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A child from an Italian immigrant family, Al Capone, also known as "Scarface," rose to infamy as the leader of the Chicago mafia during the Prohibition era.
Al Capone - Taking Him Out (4:57)
Al Capone - Rise to Power (2:59)
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Al Capone - Sentenced (0:35)
Al Capone was a famous outlaw and leader of the Mob in Chicago. It took Eliot Ness and the secret six of Chicago to take down Al Capone on tax evasion.
Al Capone rose to power with a deadly combination of raw brutality and brainpower. "Scarface" wanted to be loved, but wasn't afraid to murder anyone that crossed him.
Al Capone is best known as the Prohibition-era leader of organized crime in Chicago, however, there's more than meets the eye to this criminal mastermind.
Deadly gangster Al Capone was sentenced to jail for tax evasion in 1931.
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When McGurn's men thought they saw Bugs Moran, they got into their police uniforms and drove over to the garage in a stolen police car. The bootleggers, caught in the act, lined up against the wall. McGurn's men took the bootleggers' guns and opened fire with two machine guns. All the men except Frank Gusenberg were killed outright in cold blood.
The plan appeared to go brilliantly except for one major detail; Bugs Moran was not among the dead. Moran had seen the police car and took off,
not wanting to be caught up in the raid. Even though Al Capone was conveniently in Florida, the police and the newspapers knew who had staged the massacre.
The St. Valentine's Day Massacre became a national media event immortalizing Capone as the most ruthless, feared, smartest and elegant of gangland bosses. Even while powerful forces were amassing against him, Capone indulged in one last bloody act of revenge—the killing of two Sicilian colleagues who he believed had betrayed him. Capone invited his victims to a sumptuous banquet where he brutally pulverized them with a baseball bat. Capone had observed the old tradition of wining and dining traitors before executing them.
Al Capone's activities attracted the attention of President Herbert Hoover who in March, 1929, asked Andrew Mellon, his secretary of the Treasury, "Have you got this fellow Capone yet? I want that man in jail." Mellon set out to get the necessary evidence both to prove income tax evasion and to amass enough evidence to prosecute Capone successfully for Prohibition violations.
Eliot Ness, a dynamic young agent with the US Prohibition Bureau, was charged with gathering the evidence of Prohibition violations. He assembled a team of daring young men and made extensive use of wire tapping technology. While there was doubt that Capone could be successfully prosecuted for Prohibition violations in Chicago, the government was certain it could get Capone on tax evasion.
In May 1929, Capone went to a "gangsters" conference in Atlantic City. Afterwards he saw a movie in Philadelphia. When leaving the cinema he was arrested and imprisoned for carrying a concealed weapon. Capone was soon incarcerated in the Eastern Penitentiary where he stayed until March 16, 1930. He was later released from jail for good behavior, but was put on the America's "Most Wanted" list which publicly humiliated the mobster who so desperately wanted to be regarded as a worthy and man of the people.
Elmer Irey undertook a cunning plan to use undercover agents posing as hoods to infiltrate Capone's organization. The operation took nerves of steel and despite an informer ending up with a bullet in his head before he could testify, Elmer managed to amass enough evidence through his detectives, posing as gangsters, to try Capone in front of a jury. With two vital bookkeepers Leslie Shumway and Fred Reis, who had once been in Capone's employment, now safely under police protection it was only a matter of time before Capone's days as Public Enemy No.
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Bootleggers, smugglers, drug dealers, hit men—all these occupations are the provenance of mobsters, who operate in ethnic, family and business networks. Mobsters' real life crimes, and Hollywood's fascination with them, has earned them a special place in the American imagination. From Al Capone's Chicago crime ring to Bugsy Siegel's Las Vegas racket, these mobsters have made their names notorious from coast to coast.
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