Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Al Capone: Chicago's Most Infamous Mob Boss

Celebrity Status

Capone reveled in his new found celebrity status and used Damon Runyon as his press agent.  But the damage of all that publicity had been done.  He attracted the attention of President Herbert Hoover.  "At once I directed that all of the Federal agencies concentrate upon Mr. Capone and his allies," Hoover wrote.  In the beginning of March, 1929, Hoover asked Andrew Mellon, his secretary of the Treasury, "Have you got this fellow Capone yet?  I want that man in jail." A few days later, Capone was called before a grand jury in Chicago, but did not seem to understand the seriousness of the powerful forces there were amassing against him. 

Capone thought he had more pressing matters to resolve.  Evidence was mounting that two of his Sicilian colleagues were causing Capone problems.  Kobler describes the famous scene in which Capone met the problems head on:

"Seldom had the three guests of honor sat down to a feast so lavish.  Their dark Sicilian faces were flushed as they gorged on the rich, pungent food, washing it down with liters of red wine.  At the head of the table, Capone, his big white teeth flashing in an ear-to-ear smile, oozing affability, proposed toast after toast to the trio.  Saluto, Scalise!  Saluto, Anselmi! Saluto, Giunta! 

"When, long after midnight, the last morsel had been devoured and the last drop drunk, Capone pushed back his chair. A glacial silence fell over the room.  His smile had faded.  Nobody was smiling now except the sated, mellow guests of honor, their belts and collars loosened to accommodate their Gargantuan intake.  As the silence lengthened, they, too stopped smiling.  Nervously, they glanced up and down the long table.  Capone leaned toward them.  The words dropped from his mouth like stones.  So they thought he didn't know?  They imagined they could hide the offense he never forgave -- disloyalty?

Capone had observed the old tradition.   Hospitality before execution.  The Sicilians were defenseless, having, like the other banqueters, left their guns in the checkroom.  Capone's bodyguards fell upon them, lashing them to their chairs with wire and gagging them.  Capone got up, holding a baseball bat.  Slowly, he walked the length of the table and halted behind the first guest of honor.  With both hands he lifted the bat and slammed it down full force.  Slowly, methodically, he struck again and again, breaking bones in the man's shoulders, arms and chest.  He moved to the next man and, when he had reduced him to mangled flesh and bone, to the third.  One of the bodyguards then fetched his revolver from the checkroom and shot each man in the back of the head."

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