According to the Eliot Ness myth, which has been widely disseminated through books, television shows, and movies, Ness and the Untouchables defeated Al Capone by marshaling superior firepower. In Scarface Al and the Crime Crusaders, Dennis Hoffman presents a fresh new perspective on the downfall of Al Capone. He shows how a handful of private citizens brought Capone to justice by outsmarting him rather than by outgunning him.
Drawing on previously untapped sources, Hoffman dissects what he terms a “private war” against Capone. He traces the behind-the-scenes work of a few prominent Chicago businessmen from their successful lobbying of Presidents Coolidge and Hoover on behalf of federal intervention to the trial, sentencing, and punishment of Al Capone. Hoffman also reconstructs, in detail, a number of privately sponsored citizen initiatives directed at stopping Capone. These private ventures included prosecuting the gangsters responsible for election crimes; establishing a crime lab to assist in gangbusting; underwriting the costs of the investigation of the Jake Lingle murder; stigmatizing Capone; and protecting the star witnesses for the prosecution in Al Capone’s income tax evasion case.