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This week in history: Al Capone’s luck runs out

On Oct. 17, 1931, a jury found the notorious mobster guilty of tax evasion. He was sentenced on Oct. 24.

Al Capone leaves court
In this 1931 photo from the Chicago Daily News, Al Capone leaves court during his trial for tax evasion.
Chicago Daily News

As reported in the Chicago Daily News, sister publication of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Nothing lasts forever — not even Al “Scarface” Capone’s luck.

On Oct. 17, 1931, a jury convicted the notorious gangster of tax evasion in a federal Chicago court. A few days later on October 24, the judge announced his sentence: 11 years and a $50,000 fine.

“Mr. Capone was denied bail and turned over to the United States marshal for immediate banishment from the city which he has done so much to besmirch in the eyes of the world,” the report in that day’s edition of the Chicago Daily News said.

Capone’s lawyers attempted to stall the gangster’s departure from “a region populated so densely by his friends and dotted so artistically by graves of his less popular rivals,” but the judge held firm.

“This meant, even to the numbed consciousness of the formerly sinister Mr. Capone, that he would probably be on his way to Leavenworth tonight,” the report said.

A separate report from the October 24 paper followed Capone as he left the federal building en route to the county jail. A “battery” of newspaper photographers met him outside.

“Get enough boys,” he told them. “You won’t see me for a long, long time.”

A report from October 17 noted that the jury deciding Capone’s fate left to begin deliberations at 2:41 p.m. — on a Saturday afternoon, no less.

After the judge read the instructions and an outline of the charges to the jury, they were dismissed to deliberate, “... and Mr. Capone, who had been very attentive during the reading of the instructions, settled back: placidly in his chair, prepared for a long wait.”

Being an afternoon paper not published on Sundays, the Daily News does not have immediate coverage of Capone’s conviction, which would have happened after the paper’s final deadline on Saturday. But the infamous gangster would later be released on November 16, 1939, after having served seven years, six months and fifteen days, and having paid all fines and back taxes.