The Department of Justice prosecutors, unable to bring a criminal case, called in the U.S. Treasury Department which developed a case for tax evasion. They used taxes to go after all the mobsters because they could not find any other evidence to prosecute them on. Therefore, they used tax evasion against Al Capone, his brother Ralph “Bottles” Capone, Jake “Greasy Thumb” Guzik, Frank Nitti, and other mobsters. Finally, on June 16, 1931, Al Capone was charged and pled guilty to tax evasion and prohibition charges based upon a deal for a two-and-a-half-year sentence.
However, the same presiding judge who sentenced Capone for contempt, James Herbert Wilkerson (1869–1948), informed Capone he was not bound by any such deal. Capone then changed his plea to not guilty. Wilkerson was not about to let Capone off easy despite the fact they could not charge him with a serious crime. The prohibition was repealed by FDR 2 years later. On October 18, 1931, Capone was convicted after a mock trial, and on November 24, Judge Wilkerson sentenced him to eleven years in federal prison, fined $50,000, and charged $7,692 for court costs, in addition to $215,000 plus interest due on back taxes. The six-month contempt of court sentence was at least served concurrently. Wilkerson hated Capone and made the case abuse of process carried out by a biased judge.
Capone was confined to the Cook County Jail and of course a political case of this nature had all appeals denied. Capone entered the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, serving his sentence there, and was then transferred to the infamous Alcatraz. It was alleged that Capone was denied medical treatment which is really on par for high-profile cases. On November 16, 1939, Al Capone was released after having served seven years, six months, and fifteen days, and having paid all fines and back taxes. His health deteriorated greatly during his confinement. Immediately on release, Capone entered a Baltimore hospital for brain treatment. He was released and moved to his Florida home, an estate on Palm Island in Biscayne Bay near Miami. He never recovered and died with his family due to a stroke and pneumonia on January 25, 1947. Such is the fate of high-profile cases in America.
If it were not for the INCOME TAX, Al Capone would never have gone to prison. Even Prohibition was a failed experiment that actually made the Mafia. The Mafia was respected among the Italian community because they would even counterfeit food ratios during World War I to ensure the community was fed and did not starve.
It was making liquor illegal that created a profitable opportunity for the Mafia which in the United States was entirely different from that in Sicily. Indeed, in Sicily, the term “mafioso” had no criminal connotations and was used to refer to a person who was suspicious of central authority – an anti-government faction. During the 19th century, some of these groups emerged as private armies to protect the people from the government. This evolved where some began to extorted protection money from landowners to protect them from the corrupt government. Eventually, some factions became violent criminal organizations which turning the original protection into a means to extort money which then began the Sicilian Mafia. The American Mafia, however, did not rise to power until the prohibition and they too began as an admired protector of the people.
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