Al Capone was born Alphonse Caponi in 1893. He was born in Naples, Italy, but moved to Brooklyn, New York with his family in 1899. He left school at an early age and spent ten years with gangs in New York where he became known as “Scarface” for the scar on his left cheek. In the 1920s, Al Capone took over a major Chicago gang operated by Jimmy “Big Jim” Torrio. Big Jim’s operation dealt with illegal liquor, gambling, and prostitution. The takeover brought Capone much wealth, power, and infamy. Throughout the 1920s, he eliminated his enemies as they came along.
Al Capone’s killings culminated in the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929. George “Bugs” Moran and seven members of his gang were to inspect a shipment of Canadian liquor at the S.M.C. Carthage Company warehouse. The seven men arrived as planned, but Bugs was delayed. While his gang – Frank & Pete Gusenberg, Adam Heyer, Al Weinshunk, James Clark, John May, and Reinhardt Schwimmer – waited in the warehouse, a Cadillac arrived and four men dressed as police came out. The men were carrying sub-machine guns and sawed-off shotguns when they entered the warehouse. Inside the warehouse, they lined up the men against the wall as if they were being arrested. Once the men were lined up, the four “cops” let the bullets fly and mutilated the bodies of Moran’s men. Five minutes later, Bugs arrived. He entered the warehouse expecting to find seven impatient men who had been waiting for him, but instead found their blood and guts.
This hit won Capone control of most of the underworld, but he lost it two years later. In 1931, Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion. He was sentenced to eleven years in prison at Alcatraz, but was released on parole in 1939. Because of his syphilis, he quietly spent the rest of his life in his Miami Beach, Florida mansion. Alphonse Caponi died in 1947 at the age of 54. He justified his crimes by saying this: “I was told that America is the land of opportunity, but I found that no one could succeed in this society without breaking laws. So, that’s what I did.” When she was confronted by the media, Al’s mother defended him by saying “Al’s a good boy”.