“The Life and Times of Al Capone…Then and Now.”
I’ll Never Pass Up a Teaching Moment.

I need to get all my calls on the table. I love teaching. Period. I had a student several years ago who took one of my classes. She graduated, married, moved to Mar-a-Lago, Florida. There they both found jobs. Her husband is a banker, and she teaches in a high school.

I got a call from her the other day, and she wanted to know if I could do some online teaching for someone who lives in their town. Essentially, I was doing tutoring for her. She wanted me to email her weekly mini-lectures, and she would forward them to her acquaintance.

Since I could pick any interesting topic each week, I chose for my first mini-lecture, “The Life and Times of Al Capone…Then and Now.” This is what I sent her and is also posted on my website.

       “The Life and Times of Al Capone...Then and Now”
    Al Capone was a major gangster figure in the early part of the 20th century. His nickname, Scarface, was due to saying something improper to a woman. The woman’s boyfriend pulled out a knife and cut Capone’s left side of his face three times.


Capone’s rise to being mob boss started in Chicago during Prohibition. When the city began cracking down on the various mobs, Capone moved to Cicero and tried to take over that Chicago suburb. He kidnapped several election officials and threatened them with being shot unless they would kowtow to him.

While in Cicero, Capone and his two brothers took over both city hall and the police department, which allowed him to run racetracks, speakeasies, gambling dens, bootlegging, and brothels. When someone got out of line, Capone would shoot the person. He got away with murder in plain sight.

Outwardly, he always dressed exceptionally well and came over as a dignified and honest businessman. With success in Cicero, he returned to Chicago and set up shop in the Hotel Metropole.

Hotel Metropole

While Capone enjoyed returning to Chicago, many problems beyond law enforcement were facing him. There was a lot of fighting among the various mobs. Capone had to deal with rival gangsters like Bugs Moran. He wanted Moran killed during the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. While it was a massacre, Moran thought the police were looking for him and wasn’t with his gang when the killings occurred.

Capone was into killing his adversaries. Sometimes would have a luxurious dinner with those he wanted killed. After enjoying dessert, he would have his guests shot as his appetizer.

The FBI realized that they had to discover a new means to get to Capone. They spent several years working on tax evasion. Capone wasn’t paying taxes on bootlegged whiskey. President Hoover pushed his Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon, to assist the FBI and Elliot Ness in their investigation.

On March 13, 1931, the grand jury returned an indictment against Capone with nearly two dozen counts of tax evasion totaling over $200,000. Capone along with around seventy gang members charged with 5,000 separate violations of the Volstead Act. Capone went to trial on October 6, 1931.

Interestingly, Capone cronies had bribed some of the potential jurors. Thinking that he would be found innocent, he entered the court as a free man. When the judge entered the courtroom, the first order of business was to dismiss the jurors and replace them with a new group. You can imagine what Capone and his lawyers thought; the jig was up.

On October 17, the new jury found Capone guilty of multicable counts of tax evasion and got eleven years in prison. In addition, Capone had to pay $80,000 in fines and court costs. In today’s money, it would be about a million dollars.

Capone spent three years in the Atlanta prison. However, in 1934, he was moved to Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay. Capone did six and a half years at Alcatraz and was released for good behavior. Apparently, he didn’t shoot anyone or beat them to death with a baseball bat.

Scarface went to his Palm Island Palace in Florida, which is located on the western side of Florida directly across from Mar-a-Largo on the eastern side. He died on January 25, 1947, due to a list of illnesses. He had a cardiac arrest, which was related to his tertiary syphilis. Additionally, his mental functions worsened and deteriorated during his last days.

Palm Island—Capone’s getaway place

So, that is a brief history of Scarface, Al Capone, back then. This is a quiz. Name a person from Florida that has avoided criminal conduct similar to Capone but has avoided prosecution. Nevertheless, this person is facing potential tax evasion. If you can’t think of anyone, you will need additional tutoring from me.


This video is of Capone’s Palm Island Palace.