Canada may bar reformed mobstster
By KATIE SCHNEIDER
May 22, 2010
CALGARY – Former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, set to speak to Calgary youth about steering clear of gang lifestyles, may be denied entry into Canada, say organizers.
The 53-year-old New Yorker, once known as the world's 18th-richest gangster who quit the mob 20 years ago, is scheduled to deliver his anti-organized-crime message at schools, churches, and jails next week.
But his four-day speaking event may be in jeopardy as the former mobster faces hurdles with immigration rules, likely because of his criminal past, said Ken Cromer, executive director of After-Care Ministries.
“He was flagged,” he said.
“There is no reason this man should be held out of the country.”
Franzese is supposed to arrive in Calgary on Tuesday, but on Thursday was told by officials at the Canadian Embassy in L.A. he had to fill out a temporary resident permit to be able to enter Canada. “That doesn't make sense — he's not coming as a resident,” Cromer said.
Citizen and Immigration Canada spokesman Lorne Pelletier could not speak about specific cases, but said anyone deemed inadmissible based on involvement with criminal activity, can apply for a temporary resident permit.
“If deemed inadmissible they can still come, but they need a temporary resident permit,” he said.
But if he can't get the permit on Monday, Franzese will be a no show in Calgary, where 7,000 people will miss out on his message, Cromer said. “Sure he has a past, but his past was 20 years ago,” Cromer said.
“We want to address the crime issue and gang issue in Calgary — and that there is a way out of that lifestyle.”
Franzese did not return calls Friday.