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Capone

Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone, better known by his iconic moniker Scarface, was a notorious American gangster and head of the Chicago Outfit. He is well-known for having orchestrated the deaths of more than 30 people, the most infamous among them being the St. Valentine's Day massacre.

Early Life[]

Capone was born on January 18, 1899, in Brooklyn, New York. His parents were both Italian immigrants born in Angri in the Province of Salerno. He was one of nine children born to the couple, one of whom only lived to be a year old, and two of his brothers worked with the Chicago Outfit.

The Capones immigrated to Fiume in Austria-Hungary and eventually took a ship to the U.S. in 1893. When they arrived, they settled on 95 Navy Street, in the Navy Yard section of downtown Brooklyn. They stayed there until Capone was 11 years-old, in which they then moved to 38 Garfield Place in Park Slope. Capone was schooled at a strict parochial Catholic school. He was troubled in school despite having promising grades, mainly because he had trouble with its rules. He was expelled at the age of 14 when he hit his teacher in the face. After his expulsion, Capone worked numerous odd jobs, among them were jobs at a bowling alley and a candy store. At some point during this time, Capone was influenced by a founding member of the Chicago Outfit, Johnny Torrio.

Initial Criminal Activity[]

Capone's criminal career began when he became a member of several small thug groups as a teenager. He also acquired a job as a bar doorman thanks to Francesco Ioele, a racketeer better known as "Frankie Yale". While employed under Ioele, Capone got into a scuffle with a man named Frank Galluccio after the former inadvertently insulted the latter's sister. Galluccio slashed Capone across his left cheek, thus earning him his nickname "Scarface", which he hated. He called his scar a "war wound" and hid it when photographed. At some point he also became a cocaine addict.

Mob Activity[]

At some point Torrio was imported as an enforcer by a crime boss known as James "Big Jim" Colosimo (real name Vincenzo Colosimo). Torrio then invited Capone to Chicago and he received employment as a bouncer. While in Chicago, Capone was described as a boxing promoter by sports papers in the area. On May 11, 1920, Colosimo was shot to death in his car. Although no one was ever arrested for his death, Capone is strongly suspected as being his killer. Torrio took over Colosimo's empire afterwards. At some point Capone was alerted to a planned attack on him by Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik and it was thwarted. Capone had Guzik join the Outfit and later murdered a freelance hijacker named Joseph L. "Joe" Howard who assaulted Guzik.

Capone was Torrio's right-hand man in his new crime empire and they became allied with the Genna Brothers. Capone attempted to negotiate agreements over territory between rival crime groups. His fears of entering a gang war were realized when the Genna Brothers began putting pressure on a mixed ethnicity group known as the North Side Gang (led by Dean O'Banion). Torrio was unable to help O'Banion encroach the Gennas. Thus Capone and Torrio arranged his murder in 1924. Hymie Weiss was put in O'Banion's place as the gang's leader and sought vengeance on his friend's murderers. After both Capone and Torrio survived attempts on their lives in 1925, the latter relinquished his control of the Outfit to the former. Now with complete control over the Outfit, Capone began a long criminal reign. The Outfit engaged in illegal breweries and had a transportation network that stretched all the way to Canada. He was protected by law-enforcement and politics and quickly became a national celebrity and talking point. Capone's alliances also allowed him to use violence as a way to earn more revenue; establishments that refused his liquor were often bombed (such attacks led to the deaths of over 100 people, and were suspected to have been committed by the Outift's bomber, James "Mad Bomb" Belcastro), and Capone orchestrated the deaths of dozens more.

Capone essentially set the standards of many gangsters-to-come; he was flamboyant, a womanizer, wore custom suits, smoked custom cigars, dined on gourmet food, and many brothels were proliferated because of him. But despite this, he also opened a soup kitchen and various charities, thus earning him the admiration of the city (mainly to cover up his criminal acts and clean his reputation). He took over various town council elections and numerous attempts were made on his life. A notable attempt made by the North Side Gang drove Capone to attempt a negotiation (that failed) and ultimately order the death of Weiss; Bugs Moran became his successor. Capone, becoming increasingly paranoid, traveled frequently by train between several states. At some point, corrupted mayor candidate William Hale Thompson caught the interest of Capone with his desires to create a wide open town (at one point hinting that he would reopen several closed-down illegal saloons). Capone allegedly gave Thompson's campaign $250,000 and thus allowed him to beat his competitor, William Dever, and won the mayoral race. As mayor, Thompson shifted focus away from the bootleggers and directed the city's resources more towards those advocating to reform the city government (thus allowing Capone's activities to continue). Capone continued to support Thompson by having Belcastro launch a series of bombing attacks that killed at least 15 people. The bombings were mainly targeted at the booths where Thompson's opponents voted. The six months leading up to the campaign was marked with these bombings, and the election was named "The Pineapple Primary" (due to grenades being shaped like pineapples). Thompson won the election on April 10, 1928.

Saint Valentine's Day massacre[]

V-Day massacre building

The warehouse that was the sight of the Saint Valentine's Day massacre.

Capone, presumably attempting to kill Bugs Moran, had his men rent an apartment across Moran's hideout at a warehouse to observe them and plan the perfect time to strike. On the morning of Thursday on February 14, 1929, four of Capone's men (two dressed as police officers, while the other two wore suits, ties, overcoats, and hats) went to the warehouse under the pretense of conducting a "police raid". Once inside, they ordered the seven men inside into the garage at gunpoint, lined them up against a wall, and shot them all dead. This act would later go on to named The Saint Valentine's Day massacre, and it is considered one of the most notorious acts of violence in Mafia history.

Downfall[]

The massacre is considered by some to have been one of Capone's first major mistakes. It immediately damaged his reputation and led to Thompson's alliance with him to come into question. Capone was summoned to court to testify before a Chicago grand jury on charges of federal Prohibition violations, but said he couldn't because he was "unwell". He was later arrested on March 27 for contempt of court on count of his earlier malignancy of his first summons. He was also arrested again on May 16 for carrying a concealed weapon. He was indicted only a day later and sentenced to a year in prison. He was released in March a year later. The governor also ordered sheriffs to run Capone out of the state of Pennsylvania. Barely a month later in April, Capone was arrested on vagrancy charges after being caught on the Miami beach. He was also charged for perjury when he alleged that prison guards had refused him food or water and had threatened to arrest his family but was acquitted in July.

After an extensive investigation, it was found that Capone and other lavish mobsters were guilty of tax evasion due to having not filed tax returns. Capone was eventually charged with income tax evasion from 1924 on March 13, 1931. He was later indicted on July 5 on 22 counts of income tax evasion and was released on $50,000 bail. Capone was indicted again only a week later on the 12th after Elliot Ness and his team of Untouchables inflicted major financial damage on his operations. Capone was charged with income tax evasion and 5,000 violations of the Volstead Act of 1919. Ultimately the violation charges were dropped and Capone was convicted of income tax evasion on October 17. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison. His lawyers unsuccessfully tried to appeal the sentence.

While incarcerated at the Atlanta U.S. Penitentiary, Capone's health began to decline due to complications from syphilis (which later became paresis), gonorrhoea, and cocaine withdraw. He was protected in prison by Morris "Red" Rudensky (another member of the Outfit and convicted robber). He was later transferred to the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in August of 1934. While there, Capone was stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors by James Lucas (a convicted murderer and bank robber) and Capone threw him at the wall. Capone's health deteriorated even more from neurosyphillis and he spent the remainder of his time there in the prison's hospital ward. On January 6, 1939, Capone was again transferred from Alcatraz to the Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island in California to serve out his sentence for his earlier contempt of court charge. His wife got him released on parole on November 16 after appealing to the court on count of Capone's deteriorating physical and mental health. After his release, Capone was admitted to the Union Memorial Hospital after John Hopkins Hospital turned him down. Capone donated two Japanese weeping cherry trees to the hospital. He left after much treatment for his illness, both in-and-out of the hospital. He moved with his family to Palm Island, Florida, where he became one of the first people to be treated with the antibiotic Penicillin. Capone died on January 25, 1947 in his mansion and with his family from apoplexy, aged 48.

After Capone's arrest, the Chicago Outfit resumed its activity without him. But with a great decline of violence that had marked Capone's rule as its leader.

Modus Operandi[]

Tommy gun

A Thompson submachine gun, a weapon commonly used by the Chicago Outfit.

Since Capone only killed one victim personally, the term "M.O." is somewhat misused. When he killed Joe Howard, he shot him six times with a revolver (four times in the chest and twice in his shoulders). He may have also shot Vincenzo Colosimo to death in his car.

Capone's proxy victims were men who he had killed for a variety of reasons, such as suspecting them of plotting against him (some of whom did), disrespecting him and his gang, or just simply wanting them dead and out of his way. These victims were all gunned down, usually with Thompson submachine guns and shotguns. They were typically ambushed and murdered in public places. During the Saint Valentines Day massacre, the seven victims were tricked by their killers (who were disguised as Law Enforcement). They were forced into the garage at gunpoint, made to line up against a wall, and were all shot to death (usually around 12 times each). In the triple homicide at a dinner party on March 28, 1929, Capone personally beat the three victims (who were plotting to assassinate him) before having his gunmen shoot them dead.

Known Victims[]

Personal Victims[]

  • Unspecified date in c.1913: His unnamed teacher (hit in the face)
  • May 11, 1920: Vincenzo Colosimo, 42 (possibly; shot to death in his car; was never charged)
  • May 7, 1923: Joseph L. "Joe" Howard (a braggart who tried to hijack Capone-Torrio beer, assaulted Guzik, and insulted Capone; shot four times in the chest and twice in the shoulders with a revolver)
  • June 23, 1936: James C. Lucas (assaulted; threw him at the wall after he stabbed him)

Proxy Victims[]

  • Unspecified dates: Over 100 unnamed victims (killed in various bombing attacks)
  • November 10, 1924: Dean O'Banion, 32 (shot four times, twice in the chest and throat by John Scalise and Albert Anselmi; had insulted and rudely demanded money from the Sicillians)
  • 1926
    • April 27: The Pony Inn saloon shooting. The following four were shot outside the Pony Inn saloon in Cicero with a machine gun:
      • Thomas "Red" Duffy (suspected of treachery)
      • James J. Doherty (suspected of treachery)
      • Jimmy Doherty (brother; incidental)
      • William H. McSwiggin (incidental; was a State's Attorney)
    • October 11: The Superior Street shooting. The following five were shot with a submachine gun and a shotgun:
      • Henry Earl J. Wojciechowski "Hymie Weiss" ,28 (a mob boss and rival of Capone and O'Banion's successor; was also unintentionally shot with a .38 by Pellar)
      • Paddy Murray (a gangster; incidental)
      • William W. O'Brien (Wojciechowski's attorney; incidental; shot four times)
      • Sam Pellar (Wojciechowski's bodyguard; incidental)
      • Benjamin Jacobs (O'Brien's investigator; incidental)
  • 1927
    • January 7: John Costenaro and Santon Celebron (were planning on testifying against Capone at a conspiracy trial)
    • May 25: Antonio Torchio (was imported to kill Capone)
    • July 27: Frank Hitchcock (a bootlegger who Johnny Patton wanted dead)
    • August 11: Anthony K. Russo and Vincent Spicuzza (both were imported to kill Capone)
    • September 24: Samuel Valente (imported to kill Capone)
  • 1928
    • January 18: The following three were killed for hijacking Capone's beer and liquor:
      • Harry Fuller
      • Joseph Caglando
      • Joseph Fasso
    • March 21: "Diamond Joe" Esposito (didn't want to support Capone during election day)
    • April 23: Ben Newmark (attempted to organize a rival gang)
    • July 1: Francesco Ioele "Frankie Yale", 35 (racketeer and former employer; double-crossed Capone when serving as rum-running manager; shot in the head with a shotgun and submachine gun in his car)
  • 1929
    • February 14: The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre. The following seven were shot with two Thompson submachine guns and two shotguns:
      • Frank Gusenburg
      • Pete Gusenburg (shot 14 times[1] ;died hours later)
      • John May
      • Al Weinshank
      • James Clark
      • Adam Heyer
      • Dr. Reinhardt Schwimmer
    • May 28: The following three were beaten by Capone and shot by his gunmen at a dinner party:
      • Joseph "Hop Toad" Giunta, 41-42[2] (was plotting to revolt against Capone's gang and assassinate him)
      • Albert Anselmi, 45 (Giunta's co-conspirator)
      • John Scalise, 41-42[3] (Giunta's co-conspirator)
    • June 24: Frankie Marlow (refused to pay a debt to Capone)
  • 1930:
    • February 1: Julius Rosenheim (an informant)
    • August 1: John U. "Jack" Zuta, 42 (spied on and double-crossed Capone; shot to death)
    • October 23: Giuseppe "Joe" Aiello, 40 (rival of Capone; shot by two gunmen)

On Criminal Minds[]

  • Season Eleven
    • "Tribute" - Capone was mentioned by Reid as one of the most infamous killers of all-time.
  • Season Thirteen
    • "To A Better Place" - Capone was mentioned by an FBI instructor who commented that Reid's shooting made him like the second coming of both Capone and Wyatt Earp.

Sources[]

References[]

  1. some sources say it was 21 times
  2. exact birthdate unspecified
  3. same as above
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