Articles/Biographies/Criminals/Capone, Al "Scarface"

Al Capone was born January 17, 1899 in Brooklyn, New York. His neighborhood was pretty tough and as a child he was a member of two gangs: the Brooklyn Rippers and the Forty Thieves Juniors. Al dropped out of school when he was fourteen, despite being intelligent.

Al worked several small jobs at bowling allies, candy stores, and book binders while being a gang member in his teens. Once he joined the Five Points gang of Manhattan, he became a bouncer and bartender at the Harvard Inn. It was here that Al received his facial scars when he insulted a female patron and her brother attacked him.

He met a woman named Mary Coughlin at a dance and married her on December 30, 1918. Their first child was a boy named Albert Francis.

Al's first arrest was based on disorderly conduct charges. During this time he was working for Frankie Yale, the owner of the Harvard Inn, and murdered two men for him. Yale sent Al to Chicago to hide out after he attacked a rival gang member and put him in the hospital.

Yale's friend John Torrio took Capone under his arm in Chicago and saw his potential. Al helped Torrio run his bootlegging operations and moved up the ranks to become his under boss and business partner. However, Torrio was shot by some gangsters and decided to leave Chicago, leaving Al as the boss.

Al showed his intelligence by reorganizing the infrastructure of the organization and was soon raking in $100,000,000 per year. Capone was continually opening night clubs, brothels, race tracks, and other vice businesses.

Despite numerous unsuccessful attempts on his life, Al was determined to rise further. He developed a massive spy network in Chicago, using everyone from police officers to hotel bellboys. This allowed him to find out quickly about plots on his life or attacking his businesses and destroy the people involved before they could execute their plots.

Al Capone's most known act of murder was on February 14, 1929. Four of his men entered a garage owned by George Moran's North Side Gang, which was being used as a liquor distribution center. Two of the men were dressed as police officers and the seven men in the building dropped their weapons, thinking it was a raid. Capone's men emptied nearly 200 rounds into the seven men, one of whom wasn't even part of the gang.

Despite his apparent savage nature, Capone was a pretty fair individual. During the depression, Capone opened housing for the homeless and soup kitchens, giving much at his own expense.

Al Capone was excellent at avoiding prosecution, always finding an alibi to protect him. One of the few times he was put in jail was in 1926, but it was only for one night since the prosecution couldn't put forth enough evidence. In 1929 he was given some small jail time for carrying a weapon. By 1930, Al was ranked as public enemy number one.

The government was trying very hard to put Capone away and eventually found a way to get to him. The government had mad it clear that even illegal income from gambling was taxable, but Al Capone had never filed taxes or declared income. The IRS assigned Frank Wilson to Capone and he quickly found a ledger that showed the record of income for one of Capone's gambling joints.

In 1931, Capone received an indictment for tax evasion for five years. The government fined Al $215,080.48 for back taxes from the gambling profits. A third charge of conspiracy to violate Prohibition laws was added to the fray, and Capone declared himself guilty, hoping for a plea bargain. The judge decided not to make any deals with Capone and a very angry Al changed his plea to not guilty. After bribing a jury, the judge switched juries at the last moment and the jury found Al guilty on five counts. He was sentenced to eleven and a half years in prison.

Al's first prison term was in Atlanta federal prison and began in 1932. Capone was able to bribe guards at the prison to get a number of amenities unavailable to other prisoners. When word got around, he was sent to the isolated island of Alcatraz. Being cut off from all of his contacts and friends, Capone made it a point to behave as much as possible in an effort to get out early.

Capone had contracted syphilis and began to show signs of dementia while at Alcatraz. He was put in the hospital during the remainder of his sentence. He was released on November 16, 1939, but was forced to spend some further time in the hospital. After being released from the hospital he went to his home and had a relaxing rest. However, his condition had deteriorated to the point where he couldn't run the crime organization anymore. He had a apoplectic stroke on January 21, 1947, but survived. On the 24th of January, pneumonia set in and he died of cardiac arrest on the 25th. Capone was buried in Chicago, one of the most notorious gangsters of all time.