October 17, 2020: Al Capone Convicted
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Welcome today in true crime, a spotify original from podcast today will covering the conviction of America's most notorious gangster al capone unable to secure convictions for his more violent crimes. The government settled for nailing him for tax evasion. Now, let's go back to a Cook County courthouse on the afternoon of October Seventeenth Nineteen thirty one. He was just before three. PM, when the jury filed out of the courtroom to begin deliberations. Is were on the thirty two year old defendant Al Capone. Faced several charges of tax evasion and conspiracy to violate the prohibition. act. But the mobster gave little away as the twelve man jury exited far from worried capone seemed confident. He escaped punishment just like he always did earlier he boasted the government can't collect legal taxes from illegal money and it was illegal money he and his lawyers seem to have no problem admitting that. But how he acquired his wealth wasn't the focus of the eleven day trial in. Their Defense Capone's lawyers argued their client was a gambling addict who had lost some three hundred thousand dollars over a number of years. It was an odd defense to put up but might have been their only option because Al Capone was guilty of the charges against him. He'd never filed a single income tax return but was worth tens of millions and faced with those facts. His lawyers sought to mislead the jury imploring them to pity a hopeless gambling addict. It didn't seem to fool anyone still the jury deliberated for about eight hours and return to the courtroom later that same evening. Silence fell over the courtroom as judge James H Wilkerson directed the clerk to read the verdict as soon as the first guilty was announced reporters raced from the room heading for phones to call the news into their editors meanwhile capone grinned as though he felt he had gotten off easily according to the New York Times. The bulky man stood in his green suit grinning at anyone who looked at him perhaps he smiled because he knew he could appeal the verdict or because he anticipated a light sentence. But a month later on November twenty, fourth nineteen, thirty, one judge wilkerson sentenced the mob boss to eleven years in federal prison and imposed fines and tax payments close to three hundred, thousand dollars. It was the longest term ever imposed for tax evasion, which was possibly a reflection of capone's notoriety. Capone wasn't used to losing so badly except perhaps at the race track. So as he was led from the courtroom in handcuffs, he allegedly yelled I'm not through fighting yet. But. As capone would learn, there are some fights you just can't win. Coming up, we look at the crimes of Al Capone and the winding road that led to his downfall. 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That's friends without the our best fiends. Now back to the story. On October Seventeenth Nineteen, thirty, one, thirty, two, year, old gangster Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion. It was the final nail in the coffin for capone. Eventually, sentenced to eleven years in federal prison, and though the result was a win for the authorities getting, there hadn't been an easy journey until his tax conviction capone operated under an assumption of invulnerability as Leader of the notorious Chicago outfit crime syndicate capone commanded vast resources in excess of a reported one, hundred million dollars each year in today's money that's around one point, five billion dollars, and with that money came the ability to buy influence and favor with officials of every level. Capone even had Chicago's mayor. Big Bill Thompson safely in his pocket meaning he feared no repercussions for his racketeering bootlegging and gambling businesses. So great was his influence that his enforcers an army of triggermen who took care of the violent aspects of capone's business dealings carried cards to hand to law enforcement. The cards were issued by the city and read to the police department. You will extend the courtesies of this department to the bearer they were in effect get out of jail free cards. Not that they were always needed in addition to his money and influence capone was one of the country's most feared men past criminal charges against him including murder failed to stick because so many people were either on the take or too scared to testify against the mandate called scarface. But. When US President Herbert Hoover told his treasury secretary quote I want that man in jail it signal the end of Capone's rain. In the past it proved difficult to pin charges against the mobster for his underworld activities but they weren't the only laws he'd broken by nineteen twenty, nine capone himself was reportedly worth around thirty million dollars but had never filed an income tax return. Thanks to an earlier. Supreme. Court ruling all in income even money earned from criminal activities was subject to taxation proving capone earned money would prove he was also a tax cheat. So with that in mind investigators from the Treasury's Special Intelligence Unit set to work finding evidence to use against capone. It was easy to see that capone's wealth was massive, but it was less clear where his money came from. He didn't keep a bank account and never signed checks or receipts making it almost impossible to trace his finances but determined to get there man the investigators got creative. They looked into the records of department stores, car dealerships and hotels. And found evidence capone spent huge sums on things like diamond studded belt buckles, custom clothing, gold plated dinner wear, and a Lincoln limousine. They were also able to link capone to thirty nine thousand dollars in phone bills and an extravagant party to watch a boxing match along with the circumstantial evidence tying capone to extraordinary wealth raids unearthed incriminating ledgers that suggested he earned money from gambling hall additionally federal agents convinced several of Capone's associates to give testimonies against their boss. In nineteen, thirty, one as the walls closed in around coupon he and his lawyer met with investigators to work out a deal facing charges of tax evasion. Both sides agreed to a bargain coupon would plead guilty to the charges and in exchange served two and a half years behind bars. But in July of nineteen, thirty, one after component appeared before federal judge James, H Wilkerson the previous month the judge threw the deal out in response coupon with drew his guilty plea and the criminal pace moved forward. Before they even reached, the courtroom capone tried once more to rig the system in his favor he bribed members of the potential jury pool somehow discovering their names before even the judge new ones prosecutors were tipped off they alerted judge Wilkerson who seemed unruffled by the news on the day capone's trial was set to begin wilkerson instructed his bay lift to escort the entire jury down the hall to a different courtroom where they would switch places with the jury from another trial. Also beginning that day Wilkerson was determined to show that capone could cheat the system all he wanted, but it was he the judge who set the rules and he could change them whenever he wanted. Capone was sunk following his guilty verdict and sentencing capone's appeals all failed. So he entered the US penitentiary in Atlanta. Georgia. There he bribed officials to allow him luxuries to make his stay more comfortable including rugs, a typewriter and a set of encyclopedia's. But when authorities discovered his scam in nineteen thirty four, he was moved to Alcatraz in San Francisco. They're the once fearsome mobster wasted away unable to work the system. As he'd done, his entire adult life capone eventually admitted it looks like Alcatraz has got me linked. Indeed Capone's mental state deteriorated while he was a prisoner on the island penitentiary, but it was late stage syphilis, not the prisons brutal conditions that caused his declining health and when capone was released in November of nineteen, thirty nine, his physician declared that the forty year old had the mentality of a twelve year old child. Clearly unable to resume control of his criminal empire Al Capone retreated to his luxury home on Palm Island in Florida where he lived the remainder of his days with his wife and immediate family. It's often said that death and taxes are the two parts of modern life that come for us all. Taxes came, for AL, capone, in nineteen thirty one and in nineteen forty, seven death followed proving that though he wants enjoyed a god-like status in Chicago, he was only human after. Thanks for listening to today in true crime I'm Vanessa Richardson. If you enjoyed today's episode, you'll love our show kingpins which charts the rise and fall of underworld leaders just like Al. Capone today in true crime is a spotify original from podcast. You can find more episodes of today in true crime and all other originals from podcast for free on spotify we'll be back with a brand new episode tomorrow in True Crime. Today and true crime was created by Max Cutler and is a podcast studios original. It is executive produced by Max Cutler Sound by Juan. Boorda. With production assistance by Ron Shapiro Carly Madden, and Freddie Beckley this episode of today in true crime was written by Joel Callan with writing assistance by Abigail. Cannon. I'm Vanessa Richardson. Remember to join Alistair murden every Thursday for the all new series haunted places. Go stories don't miss the most chilling spirits ever imagined by authors from around the world follow haunted places, ghost stories free on spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.