Almanac: Al Capone

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: May 4th, 1932, 82 years ago today . . . Moving Day for a notorious mobster.

For that was the day Al Capone entered federal prison.

Born in 1899, young Alphonse Capone rose quickly through the ranks of organized crime . . . first in his native Brooklyn, then in Chicago.

By the mid-1920s, he'd become the Windy City's nearly undisputed crime king.

When members of a rival gang were gunned down in cold blood at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929, suspicion naturally enough fell on Capone. But as was the case so often in those days, nothing could be proved.

Through it all, Capone led an openly luxurious life in a plush hotel, enjoying celebrity among some folks who thought him as a kind of Robin Hood . . . as when he opened soup kitchens for the poor during the Great Depression.

Unable to nail Capone for his violent crimes, the Feds focused on his unreported income, an investigation portrayed in the 1987 film, "The Untouchables," with Kevin Costner as Treasury Agent Eliot Ness and Robert De Niro as Capone:

CAPONE: "You got nothing! You got nothing in court, you don't got the bookkeeper. You got nothing! NOTHING! And if you were a man you woulda done it now. You don't got a thing!"

Finally, convicted of tax evasion, Capone was sent to the federal prison in Atlanta on this date in 1932 . . . where he quickly connived and bribed his way to special treatment.

Two years later, he was transferred to the less congenial confines of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay, where -- deprived of influence -- he meekly settled in as a model prisoner.

In 1939, he was released, suffering from syphilis and dementia.

Al Capone died at his Florida home in 1947, barely 48 years old.


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