On October 6, 1931, fourteen detectives escorted Capone to the Federal Court Building. Security was very, very tight. Capone was brought in through a tunnel to a freight elevator.
The crime czar was well dressed in a conservative blue serge suit. No pinkie rings or any other gaudy gangster jewelry this time. Every major newspaper had dispatched its top talent. It was the "Who's Who" of newspaper journalism. The question was posed to Al repeatedly, "Are you worried?"
"Worried?" Capone answered with a smile, "Well, who wouldn't be?" As Bergreen notes: " At that moment, however, he was feeling quite confident. He assumed that his organization had gotten to the jury and all that was required of him was to show up in court each day, appearing polite and respectful, until his inevitable acquittal. And even then he would be sure to act magnanimous and tell the press that there were no hard feelings on his part, he knew the government boys were just doing their job."
The government team consisted of U.S. Attorney George E. Q. Johnson, a tall man with gold-rimmed glasses, and his prosecutors Samuel Clawson, Jacob Grossman, Dwight Green and William Froelich. One journalist compared Johnson and Capone: "Capone's thick-featured face, the roll of flesh at the back of his neck, presents a contrast to the attorney's lean face, his shock of gray hair, and his general appearance of wiriness."
Judge Wilkerson entered the courtroom. He wore no robes over his dark suit. "Judge Edwards has another trial commencing today," he announced. "Go to his courtroom and bring me the entire panel of jurors. Take my entire panel to Judge Edwards." Everyone was shocked, but no one more than Capone and his lawyer Michael Ahern. The new panel of jurors, most of whom were white men from rural areas, had never appeared on any list of Capone's and had never been approached for bribery. These jurors would be sequestered at night so that the Capone mob couldn't get to them.
On October 17, Johnson gave his final summation to a jury composed of men with farm backgrounds like his own. After his opening statement, he turned his attention to Capone himself. "I have been a little bewildered in this case at the manner in which the defense has attempted to weave a halo of mystery and romance around the head of this man. Who is he? Who is this man who during the years that we have considered here has so lavishly expended what he claims to be almost half a million dollars? Is he the little boy out of the Second Reader, who succeeded in finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, that he has been spending so lavishly, or maybe, as his counsel says, is he Robin Hood? But was it Robin Hood in this case who bought $8,000 worth of diamond belt buckles to give to the unemployed? No. Was it Robin Hood in this case who paid a meat bill of $6,500? Did that go to the unemployed? No, it went to the house on Palm Island. Did he buy these $27 shirts to protect the shivering men who sleep under Wacker Drive at night? No.
"At any time, at any place, has this defendant ever appeared in a reputable business? Has there appeared a single instance of contact with a reputable business? What a picture we have in this case: no income, but diamond belt buckles, twenty-seven- dollar shirts, furnishings for his home -- $116,000 that is not deductible from his income. And yet counsel comes here and argues to you that the man has no income!"
Late Saturday night, October 17, 1931, after nine hours of discussion, the jury completed its deliberation and found Capone guilty of some counts, but not all counts of tax evasion. The following Saturday, Judge Wilkerson sentenced Capone to eleven years, $50,000 in fines and court costs of another $30,000. Bail was denied and Capone would be led to the Cook County Jail to await eventual removal to a federal penitentiary.
"Capone tried to smile again," said the New York Times, "but the smile was bitter. He licked his fat lips. He jiggled on his feet. His tongue moved in his cheeks. He was trying to be nonchalant, but he looked as if he must have felt --ready to give way to an outburst of anger. It was a smashing blow to the massive gang chief. His clumsy fingers, tightly locked behind his back, twitched and twisted."
As Capone left the courtroom, an official of the Internal Revenue Service slapped liens on his property so that the government could satisfy its tax claims. Capone lost his temper and tried to attack the man, but was restrained by the marshals who had him in custody.
"Well, I'm on my way to do eleven years," he said, looking at Ness. "I've got to do it, that's all. I'm not sore at anybody. Some people are lucky. I wasn't. There was too much overhead in my business anyhow, paying off all the time and replacing trucks and breweries. They ought to make it legitimate."
"If it was legitimate, you certainly wouldn't want anything to do with it," he told Capone as he walked away, seeing him for the last time.
Al Capone's oldest brother, James Vincenzo Capone, left his home in Brooklyn at the age of 16 in 1908. Always a strong-minded and independent boy, he wanted to escape the crowded city and go west where the prospects were better.
Strong and muscular, anxious for adventure and wide open spaces, he joined the circus and traveled all over the Midwest. For the first time, he was exposed to American Indians and became fascinated with their culture.
He also became pretty good with a gun and when World War I broke out, he enlisted and was sent over to France with the American Expeditionary Force. He was an excellent marksman and a good soldier, who was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. He was the only one of that generation of Capone sons to fight in World War I.
His family back in Brooklyn had no idea about his military service at that time. He had pretty much lost contact with them.
After the war, he hopped a train to Nebraska and stayed in the small town of Homer where in 1919 he rescued a young woman named Kathleen Winch and her family in a flash flood. Shortly afterwards, Capone, who then called himself Richard Hart, and Kathleen were married. As his family grew, he tried to make an ordinary living in Homer, but the adventuresome Hart needed more excitement.
When Prohibition laws were enacted in 1920, Hart saw an opportunity to get a more interesting job where his expert marksmanship would be useful. He became a Prohibition enforcement officer.
Incredibly enough, while his baby brother Al was starting to make bootlegging history in Chicago, his big brother was making a name for himself aggressively busting up illegal stills in Nebraska. Nor was Hart just a prohibition agent, he kept the peace in that frontier area, regularly arresting horse thieves and other criminals
As his fame as a lawman increased, he was hired by the U.S. Indian Service to try to keep alcohol off the Indian reservations. Hart and Kathleen and their four sons made their home among the various tribes, like the Sioux and Cheyenne. In the course of his work, Hart and his family learned several Indian languages and developed close relationships with the tribal leaders.
His terrific ability with guns, plus the pair of pearl-handed pistols he wore, earned him the name "Two Gun Hart." In one part of the Midwest, the headlines read," Two-Gun Hart Gets his Man," and "Two-Gun Hart Brings Booze Offenders In." At one point, Two Gun was a body guard for President Calvin Coolidge. Baby brothers Al and Ralph were making headlines of a different sort in another part of the Midwest.
Hart continued his distinguished career as a Prohibition agent until Prohibition was over. Afterwards, he became the town marshal in his wife's home town of Homer, Nebraska.
Hart was a dedicated family man and taught his sons and grandchildren a lot about hunting and outdoor sports, but for a long time, he kept his real name and background from everybody.
Eventually, in the early 1940's, he quietly contacted his brothers in Chicago and met with Ralph and John Capone in Sioux City, Iowa. Then he went to Chicago to see his mother, Theresa. When he went home, he told Kathleen and the boys that he was in fact Al Capone's brother. At various times, when financial difficulties beset Two-Gun's family, his brother Ralph helped out with a check.
In 1946, Two-Gun allowed his son Harry Hart to go with him to a Capone family cabin in Wisconsin where he had a chance to meet his famous uncle, Al Capone, who at that time was out of jail and suffering from tertiary syphilis. Two-Gun told Harry not to get too close to Al during this family visit. The two brothers came from two very different worlds. Hart probably did not want his son influenced unduly by one of the most famous characters of that other world.
In 1952, Two-Gun Hart suffered a fatal heart attack in Homer, Nebraska. Kathleen and Harry were at his side. His oldest son, Richard Hart Jr., had been killed in World War II, while his other two boys had settled in Wisconsin.
It seems unbelievable that the two brothers, Richard Hart and Al Capone, could have lived such remarkably different lives on opposite sides of the law. Yet when you look at the qualities that made each of the two brothers successful in their own milieu, fraternal similarities are visible: intelligence, initiative, risk taking, strength of will and purpose, persistence and conviction, and the ability to lead and persuade others. Strangely enough, it was the law of the land, Prohibition, that brought to the forefront these qualities in each brother.
Initially, Al was a prisoner at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta and quickly became its most famous prisoner. There were charges almost immediately that he was living "like a king." While that was certainly an exaggeration, he clearly lived better than the rest of the prisoners. He had more socks, underwear, sets of sheets, etc. than anyone else. He maintained these extravagances by virtue of a hollow handle in his tennis racket in which he secreted several thousand dollars in cash.
In 1934, Attorney General Homer Cummings took over the prison on Alcatraz Island to warehouse dangerous, intractable criminals. In a radio address, Cummings explained that "here may be isolated the criminals of the vicious and irredeemable type so that their evil influence may not be extended to other prisoners."
In August of 1934, Capone was sent to Alcatraz. His days of living like a king in prison were gone. "Capone would run nothing on or from Alcatraz; he wouldn't even know what was happening outside. There would be no smuggled letters or messages.
All incoming letters were censored, then retyped by guards with prohibited subjects omitted, which included the faintest whiff of business or the doings of former associates. Censors excised even mention of current events. No newspapers were allowed; magazines had to be more than seven months old. The only source of news was new arrivals. At best, prisoners could write one letter a week, rigorously censored, and only to their immediate family members. Only immediate family could visit, only two of them each month, and they had to write the warden for permission each time. Visitors and prisoners made no physical contact. They sat on opposite side of plate glass... No one could smuggle money into Capone, and he could not have spent it anyway." (Schoenberg).
How did Capone manage with the loss of popularity and status? He seemed to do reasonably well and got along better than most from the standpoint of adjustment. The same was not true of his health. The syphilis that he had contracted as a very young man was moving into the tertiary stage called neurosyphilis. By 1938, he was confused and disoriented.
Al spent the last year of his sentence, which had been reduced to six years and five months for a combination of good behavior and work credits, in the hospital section being treated for syphilis. He was released in November of 1939. Mae took him to a hospital in Baltimore where he was treated until March of 1940.
Sonny Capone seemed to be a remarkably friendly and well-adjusted young man, despite his very unusual background. In 1940, he married an Irish girl and settled in Miami. Sonny and Diana provided Al and Mae with four granddaughters, which were treated with lavish attention.
For his remaining years, Al slowly deteriorated in the quiet splendor of his Palm Island palace. Mae stuck by him until January 25, 1947 when he died of cardiac arrest at age 48, his grieving family surrounding him. A week before, Andrew Volstead, author of the Volstead Act that ushered in the era of Prohibition from 1920 to 1933, died at the age of 87.
"In his forty-eight years, Capone had left his mark on the rackets and on Chicago, and more than anyone else he had demonstrated the folly of Prohibition; in the process he also made a fortune. Beyond that, he captured and held the imagination of the American public as few public figures ever do. Capone's fame should have been fleeting, a passing sensation, but instead it lodged permanently in the consciousness of Americans, for whom he redefined the concept of crime into an organized endeavor modeled on corporate enterprise. As he was at pains to point out, many of his crimes were relative; bootlegging was criminal only because a certain set of laws decreed it, and then the laws were changed" (Bergreen).