Andi Cipa of Murrysville had a special reason for wanting to attend the annual pre-Easter dinner held by the Greensburg Christian Businessmen’s Connection.
As soon as she heard who was speaking, she says she told her husband, Kevin Cipa, a regular attendee, that she was going with him.
Speaker for the dinner held April 18 in the Ramada Greensburg Hotel and Conference Center was Michael Franzese, a former boss of New York City’s Colombo crime family.
Franzese discussed his days in the Mafia, a jailhouse conversion to Christianity and life now as a motivational speaker. He gives much credit for his transformation to his wife, Camille Garcia Franzese, who he says “led me to the Lord and out of the life.”
He bills himself as the only high-ranking member of a mob family to get out, without protection, and survive.
Andi Cipa says she read about Franzese in the news back when he was indicted in 1985 on 14 counts of racketeering, counterfeiting and extortion.
“I followed his story when it happened. I didn’t believe somebody had the nerve to do what he did,” she said.
The tale made for stage and screen — including television documentaries, the musical “A Mob Story” and depiction in the movie “Goodfellas” — drew a crowd of more than 300, dinner organizer Boice Bailey said.
Franzese also spoke April 19 to the GCBC’s annual Good Friday Family Prayer Breakfast.
Both dinner and breakfast are presented in cooperation with Greensburg Kiwanis. Joining Bailey on the event committee were Bruce Thomas, Tom Keller, Jim Maloy, Dave Kintz, Pari Bhagat and Joe Gazal.
Seen: Ken and Carol Barackman, Sue Bailey, David Balinski, Jeremy Dias, Josh Lindner, Janet Keller, Dana Thomas, Douglas Benish, George Coffen, Dave and Donna Allen, Bill and Vickie Mackison, Pat and Christine Myers and Kevin and Jillian Jenson.