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Al Capone

Al Capone Perhaps the best-known gangster of all time, Al “Scarface” Capone was the most powerful mob boss of his era. He dominated organized crime in the Chicago area from 1925 until 1931, when he was imprisoned for federal income tax evasion. Alphonse Capone was born on Jan. 17, 1899, in a tough neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. He attended school up to the sixth grade. His nickname, Scarface, resulted from a knife attack by the brother of a girl Capone had insulted that left three scars on his face.

Capone joined the James Street gang, headed by Johnny Torrio. In 1920 Torrio asked Capone to go to Chicago to work for his uncle, Big Jim Colosimo, head of the city’s largest prostitution and gambling ring. Later that year when Prohibition became law, Torrio foresaw bootlegging, the sale of illegal whiskey, as a lucrative business. His uncle, however, wanted no part in such potentially dangerous dealings. Colosimo was murdered and Torrio and Capone took over his empire, to which they added bootlegging. After Torrio was gunned down and almost killed by a rival gang, he retired from the underworld. At age 26 Capone was managing more than 1,000 employees with a payroll of more than $300,000 a week and demanding their total loyalty.

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His most famous escapade occurred in 1929 with the attempted slaying of his last rival, George “Bugs” Moran, an event that became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Five of Capone’s gang, dressed as police officers, walked into Moran’s bootleg headquarters, lined up seven of his men, and gunned them down. The government was eventually able to convict Capone on charges of federal income tax evasion, and he was sentenced to Atlanta’s federal prison for 11 years. In 1934 he was transferred to Alcatraz prison in San Francisco. He was paroled in 1939.

Suffering from syphilis that had begun to drive him insane, he was unable to run the Chicago mob. Capone spent the rest of his life in his Miami Beach mansion, where he died on Jan. 25, 1947. During the 1930s the business of organized crime was depicted by Hollywood in a series of bloody and violent movies. Callous as these gangsters were, their screen images still became heroes to countless numbers of youthful moviegoers.


In the 1920s, John Torrio, a member of the Chicago underworld, discovered that there was large sums of money to be gained through bootlegging, during the Prohibition period. His mission was to monopolize the business of selling booze throughout Chicago. However, this proved difficult, due to the competition by other gangster organizations. Torrio had men who took care of other bootleggers through intimidation, murder, pay offs, and bribery, but he still needed more enforcement to expand his operations.

Torrio decided he wanted Al Capone to be the head man in his organization. He had heard of Capones reputation, as a graduate of the Five Points gang. He was also notorious for being a bullet headed roughneck. He brought his intelligence and careful planning to Torrios business, and in exchange, received half of the profits. Posing as a furniture salesman, Capone ran the business out of his office. Capone was an excellent leader because of his skills in dealing with emergency situations. For example, when his propieters were threatened by men from other organizations, Capone used some of the 700 men at his disposal to bump them off. All his men were adept with Thompson sub-machine guns and sawed-off shotguns.

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Capones greatest accomplishment was having the mayor, that he put in office, in his pocket. He did this by intimidating people to vote for his canditate. After his mayor was put in office, he used his new political power to take control of a suburb called Cicero, which he ran his business out of. Al Capone was one of the most notorious gangsters in history.


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