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Monday, April 29, 2013

'Life Cycles and The Dark Side' - Let's Start With Al Capone

This cycle of twelve posts will form the Fifth Lesson for you:- 'Life Cycles and The Dark Side'. Remember, every twelve months a new lesson and a new theme? Well probably not, if you were honest, but we have been dealing with 'Life Cycles-Relationships' for the last year, which will form the core of my next book and now we move ahead to this. Why am I particularly qualified to write on this topic? Well, I'm going to share with you the fact that my early career as a psychologist, included several years working in one of our state's most well-known maximum security prisons. I have interviewed and assessed many convicted felons, but on the lighter side I have got a collection of prison stories, that only a first-hand account can do justice to. Like being an eye-witness, when the state's then most-wanted man and two others tried to break out of gaol with hand-made weapons, or the prisoner who feigned blindness so successfully, that he was transferred to minimum security, from where he escaped. They made a movie of that one. Anyway, suffice to say, I was always in demand at dinner parties to tell a story.

Today, however, I'm leaving that all behind as we examine the career of arguably America's most well-known gangster, Al Capone, from the always unique 'Life Cycles' perspective. We'll look at two 'significant years' in terms of his criminal career ie. his age 24 'Year of Revolution' and his age 31 'Year of Broken Pathways'. Mind you, I'm assuming by now you know what I mean by these terms, but if you don't, your homework will be to read some more posts to find out. Alphonse 'Al' Gabriel Capone was born Jan. 17th 1899, so he would have been in his first adult 'Year of Revolution' for most of the year 1923. The question is :- "What happened then that could be considered a new age/direction in his criminal activities or life generally?"

Following success in the Chicago-based Torrio Gang, Capone decided to bring his family out from New York to settle. In August 1923 he moved into the new family home in suburban Cicero, which became his headquarters until his arrest for tax evasion. It was also done to avoid newly-elected Reform Mayor Dever, who promised to run Capone out of the city. Here he took over management of operations for the Torrio Gang at the Hawthorn Inn, which had bullet-proof shutters on every window. It was to be his beginning at running things on a permanent basis. This was his 'new age/direction' in this year. Now we skip ahead seven years to his age 31 'Year of Broken Pathways' (1930) and ask :- "What happened to change his course and give him a new challenge and direction?"

As Public Enemy No.1 Capone was pursued with a vengeance and in 1929 Eliot Ness began to investigate his business dealings. Capone was reported to have only ever signed one cheque, so he was a wily adversary. But Revenue Agent Frank Wilson was equally determined and the breakthrough to tracing income to Capone happened in the summer of 1930, when a set of accounts was linked to him and he got a witness prepared to testify. Capone sent his attorney Lawrence Mattingly to settle 'his indebtedness to the Treasury'. Capone threatened Wilson with the remark "Be sure to take care of yourself."

However what happened in his 'Year of Broken Pathways' happens to so many others in a myriad of ways. He could not avoid his date with destiny, no matter what he did. Wilson only redoubled his efforts and gathered more evidence and threatened more witnesses. Capone was taken down in the following year. His criminal career was over, never to return. Mind you he tried to bribe his way around the prison system for a while, but eventually he landed in Alcatraz. 'Life Cycles' is as powerful a predictor in crime as it is in every other facet of human behaviour. Till next month :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune."