How Al Capone said he was innocent & pretended to be a gentleman, not a gangster (1929)

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Vintage Al Capone Miami mugshots - Florida

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Chicago guffaws at Al Capone in guise of gentleman

Chicago, Feb, 22 – Police officers who have watched his domination of gangland for five years smiled broadly yesterday at reports from Florida that Scarface Al Capone was assuming the attitude of the refined and genial American sportsman.

Deputy Commissioner John Stege, himself just back from a vacation in the Southland, reconciled the picture of Capone on his Florida estate with the more unfavorable pictures of Capone, the lord of Chicago vice and beerdom.

“That’s merely the way he operates,” Stege said. “He had made a huge fortune by his unlawful exploits in Chicago, and he has been able to buy some of the trappings of respectability.

“This does not mean that Capone cannot be gracious and hospitable. The Latins are like that, you know. At least the class of Latins we are dealing with in our warfare against crime here in Chicago.

“Dean O’Banion, although an Irishman, learned the way of the high gangster and was first, to practice it. He wore a benevolent smile, referred to all men as ‘swell fellows,’ but he always kept one hand free and near his shooting irons.

“Why, O’Banion even had his clothes tailored so that he could carry three pistols without anyone seeing them.”

READ ABOUT IT: Chicago gang kills six: The St Valentine’s Day Massacre (1929)

Stege laughed at Capone’s naive declarations of his innocence.

“If Capone has a clear conscience, that’s merely because he hasn’t any conscience at all,” the deputy said.

Capt. John Shumaker, who has devoted most of his time to studying and combating gang wars from the last five years, went so far as to charge that Capone himself may have ordered the massacre of seven “Bugs” Moran gangsters here a week ago today.

“It is just as good a theory as any other,” said Shumaker, “that Capone men committed these murders in revenge for the slaying last autumn of Tony Lombardo, Capone’s chief Lieutenant. We are not so certain that there was not a falling out between Capone and the Moran gang. Certainly, the killings were worthy of Capone’s tactics.

“Capone is no hero. He’s just a gunman like the rest of them.”

ALSO SEE: How ‘Scarface’ Al Capone served hard time at Alcatraz (1930s)

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