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Road to Perdition - CAPONE GOES DOWN

CAPONE GOES DOWN (Illustration) American History Biographies Famous Historical Events Famous People History Legends and Legendary People Social Studies Trials Crimes and Criminals Film

This image depicts the jury-verdict form for Al Capone's criminal trial held in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. The 12 jurors, who each signed the verdict form on the 17th of October, 1931, found Capone guilty of income-tax evasion. Click on the image for a better view.

 

Al Capone initially pled guilty to three charges against him, thinking he could cut a plea-bargain deal. But the Judge (James H. Wilkerson) wasn’t in the mood to deal, so Capone changed his plea to not guilty. He (or his men) tried to threaten and bribe the jury but, at the last minute, Wilkerson changed the panel.

Capone would stand trial, in 1931, at Chicago’s federal courthouse.

Jurors, who convicted the crime boss on five counts of income tax evasion, were mostly white men who lived outside the city. They had deliberated about eight hours. Federal Prohibition agents apparently celebrated with some of Capone’s confiscated, illegal whiskey.

Judge Wilkerson sentenced Capone on October 24, 1931. The next home address for the "Big Fellow?" Atlanta, known at the time as the toughest prison in the federal system.

As Capone left Chicago for his rail trip to Atlanta, he came face-to-face with Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness - probably for the first time. According to Ness (as quoted in Paul W. Heimel’s book, Eliot Ness: The Real Story), Capone said:

There was too much overhead in my business anyhow, paying off all the time and replacing trucks and breweries. They ought to make it [liquor] legitimate.

It should have come as no surprise to anyone that Capone’s control even extended to his prison cell in Atlanta. His life there was fairly pleasant, all things considered.

To prevent Capone’s influence from diminishing the intended effects of his sentence, however, federal officials changed his residence to the rocky island in San Francisco’s harbor: Alcatraz.

By 1939, when he had served seven years of his sentence, the former burly Capone was suffering from syphilitic dementia. He was ultimately released to the care of his family and his Palm Island, Florida home.

No longer able to run his organization, Capone ostensibly passed control of "the outfit" to Francesco ("Frank") Nitti, more simply known as "The Enforcer."

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Apr 13, 2017


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