Al Capone

The Rise and Fall of Al Capone

Alphonse Capone was born in New York City by two parents Gabriel and Teresa Capone. Capone's parents immigrated to the United States in 1893 from Naples, Italy. Capone came from a large family and was the fourth oldest of nine children. (Kobler 10). As a child, Capone was very wise when it came to living on the streets of New York. He had a clever mind when it came to knowing his environment. Capone was not very bright when it came to school. Capone was an illiterate. He came from a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn, so education was not a priority.

At about the age of eleven Capone became a member of a juvenile gang in his neighborhood. Al Capone's philosophy was that laws only applied to people who had enough money to live by them. The name of the gang Capone became a member of was called the “Bim Booms” gang. In this gang, Capone was taught how to defend himself with a knife, and with a gun. By the time Capone reached the sixth grade he had already become a street brawler. Capone never responded well to authority and for this very reason his schooling would soon come to an end. While attending school, Capone was responsible for beating a female teacher and knocking her to the ground. The principal of the school rushed in and punished young Capone and for this very reason he would never return to school again. (Sifakis 603)

After dropping out of school, Capone took up jobs such as working as a pin-setter at a bowling alley, and working behind the counter at a candy store. Capone was terrific at pool, winning every eightball tournament held in Brooklyn. He also became an expert knife fighter. Although the “Bim Booms” gang was the first gang Capone ever entered, he was quickly picked up by the “Five Pointers”. The “Five Pointers” was the most powerful gang in New York city. The gang was headed by Johnny Torrio, and was made up of over 1,500 thugs who specialized in burglary, extortion, robbery, assault, and murder. While working as a strong arm enforcer under Torrio, Capone learned all the lethal tricks that would help him reach a pinnacle point in organized crime. Capone was very grateful to Torrio. Torrio first set Capone out to do all of his “dirty work”. Capone was sent to beat up loan shark victims behind on their payments, then a pimp, beating up girls who were holding out on their nightly take. Torrio finally got Capone a job as a bouncer at the Harvard Inn. By this time Capone was recognized by his gang as being a vicious fighter with both fists and knives. He also became an excellent shooter with both a revolver and automatic weapons. This was due to many months of shooting empty bottles in the basement at the Harvard Inn. Capone was later promoted to bartender at the Harvard Inn. At this time Capone recieved the scar which would give him his famous nickname, “Scarface”. It is really not known how Capone ended up with a scar that extended four inches across his left cheek. Capone often lied about how he got the scar.

On December 18, 1918, Capone was married at the age of 19, to a 21 year old Irish girl named Mae Coughlin. A short time later Albert Francis Capone was born to the couple. At the same time this was going on, in New York, Johnny Torrio moved his operations to Chicago. Torrio's prospects in New York looked low because Capone was charged for two murders. He was released when a witness lost her memory, and evidence suddenly vanished from the court. Al Capone knew that he had Torrio to thank for this. A few days later, Capone got into a fight with another man and killed him. Rather than being charged again, Capone called Torrio and received an invitation to move to Chicago. (Nash 604)

As Capone arrived in Chicago, Capone was given a job as a bouncer at Torrio's newest club, The Four Deuces. Capone was known as an aggressive man, hospitalizing most of the drunks he evicted. Men were hospitalized with broken arms, broken legs, and skull fractures. Capone was repeatedly arrested for assault, but was always released thanks to Torrio's police connections. While working at The Four Deuces, Capone strangled at least twelve men with his bare hands. The bodies were dragged to the basement through a trap door that led to the alley behind the club. There a fast getaway car would always be waiting for Capone to flee in. The underworld of Chicago at the time was being run by a man named "Big Jim" Colosimo. Colosimo was a flamboyant man. He dressed in expensive suits and was covered in diamond jewelry. He was always seen eating at expensive restaurants, and owned all the brothels, saloons, and gambling establishments in Chicago. (Nash 605)

Johnny Torrio grew very jealous of Colosimo and soon sent for his most loyal hitman, Al Capone. When Capone arrived in Chicago, he was assigned the small jobs as a bouncer and bartender to disguise Torrio's real reason for sending for him. "Big Jim" Colosimo was killed on the night of May 11, 1920. (Nash 606) The reason for his death was due mostly to the prohibition act to be passed in 1920. The prohibiton act was a law that forbid alcohol to be distributed to all the bars in Chicago. Torrio, the nephew of Colosimo, often asked him to start an underground operation that could supply all the bars with beer and liquor, but Colosimo would never let him. After Capone’s hit on Colisimo, Torrio agreed to give Capone control of his new alcohol distributing operations. (Allsop 56)

Al Capone's mob ran the streets of Chicago. While Capone's street mob was at its peak, it had over 1,000 members and half of the Chicago police force. Capone's payroll at the time consisted of police officers, state's attorneys, mayors, legislators, governors, and even congressmen. (Nash 608) At the time Capone was known as the "King of Chicago". Being the king of Chicago had its downfalls. There were numerous threats on his life caused by rival mob members. Capone was shot at in the streets, and even had poison slipped into his food at clubs. In a near death experience a rival gang member, Dion O'Banion, shot 1,000 rounds into the Hawthorn Inn where Capone was staying. After he had cheated death, the arranging of O'Banion's death would be marked as one of Capone's greatest accomplishments. This assassination was performed by Capone's two best hitmen, John Scalise and Albert Anselmi. Unfortunately for Al Capone, the hit on Dion O’Banion was not very successfull. The killing of O’Banion led to hostility between one of O’Banions fellow leaders, Bugs Moran. Capone’s sought to strike first on Moran and his gang before it was to late. The plan to knock off Moran’s gang was later nicknamed The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Capone's men dressed as police officers and lined seven of O’Banion and Morans gang members up across a garage wall. The gang offered no resistance because they thought it was a regular police routine. Instead Capone's men opened up over 1,000 rounds of machine gun fire slaughtering the gang members. Unfortunately for Capone, Bugs Moran was not present among the seven men who were killed. (Nash 112)

After Capone's failed attemp to knock off Moran, his opperations became very sloppy. Capone’s eventual downfall was caused by one of his own business agents who ran Capone's dog and horse race tracks. The man's name was Eddie O'Hare. O’Hare was working undercover under the IRS. He informed the IRS where books containing Capone's income could be taken. Capone had never paid any tax’s and for this very reason he was brought up on charges of tax invasion in front of the federal court. Capone tried to bribe the federal government by offering them $400,000 to drop the case against him, but they rejected the offer. Capone was convicted and given the maximum sentence which was a $50,000 fine, court costs of $30,000, and eleven years in jail. (Nash 116 ) Capone started his sentence in an Atlanta prison. In 1934 he was transferred to Alcatraz, also known as “The Rock”. Five years later he was released from Alcatraz due to a case of untreated syphilis he recieved from sleeping with prostitutes. Later that year, Al Capone was judged insane and was released to the care of his family. (Sifakis 613 )

In January 1947 Capone had a massive brain hemorrhage and died. His body was removed from his estate in Florida and transferred back to the seen of his underworld triumph, Chicago. The family held a private ceremony at the cemetery, but were affraid of grave robbers taking the body so they reburied Capone in a secret place in Mt. Carmel Cemetery. (Kobler 122)