Alphonse Gabriel Al Capone (January 17, 1899 – January 25, 1947) was an American gangster who led a Prohibition-era crime syndicate. The Chicago Outfit, which subsequently also became known as the “Capones”, was dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging liquor, and other illegal activities such as prostitution, in Chicago from the early 1920s to 1931.
Born in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City to Italian immigrants, Capone became involved with gang activity at a young age after being expelled from school at age 14. In his early twenties, he moved to Chicago to take advantage of a new opportunity to make money smuggling illegal alcoholic beverages into the city during Prohibition. He also engaged in various other criminal activities, including bribery of government figures and prostitution.
Despite his illegitimate occupation, Capone became a highly visible public figure. He made donations to various charitable endeavors using the money he made from his activities, and was viewed by many to be a “modern-day Robin Hood”. Capone’s public reputation was damaged in the wake of his supposed involvement in the 1929 Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, when seven rival gang members were executed.
Capone was convicted on federal charges of tax evasion in 1931 and sentenced to federal prison; he was released on parole in 1939. His incarceration included a term at the then-new Alcatraz federal prison. In the final years of Capone’s life, he suffered mental and physical deterioration due to late-stage neurosyphilis, which he had contracted in his youth. On January 25, 1947, he died from cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke.