The Trial of Al Capone Part 1

March 26, 2017

Al Capone Juror

I found a detailed newspaper  account written by a juror shortly after the October 5, 1931 trail of Al Capone for income tax evasion at the federal courthouse in downtown Chicago.

For several weeks before the scheduled start of the Capone trial, informant Eddie O’Hare notified the prosecutor and the lead Treasury Agent investigator, Frank Wilson, that Capone’s organization had a complete list of prospective jurors and was already “passing out $1,000 bills,” promising political jobs, giving away tickets to prize fights, and “using muscle too.”  Wilson and the U.S. Attorney Johnson got a list of 10 names from O’Hare, names 30 to 39 on the jury list. Wilson and U. S. Attorney Johnson related O’Hare’s story to Judge Wilkerson in his chambers.  Wilkerson told the men that he hadn’t yet received his jury list for the Capone trial, but when he did, he would call them.  When the names on Wilkerson’s list turned out to match exactly with the names on O’Hare’s list, the judge met once again with Wilson and prosecutors.  The judge seemed curiously unconcerned and said  “Bring your case into court as planned, gentlemen.”

Frank Wilson Treasury Agent

He told the government’s attorneys.  “Leave the rest to me.”  On the first day of trial, Capone and his attorney smiled at jurors as they sat at the defendant’s table. Judge Wilkerson took his seat at the bench and looked out over the packed courtroom.  He called the bailiff to the bench.  “Judge Edwards has another trial commencing today,” he told the bailiff.  “Go to his courtroom and bring me his entire panel of jurors; take my entire panel to Judge Edwards.” Al Capone’s smile sank when he saw the jury was switched.

The prosecutor outlined the 23 charges of tax evasion against Capone in the government’s opening statement. The first witness, Charles W. Arndt, a tax collector for the United States, told jurors that Al Capone failed to file any tax return at all during for the years 1924 through 1929. Thus begins the famous trial of Al Capone.

In this two part story, I will recount the trial from the perspective of a juror.

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3 comments on “The Trial of Al Capone Part 1

  1. Great job as usual This is one part the movie got right.
    Thanks for all your work and hard efforts.
    Joe Dee Naples,Fl.

    • Gary Jenkins Mar 28, 2017

      This was a great story, the second episode is even better I think.

  2. Noah Seidenebrg Mar 29, 2017

    I really enjoy the show guys.
    I live in Chicago and have a photo of Al Capone walking in the court house. I got it from a friend who worked at the Chicago Tribune many years ago. If you want to see a copy of it, send an email address.
    Thank You
    Noah Seidenberg