Al Capone, an American-Italian gangster, was born in 1899 in Brooklyn, New York (Ackley, 2008). Capone’s parents had immigrated to the US from Italy (Al, 2000). Since he was a child, Capone was constantly getting himself into trouble (Ackley, 2008). After completing sixth grade, Capone dropped out of school and became involved with a gang (Famous, n.d.) When he was a young teenager, one of his neighbors bullied him and cut him in the face with a razor blade. This is where his nickname, “Scarface,” originated from. Johnny Torrio, one of his childhood friends, eventually got him involved in more trouble. During the prohibition in the 1920’s, Torrio started bootlegging, or illegally selling alcoholic beverages (Ackley, 2008).
Torrio paid Capone $75 a week to travel to Chicago and assisted him in this bootlegging. Capone eventually moved away from New York to help Torrio with his business. Not only did he help Torrio bootleg, but he also became his personal hitman. Troubles started to arise within their bootlegging business, leading Capone and Torrio to murder some of their acquaintances that they worked with. To cover up for their crime, they attended the funerals and sent a lot of flowers so that people would not suspect them. A year later, in 1925, Torrio was shot five times from some of his enemy gangsters. After this, he gave Capone control over his bootlegging business because he feared his life was in too much danger (Ackley, 2008).
Capone eventually moved away from New York and lived in Chicago. Capone expanded his business all throughout the east coast, and even into Canada and the Bahamas. Each year, Capone made millions of dollars from his business. On the side, Capone was in charge of another business. He hired people to help kill other bootleggers who were competing with him. He also threatened his employees that he would murder them if they did not correctly complete their jobs. Also, if any of Capone’s customers purchased alcohol from any competing bootleggers, he would murder them (Ackley, 2008).
Capone was so intimidating that even the police were afraid of him. Many of the police were paid by Capone so that they would not interfere with his bootlegging business. He also paid of many other government employees such as politicians. Because of his influence on all of these authority figures, he was able to get away with his illegal crimes. But, most of these people were government employees for the state and the federal government was still after him (Ackley, 2008).
In 1929, in Chicago, Capone carried out one of the most famous gang killings, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The victims of his attack were some of his enemy gangsters, who were led by a man named George Moran. It was rumored that Capone was afraid of Moran. Capone’s followers dressed up as police officers and entered into the building where Moran and his gangsters usually stayed. They began shooting at the seven men in the building, assuming that Moran was with them. They left, only to find out later that Moran had not been inside the building, so he was still alive. Although Moran told authorities to investigate Capone because he was sure that he had been behind the killings, Capone was never arrested. Capone ended up moving away from Chicago because he feared that Capone and his men would seek revenge and murder him (Ackley, 2008).
Capone eventually became arrested and had to serve time for one of his crimes, but he only had to serve a one year sentence. He had been caught with a concealed weapon in Philadelphia in 1929. After he got out of prison, he moved away to Miami to keep a low profile. But catching Capone was still one of the federal government’s top priorities. They could not prove that Capone was behind all of the bootlegging and killings, so they found other circumstances to arrest him under. They eventually arrested Capone in 1931 and charged him with 22 counts of tax evasion. He was sentenced to prison for eleven years ( Ackley, 2008). Even when Capone was in prison, he was still treated like royalty. He was given very expensive furniture and was provided with many services that other prisoners were not entitled to. Every day, he was visited by tons of family and friends (Al, n.d.).
In 1939, Capone was rewarded for good behavior and was allowed out from prison on parole. He moved back to Miami and ended up dying from syphilis in 1947, at the age of 48 (Al, 2000). He had contracted syphilis whenever he became involved with prostitution (Ackley, 2008).
Ackley, Chas. Alphonse G. Capone (2008). Retrieved from http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Capone_Al.html
Al Capone (2000). American Experience. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/miami/peopleevents/pande01.html
Al Capone at Alcatraz (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.alcatrazhistory.com/cap1.htm
Famous cases & criminals-Al Capone (n.d.). Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/al-capone.