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Capone found guilty of tax evasion

This Day in World History

October 18, 1931

Capone found guilty of tax evasion

During the wild 1920s, Al Capone was one of the nation’s most notorious criminals. During Prohibition—the period when making and selling alcoholic beverages were illegal in the United States—demand for liquor remained high. Capone and countless other bootleggers happily met that demand—and earned huge profits doing so. Of course, rivals struggled with each other to control bootleg operations in different territories, and those struggles often resulted in murders and other mayhem. Capone, for instance, ordered the elimination of several members of a rival gang in 1929, which was carried out in a shooting called the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

While federal and state officials knew Capone was guilty of bootlegging, running prostitution rings, and ordering these and other murders, they could not get the evidence to convict him. Their break came in May 1929, when Capone was arrested in Philadelphia for carrying a concealed weapon. While he served his prison sentence, federal authorities combed his homes for evidence. Their efforts produced the desired results. In 1931, officials leveled more than 5,000 counts of violating the Prohibition law against Capone and dozens of followers. They also indicted Capone on twenty-two counts of evading income taxes. The tax charges took: Capone was found guilty on October 18 and a month later handed a sentence of eleven years in prison and $50,000 in fines. The Chicago Crime Commission’s Public Enemy Number One was out of business.

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