Capone’s activities attracted the attention of President Herbert Hoover who in March 1929, asked Andrew Mellon, his Secretary of the Treasury, "Have you got this fellow Capone yet? I want that man in jail." Mellon set out to get the necessary evidence both to prove income tax evasion and to amass enough evidence to prosecute Capone successfully for Prohibition violations.
Eliot Ness, a dynamic young agent with the US Prohibition Bureau, was charged with gathering the evidence of Prohibition violations. He assembled a team of daring young men and made extensive use of wire tapping technology. While there was doubt that Capone could be successfully prosecuted for Prohibition violations in Chicago, the government was certain it could get Capone on tax evasion.
In May 1929, Capone went to a ‘gangsters’ conference in Atlantic City. Afterwards he saw a movie in Philadelphia. When leaving the cinema he was arrested and imprisoned for carrying a concealed weapon. Capone was soon incarcerated in the Eastern Penitentiary where he stayed until 16 March 1930. He was later released from jail for good behaviour, but was put on the America’s ‘Most Wanted’ list which publicly humiliated the mobster who so desperately wanted to be regarded as a worthy man of the people.
Elmer Irey undertook a cunning plan to use undercover agents posing as hoods to infiltrate Capone’s organisation. The operation took nerves of steel and despite an informer ending up with a bullet in his head before he could testify, Elmer managed to amass enough evidence through his detectives, posing as gangsters, to try Capone in front of a jury. With two vital bookkeepers Leslie Shumway and Fred Reis, who had once been in Capone’s employment, now safely under police protection it was only a matter of time before Capone’s days as Public Enemy No. 1 were over.
Furthermore, agent Eliot Ness, angered by Capone for the murder of a friend, managed to enrage Capone by exposing Prohibition violations to ruin his bootlegging industry. Millions of dollars of brewing equipment was seized or destroyed, thousands of gallons of beer and alcohol had been dumped and the largest breweries were closed.