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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, January 26, 1947, Image 6

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Al Capone, Gangster,
Dies in Private Villa
At Miami Beach
(Continued From First Page.)
of one-way rides with which his
name could be connected.
The stroke on Tuesday'swept Ca
pone close to death—but he stopped
just short of its portal.
More than 16 hours later the one
time gang overlord rallied unex
pectedly and came out of his coma
so quickly that he attempted to
talk with his wife, and son, Alfred,
He was out of danger for a time,
then pneumonia developed and with
this complication his heart weak
The one group that will mourn the
scarfaced gangster gathered once
more to await the end. They in
cluded his wife, and son, His aged
mother, Theresa; his father, Ermio;
a sister, Mrs. Mafaida Mariotote,
and two brothers, Ralph and
Gangdom's original Public Enemy
No. 1, Capone built a multimillion
dollar racket based on the deter
mination of people to have liquor
and to gamble, no matter how the
law read.
Consequently, he became the pro
hibition era’s synonym for all that
was lawless—gang wars, beer k li
ning, machine-gun murders, gam
bling payoffs. He became as much
a reason for the demise of prohibi
tion as Andrew J. Volstead was for
the unhappy dry-up experiment.
So vicious was his mob rule in
Chicago’s “turbulent 20s“ that 701
gang deaths were counted during
the 12 years his name spelled dread
and awe to what was then the
crime capital of the world.
And when the Government finally
found a way to shackle him, it was
not for murder or for racketeering
or for subjecting a metropolis to a
reign of terror. It was simply for
tax evasion, a law in which Capone's
sharpest “mouthpieces" could find
no loopholes.
Sentenced to 11 Years.
His number was up on October
23, 1931, when a Federal judge
looked down on his chubby, anxious
face and meted out sentences total
ing 11 years. With “good time”
allowed all model prisoners, “Scar
face Al”? came out into the world
again after only seven years, six
months and two weeks.
But prohibition was over, order
ruled in Chicago, and his once
feared name now was only a mem
ory to link with spasmodic gang
outbursts. Al Capone, the under
world king, was dead. And Al Ca
pone, the man, was an incurable
mental case, a victim of paresis—
softening of the brain.
The director of a bootleg syndi
cate with a reputed "take” of $25,
000,000 a year in its cushiest days,
had gone up the river on an item
of $215,080 he failed to pay on a
$1,038,654 income for the years
When they happily put him away,
Federal agents estimated Capone
was worth $200,000,000 or more and
that he had squandered $7,500,000
in eight years of lush living and
gambling, mostly crap shooting.
Released to Family.
Capone was in three prisons be
fore he was secretly taken to Lewis
burg (Pa.) Federal Prison and re
leased to his family November 16,
1939. It was in one of these insti
tutions—grim Alcatraz on the “rock”
in San Francisco Bay—that his mind
began slipping and for one week in
every four he lapsed into a state
of helplessness.
When finally he was released, he
entered a Baltimore hospital for
treatment by an eminent syphllol
ogist, and it was not until March,
1940, that he returned to his white
walled maw^ion on Palm Island in
Bascayne Bay near Miami Beach,
Fla., there to fritter away the re
maining years of his life under close
surveillance of his family.
Physicians said the mind that had
directed Chicago's sanguinary syn
dicate had been reduced to that of
a 12-year-old. Sometimes he made
semipublic appearances, but more
often he lolled on tfie sand, paddled
in his swimming pool, fished from
a pier or hit a few golf balls on a
driving range.
These were the declining years of
a still young man who had come
with his family from Naples. Italy,
to sell papers and learn gangsterism
on the streets of New York. He
served his apprenticeship with the
“Five Points” gang of Johnny Tor
rio. a contemporary of “Lefty Louie,”
“Gyp the Blood" and others of the
gang hired in 1912 by Charles
Becker, a police lieutenant, to kill
Gambler Herman Rosenthal.
Fell Down on Assignment.
Chicago's notorious South Side
vice called Torrio there as a lieu
tenant to “Big Jim” Colosimo, a
former street cleaner, elevated by
shady politics to kingpin of the
Brought to Chicago in 1919 as a
bodyguard for Colosimo, Capone fell
down on the job. Colosimo was
" “rubbed out” in his garish cafe, and
Torrio promoted himself to boss,
with Capone as his right-hand man.
Chicago .had been comparatively
peaceful up to then. Now the New
York importations began showing
REMEMBER WEDNESDAY? — The mercury slipped
down to 12 degrees, automobiles froze, and a brisk wind
whistled around street corners. Among Washington’s
shivering citizens that day were, left to right, Collette
Smith, 118 F street S.E.; Mary Newheiser, £41 E street
S.E., and Margaret Sturgeon, 89 Darrington street S.W.
It was January’s coldest day.
AND THEN CAME SATURDAY—Up went the mercury to a balmy 62
degrees. There was picnicking in the park and people strolled coatless
down F street. Taking advantage of sudden spring, Dr. and Mrs. Enos
Ray, Ontario Apartments, took their two-year-Old son, Enos, jr., to sail
his boat in Rock Creek. It was January’s hottest day.
—Star Staff Photos.
---—-- , ♦—
the town “how to run a racket.”
They introduced, the “typewriter,”
or portable machine gun, backing
Bp their commands with a chatter
ing of bullets.
One of the first to challenge the
new reign was Dion “Danny” O’Ban
ion, swaggering ex-jackroller and
safecracker. O’Banion came out
such a poor second best that he
furnished the corpse for the first
of Chicago’s fabulous gangland
funerals of bronze coffins and ex
quisite flowers.
Capone Became “Top Man.”
The O’Banion killing occurred
November 10, 1924, in the victim’s
flower shop across the street from
Holy Name Cathedral. Torrio didn’t
know it, but his decision to eliminate
O’Banion set Capone up in business
as top man.
A short time later O’Banion’s
henchmen nailed Torrio to his door
step with a hail of lead, and the
former New York bad man retreated
to retirement on Long Island.
At 26 Capone moved in as “the
big fellow” and from 1925 until he
lost his immunity to the law there
was perpetual gang war, and when
ever another perforated body was
found the name of Capone inevit
ably came up.
Only twice was he called up to
answer in the courts for murder and
then, as in all other charges brought
against him, suave attorneys talked
him out of trouble.
In 1925 he was charged with the
murder of William H. McSwiggin,
an assistant State’s attorney of Cook
County, and two companions known
as rivals for Capone’s beer business.
The case was dismissed for lack of
The other time that Capone was
accused of being the trigger man
was when a . derelict named Joe
Howard paid off for hi-jacking Ca
pone beer and whisky trucks. Be
fore he died, Howard said a “young
fellow named Al” shot him. But like
a later Federal liquor conspiracy in
dictment and charges of election
fraud in a Chicago suburb, this case
died aborning.
Entered New Fields.
The syndicate grew as Capone
grew, operating from suburbs like
Cicero and Burnham, and eliminat
ing gangs that dared test his
strength. He pushed into new fields,
gambling, dog racing, politics and
even into the bloody feud for su
premacy in the "Unione Sicilana”—
a vendetta that had claimed 45
lives since 1924.
Guns cut down Hymie Weiss and
Vincent Drucci, successors to
O’Banion. Another threat to Ca
pone supremacy ended when Spike
O’Donnell got out of the rackets.
Joe Saltis retired to a Wisconsin
farm, where it was healthier.
The Weiss assassination in 1926
was one of Chicago’s most spectacu
lar. Pointing machine guns from a
window opposite Holy Nahie Cathe
dral. the killers sprayed the streets,
slaying Weiss, a lieutenant named
Paddy Murray and wounding three
When the smoke had cleared
away, bullets had chipped the cathe
dral cornerstone which carried
these words:
•‘At. the name of Jesus every knee
should bow in Heaven and on
Flashing expensive jewelry, Ca
pone later casually talked to report
ers. In his hand he held the picture
of a 7-year-old boy, his son. Calling
for a truce in the war for vice con
trol. he said:
“i don’t want to break the hearts
of people who love me. Maybe I
can make them think of their
mothers and sisters and if they
think of‘ them they’ll put away
their guns and treat their business
like any one else. After working
Mercury Hits 62, Month's High
Three Days After Dipping to 12
With yesterday the wannest day
this month and last Wednesday the
coldest, the Weather Bureau is hav
ing its ups and downs but insists the
situation is not unusual.
The high yesterday was a balmy
62 degrees at 2:20 p.m., and a low
of 44 was registered at 6:08 a.m. On
Wednesday the high was 25 and the
low 12.
“It doesn’t happen every week,
this high and low business within
so short a period,” the forecaster
explained, “but we frequently get
hours they will go home where they
Surrounded by thin-lipped young
men, foppishly attired, Capone
strutted in night clubs, always on
the alert for chatter guns. His
steel-reinforced automobile with
bulletproof glass never failed to at
tract attention.
He needed all the protection pos
sible. Shortly after the McSwiggin
killing, he was seated at a Cicero
hotel tab.'e when eight automobiles
slowly circ’ec. the block, spraying the
hotel with bullets. Capone ducked
to safety: three innocent bystanders
were injured.
Most violent crime charged
against Capone occurred while he
was in Philadelphia, about to serve
a year’s sentence for carrying a gun.
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
On St. Valentine’s Day, 1929, seven
holdovers of the old O’Banion gang
were lined up in a North Side* garage
and mowed down with machine gun
bullets. Said George (Bugs) Moran,
then leader of the mob:
“Only the Capone gang kills like
Capone denied the massacre from
the Philadelphia jail, where it was
said he had invited legal interven
tion as a matter of self-preservation.
The story was that Capone and
other gang leaders had failed to
effect a truce in the hot war for
liquor control, *and that “Scarface”
regarded jail as a ganctuary.
Credibility was attached to the
tale when, a few hours before his
term was to expire, Capone was
nustled away from the jail with
great secrecy. *He next bobbed up in
his 25-room Florida villa, where he
was quoted as saying:
"I like it down here. It's warm—
but not too warm.”
Jbsut it was getting notter tnan Ca
pone realized. It was about this time
that the United States Attorney in
Chicago called for him to appear
before a Federal grand jury. In
stead, Capone sent an affidavit that
he was too ill to risk a trip to Chi
cago at that time.
Two years later, on February 27,
1931, the myth of Capone immunity
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rapid fluctuations of temperature
of this kind."
His records showed that the
warmest January 25 in the Bureau’s
records occurred in 1943—70 de
grees. The coldest January 25 was
in 1935, three degrees above zero.
The Bureau said today would be
"fairly nice.’’ The official forecast
calls for continued mildness and
cloudiness, and the possibility of a
brief light rain in the morning. The
temperature again will be close to 60.
60. _*
in Cook County exploded. Federal
Judge James H. Wilkerson sentenced
“Scarfacc Al” to six months in the
County jail for contempt of court.
Instead of the illness that two
physicians and two nurses testified
to, Capone had visited race tracks
and had taken a trip to Bermuda at
the time the grand jury was con
vened, the court declared.
While they were still bandying
this one around in the appeal courts,
the real bombshell fell.
On June 5, 1931, a Federal grand
jury indicted him mi 22 counts of
income tax evasion. Seven days
later the jury indicted him for con
spiracy to violate prohibition laws.
The Federal Government had
struck, and its evidence was to be
backed up by a hard-hitting prose
cutor and a straight-thinking judge.
In the careful preparation of the
case, the Government had sent its
best men into the field. In the liquor
violation case, six prohibition en
forcement agents mingled with Ca
pone’s “alky cookers” and gathered
irrefutable evidence.
Irey Led Case Against Capone.
The man most responsible for put
ting Capone away was Elmer L.
Irey, chief ef the Internal Revenue
Bureau's Intelligence Unit, who re
tired last year. Mr. Irey master
minded the fieldwork incidental to
the evidence that Capone was beat
ing the Government out of tax
mosey. For more than a year he
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and his assistants patiently gath
ered the kind of material that would
stand up in court.
They set up offices in Chicago's
old Post Office Building. They
tapped telephones and worked their
way into the gang’s inner circle.
Eventually, Mr. Irey’s agents spotted
two Capone bookkeepers, tracing
them to a Miami race track. They
were spirited back to Chicago and
it was their testimony before the
grand jury that buttressed the case.
Strangely enough, on June 1$,
Capone pleaded guilty to both
charges. It was understood he had
traded out for a two and one-half
year sentence. But when he ap
peared for sentencing on July 1 it
was Judge Wilkerson who stared
back at him and said: ‘'Parties to a
criminal case may not stipulate as to
the judgment”
Capone quickly changed his mind;
about being guilty and on October
6 went to trial on the tax evasion
charges. On October 23 ‘‘the big
fellow” heard the Jury foreman in
tone: ‘‘Guilty."
Judge Wilkercon sentenced him
to five years and $10,000 on each
of three counts, one year in jail
and $20,000 on a combination of
two others, the first two sentences
to run concurrently, the others to
be "consecutive and cumulative."
The defense immediately began a
fight to reverse or lighten the sen
tence, and it still was trying more
than seven years later when a bro
ken Capone was liberated.
Capone rode down to Atlanta
Federal Prison on the same train
he often boarded for his Miami
jaunts. A day's growth of beard
offset the dapper effect of his rich
blue suit, shiny black shoes and blue
silk tie.
Detested His Nickname.
He wore his hat at a jaunty angle
more to cover the scar that made!
him "Scarface Al” than to strike a
cocky air. He had always detested
that nickname. But he toldjnquir
ers that the jagged mark on his
left forehead and cheek was a World
War wound.
Gangland legend said, however,
the scar was inflicted by a minor
hoodlum in a Brooklyn dance hail
during Capone’s “Five Points” gang
days. The knife-weilder, “Little!
Frankie-' Galluccio, cut him, the
story goes, because Capone insulted
Frankie’s sister.
With the exception of a rumor
denied on the floor of Congress—
that the criminal was getting special
favors in the prison, not much was
heard of him until August, 1934.
it was then that a specially barbed
railroad car took Capone and 52
other dangerous criminals to newly
completed, foolproof Alcatraz Prison.
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