Comment by Jim Campbell
February 14, 2019
This day in History:
Gangster Al Capone is sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion and fined $80,000, signaling the downfall of one of the most notorious criminals of the 1920s and 1930s.
Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1899 to Italian immigrants.
He was expelled from school at 14, joined a gang and earned his nickname “Scarface” after being sliced across the cheek during a fight.
By 1920, Capone had moved to Chicago, where he was soon helping to run crime boss Johnny Torrio’s illegal enterprises, which included alcohol-smuggling, gambling and prostitution.
Torrio retired in 1925 after an attempt on his life and Capone, known for his cunning and brutality, was put in charge of the organization.
Prohibition, which outlawed the brewing and distribution of alcohol and lasted from 1920 to 1933, proved extremely lucrative for bootleggers and gangsters like Capone, who raked in millions from his underworld activities.
Capone was at the top of the F.B.I.’s “Most Wanted” list by 1930, but he avoided long stints in jail until 1931 by bribing city officials, intimidating witnesses and maintaining various hideouts.
He became Chicago’s crime kingpin by wiping out his competitors through a series of gangland battles and slayings, including the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929, when Capone’s men gunned down seven rivals.
This event helped raise Capone’s notoriety to a national level.
Among Capone’s enemies was federal agent Elliot Ness, who led a team of officers known as “The Untouchables” because they couldn’t be corrupted.
Ness and his men routinely broke up Capone’s bootlegging businesses, but it was tax-evasion charges that finally stuck and landed Capone in prison in 1931.
Machine guns and other weapons examined by Elliot Ness and a member of his untouchables.
Capone began serving his time at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta.
This is from The Chicago Tribune.
The Roaring 20’s is the biggest reason we can not own automatic weapons without giving the government money and our souls.
The grisly scene inside the SMC Cartage Company after gunmen dressed as policemen mowed down members of the Moran gang. (Chicago Tribune / February 14, 1929)
With one ruthless stroke, Al Capone assumes undisputed leadership of Chicago crime.
On this frigid morning, in an unheated brick garage at 2122 N. Clark St., seven men were lined up against a whitewashed wall and pumped with 90 bullets from sub-machine guns, shotguns and a revolver.
It was the most infamous of all gangland slayings in America, and it savagely achieved its purpose–the elimination of the last challenge to Al Capone for the mantle of crime boss in Chicago.
By 1929, Capone’s only real threat was George “Bugs” Moran, who headed his own gang and what was left of Dion O’Banion‘s band of bootleggers.
Moran had long despised Capone, mockingly referring to him as “The Beast.”
At about 10:30 a.m., four men burst into the SMC Cartage Co. garage that Moran used for his illegal business.
Two of the men were dressed as police officers. The quartet presumably announced a raid and ordered the seven men inside the garage to line up against a wall.
Then they opened fire.
Witnesses, alerted by the rat-a-tat staccato of submachine guns, watched as the gunmen sped off in a black Cadillac touring car that looked like the kind police used, complete with siren, gong and rifle rack.
The victims, killed outright or left dying in the garage, included Frank “Hock” Gusenberg, Moran’s enforcer, and his brother, Peter “Goosy” Gusenberg.
Four of the other victims were Moran gangsters, but the seventh dead man was Dr. Reinhardt Schwimmer, an optician who cavorted with criminals for thrills.
Missing that morning was Capone’s prize, Moran, who slept in.
Capone missed the excitement too.
Vacationing at his retreat at Palm Island, Fla., he had an alibi for his whereabouts and disclaimed knowledge of the coldblooded killings.
Few believed him.
No one ever went to jail for pulling a trigger in the Clark Street garage, which was demolished in 1967.
Although Moran survived the massacre, he was finished as a big criminal. For decades to come, only one mob, that of Capone and his successors, would run organized crime in Chicago.
But the Valentine’s Day Massacre shocked a city that had been numbed by “Roaring ’20s” gang warfare over control of illegal beer and whiskey distribution.
“These murders went out of the comprehension of a civilized city,” the Tribune editorialized.
“The butchering of seven men by open daylight raises this question for Chicago: Is it helpless?”
In the following years, Capone and his henchmen were to become the targets of ambitious prosecutors.