In 1929, Prohibition Bureau agent Eliot Ness began a successful investigation of Capone and his business. Shutting down many breweries and speakeasies Capone owned, Ness brought down his empire slowly. To lie low, Capone arranged to have himself jailed in a comfortable cell at Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary for nine months beginning August 1929.
Upon his return to Chicago, he quickly found himself in the legal quagmire that effectively removed him from power.
In 1931 Capone was indicted for income tax evasion and various violations of the Volstead Act. Facing overwhelming evidence, his attorneys made a plea deal, but the presiding judge warned he might not follow the sentencing recommendation from the prosecution, so Capone withdrew his plea of guilty. Attempting to bribe and intimidate the potential jurors, his plan was discovered by Ness' men. The jury pool was then switched with one from another case, and Capone was stymied. Following a long trial, he was found guilty on some income tax evasion counts (the Volstead Act violations were dropped). The judge gave him an eleven-year sentence along with heavy fines, and liens were filed against his various properties. His appeal was denied. In May 1932, Capone was sent to Atlanta U.S. Penitentiary, a tough federal prison, but he was able to obtain special privileges. He was then transferred to Alcatraz, where tight security and an uncompromising warden ensured that Capone had no contact with the outside world. His isolation from his associates and the repeal of Prohibition in January 1933, precipitously diminished his power.
Capone earned the contempt of many inmates when he refused to take part in a prisoners' strike after a sick inmate was denied medical treatment and died. Continuing his work in the prison laundry, Capone was continually harassed by other prisoners and often called a "scab" or "rat."
When Capone attempted to bribe guards he was sent to solitary confinement. Capone suffered f...