Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Jan. 17, 1899, Alphonse ‘Scarface’ Capone went on to become the ruthless leader of the Chicago mafia during the Prohibition era. He made his name synonymous with organized crime and amassed a personal fortune estimated at more than $100 million.</br></br> In 1931, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Capone, accusing him of 22 counts of tax evasion totaling about $200,000. On Oct. 17, 1931, a jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to 11 years in prison.</br></br> Three years later, he was moved from prison in Atlanta to the infamous Alcatraz in San Francisco and his health quickly deteriorated. He was released after nearly seven years but he had become confused and disorientated from paresis derived from syphilis and had become mentally incapable of rebuilding his gangland empire.</br></br> He died of a stroke and pneumonia with loyal wife Mae at his side at his Palm Island, Fla., home on Jan. 25, 1947.
Bugsy Siegel wasn’t the kind of shy gangster who pulled strings from a smoky back room.</br></br> Handsome and charismatic, he was one of the first of the front-page mobsters. The Jewish-American crime boss was a driving force behind the development of the Las Vegas Strip, and there was little attempt to hide the dealings of another of his sidelines he co-founded — Murder Incorporated. </br></br> From humble roots in New York, he partied with the rich and famous in Hollywood before meeting a suitably violent and headline-grabbing death in Beverly Hills in 1947.</br></br> Nobody was charged with the murder and the crime remains officially unsolved, but Siegel’s theft and mismanagement of the Flamingo Hotel and Casino is said to have sealed his fate.
Born Salvatore Lucania in Sicily in 1897, Charles “Lucky” Luciano is known as the father of organized crime in the United States.</br></br> With childhood friend Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, he went from running extortion rackets on the mean streets of New York to forming a National Crime Syndicate that spread the mob’s tentacles across the country.</br></br> He also orchestrated the carving up of New York into the territories of five different mafia families and the establishment of The Commission, a de facto governing body for organized crime.</br></br> Luciano’s luck ran out in 1936 when he was arrested and indicted on 60 prostitution charges. In July of that year he was sentenced to between 30 and 50 years in prison.</br></br> In 1946, the sentence was commuted as long as Luciano agreed to be deported to Italy. Apart from a period in the late 1940s when he lived in Cuba, Luciano spent the rest of his life in exile in Italy and collapsed and died of a heart attack at Naples International Airport on Jan. 26, 1962.
Born on June 15, 1908, in Chicago, Ill., Sam Giancana was feared in his own right as the tough-talking mob boss of the Chicago Outfit in the late ’50s and early ’60s – but he was best known for his powerful friends.</br></br> He was close to Frank Sinatra and his path crossed infamously with two of the biggest names of the 20th century, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.</br></br> Giancana’s affair with actress Judith Campbell Exner — who was seeing JFK at the same time — triggered a scandal over the president’s Mafia connections.</br></br> And speculation rages to this day among conspiracy theorists that Giancana may have played some role in Kennedy’s 1963 assassination.</br></br> He was killed in the basement of his Oak Park, Ill., mansion on June 19, 1975, just days before he was due to give evidence in front of a committee investigating links between the CIA and the Cosa Nostra in alleged plots to assassinate President Kennedy.
Mickey Cohen wasn’t scared of anything…except germs.</br></br> The pint-size L.A. gangster scrubbed his hands more than 100 times a day.</br></br> But the obsession with cleanliness could never wipe away the bloody legacy he smeared across the criminal landscape on America’s West Coast.</br></br> He may have been a leader in the Jewish Mafia but he maintained strong ties with the Italian-American mob and his hero was Al Capone, for whom he worked briefly in Chicago.</br></br> He also moved in celebrity circles, including the likes of Frank Sinatra, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis Jr.</br></br> After being busted for tax evasion in 1961, he was sent to Alcatraz, the fearsome prison off the coast of San Francisco. He later was moved to Atlanta Federal Penitentiary and diagnosed with stomach cancer following his release in 1972. He died in his sleep on July 29, 1976, at age 62.
Meyer Lansky, the crooked financial genius of the underworld, built an organized crime empire that netted him a personal fortune of more than $300 million. His tentacles extended from gambling in Cuba to loan-sharking and stock manipulation in the U.S. </br></br> Despite his undoubted connections with some of the most feared and murderous mob bosses in history, Lansky was never found guilty of anything more significant than illegal gambling and served just one two-month term in jail in the 1950s.</br></br> A leading member of the Jewish Mafia, he also had strong ties to the Italian mob and was instrumental in developing the National Crime Syndicate — a loosely organized gangland federation — in the United States.</br></br> He was known for his business acumen — and for only betting on a sure thing.</br></br> At the height of his success, he was said to have exclaimed: “We’re bigger than U.S. Steel!”</br></br> When Lansky died of lung cancer at his Miami Beach, Fla., home on Jan. 15, 1983, at the age of 80, he was worth almost nothing on paper. However, the FBI was convinced he left hundreds of millions stashed away in hidden bank accounts in Switzerland and other tax havens.
For years, the FBI struggled to make charges stick to “Teflon Don” John Gotti, the high-profile mob boss of New York’s Gambino crime family.</br></br> With his sharp suits and flamboyant personality, Gotti — also nicknamed “Dapper Don” — had the ability to stay one step ahead of the law in the 1980s and it made him something of a folk hero.</br></br> But his jocular, flashy demeanor hid a ruthless mean streak and a long “hit list” of murders he ordered to feed his insatiable greed for power and money.</br></br> While many of his contemporaries sought to run organized crime in the shadows, steering clear of the spotlight to avoid being targeted by law enforcement, Gotti reveled in his infamy…and eventually paid the price.</br></br> After being convicted of murder in 1992, Gotti died from head and neck cancer in the Illinois prison hospital on June 10, 2002.
James “Whitey” Bulger lived a double life as a feared underworld crime boss and a secret FBI informant.</br></br> When his duplicity was exposed, the Boston crime king went on the run — spending 12 of the 18 years he was at large on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List, second only to 9/11 terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.</br></br> By the time he was finally arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., on June 22, 2011, Bulger was 81 years old.</br></br> He was locked up for life two years later after being convicted of 11 murders, extortion, federal racketeering and conspiracy.</br></br> In the hit 2006 movie “The Departed,” the character of Frank Costello, played by Jack Nicholson, was loosely based on Bulger. But the aging crime kingpin’s real-life exploits read like the script from a Hollywood movie.
Organized crime has long been a subject of fascination for the American public. But who are the men behind these vast criminal enterprises? They may be villains of the highest order — brutal murderers, greedy robbers, and scoundrels engaged in all manner of illegal activity — but these men also are the most romanticized and compelling of all American criminals, as evidenced by the sheer amount of film, television and literary work devoted to them. From Al Capone to Charles “Lucky” Luciano and beyond, here’s a brief look at the lives of the nine most notorious mobsters and gangsters of the twentieth century.
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by Personal Defense World / Aug 17, 2015