On this day in 1931, gangster Al Capone is sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion and fined $80,000, signaling the downfall of one of the most notorious criminals of the 1920s and 1930s.
Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1899 to Italian immigrants. He was expelled from school at 14, joined a gang and earned his nickname “Scarface” after being sliced across the cheek during a fight. By 1920, Capone had moved to Chicago, where he was soon helping to run crime boss Johnny Torrio’s illegal enterprises.
Torrio's enterprises included alcohol-smuggling, gambling, and prostitution. Torrio retired in 1925 after an attempt on his life and Capone, known for his cunning and brutality, was put in charge of the organization.
Capone was at the top of the F.B.I.’s “Most Wanted” list by 1930, but he avoided long stints in jail until 1931 by bribing city officials, intimidating witnesses and maintaining various hideouts.
He became Chicago’s crime kingpin by wiping out his competitors through a series of gangland battles and slayings, including the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 when Capone’s men gunned down seven rivals. This event helped raise Capone’s notoriety to a national level.
federal agent Eliot Ness
Among Capone’s enemies was federal agent Eliot Ness, who led a team of officers known as “The Untouchables” because they couldn’t be corrupted. Ness and his men routinely broke up Capone’s bootlegging businesses, but it was tax-evasion charges that finally stuck and landed Capone in prison in 1931.
Capone began serving his time at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, but amid accusations that he was manipulating the system and receiving cushy treatment, he was transferred to the maximum-security lockup at Alcatraz Island, in California’s San Francisco Bay.
Palm Bay Miami
He got out early in 1939 for good behavior, after spending his final year in prison in a hospital, suffering from syphilis.
Capone in Miami
Plagued by health problems for the rest of his life, Capone died in 1947 at age 48 at his home in Palm Island, Florida.
Al Capone's headquarters of operation was in Cicero, and the folklore is that he was a driving force in getting Route 66 developed as a paved highway so he could distribute illegal alcohol as part of his business activities. The gravesite is located at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, which is located 15 minutes northwest of Berwyn. Read More on Capone
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