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Al Capone Case

Essay by   •  September 19, 2012  •  Case Study  •  1,988 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,435 Views

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The most notorious gangster of all time, known as Al Capone, was the most powerful mob leader of his era. From the 1920's until around 1931 Capone was the kingpin of almost all organized crime throughout Chicago. Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York to a pair of Italian immigrants. In his early 20's, he moved himself to Chicago to reap the benefits of smuggling illegal alcohol into this city. This was done at the time when prohibition was at its highest. During the 1920's, "Al joined the James Street Gang, a tough street gang of teenagers and kids run by Johnny Torrio who would himself become a founder member of the Chicago Mob(1). Capone was then asked to work with Torrio's uncle who was a major part of the cities prostitution and gambling rings. At that time, Al Capone was America's best known gangster because of his disobedience to laws during the prohibition era as well as his top role in illegal activities.

The majority of Capone's initial network can be credited to Torrio's business. After the shooting of Torrio's uncle, Capone and Torrio took of the business of began the selling of illegal alcohol in the city of Chicago. This was a turning point for Capone as the demand for this was at its highest point and selling the products came quite easy. Within 2 years, Capone was earning $60 million a year from alcohol sales alone. Capone was obtaining much of his liquor from major cities within the US. With this unlawful, but successful act, Capone was becoming one of the richest and most powerful men in the US. "When Torrio was shot by rival gang members and consequently decided to leave Chicago, Capone inherited the "outfit" and became boss" (2). Now at the age of 26, Capone was at the top of the ladder. He employed more than 1,000 employees, to include bodyguards and hit men. This mass employment was said to cost approximately $300,000 a week. Even that amount did not make a dent in the amount of money that Capone was making. It is said that, "Capone controlled speakeasies, bookie joints, gambling houses, brothels, horse and race tracks, nightclubs, distilleries and breweries at a reported income of $100,000,000 a year"(2). Additionally, with this vast amount of wealth Capone was able to give free meals out to Chicago's unemployed. This made him look like a good standing citizen of society.

Like most unemployed people getting free handouts, they did not care where Capone was getting the money that was helping to feed them. They did not even care if it was illegal. Capone also supplied illegal alcohol to the poor citizens as well. This also caused innocent people of Chicago to respect Al Capone as he gave to their needs. "During the depression, Capone opened housing for the homeless and soup kitchens, giving much at his own expense" (3). Once again, when these people were in need they did not even care if the money came through such acts as bootlegging and prostitution. These helpless individuals were just glad to get something in their stomachs and something to wash it down with which just happened to be illegal at the time.

With Capone sitting on top of the world, law enforcement agencies had to step up their efforts in stopping him. One group that was formed was the 'Untouchables'. Another group that was formed to help stop Capone was the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The reign of Capone also led to more and more police presence in the area which included more police stations. Furthermore, law enforcement made several advances due to Capone which included better training and monitoring of high value targets.

Capone was seen around the world as crime syndicate kingpin because of his crimes and wealth. Although, he was also seen as a criminal by some Americans. Capone was looked at as someone that always seemed to get away with his crimes. He was also viewed as someone that simply was just a common criminal. Capone felt powerful as he always seemed to walk away from crimes that he was suspected in. "Because of gangland's traditional refusal to prosecute, Capone was never tried for most of his crimes. He was arrested in 1926 for killing three people, but spent only one night in jail because there was insufficient evidence to connect him with the murders"(2). This, in turn, made people upset as others were being sent to prison for committing the same crimes. This is one reason why he tried to give back to the public. Capone did not pity the poor but rather he figured that it would look good on him to help out their situation. With the positive impact that Capone gave, such conflicts as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre made him look like a tyrant.

The worst display of gang violence in America of it's time, took place on February 14, 1929. It was known at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. "Posing as police officers conducting a routine raid on February 14, 1929, four men entered a warehouse at 2122 N. Clark Street, used by George "Bugs" Moran and his gang to store liquor. The impostors lined up six gang members and a hanger-on against a wall, produced machine guns from under their overcoats, and opened fire"(4). Moran was known as one of Capone's competitors in the bootlegging crimes. It is said that this hit was put out by Capone because Moran and his gang had recently hijacked one of the Capone's shipments. At the time of the shooting, Capone was in Miami. The involvement in this crime could not be linked to Capone and his gang. Although, Capone's main target of Moran was not even in the warehouse at the time of the shooting. "Capone came closest to Moran in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre caper but Moran was late arriving that day and lucked out"(5). This act of violence once again helped make Capone one of the most notorious gangsters in history.

St. Valentine's Day Massacre brought more attention, good and bad, to Capone's gang than any other crime had brought to a gang in that era. Newspapers and reporters began to want to know more about Al Capone and what he was involved.

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