How Al Capone Became the Original Gangster

FBI/Miami Police Department

Videos by Rare

Videos by Rare

Alphonse Gabriel Capone, or known more commonly as Al Capone, is arguably the most famous mobster of all time. More often, though, people use the word gangster.


While many associate Al Capone with Chi-Town, he was actually a New Yorker born in Brooklyn in 1899, the fourth son to Italian immigrant parents Gabriele Capone and Teresa Raiola. While his parents worked hard in working-class jobs, he was having trouble fitting in at school. He got into the type of trouble that resulted in him getting expelled from school at just 14 years old. From that time on, he started working mostly odd jobs. While hanging with his friend Johnny Torrio, Capone met Frankie Yale. Yale owned multiple clubs where proprietors gambled, drank, and offered sexual services. A young Al Capone got a job as a bartender and bouncer. It was here he got into a fight and got his cheek cut with a knife. It was that incident that labeled him “Scarface” from then on out.

Mob Life

From that point on, Capone was permanently in the mob business (with the exception of the time right after the birth of his first child with Mae Coughlin, Francis “Sonny” Capone, when America’s most famous gangster was still attempting to make a living like everyone else… legally. He tried bookkeeping, but it didn’t take.) Eventually, Torrio asked Capone to move to Chicago to help him with his mob businesses, an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Years later, following an attempted murder by rival mobsters, Torrio quit the game and let Capone run the organization. Under Capone’s leadership, Torrio’s business expanded. In today’s money, he was a $60 billion-dollar criminal in the mid-1920s.

Prison and Death

Even with the infamous “Valentine’s Day Massacre” incorrectly associated with his name due to its specific brand of violence, tax evasion is what eventually took down Al Capone. For this, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison, along with back paying the totality of his evaded taxes. First, he was jailed in Atlanta but ultimately ended up in Alcatraz so he couldn’t bribe jail staff. He remained in prison until 1939. After his release, Capone lived in Florida, where de died from syphilis in 1947.

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