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Capone's Florida spending told at tax evasion trial

By FREDERICK C. OTHMAN
Capone's Florida spending told at tax evasion trial
Prisoner #C28169, better known as Al Capone, taken on June 17, 1931. File Photo by Department of Justice/UPI

CHICAGO, Oct. 9, 1931 (UP) - If Alphonse Capone is rich enough to be a moviesque Florida Play-boy, then he certainly must have an income worthy of taxation, the government attempted to prove at his income tax fraud trial today.

Since Capone has paid not one cent of the $215,000 the internal revenue department claims he owes federal prosecutors introduced a series of witnesses, who told:

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How his Chicago henchman telegraphed him more than $70,000 during the winter he spent in Florida in 1928.

How he had an eight-room suite at Palm Island, near Miami, and how he built a $6,000 swimming pool adjoining it.

How he had an eight-room suite in Metropole hotel and how he gave a $3,000 party for his gangster friends after the Dempsey-Tunney fight.

Thorough all the testimony ran the names of Jake Guzik, the Capone beer collector; "Machine Gun Jack" McGurn, one of the Capone "exterminators"; Ralph Capone, "Scarface Al's" bootlegging brother, and Charles Fischetti, less prominent Capone cohort. These worthies, said the witnesses, visited Capone in Miami, drank his whiskey in Chicago, and were present at most of his little sprees.

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Miss Ann McNell and Miss Katherine Galnes of the Miami Beach Western Union office, who came 1,500 miles to say less than a dozen words, identified money order transfers which showed that Capone was telegraphed $73,800 from Chicago during his six months' Florida stay in the spring of 1928.

Parker Henderson, curly-haired Floridian, who owned the Ponce de Leon hotel in Miami in 1928, took up the story to tell how very much he liked "Mr. Capone" and how as a favor to a friend, he helped Capone collect his telegraphed cash and how he aided him in buying and improving his estate.

"The mayor of Miami Beach and I bought the Palm Island home for Mr. Capone," Henderson testified. "It was in my name, but was later transferred to Mrs. Mae Capone. While I was in charge, I had a $6,000 swimming pool built at Mr. Capone's direction."

Vernon Hawthorne, state's attorney at Miami, and Miss Ruth Gaskin, his stenographer, told of a "conference" they held with Capone after other Miami residents had signed a petition in hope that he would be ousted from the city. Capone admitted that he was a gambler, said Hawthorne, but denied being a bootlegger.

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"That conference must have been a regular Spanish inquisition," said Defense Attorney Michael Ahern. Judge James H. Wilkerson looked at the slickly groomed Capone and commented: "I can see no evidence of such an inquisition."

MacRamsey Smith, clerk, and Fred S. Avery, white-haired promotion manager of the Metropole hotel in Chicago, agreed that Capone was a perfect gentleman. He had a suite of five rooms, they said, and always paid his bills in cash, "like any other gentleman."

The bills usually ran from $1,000 to $2,000 a month until the night that Gene Tunney and the celebrated long count beat Jack Dempsey. Capone celebrated with a party which cost him almost $3,000.

"The bill included entertainment, food and everything but the liquor," said Avery, who added that the party was so hilarious that it lasted for two nights.

Capone indicated how worried he was over his possible 32-year prison sentence when he was approached timidly by Paul Reimary of Kiel, Germany, who is walking around the world for no reason at all. Reimary wanted Capone's autograph.

"Nothing doing," growled Capone. "There's too much heat about signatures around here now."

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