When Deirdre Marie Capone was 7, her beloved Uncle Al died.
She knew him as this fun man who taught her how to swim at his Miami Beach home on Palm Island. He taught her how to ride a bike and how to play a mandolin. It was after that she learned he also was Al Capone, the mobster.
She learned that being related to a man once called “Public Enemy No. 1” had consequences. Her classmates weren’t allowed to play with her. She was fired from her first job.
“My grandfather was Al’s oldest brother and his business partner,” Deirdre Capone said. “My grandfather had one child, who was my father. My father took his own life before my 11th birthday because he couldn’t live up to the Capone name.
Now, the last living member of the Capone family, Deirdre Marie Capone honored her grandfather’s request not to publish the family’s secrets until she was the last one standing. Her book, Uncle Al Capone: The Untold Story From Inside His Family, details life as a Capone.
Deidre Capone said the Capones were not as bad as the media portrayed. In fact, they were the victims of a vendetta that was started by a group called the Secret Six. The Secret Six were Chicago businessmen who headed up the corporations and they wanted the Capones to be a part of it because of their money.
“My grandfather didn’t like the organization and he didn’t like banks,” she said. “There was an organized, concentrated effort [to get rid of the Capones]. At one time my uncle told the media, you would blame me for the Chicago fire if you could.”
Despite the vendetta and being the target of the feds, the crime they were convicted on was tax evasion. Capone said that is because when the tax code was first written, is said that you didn’t have to declare any tax gained illegally. She said they didn’t know they had to file income tax because their money came from bootlegging and other illegal activities.
“They both offered to pay the fine, to pay the tax,” Capone said. “Was Al Capone a mobster? Yes, he was. Was Al Capone a monster? No, he was not!”
In this case, the federal government did the wrong thing, torturing a witness to lie on the stand so that Al Capone was sentenced to 11 years. Her grandfather, Ralph, was sentenced to three years.
“My grandfather, before he died, said no child’s life was ever in danger. No woman ever did anything she did not choose to do on her own and no innocent person was ever harmed,” Capone said. “He ran the operation; Al was the flamboyant one. My grandfather was very recluse and very private. He ran everything. At one time, he was running over 300 different establishments.”
By the way, in 1991, the American Bar Association, at a convention in Chicago, held a mock re-trial of Al Capone based on the original transcripts.
Capone said this time, he was found innocent. Capone is working on scheduling a book signing at Books and Books in January or February. She also has scheduled signings on cruise ships and at several Costcos in Florida. She lives in the Ft. Myers area.