Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone (January 17, 1899 – January 25, 1947) was an American gangster who led a Prohibition-era crime syndicate. The Chicago Outfit, which subsequently became known as the "Capones", was dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging liquor, and other illegal activities such as prostitution, in Chicago from the early 1920s to 1931.
Born in Brooklyn, New York to Italian immigrants, Capone became involved with gang activity at a young age after being expelled from school at age 14. In his early twenties, he moved to Chicago to take advantage of a new opportunity to make money smuggling illegal alcoholic beverages into the city during Prohibition. He also engaged in various other criminal activities, including bribery of government figures andprostitution. Despite his illegitimate occupation, Capone became a highly visible public figure. He made various charitable endeavors using the money he made from his activities, and was viewed by many to be a "modern-day Robin Hood".
Capone was publicly criticized for his involvement in the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, when seven rival gang members were executed.Capone was convicted on federal charges of tax evasion, and sentenced to federal prison. His incarceration included a term at the newAlcatraz federal prison. In the final years of Capone's life, he suffered mental and physical deterioration due to late-stage neurosyphilis, which he had contracted as a youth. On January 25, 1947, he died from cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke.
After his initial stint with small-time gangs that included the Junior Forty Thieves and the Bowery Boys, Capone joined the Brooklyn Rippers and then the powerful Five Points Gangbased in Lower Manhattan. During this time, he was employed and mentored by fellow racketeer Frankie Yale, a bartender in a Coney Island dance hall and saloon called the Harvard Inn. Capone received the scars that gave him the nickname "Scarface" in a fight. After he inadvertently insulted a woman while working the door at a Brooklyn night club, Capone was attacked by her brother Frank Gallucio; his face was slashed three times on the left side. Yale insisted that Capone apologize to Gallucio, and later Capone hired him as a bodyguard. When photographed, Capone hid the scarred left side of his face. He said the injuries were war wounds. According to the 2002 Life article, titled Mobsters and Gangsters: from Al Capone to Tony Soprano, Capone was called "Snorky" by his closest friends.
It is believed Capone ordered the 1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on Chicago's North Side. Details of the killing of the seven victims in a garage at 2122 North Clark Street (then the SMC Cartage Co.) and the extent of Capone's involvement are widely disputed. No one was ever brought to trial for the crime. The massacre was thought to be the Outfit's effort to strike back at Bugs Moran's North Side gang. They had been increasingly bold in hijacking the Outfit's booze trucks, assassinating two presidents of the Outfit-controlled Unione Siciliane, and made three assassination attempts on Jack McGurn, a top enforcer of Capone.
To monitor their targets' habits and movements, Capone’s men rented an apartment across from the trucking warehouse that served as a Moran headquarters. On the morning of Thursday February 14, 1929, Capone’s lookouts signaled gunmen disguised as police to start a 'raid'. The faux police lined the seven victims along a wall without a struggle then signaled for accomplices with machine guns. The seven victims were machine-gunned and shot-gunned. Photos of the massacre victims shocked the public and damaged Capone's reputation. Federal law enforcement worked to investigate his activities.
Capone With His Mother
Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 17, 1899. His parents Gabriele (December 12, 1864 – November 14, 1920) and Teresina Capone (December 28, 1867 – November 29, 1952) were immigrants from Italy. His father Gabriele was a barber from Castellammare di Stabia, a town about 16 mi (26 km) south of Naples, and his mother Teresina was a seamstress and the daughter of Angelo Raiola from Angri, a town in the province of Salerno.
Gabriele and Teresina had nine children: Alphonse "Scarface Al" Capone, James Capone (also known as Richard Two-Gun Hart), Raffaele Capone (also known as Ralph "Bottles" Capone, who took charge of his brother's beverage industry), Salvatore "Frank" Capone, John Capone, Albert Capone, Matthew Capone, Rose Capone, and Mafalda Capone (who married John J. Maritote). The Capone family immigrated to the United States in 1893 and settled at 95 Navy Street, in the Navy Yard section of downtown Brooklyn. The father Gabriele worked at a nearby barber shop at 29 Park Avenue. When Al was 11, the Capone family moved to 38 Garfield Place in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Capone showed promise as a student, but had trouble with the rules at his strict parochial Catholic school. He dropped out of school at the age of 14, after being expelled for hitting a woman teacher in the face. He worked at odd jobs around Brooklyn, including a candy store and a bowling alley. During this time, Capone was influenced by gangster Johnny Torrio, whom he came to regard as a mentor.
In 1929, the Bureau of Prohibition agent Eliot Ness began an investigation of Capone and his business, attempting to get a conviction for Prohibition violations. Frank J. Wilson investigated Capone's income tax violations, which the government decided was more likely material for a conviction. In 1931 Capone was indicted forincome tax evasion and various violations of the Volstead Act (Prohibition). His attorneys made a plea deal, but the presiding judge warned he might not follow the sentencing recommendation from the prosecution. Capone withdrew his plea of guilty.
His attempt to bribe and intimidate the potential jurors was discovered by Ness's men. The venire (jury pool) was switched with one from another case, and Capone was stymied. Following a long trial, he was found guilty on some income tax evasion counts (the Volstead Act violations were dropped). The judge gave him an 11-year sentence along with heavy fines, and liens were filed against his various properties. His appeal was denied.
In May 1932, Capone was sent to Atlanta U.S. Penitentiary, but he was able to obtain special privileges. Later, for a short period of time, he was transferred to the Lincoln Heights Jail. He was transferred to Alcatraz on August 11, 1934, which was newly established as a prison on an island off San Francisco. The warden kept tight security and cut off Capone's contact with colleagues. His isolation and the repeal of Prohibition in December 1933, which reduced a major source of revenue, diminished his power.Capone had some problem at Alcatraz. While working in prison basement, he got into an argument with an inmate who was standing in line waiting for haircut; this person then stabbed him with a pair of shears. Capone was admitted into prison hospital with a minor wound and released a few days later. In addition, hi health decline as syphilis which he had contracted as a youth progressed. He spend the last year of his sentence in the prison hospital, confused and disoriented. Capone completed his term in Alcatraz on January 6, 1939. And was transferred to Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island in California, to serve the one year contempt of court he was originally sentenced to serve in Chicago's Cook County jail. He was paroled on November 16, 1939, and, after having spent a short time in a hospital, returned to his home in Palm Island, Florida.