Monday, February 04, 2008

Al Capone's Last Getaway

Al ''Scarface'' Capone beat the rap in Miami's Courtroom 6-1, but within a year he would be locked up for good.

The name Alphonse Capone appeared as a defendant on the courtroom's docket in early July 1930.

The charge: Not murder, but perjury -- one count.

Historical photographs show a dandy Capone arriving at the Dade County Courthouse, flanked by police. Capone didn't have to travel far to get to court. At the time, he had a winter mansion on Miami Beach's Palm Island, just off the MacArthur Causeway.

Capone's legal problems here stemmed from efforts by local lawmen to force him to skedaddle back to Chicago.

In their efforts to make Public Enemy No. 1 feel unwelcomed, Miami police and Dade County sheriffs hauled Capone to jail three times in a matter of months -- all for minor charges.

The final time stuck. Prosecutors said Capone perjured himself in a civil lawsuit against Public Safety Director S. D. McCreary over his arrests. Capone had sworn that when arrested on May 3, 1930, McCreary denied him the use of a telephone to call his attorney and threatened his relatives, saying he would arrest them on sight.

All a big lie, prosecutors said. The two-day trial began on July 10, 1930. Six wide-eyed jurors were picked to decide the fate of America's biggest crime boss. But things ended. When the prosecution rested, Capone's lawyers moved for a directed verdict of acquittal, claiming the state failed to prove its case.

Circuit Judge E.C. Collins agreed with Capone's lawyers and found the beefy mobster not guilty. Five years later, Collins would resign after being tried on corruption charges.

However, a year after his victory in Courtroom 6-1, Capone was convicted on federal charges of income tax evasion and sent to the clink for 11 years.

His days as a mob boss were over.

In 1939, Capone was released after serving most of his prison time in Alcatraz. By then, he was suffering with late-stage syphilis. He returned to his Palm Island home where he lived until his death on Jan. 25, 1947 at age 48.

Thanks to Luisa Yanez

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