Memorable Tax Cheats

Tax time calls to mind one of the most infamous tax-scofflaws – Al “Scarface” Capone.  A notorious Prohibition-era gangster, Capone managed to elude justice for scores of violent crimes, including Chicago’s infamous 1929 Valentine’s Day Massacre. In 1931, however, a federal grand jury indicted him for tax evasion.

Witnesses at trial testified that Capone had never filed an income tax return but regularly made large expenditures indicating an ample income. For example, a boathouse had been constructed at his Florida home, his weekly butcher’s bill averaged $200-$250, and shortly before Christmas in 1928, he purchased thirty gold and diamond belt buckles at $275 apiece.

On October 17, 1931, after deliberating for eight hours, the jury convicted Capone on twenty-three counts. He was sentenced to eleven years imprisonment and fined $50,000. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the conviction (56 F.2d 927).

Capone served seven and one-half years (five of them at Alcatraz) before his release in November 1939. With deteriorating physical and mental health (attributed to syphilis) Capone never returned to Chicago but spent his final years quietly at his Florida home, where he died in early 1947.

You can read more about Al Capone at:

4 American National Biography 358 [E 176.A446 (Reference)]; Francis X. Busch, Enemies of the State: An Account of the Trials of the Mary Eugenia Surratt Case, the Teapot Dome Cases, the Alphonse Capone Case, the Rosenberg Case, William S. Hein & Co. 2007 (available on Hein Online); Federal Bureau of Investigation, Al (Alphonse) Capone.