Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sonny Capone in Miami - high school, a wedding and a couple of brushes with the law

For more Florida history visit my other blog, 

By Jane Feehan

Al Capone bought a house on Palm Island in 1927*. After serving eight years in Alcatraz for tax evasion, the mobster who built his notorious reputation in Chicago returned to his Miami home where he kept a low profile. He died at his plush waterfront house  in 1947 at age 48.

There’s more about the Capone name in the chronicles of Miami history.

Al and wife Mae made a rare public appearance at their son’s wedding at St. Patrick’s Church** in Miami Beach, Dec. 30, 1941.  Twenty-two-year-old Albert Francis “Sonny” Capone married his high school sweetheart, Diana Ruth Casey, 21. Three hundred guests attended the mid-morning ceremony.

There was some buzz about the wedding in weeks leading up to the event. Nationally acclaimed syndicated columnist Walter Winchell wrote that friends of “Boogie” Diane Casey were betting that she was already Mrs. Capone. Nothing materialized to justify it as more than a rumor.

Sonny and Boogie were sweethearts while attending Miami Beach High. After graduation, according to one reporter covering the wedding, young Capone attended Notre Dame for a time but returned to Miami. He then went to the University of Miami where, again, he was Casey’s classmate.  It was also reported that Sonny Capone was part owner of a flower shop in Miami for a brief time before the Dec. 30 nuptials.  The marriage produced four daughters. A few years after the birth of their girls, the two divorced. Capone married twice afterward.

Some biographers claim the younger Capone kept his nose clean of crime but news accounts point to two arrests. While his father was in Alcatraz, 17 year-old Sonny Capone was arrested for reckless driving. He was trying to pass another car at Washington Avenue and 15th Street on Miami Beach but crashed into some trees and wound up in St. Francis Hospital with minor injuries. The legal outcome of that incident was not published in newspapers.

In 1965, Sonny had another brush with the law – a pathetic one. He was 45 years old and working at a tire company in Hollywood, FL when he was arrested for shoplifting at a grocery store. He took a pack of flashlight batteries and a bottle of aspirin totaling $3.50. When asked by the judge why he did it, Sonny said he did not know. The judge said since Capone didn’t have a criminal record, he would sentence him to only two years probation.  Sonny Capone died in Miami in 2004; he was 85. 

* See labels at top right for more Capone history.
**In its website history section, St. Patrick’s Church does not mention the 1941 Capone wedding.

St. Petersburg Times, Dec. 19, 1941
Miami News, Dec 30, 1941
Daytona Beach Morning Journal, Dec. 31, 1941
Spartanburg Herald, Jan. 2, 1942

Tags: Miami history, Al Capone in Miami, gangster history, Sonny Capone, Albert Francis Capone, Florida film researcher,  historical researcher

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