Five documents relating to a portion of the IRS investigation of Al Capone have recently been released. The Historical Documents relating to Alphonse (Al) Capone, Chicago make for fascinating reading and it is obvious that the IRS agents took Capone's dealings very personally.
In 1931, the Internal Revenue Service’s Intelligence Unit completed an investigation of Alphonse Capone which led to his conviction for tax evasion for which he served 11years in prison. A recent Freedom of Information Act Request for a copy of Special Agent Frank Wilson’s report to Elmer Irey about the Capone investigation led to a review of the records in light of the confidentiality provisions of Internal Revenue Code Section 6103. The review concluded that this information could be made available to the public – principally because Capone never filed a tax return.
Here's a portion of an Internal Revenue letter dated July 8, 1931, from W.C. Hodgins, Jacque L. Westrich, and H.N. Clagett, all Internal Revenue Agents, to the Internal Revenue Agent in Charge, Chicago, Illinois, in re Alphonse Capone, 7244 Prairie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Alfonse Capone is, without a doubt, the best advertised and most talked of gangster in the United States today. Reams and reams of newsprint and magazine paper has been used up in exploiting Al Capone as the "Big Shot" in his various activities as the boss of the so-called Cicero syndicate which carried on a very lucrative business in manufacturing and selling beer and alcohol, operating gambling houses, and houses of prostitution.
...Al Capone, a punk hoodlum, came to Chicago from New York about 1920, as a protege of John Torrio, who, at the time was a lieutenant of Jim Colosimo. The first heard of Capone was as a bouncer in a notoriously tough joint called the "Four Douces." In the course of time, Colosimo, following the path of all good gangsters, was "bumped off," and Torrio took control. True to tradition, the guns again began to blaze, but this time the person behind the gun evidently had poor eyesight and Torrio, instead of going to the cemetery, took a vacation in the hospital. On getting out Torrio evidently thought discretion the better part of valor, and migrated to New York. This left the field clear for Al Capone, who promptly muscled in, and due to free advertising in the newspapers became the "Big Shot," Capone the immune, Capone the idol of the hoodlum element, Capone, the dictator, free from arrest and prosecution by the local police, due, no doubt, to his lavish spending of money and giving bribes. Some time ago Capone was arrested on a vagrancy charge, and the states attorney had to dismiss the case for the reason that no policeman could be found in Chicago who knew Al Capone!
As any reader of this blog knows, this is not my favorite Chicago history topic. However, given the opportunity to read primary sources had even me Googling Capone. For those who would like a little more information...
Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930
Chicago History Museum History Files
Al Capone Museum
For more on using primary sources in historical research see The Pen and The Spindle.
Photo: Al Capone on Wikipedia (see above)
Hat Tip to The Chicagoist. I saw it there first.