Alphonse Gabriel Capone (January 17, 1899 - January 25, 1947) more popularly known as Al 'Scarface' Capone was an famous American gangster in the 1920s and 1930s, although his business card is reported to have said he was a used furniture dealer.
Capone quit high school at the age of fourteen and worked odd jobs aroung the New York burrough, including a candy store and a bowling alley. After his initial stint with small-time gangs, Capone joined the notorious Five Points gang headed by Frankie Yale. It was at this time he began working as a bartender and bouncer at Yale's establishment the Harvard Inn. It was here, at the Harvard Inn, that Capone would engage in a knife fight with a customer who slashed Capone's face, earning him the nickname that he would bear for the rest of his life: Scarface.
In 1918 Capone married Mary Coughlin, an Irish girl, who gave him a son that year, Albert 'Sonny' Francis Capone. The couple lived in Brooklyn for a year, Al Capone still working for Frankie Yale and thought to have committed at least two murders, until being sent to Chicago in 1919. Yale sent his protege to the midwest city after Capone was involved in a fight with a rival gang. Yale's intention was for Capone to 'cool off' there; little did he know that this would be the impetus for one of the most notorious crime careers in modern US history.
Only a few years later, Torrio's rivals in the North Side gangs made an attempt on his life. Severly injured, the shaken Torrio returned to Italy and gave the reins of the business to Capone. Capone was notorious during Prohibition for his control of the Chicago underworld and his bitter rivalries with gangsters such as Bugs Moran and Hymie Weiss. Raking in vast amounts of money from illegal gambling, prostitution and alcohol (some estimates were that between 1925 and 1930 Capone was making $100 million a year), the Chicago kingpin was largely immune to prosecution due to witness intimidation and the bribing of city officials, such as Chicago mayor William 'Big Bill' Hale Thompson
In 1928, Capone bought a retreat on Palm Island, Florida. It was shortly after this purchase that he orchestrated one of the most notorious gangland killings of the century, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Although details for the massacre are still in dispute, and no person has ever been charged or prosecuted for the crime, the killings are generally linked to Capone and his henchman, especially Jack 'Machine Gun' McGurn who is thought to have been the triggerman. By staging the massacre, Capone was trying to dispose of his arch-rival Bugs Moran. Ironically, Moran himself was late for the meeting and escaped certain death.
Capone himself, throughout the 1920's, was often the target of attempted murders.
The trial and indictment occured in 1931. Initially, Capone plead guilty to the charges, hoping to plea bargain. But, after the judge refused his lawyer's offers and Capone's associates failed to bribe or tamper with the jury, Al Capone was found guilty on five of twenty three counts and sentenced to ten years in a federal prison.
Capone was first sent to an Atlanta prison in 1932. However, the mobster was still able to control most of his interests from this facility and he was ordered to be transfered to the infamous California island prison of Alcatraz in August of 1934. Here, Capone was strictly guarded and prohibited from any contact with the outside world. With the repeal of prohibition and the arrest and confinement of its leader, the Capone empire soon began to wither.
Capone was now a broken man. Physically weak and with a deteriorating mind, he retired to his Florida retreat where he largely withdrew from the outside world and from events in Chicago. He no longer controlled any mafia interests. On January 21, 1947, Capone suffered a stroke. He began to recover but died three days later from pneumonia. He is buried at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Chicago's West Side, next to the graves of his father and brother.