The “fact” that Al Capone evaded justice numerous times and was finally indicted for income tax evasion is partial myth. Capone was apprehended and served time in prison prior to his conviction for tax fraud.
In the 1920s, the FBI was not authorized to investigate gangsters and organized crime. Capone’s first arrest – by the FBI – was for contempt of court, not for tax evasion. Capone posted bond and was released.
Then, in May 1929, as the FBI recounts: “Al Capone and his bodyguard were arrested in Philadelphia for carrying concealed deadly weapons. Within 16 hours they had been sentenced to terms of one year each. Capone served his time and was released in nine months for good behavior on March 17, 1930.”
“On February 28, 1931, Capone was found guilty in Federal Court on the Contempt of Court charge and was sentenced to 6 months in Cook County Jail. His appeal on that charge was subsequently dismissed.”
In the meanwhile the US Treasury Department had built up evidence for a case of tax evasion against Capone. On June 16, 1931, Capone pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges – but he later changed his plea when the judge informed him that he is not bound by any deals he may have made with the prosecution. But on October 18, 1931, he was ultimately sentenced to 11 years in prison of which he served 7 years, 6 months and 15 days, released on November 16, 1939.
Other Al Capone myths
Al Capone did not grow up in a violent home; his father – who owned a barber shop – never hit him or any of his 8 brothers and sisters. He grew up in a loving home.
Capone and Lucky Luciano did not attend 1st grade school together; Capone attended public schools in Brooklyn while the older (by 14 months) Luciano attended school in Manhattan.
Capone did not lead the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre against the North Side Mob in 1929; he was on vacation in Florida (but it was his gang, the Chicago Outfit, that committed the murders).
Eliot Ness (played by Kevin Costner in the movie The Untouchables) did not catch Capone; Capone probably never heard of Ness – his final capture in 1931 was as result of the tax evasion investigations led by Frank J. Wilson of the US Treasury Department.
Al Capone – Scarface and Snorky
Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York to Italian immigrants on January 17, 1899 and was named Alphonse Gabriel Capone. As child he was a member of 2 kid gangs, the Brooklyn Rippers, Forty Thieves Juniors and Bowery Boys. After school he joined the notorious Five Points gang.
It was during his time with the Five Points that Capone got slashed 3 times on the left cheek by Frank Galluco after Capone is said to have insulted his sister. The scars it left led to Capone being nicknamed “Scarface.” But his closest friends called him “Snorky.”
He married Irish girl Mary “Mae” Coughlin in 1918. Their only son, Albert Francis, known as Sonny, was born in 1918.
In his later years Capone contracted neurosyphilis which affected his brain and, in his final years, mentally regressed to the age of 12. He died from a heart attack following a stroke on January 15, 1947 at age 48, still known the world’s most famous gangster.
Adapted from the original article by Sam Vaknin