living at 95 Navy Street in the Navy Yard section of downtown Brooklyn, the
Capone’s moved out of their tenement home to a better one located at 38
Garfield Place, in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. Al worked several odd
jobs, one at a barbershop, and other jobs at a candy store and a bowling
alley. It would be here at Park Slope that Al met his future wife, Mary
Coughlin, known as Mae, and the man who became his mob mentor, numbers
racketeer Johnny Torrio.
running a numbers and gambling operation near Capone’s home and Al started
running errands for him. When Torrio left Brooklyn for Chicago in 1909, the
two remained close friends. Capone spend some time in a few local gangs, such
as the Junior Forty Thieves, and the Bowery Boys, then joined the more
powerful Five Points Gang based in Lower Manhattan. In 1917, Torrio introduced
Al to Frankie Yale, who employed Al as a bartender at the Coney Island dance
hall and bar called the Harvard Inn. Capone, while working the door at a
Brooklyn night club, made an indecent remark to a woman. The woman’s brother,
Frank Gallucio slashed Capone’s face three times on the left side. These scars
gave Capone the nickname, “Scarface.”
December 30, 1918, Capone, who was 19 years old, married Mary “Mae” Josephine
Coughlin, an Irish Catholic, who one month later gave birth to their son,
Albert Francis “Sonny” Capone. As Al was under 21 years old, he had to have
written consent by his parents to get married. Capone made his friend, Johnny
Torrio, his son’s godfather.
do the right thing for his family, Al took an honest job as a bookkeeper for a
construction company, but when his father died from a heart attack in 1920,
Torrio invited him to Chicago and Capone jumped at this opportunity.
left New York for Chicago without his wife and son, who joined him later in
1923. Here in Chicago, Torrio was operating a booming business in gambling
and prostitution, but the enactment of the 18th Amendment
prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol, Torrio focused on this new
more lucrative occupation of bootlegging. Capone, now possessing skills in
street smarts, numbers and the like, which Torrio recognized, so he quickly
promoted Capone to partner in his operations.
soon began his reputation as a drinker, and rabble-rouser, and after hitting a
parked taxi while drunk, was arrested for the first time. Torrio however, with
his government connections got Capone off. Soon Capone’s power in Chicago
Torrio-Capone organization was competing with the North Side Gang of Dean
O’Banion for control. In May 1924, O’Banion was made aware that their Sieben
Brewery was going to be raided by the FBI, so he sold his shares to Torrio.
Following the raid, both O’Banion and Torrio were arrested. In retaliation,
Torrio’s people murdered O’Banion on October 10, 1924, which provoked a
Torrio was severely injured in an attack, and he decided to turn over his
business to Capone, and he returned to Italy. During the Prohibition Era,
Capone controlled very large portions of the entire Chicago underworld,
resulting in his making more than $100 million in revenue. As a result of his
success, the press began following his every move, and soon Capone was
considered a modern “Robin Hood,” type figure due in part to his gregarious
and generous personality. However, in time, his reputation by his later years
became connected with violence, his public popularity waned.
two of Capone’s sworn enemies were spotted in Cicero, he ordered them killed.
However, with these two was another man, William McSw8iggin, known as the
“Hanging Prosecutor,” who had tried to prosecute Capone for a previous murder.
Although Capone did not know the third man was with the two marked ones, all
three were killed. The public now fed up with Chicago and Capone’s
lawlessness, demanded justice. The police had no evidence for these murders,
but instead raided Capone’s business, taking with them documentation that
would later be used to charge him with income tax invasion. To assist with his
reputation, Capone called for a “Peace Conference,” among the city’s various
criminal elements, to stop the violence, which worked, but only lasted two
early months of 1929, Capone enterprise dominated the illegal liquor trade in
Chicago, but other criminal elements wanted in. Among those wanting a piece of
the action was Capone’s long-time rival “Bugs” Moran. Who had previously tried
to assassinate Torrio and Capone and was now after Capone’s top hit man,
“Machine Gun” Jack McGum. To counter this, Capone and McGum decided to kill
Moran. On February 14, 1929, posing as police, McGum’s gunmen assassinated
seven of Moran’s men in a North Side garage. Alerted by the impending danger
that in the garage as he approached, Moran escaped unharmed. Known as the St.
Valentine’s Day Massacre, Capone, who was in Miami at the time, was blamed for
it. As a result, he was dubbed by the public and the FBI, “Public Enemy
Hoover, in response to the public outcry for justice, efforts were now stepped
up to prosecute Capone for income-tax invasion. In 1927, the US Supreme Court
ruled that income derived from illegal activities was taxable. On June 5,
1931, the US Government indicted Capone on 22 counts of income-tax invasion.
believing that the government had a strong case against him, and confident
that he would receive a minimal sentence, struck a plea bargain in return for
a two-year sentence. However, the judge did not accept nor honor this
agreement. Consequently, Capone withdrew his guilty plea, and went to trial.
During the trial, Capone used bribery and intimidation at the jury. At the
last moment of the trial, the judge switched to an entirely new jury, who
found Capone guilty and sentenced him to eleven years in prison.
sent to a federal prison in Atlanta, where he continued his ways of bribing
guards and getting things he wanted. To combat this, Capone was sent to
Alcatraz in 1934, where he would become isolated from the outside world, and
could no longer use his past considerable influence. In time he began
suffering from poor health. As a young man he contracted syphilis, and now
suffered from neurosyphilis, which caused dementia. After serving 6.5 years of
his sentence, he was released to a mental hospital in Baltimore, where he
remained for three years. With his health rapidly declining, Capone lived his
last days in Miami with his wife, dying of cardiac arrest on January 25, 1947.
both hated and loved by the media during his lifetime, Al Capone’s image as a
crime syndicate leader, killer and mobster has lived on long after his death,
and who has inspired many books and movies, as the most notorious gangster in