If you follow Boardwalk Empire, you’re probably aware that two of Al Capone’s brothers had appearances in seasons four and five. Both Raffaele (Ralph) and Salvatore (Frank) were indeed deeply involved in the Chicago mob scene, along with their infamous brother. Frank was gunned down in 1924 by Chicago undercover police who were sent to investigate reports of Election Day voter intimidation in Cicero, Illinois, where Capone’s gang was backing one of the mayoral candidates.
Ralph ran into trouble in in 1930, when he was convicted of tax evasion, and after serving a few months at Leavenworth, was transferred to the U.S. Penitentiary at McNeil Island, Washington.
Several other of the Capone brothers were involved in Al’s various enterprises, but none to the extent of Frank and Ralph. One brother went in an entirely different direction.
The eldest of the Capone children was Vincenzo James Capone. James left the Capone’s Brooklyn home at age 16 and reportedly joined a circus with which he traveled the Midwest. In 1920, he is enumerated as a boarder in the Dakota County, Nebraska home of his future wife’s family under his assumed name of Richard J. Hart with the occupation of garage mechanic. He has shed all links to his Italian roots and lists his birthplace as Iowa and parents’ birthplaces as Illinois.
During his travels, Richard had become proficient with a gun. While his brothers in Chicago were making huge sums of money providing beer and liquor to a thirsty city during Prohibition, Richard had chosen a different path. He signed on as a Prohibition agent and went after bootleggers. This clipping from Newspapers.com documents some of his successes.
By 1930, he was living in Idaho with his wife and children and gaining some fame as Richard “Two-Gun” Hart, a U.S. Special officer in “Indian Service.” He was profiled in newspapers as far away as Sandusky, Ohio.
In 1940, Richard and his family were back in Dakota County, Nebraska, and his occupation was listed as “landscaper, Indian Agency.” He had apparently been through some tough financial times and had reached out to his Capone family for help. That outreach came with a cost. Richard was outed as a Capone in 1951 when he was called to testify in proceedings against Ralph, who was once again facing charges of tax evasion. The Mason City (Iowa) Globe was among the papers that picked up the story.
Now that Boardwalk Empire has closed the books on its final season, maybe Al Capone’s lesser-known brother’s exploits could be the start of a new mini-series. The things you learn from old newspapers…