. Last July, Franzese testified in federal court in Uniondale about how he got a former janitor to leak him information about the federal grand jury proceedings that led to his indictment on racketeering charges.

Federal officials said Fran- zese also has testified before at least one grand jury, but refused to give details on what information he has provided. McDonald said only that it was enough to make the pact with the government "worthwhile." Franzese also would not give any details.

But some government sources said they believe Franzese withheld most of the valuable information he had about New York mobsters. "The best information he could give is `enterprise-type evidence' about who's who in the families and what they are doing, but that's what he's holding back on," said one source, who described Franzese as "extremely manipulative." Another source said that Franzese's current lifestyle and the money he owes the government make the results of the deal "laughable."

That opinion was echoed by Dary Matera, the Phoenix-based author who wrote the best-selling "Are You Lonesome Tonight" about a woman who claimed to be Elvis Presley's illegitimate daughter, and who is co-writing Franzese's biography.

"He's given them [the government] nothing. I really think he hasn't given them a thing," said Matera, whose book is slated for release next year under the title, "Quitting the Mob."

Florida officials don't care about Franzese's testimony. They just want their $3-million share of his fine.

"The debt is neither forgiven nor forgotten," said Fred Damski, a state prosecutor in Broward County who prosecuted Franzese, adding that he held the Eastern District office responsible for getting the money for Florida.

One Florida source close to the Franzese case said: "If the guy is making a lot of money and living in a million-dollar house, then somebody should be able to get some of that restitution money out of him without too much trouble."

Officials entrusted with recouping the money disagree. They said that to seize Franzese's house or cars, they would have to prove that he owned or financed them, or was siphoning funds to the people who did. And so far, they have found no proof that he has done that. In fact, Franzese isn't listed as owning any property or being employed in any job, they said.

The government was supposed to receive any profits from Franzese's last film, "Knights of the City," but the books show no profits, said Mary Dooley, the assistant U.S. attorney assigned to collections for the Eastern District. She said the government also was entitled to any rights from distributing the film's soundtrack, but it can't distribute the music without the master tapes - which disappeared after Franzese's arrest.

In addition, Franzese told the government as part of his 1986 guilty plea that it could have all his assets - including the Brookville house, co-ops in Patchogue and a house in Delray Beach, Fla. But there were already so many previous liens on the property that the federal government didn't collect a penny from the holdings, Dooley said.

"My idea of a good plea agreement is where at the sentencing, the guy shows up with the certified check," she said. "Once the agreement is set and the person is out [of jail], it's very hard to get the money."

Franzese said he intended to pay, but doesn't know how long it will take him to earn the money. He said he was working hard, often "12 to 14 hours a day," but wouldn't reveal what kind of activities he was involved in except to say that some of them were linked to the film industry and that they were "100 percent legit." He also wouldn't comment on who owns the house he and his family live in and the cars he drives.

Franzese also denied rumors that he has millions stashed in foreign bank accounts or buried in a back yard. "The belief is that I've got more than bags of money, that I've got barrels," he said. "But if anybody finds it, let me know."

Despite the money owed, McDonald insisted that he thinks the real loser in the deal was not the government, but Franzese, in risking the anger of other mobsters by becoming an informant.

"Did he scam his way into a situation where he isn't being penalized for what he did? I guess in a way you can say he did," McDonald said. "But on the other hand, he's going to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life. He's supplied information about organized crime figures who don't take that lightly."

Franzese disagreed.

"I did something that, technically, according to my previous lifestyle, I'm not supposed to do. So technically I'm in trouble even by signing that piece of paper," he said of his deal. "But could I tell you that I live in fear or that I'm concerned? The answer is, no . . . Whatever will be, will be." ***** A Life Like a Mob Movie

He hates being compared to Michael Corleone, but when Michael Franzese saw "The Godfather Part III," he says he identified with the movie don who suffered from his life in organized crime.

"He was in so much pain, and that got to me a little bit," said Franzese, 39, a former Colombo crime family captain from Brookville.

But Franzese said that he sees no parallels between himself and mobster Henry Hill, whose real-life story was the subject of the film "GoodFellas."

Both Hill and Franzese operated in the New York area, and both signed pacts - with the same federal prosecutor - that set them free in return for testifying against their former mob associates.

"I'm not trying to become a crusader for the government, unlike a Henry Hill, who I think is a . . . low life," Franzese said.

Hill went into hiding under the federal witness protection program, but Franzese lives under his own name with his family in Southern California.

Like the fictional Corleone, Franzese says he dreamed of living a legitimate life but was sucked into organized crime out of love for his father. He left his studies at Hofstra University to begin his underworld career when his stepfather, John Franzese, a reputed Colombo mobster known as "Sonny," was imprisoned on a bank robbery conviction.

Michael Franzese, who produced four Grade B movies during his mob days, revealed that he is co-fielding offers to be the subject of a film or a mini-series. But perhaps because of his reservations about the Corleone and Hill characters, he hasn't yet decided if he wants to take that jump.

"That's really putting yourself in a fishbowl," he said.

Franzese would divulge few details about his activities since he was released from prison in May, 1989, except to say he's been working on a book about his life. But he insists that these days, he's just a regular guy.

"I'm not doing anything illegal," he said. "My life now is 100 percent legit." Letta Tayler



Miami Herald, The - July 1, 1984

Author: Herald Staff

THERE WAS MORE ACTION in the aisles than on the screen when a fight erupted during a June 22 showing of the movie Karate Kid at the Marina Theater , 18741 Biscayne Blvd., police said.

According to a police report, officers arrested Mark Richard Sailer, 20, and Steven Carlton Sailer, 21, both of 1745 NE 174th St., and Kevin Keith Yantz, 19, of 2158 NE 180th St. Mark Sailer was charged with battery and disorderly conduct, while Steven Sailer and Yantz were charged with disorderly conduct, according to the police report. All three were taken to Dade County Jail.

Police said the three men were sitting in the front row of the theater ’s center area of seats during the 10 p.m. showing of Karate Kid, a movie about a young man’s success in the ancient art of self-defense.

When the three suspects became boisterous, the fighting moved from the screen to the audience. "The subjects (were) continously yelling profane language, laughing and causing so much disorder, the entire audience began to yell at them to quiet down," the police report says. Finally, Mark Sailer stood up, made an obscene gesture at the audience and threw a cupful of ice that struck a 20-year-old woman in the face. Steven Sailer and Yantz also stood up, made gestures and yelled profanities.

Five men in the audience got up and a fistfight began. Police broke it up.

"Order was restored and the movie restarted," the police report says.

Miami Herald, The (FL) - September 18, 1984

Author: MARY LOU FOY Miami Herald Staff

Authorities surround the body of a young man who drowned Monday in a lake south of Miami International Airport while attempting a martial-arts water routine, according to Miami police.

Antonio Lee, 18, of 2106 SW 58th Ave., and a friend had just come from the Miracle Theater where they saw the movie Ninja III, The Domination.

Lee and his friend, in black martial- arts attire, were at a lake behind an apartment building at 5501 NW Seventh St. when Lee jumped in the water with a reed to imitate a routine he saw in the movie , police said.

He went under in 20 to 30 feet of water. When Lee didn’t surface, rescue units were called to the scene. An hour later the body was pulled from the lake.

Why that little rascal...


Boston Globe

February 24, 1981

Author: Joan Vennochi Globe Staff

An 18-year-old Marshfield man was arraigned yesterday in Hingham District Court on charges that he stabbed two Scituate men while they waited in a Hanover movie parking lot for a midnight show to begin.

Walter A. DePierro, 18, of Highland St., Marshfield, is charged with stabbing Thomas Patterson, l9, of Hazel avenue, and Gavin Flaherty, 18, of Brook street. Patterson is the son of former acting Scituate Police Chief Gilbert Patterson.

DePierro was arraigned on two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and disturbing the peace. His case was continued to March 2.

Both victims were reported in good condition today at South Shore Hospital, Weymouth. Patterson received a two-inch deep stomach wound and Flaherty was stabbed twice in the back.

The incident was apparently triggered during a fight that broke out among a group of young people waiting to see a midnight showing of "The Little Rascals Festival" and "The Three Stooges Festival."

James Mahoney, manager of the Hanover Mall Cinema, said he was beginning to allow patrons to enter the theater when a man walked into the lobby and told him he had just been stabbed. Mahoney said he looked out and saw a second man on the ground at the far end of the parking lot. Theater attendants called an ambulance.

Mahoney said he has had minor problems in the past with young people who arrive for the midnight shows on Friday and Saturday nights. He said he did not believe the promotion for the movie festival, which advertised the films as having "All the Violence Left Intact," was connected with the stabbing incident.

"This involved a bunch of guys who were drunk or on something. What else is new with kids today?" Mahoney said. "I would have thought the Three Stooges and the Little Rascals are pretty tame."

The theater always employs an off-duty Hanover police officer on a paid detail for weekend shows, Mahoney said.

Patrolman Howard E. Rollins, who was at the theater Friday night, responded when the incident broke out. When the suspect took off in a car, Rollins waited for an ambulance in the theater lobby with Flaherty, Patterson and a third youth.

While they were waiting, David E. Coughlan, 20, of 49 Beaver Dam road, Scituate, swung at Rollins with a bottle of liquor, the patrolman reported. Coughlan, was treated for head cuts and released from South Shore Hospital. He was arrested on a charge of assaulting a police officer with a dangerous weapon.

Both were released on personal recognizance.

DePierro was identified as the person who had allegedly stabbed the two youths when the fight broke out.

There were no incidents during the Friday or Saturday showing of the films, according to Mahoney.