Alphonse Gabriel famously known as ‘Al’ Capone was among the most infamous gangsters in the history of America. Better known as Al Capone or Scarface, he led the illegal business of smuggling, bootlegging, prostitution and others during the 1920s in Chicago. His illegitimate instincts were evident at a very young age which going ahead brought the criminal out of him. Despite his the illegal activities he carried out, Capone was a frequently seen public figure and was also considered the ‘modern day robin hood’ for his charitable works.
Early Life & Career
Al Capone was born in Brooklyn to Gabriel and Theresa, on January 17, 1899, who had emigrated from Italy to the United States. The couple had nine children, Capone being their fourth child.
At the very young age of 14, Capone was expelled out school for hitting a female teacher. His hatred towards authority and strict policies led him to choose the anti-social way of life. After he was thrown out of school, Capone engaged in some sundry jobs until he met Johnny Torrio, a gangster whom he regarded his mentor. His initial works were with some minor gangs, but after he joined the Brooklyn Rippers and Five Points Gang, two very powerful criminal associations, he gained a strong base.
His marriage to Mae Josephine Coughlin occurred on December 30, 1918 after the birth of their first son the earlier month. His career gained peak when he was recruited by the Johnny Torrio the leader of the potent Five Points Gang. Torrio handed over his business to Capone after being severely injured at an attack by a rival gang.
The American government had banned the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol from 1920 to 1933. It was then that Capone’s gang, known as The Outfits’, operated illegally. Sale of liquor, gambling, prostitution and other illicit activities were the major source of their income.
The infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929 was the biggest blunder made by Capone. On February 14 of the year he ordered the shooting of the members of an enemy gang. Capone’s men killed seven people. This changed the public view of Capone forever.
On November 24, Al Capone was penalized with 11 years in Federal prison, back taxes for tax evasion. After his release in 1939, his health deteriorated severely and he died of stroke and pneumonia on January 25, 1947.
Crimes and Punishment
Capone was arrested for the first time when he working under Yale (his mentor) for a misconduct and also on the grounds of murderer in New York. He could not be tried as there were no witnesses to the murder and he was freed. When Torrio, the leader of the Five Points gang and Capone’s friend, retired after being shot by a rival gang, Capone took over the business. Within five years from the time he took over, the business grew manifold. He expanded his territory as well, by gunning down the rival gangs.
His most infamous conduct was the ‘St. Valentine’s Day Massacre’. On February 14, 1929, Capone’s men dressed as police men conducted a fake raid in the headquarters of George "Bugs" Moran's North Side gang, an old enemy. They shot and killed six of the seven members of the opposite gang.
Finally, it was in 1931, that Capone was accused of income-tax evasion, which was a new law passed. A thorough investigation was held and Capone was taken under custody for not filing tax returns for the years 1928 and 1929. He was fined and sentenced to ten years of imprisonment in the federal prison and one year in the county jail.
Capone was highlighted in Mario Puzo’s novel ‘The Godfather’
He was featured in Kinky Friedman’s novel The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover
He is in the book of photographs titled ‘New York City Gangland’.
Capone was a chief character in science fiction author Peter F. Hamilton's ‘Night's Dawn Trilogy’.
Following are among the best movies made on Al Capone’s life and character:
The Untouchables (1987, 1993-94)
Al Capone (1959)
The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967)
Road to Perdition (2002)
1899: Al Capone was born on January 17, in Brooklyn, New York.
1918: Capone got married on December 30 to Mary Coughlin.
1919: He went to Chicago with his family and worked for the gangster Torrio.
1922: He became a partner in Torrio’s illegal business.
1929: On February 14, the ‘St. Valentine's Day Massacre’ took place, which smeared Capone’s image in public.
1931: He was accused of tax evasion.
1932: Capone was sent to the federal prison in Atlanta to serve 11 years of sentence.
1939: He was released on January 6.
1947: He died of pneumonia on January 24.