Capone's Legacy to Cosa Nostra: Pay Taxes!

Al Capone, a murdering racketeer, but whether he can be
considered a legitimate Mafioso is doubtful.
Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone (January 17, 1899 – January 25, 1947) ran a Prohibition-era crime syndicate in Chicago, dubbed "The Outfit," but which became better known as the Capone gang. His era ran from the early 1920s to 1931, after which he was convicted on federal charges of tax evasion, and sentenced to federal prison. His incarceration included a term at Alcatraz federal prison. Toward his end, he suffered mental and physical deterioration due to late-stage neurosyphilis, and on January 25, 1947, he died from cardiac arrest.

Despite his crimes, Capone's reputation soared due to his carefully orchestrated Depression-era acts -- donating to charity, opening soup kitchens, even positioning himself as a sort of Robin Hood, and was even "sympathetic" enough to weep during the more poignant moments of certain operas, which he loved (Stalin cried during opera, too, make of that what you will) -- but then fell into the sewer in the wake of his involvement in the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, when seven rival gang members were executed, a crime so brutal and hideous, he lost his fan club.

Capone was considered by his brothers in crime to be the least Mafia-like boss in probably all of American history; some even doubted if he considered himself a member. He was known for not following most of the edicts that Salvatore Lucania handed down, many of which had been built on top of the structure that Salvatore Maranzano, before his bloody death, had put in place and which lasts to this day.

  • Declined to conduct ceremonies to officially induct men into his family -- "made men";
  • Never appointed capos or even a consiglieri;
  • Delegated high-level responsibilities to non-Italians, and his organization in fact did not function like a traditional borgata;
  • Held a love of publicity that turned off many mob bosses of the era.
The Mafia families of his time wondered exactly whether he was even technically in the Mafia, and his fame was said to be far greater than the actual power he held within organized crime. He'd send subordinates to sit in on Commission meetings, and his territory was strictly confined to Chicago.

Mob bosses did learn from him, however, to do whatever they could to avoid spending time in the can for income tax evasion. Thousands of "legal" enterprises hence sprung up at the hands of other Mafiosi in Capone's wake. That is the great lesson of Al Capone to his peers.

Pay your goddamn taxes -- or at least create the perception that you are. Have legit businesses in place to plausibly explain away your extravagant lifestyle to the tax man.


  1. No doubt, Capone was (and still is) the most known mobster worldwide. A staunch Joe Masseria supporter during the Castellamamarese War, he finally got his recognition as a mafioso by his Mafia peers during peace talks with the victor Salvatore Maranzano. Only then was the Capone group accepted as a Mafia Family.



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