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Al Capone and his Tampa Bay area connections

Chicago crime boss Al Capone had many connections — some rumored, some confirmed — to the Tampa Bay area.

He owned property in St. Petersburg and is reported to have built a house for his mother here in 1925 while he was wanted for murder in Chicago.

The 2,350-square-foot, 10-room home in Shore Acres — which has a fireplace decorated with fish, supposedly to signify the mob term "sleeps with the fishes" — was sold in 1931, the same year Capone was sentenced to prison.

There also are reports that Capone stayed at the Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach, where he had his own table in the King Charles Room, which is now used for Sunday brunch. He also is believed to have had a favorite nightclub in Jungle Prada.

Legend also has it that Capone once ran his crime organization from a log cabin in Carrollwood that burned down in 2003.

Capone specifically mentioned St. Petersburg at a press gathering in 1927. At the time, Capone was getting fed up with his reputation as a killer and decided to leave town. "I'm going to St. Petersburg, Florida, tomorrow," he said. "Let the worthy citizens of Chicago get their liquor the best they can. I'm sick of the job — it's a thankless one and full of grief. I don't know when I'll get back, if ever. But it won't be until after the holidays, anyway.

"I've been spending the best years of my life as a public benefactor. I've given people the light pleasures, shown them a good time. And all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man — I'm called a killer.

"Ninety-nine percent of the people in Chicago drink and gamble. I've tried to serve them decent liquor and square games. But I'm not appreciated. It's no use. I've got some property in St. Petersburg I want to sell. It's warm there, but not too warm."

After his prison term, Capone lived in Miami Beach, where he died in 1947.

Sources: Times files, Evening Independent, Time magazine, Toronto Star.

Al Capone and his Tampa Bay area connections 04/16/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 16, 2009 11:13pm]
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