It was the straw that broke the camel's back, and it was the "open gang ware" on Chicago's streets.
Bugs Moran was arrested and brought before the court on charges of vagrancy. The massacre had not elicited public outcry alone, but had brought the attention of the President of the United States to focus on Chicago; probably not what Al Capone had expected.
Al Capone was a centerpiece of focus for Herbert Hoover's administration. "His wealth and political influence, his wide open defiance of the law, and his highly publicized wars, lifestyle, and loutish personality combined to create the image of a criminal who was more than a match for anything law abiding society could pit against him." The federal government was tired of organized crime's blatant anti-law manipulations that made government at all levels look bad, complicit and illicit. Unfortunately, Capone had insulated himself against being implicated in any murders, and even though he had come under federal scrutiny, he maintained an imbedded network of paid informants who would keep him one step ahead of law enforcement. Meanwhile, Capone's sphere of criminal influence and operations had expanded from the city limits of Chicago, into the nearby suburbs.
Playing to the public that might have been fascinated with his crime persona, Capone was public and outspoken, saying, "I'm a public benefactor... Some call it bootlegging. Some call it racketeering. I call it business. They say I violate the prohibition law. Who doesn't" it was amazing that the bold murderous gangster could go public in his defiance of the law. He was, however, careful in choosing his words not to implicate himself in something that could be much more serious. Still, he was bold and taunting of the law enforcement officials who seemed unwilling or unable to stop him.
The federal government's response to lawlessness culminated with the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby; although organized crime played in the discussion that brought about the creation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Commercial popular entertainment could not fail to reflect the extent to which the depression public had turned crime into a symbol of national demoralization. The nation's fascination with the public enemy was seen as a harbinger of society's failure to defend itself against an impending moral breakdown."
The federal government felt a need to respond to the people's misdirected values and morals as it did to respond to the likes of Al Capone. The Department of Justice had a vision of handling crime in a way that would be a deterrent to organized crime and to lesser gangs and bank robbers. That vision included building super maximum prison complexes
These complexes would use the notoriety of the inmates and their murderous crimes to serve as the impetus for the complexes; and the complexes would be unbeatable, meaning no breakouts. They would be constructed on islands, or, it was once suggested, in Alaska, where the harsh conditions would result in certain death even if a prisoner did escape.
The problem was that the FBI had no case against Alphonse Capone; they could not link him to any murder or catch him in the act of bootlegging in order to bring him up on charges for that illicit activity.
Murder and heinous crimes are difficult to prove, but tax evasion is not, and law enforcement took advantage of Capone's disregard for the infrastructure of the federal government when he neglected to file tax returns to report his illicit income.
Law enforcement officers were never able to prove that Al Capone was directly involved in any of the countless murders he planned including the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre that killed seven rival mobsters in a matter of seconds on February 14, 1929."
In June, 1931, the gangster Al Capone was formally charged with income tax evasion, and he was tried and convicted in October of that year. It was reported that Capone attempted to bribe officials with a bribe in the millions, but he had, finally, overestimated the lengths to which the federal government had decided to go to get him off the streets of Chicago.
Even though Capone was convicted on tax evasion, he was sentenced to 11 years hard labor, and began serving his sentence in Atlanta, and, later, at the newly constructed super maximum prison, built for celebrity criminals like Capone, at Alcatraz. While incarcerated, Capone lost his power as an organized crime boss; and he also suffered a debilitating disease that took its toll him mentally and physically.
It was not surprising to find that the authorities could not document Capone's many murders for which to try him. Early on in Capone's career, there was a prevailing behavior among politicians and law enforcement at every level of city, county and state government that implicated itself in organized crime graft and corruption. With the insulation of organizations like Chicago's Democratic Machine, it is no wonder that Al Capone was well protected and it was impossible to detect his murderous schemes and actions.
It would be a mistake to perceive Capone as a modern day Robin Hood - though that is the public image he attempted to cultivate in the community - and one which served to make his criminal behavior less conspicuous. There is no reason to suspect that Capone was less than a brutal man, who worked his way up from the lower echelons of organized crime in New York City, to the highest levels of that industry in Chicago. Just as people committed heinous acts of violence and murder on behalf of Capone, it should be suspected that Capone himself did likewise during his rise to fame and leadership in organized crime.
There is no disagreeing with the federal government's assessment that Capone and other gangsters like him were an indication of something going morally awry in America. That Capone and others like him were being romantically depicted in film and news and feeding an American public appetite for that sort of portrayal was indeed something to be concerned with.
When a set of criminals announce publicly their intention of killing one another, and carry out that intention in the full glare of newspaper publicity, the general prestige of those responsible for law and order must inevitably suffer.... The fate of a Jack Diamond is without significance in itself. The social attitude toward him is significant of much. All the machinery of law exists in America, but the thing does not work properly. It does not work properly because the public conscience does not function as it should.... The gangsters are an inconsiderable proportion of the population in America, but they carry on their activities unchecked, and the only reason for that can be that at bottom the public does not mind them, does not feel that what they do is wrong. You cannot blame the police in such a case. The police are merely the instruments whereby the public sense of what is right or wrong expresses itself."
With this boldness available to Al Capone, that he could stop short of saying that he was responsible for murdering individuals, and then treating those murders as a public service; is evidence of the direction that the country was moving in. It was important that the federal government step up to the plate and take the appropriate action to remove Alphonse Capone from the public sphere. However, it was equally incumbent upon the federal government to do it in a way that was consistent with the laws and Constitution of the United States.
Failure to Prosecute." Manila Bulletin 19 Aug. 2004: NA. Questia. 18 Nov. 2007 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5006730054.
Kelly, Robert J. Encyclopedia of Organized Crime in the United States From Capone's Chicago to the New Urban Underworld. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000. Questia. 18 Nov. 2007 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=25992919.
Lindberg, Richard C. To Serve and Collect: Chicago Politics and Police Corruption from the Lager Beer Riot to the Summerdale Scandal. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1991. Questia. 18 Nov. 2007 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=24258892.
Powers, Richard Gid. G-Men, Hoover's FBI in American Popular Culture. Ed. Daniel M. Finnegan. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1983. Questia. 18 Nov. 2007 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=100908479.
Kelly, Robert J., Encyclopedia of Organized Crime in the United States From Capone's Chicago to the New York Urban Underworld, Westport, Ct: Greenwood Press, 2000, p. 10.
Lindberg, Richard C., to Serve and Collect: Chicago Politics and Police Corruption from the Lager Beer Riot to the Summerdale Scandal, Praeger Publishers, 1991, p. 126.
Love, Robert, Shakedown: The Unfortunate History of Reporters Who Trade Power for Cash, Columbia Journalism Review, vol 45, p. 47.
Lindberg, p. 201.
Powers, Richard Gid and Finnegan, Daniel M., G-Men: Hoovers FBI in American Popular Culture, Southern Illinois University Press, 1983, p.4.