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Al Capone's tax trial and downfall
Oh No! It's off to court we go!
The St. Valentine's day massacre set forth in motion the Government's urgent task in bringing the criminal element down. Specifically Al Capone, for he was the ultimate symbol of corruption at that time. Cut off the head of the organization and the rest should follow. The Stock market crash had left a lot of people poor and jobless. Soup kitchens were set up by churches and some by none other than Al Capone. Although some stated that Al had merely used this as ploy for favorable press during the beginning of his legal woes, he nonetheless had helped many down and outs during his reign as Chicago crime Czar way before the 1929 crash. Paying for coal to heat their homes, Christmas baskets, medical bills and other personal favors were the norm for Capone. He grew up poor and knew what it was to be in need.
The corrupt Chicago police could not be counted on to bring in the hoodlums and make the charges stick. They would be paid off or threatened if they felt the inclination to testify. It was a "Just play along and everything will be fine" era. The law could not stick any murder rap on Al. The Valentine massacre turned up many clues by Chicago detectives and yet nothing ever came out of it. Capone's inner circle were well insulated. Capone owned nothing and thought he could not be linked financially to anything. His Florida home was under his wife's name, the Chicago home was under his mom and sister's name. Herbert Hoover was annoyed at seeing the Capone name constantly in the headlines, with even so far as seeing the ganglord's face plastered on the March 1930 cover of Time magazine. He was said to have exclaimed "Get that man Capone!".
Al Capone at the time did not seem too concerned. After all, in Chicago,the fix was in.
What lead the Government to go after Al, was their successful prosecution of other gangsters, but more specifically his brother Ralph and the uncovering during Ralph's case of five bank accounts in Cicero. These were found at the Pinkert State Bank and were somehow related to Al, as Ralph was known as Al's personal money man.
Pinkert Bank in Cicero. Cashiers and tellers were brought in to testify and verify signatures during Ralph and Al's trials.
Ralph Capone's bank documents lead the Government right to his brother Al.
Frank J. Wilson, the man who toiled hard to get Capone behind bars. His success at bringing down Capone got him later promoted to Chief of the Secret Service.
(Frank Wilson signature Mario Gomes collection).
Eliot Ness was the famous treasury agent who smashed some of Capone's brewery installations. Alot of people poo pooed his efforts, but although limited, they were there and in earnest. He was a opportunist somewhat. He did seek publicity. Who wouldn't? One must also realize that seeking this publicity could easily have gotten him killed. Eliot Ness racked up the prohibition charges against Capone and his gang, hoping to get him a sentence for some prison time. The Government thanked Ness, but decided to go with the income tax angle instead. The Government thought they could make these tax charges stick better and get a lengthier prison sentence than the prohibition violations. Ness was probably disappointed that he wasn't the one who got the big fish.
July 30, 1931, Al Capone in the middle with his hand to his face. He is surrounded by guards outside the Federal Courthouse building. On this day, Judge Wilkerson refused his defence's plea deal and decided to go to trial on tax evasion and violations to the Prohibition law.
The Chicago Federal building. It housed the Federal Court and post office.
It took approx. 10 minutes (2 miles) for Capone to travel from the Lexington hotel to the Federal building.
In later years, Eliot Ness met up with writer Oscar Fraley. Upon listening to his meager exploits connected with smashing the Capone gang's stills, Fraley saw money to be made for him and Ness, so he super polished up the story to what it has become known for the past 40 some years. Ness desperately in need of money didn't mind at all. After falling on hard times this was finally his big break. Unfortunately, he never saw it's success when he died of a heart attack before the release of the famous book called "The Untouchables". This only proves to research many other books and not to rely on Hollywood to get any historic facts right.
Eliot Ness and his Untouchables busted Capone run stills enough to put a dent in his financial situation. Capone needed lots of funds for his defense against the Government's tax beef.
The true heros who really brought down Capone and his ilk were the IRS, specifically, a man named Frank J. Wilson. His task was to ferret through all the documents he could find and weed out income linked directly to Capone and his gang. He worked many late hours in his tiny cramped Chicago office, until he stumbled upon a ledger belonging to the gang. It had been confiscated years ago during a raid at the Hawthorne Inn. Wilson along with Elmer Irey and others prepared all the paper trail necessary for prosecutor George E. Q. Johnson and associates to nail Capone's lid shut.
This victory would most certainly put feathers in all of their caps in order to gain higher positions such as judges etc... After all Capone was the biggest game there was and this would make big news! After rejecting Capone's offer of back tax payment that included a *2 year sentence for an admission of guilt, the trial of the 30's was on.
* While going to bat for his buddy Judge Wilkerson, George E. Q. Johnson had bared the two year Capone deal in the Chicago Tribune and in all the major city newspapers editions of April 2-3,1932 .
In it, Johnson himself admits that the evidence he had against Capone was rather circumstantial. It was actually Judge Wilkerson in the end who refused the Capone two year deal, and persevered with the big conviction victory against the infamous ganglord. Wilkerson was later offered a nomination on the Supreme Court. In December of 1932, after much infighting in the Senate as to Wilkerson's reputation and allegiance in some past cases, he asked President Hoover to withdraw his name from the appointment to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals. The President was disappointed, but understood. He had even once hoped for Wilkerson to run for Republican Governor after his increased popularity due to the Capone case. Instead, Wilkerson had eyed the highest bench in the land, but after much resistance from opposing camps, he thought it best to withdraw.
George E.Q. Johnson was promoted to Federal Judge and Dwight Green took over Johnson's old job as Federal Prosecutor. All were rewarded as a result of Capone's conviction, which leave some to believe that it may have been for many of the players own political gain as to why Capone was so heavily sentenced.
Photo of head Prosecutor George E.Q. Johnson taken July 31,1931, this right before Al Capone changed his plea from guilty to non guilty.
Al's calculated expenditures tallied up by the IRS intelligence Division. According to Washington's Chief of the Special Intelligence Unit, Bureau of Internal Revenue Elmer L. Irey, he had been given the authorization to investigate Al Capone's wealth as early as October 18,1928.
Besides having very important witnesses, the Government had infiltrated the Capone gang via the Lexington Hotel. Frank Wilson had placed an agent named Michael Malone in the Lexington Hotel and pretend he was an out of town gangster from Philadelphia who was on the lam for various crimes. He kept to himself, but slowly gained confidence when questioned by a few Capone gangsters at a friendly card game. All the bases were covered. He wore clothes and hats from Philadelphia clothing stores. Sent letters to friends there who returned specially written correspondance to him. He knew his letters would be opened by the Capone crew. He was Wilson's man inside and was the one who warned Wilson that there might be an assassination attempt on him and George E.Q. Johnson.
Michael Malone was a big strapping Irish descending American, but you couldn't tell by his looks. He had dark hair and a dark complexion, just right to play an Italian gangster. See below.
A blown up shot of Agent Michael Malone taken at exit of Capone tax trial (background at right of Capone). Malone infiltrated the Capone gang's Lexington Hotel headquarters posing as Philadelphia gangster Michael Lepito.
Michael F. Malone
Went undercover under many different aliases, but was known to friends and colleagues as "Mysterious Mike"
Born in New Jersey on October 21,1893, Michael Malone was the son of Irish natives Lawrence and Mary Malone. He was a World War 1 veteran before becoming a Special agent for the Internal revenue service dept. Growing up in Jersey, Malone had picked up fluent Yiddish, Italian and Greek. This made him perfect for infiltration, especially since his dark hair and complexion made him look European instead of his proud Irish heritage. One striking trait was his eyes, piercing and almost cat like. Michael had married a woman named Irene and together they had a child. Tragically, the child died. Irene and Michael later divorced. This was probably due to the tragic family loss and his indulgence with his secretive Goverment employment.
Malone had worked many high profile cases, such as the Sacco and Vanzetti case, Al Capone and Frank Nitti tax indictments, as well as on the Lindbergh kidnapping. Mike Malone made a court appearance as a witness for Ralph Capone's tax case in 1951. He had been working undercover at Ralph's Mercer Wisconsin hotel for a couple of weeks.
Michael F. Malone in later years.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. John Binder)
Malone later moved to Ramsey County, St. Paul, Minnesota and lived at 340 Cedar street. It was St. Paul's Athelitic club (YMCA). He had been a resident there for 24 years. Hospitalized after a massive cerebral hemorrage, Michael Malone dies 10 days later on the 10th of November in 1960. A week after his death, Michael F. Malone is interred at Arlington National Cemetary with full military honors. Truly a brave man indeed.
Another important piece to bringing Al Capone down was an informant named Edward O'Hare. Originally from St. Louis, he was a lawyer and a business partner of Capone. He and Capone were owners of a dog track which raked in lots of money. O'Hare had once hoodwinked an inventor of the mechanical rabbit out of his patent which made the dogs run around the track. That alone brought him lots of money. O'Hare, it has to be stated did not turn informant against Capone for the good of mankind, but more for a favor he had obtained from the Government in exchange for his info.
Eddie O'Hare wanted to see his boy go to the Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Frank Wilson and the Government made a deal. It's not definite if Edward did this to get his son in Annapolis or simply to avoid his son getting kicked out of Annapolis for the senior O'Hare's association with Al Capone.
(Mario Gomes collection)
Al Capone was a celebrity, no doubt about it. There was talk that the Government had really went after Capone when Herbert Hoover was at a ball game at the same time as Capone and people cheered for Al and not Hoover. There was also talk that Capone had had a party that was so loud that it annoyed Hoover. Whichever the case may be, Al was going to prison no matter at what cost. Someone had to pay for gangsterism and Chicago's tarnished reputation. It would also show the common people, who were suffering and jobless, that their Government was on the job.
Capone's 93 Palm Isle Florida mansion. Workmen testify in court that he paid $100,000 in improvements towards his $40,000 home.
(Mario Gomes collection)
Capone was getting the impression as the tax case was preparing against him that he might be in bigger trouble than it had let on. His lawyers were telling him that he would no doubt do time. Upon wanting to meet up with Frank Wilson and Agent Ralph Herrick in order to pay up his back taxes, one of his lawyers, a Lawrence Mattingly, may have made things worse for the big boy.
Al Capone at the races with his wife Mae and flanked by two bodyguards.
Al blew millions at the track. The government wondered how a man with little or no income could do this.
The meeting took place on April 17,1930. Upon interrogation Capone had no answers for some hard questions of income, gambling debts, houses, clothes and various other expenditures. This made Capone really look kind of guilty. Not satisfied with Capone and his lawyers evasiveness, Wilson and the other interrogation officers decided the Government had a very strong case that would put Capone away for a very long time.
On June 16, 1931, Capone's lawyers had offered a deal of paying back taxes and a prison term of two years in Leavenworth Penitentiary in order to satisfy the Government. George E.Q. Johnson was at first complacent with this. He had figured any prison time would be a success compared to a jury's not guilty verdict. He also knew that Capone's men had been throwing their weight around to find out who the jury was and was beginning to intimidate witnesses. Some were trying to bribe some members of the jury.
On July 30th, Judge Wilkerson in open court told Capone and his lawyers that there would be NO bargaining in his court. Capone would have to take his guilty plea back and face trial by jury.
Feeling trapped, there was even mention by Johnson that Al's lawyers gave the Government a final payment offer of $4,000,000 for his $215,000 in delinquent back taxes.
The brave and no nonsense Judge James H. Wilkerson.
Not just Capone, Druggan and Lake, but Wilkerson had put away many a gangster and hoodlum in the 1920's and 30's.
Eddie O'Hare had contacted Wilson to tell him that the Capone crew had gotten wind of the chosen jury list. Incredulous Wilson asked O'Hare to name the first couple of names off that jury list. The matter was immediately brought up to Judge Wilkerson. Judge Wilkerson then chose each jury member from another panel on the opening day of Capone's trial to avoid tampering. Most in the jury were old men and farmers who never paid attention to Capone in the news.
The were simply instructed by the judge to weigh the evidence for non payment of income tax.
The Illinois jurors for the Capone tax trial were;
1) Nate C. Brown - retired, 64 years old from St. Charles.
2) Burr Dugan - farmer, 54 years old from Clare.
3) W. J. Heinrichs - engineer, 52 years old from Thornton.
4) George H. Larsen - patternmaker, 41 years old from Thornton.
5) A. G. Maether - country store owner, 65 years old from Prairie View.
6) W. F. McCormick - receiving clerk, 58 years old from Maywood.
7) M. E. Merchant - real estate broker, 30 years old from Waukegan.
8) Arthur O. Prochno - insurance broker, 49 years old from Edison Park.
9) A. C. Smart - painter, 43 years old from Libertyville.
10) John A. Walter - abstracter, 54 years old from Yorkville.
11) Louis P. Weilding - painter, 62 years old from Wilmington.
12) Louis J. Woelfersheim - retired, 64 years old from Chicago.
Dwight H. Green, One of the prosecutors against Al Capone.
He later rose to prominence as Federal Prosecutor and later Governor of Michigan.
(Mario Gomes Collection)
On October 6, 1931, the opening day of the Capone trial, many female workers in the courts building tried to get a glimpse of Al Capone. Although a criminal, he was still considered somewhat of a big celebrity. Many people stopped every day to try and get a view of Al in court. Even Edward G. Robinson, the famous Hollywood actor stopped in to study Capone's mannerisms in order to play gangsters in movies. His character Rico in "Little Caesar" was based on Capone. Others weaseled their way in to try to get autographs. Al Capone was refusing to sign anything. He claimed that he had signed enough things that were now getting him in trouble.
The Prosecution team
Samuel G. Clawson, George E. Q. Johnson, Dwight H. Green, William J. Froelich and Jacob I. Grossman
A key element to the Capone trial was the witnesses and the jury.
Important witnesses for the prosecution was Fred Ries, who was employed as the gambling house's cashier by the Capone mob, along with Leslie Shumway who was a bookkeeper at the Hawthorne smoke shop during the years of 1924 -1926. Shumway's writing was identified in the 1924 ledger that was confiscated during a raid there in 1925. It covered bets and profits for the dates of May 1,1924 to April 30,1926. Wilson had stumbled across it by chance during one late evening at his office. The ledger showed payments made to Capone and others in the gang. These were gambling profits raked in from illegal activities.
Page from famous 1924 ledger showing payments going to Al and fellow gangsters.
This, along with other invoices and with the testimony of store clerks, got Al a one way trip to the big house. It was seized in a May of 1925 raid at 4818 West 22nd street by Reverend Hoover ( a Minister of Gospel) and his assembled vigilante anti-vice squad mostly comprised of regular citizens who were appalled at the lack of policing in Cicero. The ledger eventually ended up in Frank Wilson's hands.
More from the ledgers. Craps, Roulette, Faro, horses with payments made to Town, Guzik and Al
Shumway was sent away under guard to California until the Capone tax trial was to begin. Fred Ries already had testified against Jake Guzik in another tax trial and was summoned again to testify against Capone. Fred Ries thought enough was enough and wanted to live, so he refused. Wilson knew that Ries had an aversion to filth, bugs and rodents so he devised a plan of putting Ries in such a setting to make him change his mind. Ries was placed in a bug infested fithy cell.
After a couple of hours he broke down and decided to play ball.
Fred Ries was immediately whisked away to South America until his turn to testify in court against Capone. Ries had already testified on other Capone gang members for their tax trials. Before the feds had caught up with Ries in St. Louis, the Capone crew had sent word to Ries for him to flee to Mexico in order to avoid being prosecuted by the Government. It was all likely that the Capone gang would have made Ries disappear, especially since they deduced that he had turned over goverment witness having already testified in other cases.
Money transfer sent from Lexington hotel by Rocco"Rocks" Fischetti to Albert Capone.
Witness after witness was paraded in front of the court. Bank cashiers, grocers, hotel clerks, shop keepers, Western Union cashiers, construction foremen all proving that Al Capone paid cash and big amounts of this cash for jewelry, cars, clothes, furniture,food, lodgings etc...
Workmen at Capone's Florida villa had given evidence of $100,000 improvements done to Capone's $40,000 home.
Click HERE to see one of Al Capone's personally owned shirts as mentioned in his tax trial.
Western Union money transfer issued by Florida branch manager Katherine Gaines. She testified in court about these transfers and that Al had authorized various members of his entouragebe allowed to cash them on his behalf. This included his brothers and the Florida mansion caretakers. Miss Gaines identified various transfers amounting to a total of $31,800. Some were cashed by Capone, his brother and wife Mae. There were even transfers cashed by his servants. All these transfers were differentiated from the A. Costa ones cashed for him by Parker Henderson.
The pretty brunette Western Union employee was unfazed by the whole trial thing and questioned reporters "What do y'all do for excitement up here?"
Court room set up for the Al Capone tax trial
(Sketch by Mario Gomes from a photo)
The public were beginning to wonder.
How could a man with no income buy and afford all these luxuries? Capone's lawyers tried to pin it on Capone's gambling habits. That didn't satisfy the court nor the jury.
On October 10,1931, at the end of the court's session for that day, Capone bodyguard Philip D'Andrea is arrested after a pistol is found in his belt. He spent the trial giving the jury menacing looks. A baliff quickly spots the shiny metal weapon and arrests him. He will later be given a 6 month prison term for that stunt.
Capone gangster and bodyguard Philip D'Andrea. D'Andrea was found to have a baliff's star and other courtesy cards from various police departments.
He will later take over the Unione Sicilane in Chicago.
Just three of many who testified against Al Capone in Chicago Federal Court. Here we have one time Miami Capone friend/ lawyer Fritz Gordon, who once took a photo with Al in Cuba. Next we have Russell Garnett, Miami real estate broker and Vernon Hawthorne, the Miami States Attorney.
The defense team
Michael Ahern, Al capone and Albert Fink during Al's tax trial. Funny thing was that Michael Ahern and another Capone lawyer named Thomas Ahern, had also been lawyers forsome famous Northsiders such as O'Banion, Weiss and Dan McCarthy back in the early 1920's.
Shumway and Ries (bookeeper and cashier) pretty much nailed Capone's coffin lid shut when explaining how money made from gambling was ferreted into bank accounts under various names and all getting back to Capone and Guzik. Robert Barton, Guzik's Chauffeur was listed as cashing most of the money transfers and checks which were later funneled to Capone in Florida.
Florida hotel proprietior Parker Henderson, was questioned and testified that he had endorsed and cashed several Western Union transfers for Capone in Florida around the time of 1928. He had forged the name Albert Costa.
EXTRA! EXTRA! Trial Headlines!
The Government bares out Capone's wealth to the public.
(Mario Gomes collection)
Same, but final edition of above. Notice the slight change of stories and an addition of a photo on the right of this issue.
The Trib and other Chicago newspapers printed several issues in one day keeping the reader up to date.
(Mario Gomes collection).
Al Capone's tax case will soon begin. Oct 5,1931.Jury is selected.
(Mario Gomes collection).
October 8,1931 five witnesses appear showing Capone had some sort of income.
(Mario Gomes collection).
October 10,1931 Capone's heavy spending is revealed by shopkeepers and bookmakers.
(Mario Gomes collection).
October 13,1931 Capone lawyers contend to the jury and court that he lost $200,000
in gambling and racehorses.
(Mario Gomes collection).
Back to the Story!
Parker Henderson had also been in trouble with the law for acquiring some dubious handguns for Capone.
A photo of the famous diamond belt buckles Al had distributed like candies was shown to the public. Parker had received one as a gesture of friendship from Al Capone. Ries and Shumway explained and decoded most of the ledger.
They placed names at "The Ship" "The Subway" and other various locations in Cicero. The gambling operations were shifted from time to time in order to avoid raids and detection.
Jimmie Mondi, Pete Penovich and Louis LaCava had been a managers at most of these gambling houses.
About thirty of these buckles were given to Capone friends at the cost of about $275 each. On the evening of 1926, sixteen of these Capone buckle awards were handed out at the Morrison hotel's Terrace Gardens.
It cost Al a reported $13,000 for all the buckles he had given out to friends during his gangland reign. Gangsters like Lombardo, Zuta, Newberry, and Winkler all had one. So did Tribune reporter Alfred Jake Lingle. After Jack Zuta died his estate was auctioned off, and his buckle sold for a mere $28 in 1932. These buckles were made known to the public on Oct.12,1931. This above particular buckle was given to Parker Henderson, Florida hotel man who had befriended Al Capone and helped him acquire his 93 Palm Isle Miami home. Parker also had helped Capone cash checks and acquire hand guns.
(Mario Gomes collection)
When the money made it's way to Capone, it was almost all in cash. There was talk of many bags of cash in the Capone Florida mansion. Most was at the foot of Capone's bed.
The other sums were divided amoungst the gangsters and the rest put back into running mob operations. Capone was spending alot of money bribing officials to look the other way of his bootlegging and gambling operations. Eliot Ness was doing his part in smashing stills which cut off heavy income from the Capone gang. The Capone gang could no longer furnish huge bribes to the police and officials.
Invoice for various clothing bought by Capone while residing at the Metropole hotel.
Probably the biggest mistake Capone made was to hire two criminal lawyers in Nash and Fink. They had no experience in tax matters. He would have done better with a tax expert, who could have proven that the statutes of limitation on some of the charges against Capone were now void.
Various silver cutlery for the Capone entourage at the Lexington hotel.
Invoices made to Al Capone from the A. Quint and Company who sold Al flatware and jewlery for the Lexington Hotel suite (1928-1931)
Let's not forget Al's Florida home. Here's an invoice made out to Al capone from the A. Quint Company for flatware and jewelery for his Palm Isle estate.
Capone's many appearances outside the Federal Court building.
At 10:51pm, Capone was at the Lexington hotel when he received word that the jury had come to a verdict. Capone grabbed his overcoat and made his way to court. At 11:10 he was seated in the courtroom. The judge asked the jury "Have you reached a verdict?" The jury foreman nodded and handed the baliff a paper that was then given to the court clerk.
"On indictment number 22852 for the years 1924 we find the defendant not guilty."
"On indictment number 23232 for the years 1925, 26, 27, 28 and 1929 we find the defendant guilty."
This meant Capone was convicted of three felony tax evasion counts for 1925, 1926 and 1927 and two misdemeanor failure to file counts for the years 1928 and 1929.
Capone returned to court for sentencing on the 24th of October. Capone was sentenced to a total of 11 years in a federal penitentiary and fined $50,000 He was also ordered to pay the prosecution's court costs totalling $30,000.
Another headline of Capone found guilty.
(Mario Gomes collection)
A baliff handed Capone a liens (seizure) on his Florida property for non payment of taxes. Capone completely furious, lunged at the man whilst spewing expletives. Capone was held back by court guards and taken away to his Cook County cell. While being led away to his cell photographers scrambled to get a shot of Capone going in. He pleaded with them to think of his family. One persisted and Capone took a swing missing him. As the door clanged behind Capone a song blaring out of the prison radio played on.
Click on link below to hear a remake of the song that played while Al entered his cell.
October 24, 1931. Al Capone photographed entering Cook County cells corridor.
Click link below to read about Al's first night in Cook County
Cook County jail October 26,1931. Aerial view shows cells where Phil D'Andrea and Al Capone are kept. They are located on the fifth floor to avoid commotion from the rest of the building population.
Close up of cell windows
There he was visited by friends and family. His mother brought food from home. Al played cards with friends and fellow inmates till his time and options ran out.
After almost a year of appeals and denials, Capone was finally whisked away from his Cook County jail cell and sent off to the Atlanta State Penitentiary. After various reports in the newspapers of favoritism and payoffs to other inmates the officials acted.
May 4, 1932, Capone enroute to Atlanta Penitentiary via the "Dixie Flyer". Although covering up the handcuffs, he is manacled to a diminutive car thief named Vito Morici at right.
(Mario Gomes collection)
Al Capone and car thief Vito Morici aboard train.
(John Binder collection)
Al Capone and U.S. Marshall Henry C.W. Laubenheimer.
(John Binder collection)
Al Capone and U.S. Marshall Henry C.W. Laubenheimer playing cards while Morici looks on (his hand to the upper right of Marshall Laubenheimer).
(John Binder collection)
The Chicago Tribune edition of the same day (May 4,1932).
(Mario Gomes collection).
After almost a year of hold ups and delays Al was finally taken out of Cook County jail and sent to Atlanta.
Al's next trip to jail was in Atlanta, Ga where he still had some control by spreading money around. He hired himself bodyguards and spent money on sports equipment for the prison baseball team.
Al got into trouble there when he replaced the bed slats with chains and springs in order to make his bed more comfortable.
Al Capone's prison file at Atlanta Penitentiary, Georgia.
(Bill Helmer Collection)
Photograph of Al's mom Theresa, standing in the backyard of the Capone homestead at 7244 South Prairie Ave. (Chicago) circa 1932-33. This photo was one of Al's prized possessions in Atlanta. Note the lower back view of photo with prison stamp and Al's prison number in Atlanta.
(Mario Gomes Collection)
Once arriving at Atlanta, Al was interviewed on May 18, 1932. Here is Al Capone prison files in his own words describing himself, his family, his dropping out of school, his work and his arrests.
Click file below!
Al Capone hiding handcuffs after leaving court in Atlanta Nov. 11,1932.
Al lost the court appeal to overturn his prison sentence. He had argued that the statute of limitations had run out during his tax trial, but it was too late and overturned.
Al's daily regimen and meals in the Atlanta Pen.
While at Atlanta penitentiary, many newspaper rumors were circulating that Al Capone was receiving preferential treatment with his status and money. There were claims that Al was walking around wearing silk glove underwear under his prison clothes, that he was allotted more spending allowances than other inmates and that the prison commissary had his special brand of cigars well stocked.
The Director for the Bureau of Prisons in Washington requested an investigation. On January 24, 1933, these fears were put to rest when the Warden of Atlanta responded that under no circumstances was Al Capone given any special treatment whatsoever and that the answers were a flat out "NO" to all the questioning allegations put forth.
Even with all the proof of no wrong doing put forth the Government had decided to put Al Capone away from the limelight for good. The Army Barracks prison on Alcatraz Island was being prepared to hold the most infamous civilian prisoners of the day.
Al Capone was to be a winner in that fixed lottery.
According to Al's cellmate Morris "Red" Rudensky, Al went beserk when he found out he was being transferred to the new maximum security prison called ALCATRAZ, also known as "The Rock". All of Al's privileges, whatever they were in Atlanta were to taken away from him at Alcatraz.
Next stop Alcatraz
And in the End
In 1938, Capone was sent to Terminal Island for observation after a mental breakdown in Alcatraz.
On November 8,1939, lawyer and once Capone business partner and informant Edward J. O'Hare is driving along Ogden Avenue near Talman Avenue when a car pulls up beside him. A man levels a shotgun at O'Hare's head and squeezes off two volleys. O'Hare's car continues on it's path and swerves into a pole near Rockwell street. He is killed instantly having been hit in the neck and head. The force of the impact on the pole causes O'Hare's limp body to lunge forward bending the steering wheel and column like a pretzel. His eyes and mouth are open, as if in shock.
Beside him is a loaded spanish .32 automatic and a poem on the shortness of life and it's comparison to the hands on a clock. Also in his possession are papers with a list of woman's names, a string of rosary beads and some religious medals.
O'Hare had once stated that his dealings with gangsters and hoodlums was a relatively safe affair, as long as one kept it strictly at a business level. He had known many a bootlegger during his years as an up and coming lawyer in St. Louis. He unfortunately crossed a line he certainly knew meant his doom.
Capone is officially released from prison on November 16, 1939, he is then sent for treatment to a Baltimore hospital. In March of 1940, his family bring him back to the safety of his Florida Palm Isle retreat.
Florida , February 17, 1941. A dapper Capone listening in amusement to the charges read by his last attorney Abraham Teitelbaum.
Capone makes an appearance accompanied with brother Ralph and his lawyer for a closed session with Government lawyers. They question his ability to pay back $201,347 still owed to the Government.
Al Capone lives the rest of his life going in and out of a child like state. He dies on January 25,1947, at 93 Palm Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida.
Michael J. Ahern, part of Capone's team of lawyers dies of a heart attack in his home at 4536 North Mozart street on September 22,1943. He was 56 years old.
Albert Fink, one half of the lawyer team who defended Al Capone at his tax trial of 1931. Fink dies on March 25,1941 at his home in Tucson, Arizona.He was 67 and was previously suffering from poor health.
George E.Q. Johnson, United States district attorney who vigorously went after Capone for income tax charges and won dies on September 19,1949 of a brain hemorrhage in his home at 7327 Crandon Avenue. He was 75.
Dwight H.Green, former federal prosecutor who helped put Capone behind bars dies February 20,1958 in St. Luke's hospital from cancer. He was 61.
Frank J. Wilson, the man responsible for bringing down Capone through ledgers found accidently in his cramped Chicago office dies at Georgetown University Hospital on June 22,1970 at age 83.
Elmer L. Irey, government tax expert who helped nail Capone dies on July 19,1948 at age 60 in Maryland.
Jacob I. Grossman, was one of the attorney's who prosecuted Al Capone in his tax trial and maintained to keep Al in prison for his appeals case dies March 1975 in St. Joseph's hospital at age 82.
Judge James H. Wilkerson, The judge who sentenced Al Capone to 11 years for income tax evasion dies of a heart attack in an Evanston Hospital on September 30,1948. He was 78.
"Mysterious Mike" Special agent Michael F. Malone, who infiltrated the Capone gang and fed information to Frank Wilson specifically as to when Capone money transfers were leaving the Lexington via Florida, dies on the 10th of November 1960 in Ramsey County, Minnesota. Malone had also been responible for sending Frank Nitti to Leavenworth prison on Income tax charges.
Leslie Adelbert Shumway, passes away in Florida, January 1964.
The real unsung hero who cared about Chicago's reputation and took it upon himself to bring down the gangsters was Frank J. Loesch. He began the quiet movement against Capone to save his beloved Chicago's reputation.
Frank J. Loesch
Frank J. Loesch signature.
(Mario Gomes Collection)
Modern Day Re-Trial
The Palmer house ballroom, August 5 & 6, 1990.
The American Bar association revisted his income tax trial with lawyers and by modern standards of law, he was found not guilty. His defense back then centered on his gambling habits which found him no sympathy. Today his lawyers would have gotten him off by demanding that the Government prove specifically that he received any monies and that even if they could prove that he did, they would also have to show that he knowingly did not pay his income tax. In the 1920's, less than 10 percent of the people in the United States had to file returns.
Capone didn't know that illegal income was taxable. The recent day jury also didn't prejudge him for who he was, Big Al Capone.
Jonathan Eig's take on Capone in his book "Get Capone" is utterly laughable. Besides his insane Valentine Massacre theory which he no longer touts, he also made the Capone tax case as if it was some newly discovered secret. In reality, he had simply purchased some of George E.Q. Johnson documents from author Dennis Hoffman in which he based his whole book upon on how they had to "Get Capone" and how it was a big secret plot. Hmmm? What secret plot??? The Government had been going after gangsters and using the tax angle way before Al Capone was ever brought down. This was documented in various newspapers, books and magazines such as those found below.
September 6, 1925.
Chicago Tribune October 4, 1926.
Government talks now of using Income tax indictments against gangsters.
Indicted and sentenced before Big Al Capone.
November 1, 1929, Terry Druggan, Frank Lake and Ralph Capone were all indicted of income tax evasion.
Ralph is given a 3 year sentence along with fines.
Druggan was given two years along with fines.
Frank Lake two and a half years along with fines.
March 22, 1930, Frank Nitti is indicted on income tax evasion charges. He is sent to prison for 2 years, but does only 18 months along with fines.
November 19, 1930, Jake Guzik is found guilty of income tax evasion. He gets 5 years along with fines.
Al Capone was brought down by the mountain of evidence they had culled from his brother Ralph Capone's tax trial and investigation. In a sense, it was Ralph who brought down his brother simply by his carelessness.
The trial of Al Capone. (1933) Amazing self published book by Mr. Robert Ross that explains and gives us a first hand account of the happenings at Al's income tax trial.
Featured are the players on both sides of the famous tax case.
1949. How the T-men trapped Al Capone, Waxie Gordon, Enoch Johnson, Boss Pendergast, John Torrio, Huey Long, and many tax evaders.
Frank Spiering's awesome work on the government's efforts to bring down Al Capone Featured is the unsung hero,Treasury agent Frank Wilson and his courageous efforts to get Capone behind bars, as ordered to him by President Hoover.
Forget the Johnny come latelys, Hoffman was one of the first in debunking the myth that Eliot Ness and the Untouchables nailed Al Capone. His excellent study reveals that a small group of Chicago businessmen that outsmarted Capone and saw a parallel for modern society in this movement against corruption and organized crime.
Hoffman reconstructs privately sponsored citizen initiatives directed at nailing Capone. These private ventures included prosecuting the gangsters responsible for election crimes during the Pineapple Primary; establishing a crime lab to assist in gang-busting; underwriting the costs of the investigation of the Jake Lingle murder; stigmatizing Capone; and protecting the star witnesses for the prosecution during the pretrial period of Capone’s income tax evasion case.
Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, c1993.
About the Author
Dennis F. Hoffman is an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and once had personal files from the Capone prosecution that belonged to George E.Q. Johnson.
The Literary Digest June 27, 1931, (American illustrated weekly). 1 1/2 page illustrated article on Uncle Sam taking Capone for a Ride.
Story of George E.Q. Johnson's case and strategy.
COLLIERS April 26,1947- Undercover man trapped Al Capone
CORONET November 1947; Vol 23, No 1, Whole No 133
[AL CAPONE] Twilight of a Gangster ... ELMER L. IREY & WILLIAM J. SLOCUM. "As exciting as any detective fiction is this exclusive story, told in full for the first time, of AL CAPONE's downfall." [In-depth 12 page article.]
Vintage Man's Magazine, June 1961 Vol. 9 # 6
Memo to Eliot Ness and -The Untouchables-, The Man who really got Al Capone
June 26, 1930.
November 17, 1946, Story in The Sunday Tribune titled THE MAN WHO GOT CAPONE by Willard Edwards
April 1932, George E.Q. Johnson reveals the deal in Capone's income tax case.
Judge James Wilkerson was the true hero of the trial. He chastized Johnson for not going at Capone with both barrels. Wilkerson rejects Capone's deal arranged by his lawyers with the Prosecution and goes to trial by jury. Wilkerson switches the chosen jury with another comprised mainly of farmers who give Capone the ultimate in judgement compared to his brother and previously judged fellow gangsters.
April 11, 1954 Story of Raid and evidence found on Capone.
Photos and files found here in are from my personal collection and help describe the story.
Special thanks to my good buddy Bill Helmer for info, photos and copious photocopies of the rare tax files supplied.
Special thanks to John Binder for the massive photocopies of the Al Capone tax case.
I highly recommend reading Robert Ross' "The Trial of Al Capone" published 1933, Frank Speiring's "The Man who got Capone" and Dennis E. Hoffman's "Scarface Al and the Crime Crusaders" published in 1993.
First Posted January 2010