Alias: Alphonse Gabriel Capone
Born: Tuesday January 17th 1899
Died: Saturday January 25th 1947
Cause of Death: Cardiac Arrest
Crime Family Association: The Chicago Outfit
About Al Capone
Al Capone’s full name was Alphonse Gabriel Capone and he was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 17, 1899. Both of his parents (Gabriele and Teresa) were Italian immigrants, his father worked as a barber and his mother was a seamstress.
Al was one of nine children, the other children were:
- James Capone
- Raffaele Capone
- Salvatore Capone
- John Capone
- Albert Capone
- Matthew Capone
- Rose Capone
- Mafalda Capone
Al Capone ended up dropping out of school at the age of 14; this was after an unfortunate event in where he was expelled for punching a female teacher in the face. After dropping out of school he picked up a few jobs around the city which included working at a bowling alley and a local candy store, and it was during this period of his life where he met Johnny Torrio who would prove to be his guide and mentor for many years of his life. ,
Starting Out In Gang Land New York
It’s fair to say that Al had experienced a wealth of gang culture after running with a good number of small time gangs in early life. It was during this period of his life that he would meet another mentor who eventually employed him; this mentor was a bar tender who went by the name of Frankie Yale, a friendship that would have many strained moments which will lead to Frankie Yales murder in 1928.
Scarface Was Born
While Al Capone was working in a Brooklyn Night Club (Harvard Inn) as a bouncer of sorts, he unintentionally insulted a woman (Lena) and was ultimately attacked by her brother Frank Gallucio. Frank slashed his face three times on the left side which lead to his nickname. In the end Al ended up hiring Frank as his bodyguard.
You will also notice that after this event, that Al Capone would not let photographers take photos of that side of his face, so all photos would only show his right hand side.
Moving Up In Chicago
In 1923 Al bought a $5,500 house in Chicago, the house was small but was all he needed at the time. The house was situated at 7244 South Prairie Avenue in the Park Manor.
In moving to Chicago he connected back with Johnny Torrio who was his former gang mentor, and Torrio would hire Al as there was plenty of opportunity and potential in Chicago.
Johnny Torrio took over the crime empire of James “Big Jim” Colosimo after he was murdered in May 1920, just a few months after the start of Prohibition. At first the finger of blame for Big Jim’s death was pointing in the direction of Frankie Yale but legal proceedings against him were dropped due to a lack of evidence.
Al Capone Grows in Power
Working with Torrio was one of the wisest moves Al Capone auctioned and over time he grew in stature. In May 1924, Dean O’Banion (part of the North Side Gang) discovered that one of his breweries was going to be raided by the feds and sold his share to Johnny Torrio without Torrio knowing why O’Banion had done this. Ultimately after the raid of the Brewey O’Banion and Torrio were arrested by the feds.
What happened next would spark a gang war as Torrio wanted O’Banion to pay the price, and had him killed on October 10, 1924. After this move by the Chicago Outfit the North Side Gang retaliated and Johnny Torrio was severely injured in a 1925 attack, this gave Torrio a wake-up call and he decided to hand over his entire empire to Al Capone and retreat to Italy.
A Close Shave
After some time in power, and with his celebrity status growing in Chicago Capone was on the Hit List of rival gang members Hymie Weiss and Bugs Moran who were part of the North Side Gang. On numerous occasions Al Capone’s car was shot at, but the closest was on September 20, 1926 when Capone’s entourage was fired at with Thompson sub-machine guns whilst he himself was eating lunch. His bodyguard managed to get Al Capone down to the ground but a number of bystanders were hurt from flying glass and bullet fragments.
In the shooting a young boy and his mother were injured, the mother could have lost sight in her eyes but Al Capone stepped up and footed the medical bill for them (a nice side to Capone).
After this event Al decided it would be best if he had his Cadillac fitted with bullet-proof glass to protect him in the future. If you think the car is familiar then you might have seen President Franklin D. Roosevelt inside it, as in 1932 the car was seized by Prohibition Agents and became the Presidents limousine.
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
After a truce couldn’t be met between Bugs Moran and Al Capone all out warfare began which would outrage the public with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre which would see seven North Side Gangsters gunned down by Chicago Outfit gangsters dressed as the police.
The extent of Al Capone’s involvement in this is still shrouded in mystery, as to is the rumour that he gave the order.
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre took place in 1929 in a garage at 2122 North Clark Street and surprisingly no one was ever brought to trial for the crime.
Whoever were the brains behind this, my guess is Capone, it was a well thought out plan. His men rented an apartment across from a trucking warehouse which was Moran’s headquarters, and then monitored their every movement (much like a police stake out).
On the morning of Thursday February 14, 1929, Al Capone’s men dressed as police and faked a raid as the warehouse in an attempt to kill Moran and his men. As Moran’s men thought they had been raided by the police they complied with the orders shouted at them and lined up against a wall not knowing they were about to be machine-gunned down. The seven victims were then shot down but didn’t consist of Moran who miraculously didn’t turn up
Eliot Ness Opens His Case
In the late 1920’s Eliot Ness who worked as a Prohibition Agent began an investigation of Al Capone and his business setup trying to pin something on him that would stick. Eliot Ness managed to find something out as in 1931 (two years after he picked up the case) Al Capone was indicted for income tax evasion and various violations of the Volstead Act.
Being Al Capone, and like many gangsters since he attempted to bribe and intimidate jurors but this was discovered by Ness’s men. The jury was then switched with one from another case and Capone was found guilty of five counts of tax evasion and failing to file tax returns but not guilty for Volstead Act violations.
He ended up getting 11 years in jail, and hit with large fines.
Life at Alcatraz
Not many people realize this but at first Al Capone was sent to Atlanta US Penitentiary in 1932, and Lincoln Heights Jail, before being moved on to Alcatraz in 1934. He was able to live a fairly comfortable life for an inmate gaining access to special privileges.
Alcatraz was a new prison which was situated off the coast of San Francisco on a small island. Due to the isolation of the prison and the tight security this was to be the downfall of Al Capone’s power as he lost contact with colleagues, and in the 1930’s Prohibition ended which was his major source of revenue.
He spent the last year of his sentence in the prison hospital, confused and disoriented. In January 1939 he left Alcatraz but not as a free man as he was then transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island in California, in which he would spend a year for a contempt of court issue which he was originally sentenced to serve in Chicago’s Cook County jail.
In His Later Years
Many people close to Al Capone had commented on how he went in to jail a stocky man and came out as a frail man who had serious mental health issues.
In 1946 some tests were performed on Al Capone, and it was concluded that he had the mental capability of a 12-year-old child. He spent the last years of his life in his Florida Mansion, and on January 21, 1947 he suffered from a stroke which would all but finish him off. Around 4 days later he suffered from a fatal cardiac which ended the life of one of the most famous and feared gangsters of the Prohibition era.