On the 4th May 1932, Al Capone began life as a convict in Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Found guilty on October 17th 1931 of Federal Income Tax Evasion, he was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.
Capone had risen to dominate Chicago’s organised crime scene since becoming gang boss in January 1925, aged just 26 years old. Although his primary business was bootlegging and distributing alcohol, Capone expanded the gang’s activities to include prostitution and protection rackets.
His downfall began when the Supreme Court ruled that illegally earned income needed to be declared for tax purposes. Capone ordered his accountant to make the declaration and, in 1930, an income of $100,000 dollars was declared for the year 1928-29. This provided the evidence that Capone had failed to pay taxes and was, therefore, able to be prosecuted.
Arriving at Atlanta Federal Penitentiary as prisoner number 40886, Capone was diagnosed with syphilis and gonorrhoea – both presumably picked up while working as a bouncer at a brothel in his early 20s. Alongside the effects of cocaine withdrawal, the onset of neurosyphilis led to Capone becoming increasingly reliant on his cellmate, Red Rudinsky, to protect him from other inmates. Having also secured unlimited access to the prison Warden, rumours of ‘special treatment’ soon began to emerge. To ensure Capone was unable to manipulate the system any further, he therefore became one of the first inmates to be sent to Alcatraz in August 1934.