Albert Francis Capone: Who Was Al Capone's Son?

History typically doesn't remember Al Capone kindly. The prevailing sentiment might be best expressed by an epic burn that Blackbeard delivered during his Epic Rap Battle of History with the infamous mobster: "You're an obese greasy sleaze squeezing a diseased peter that no skeezer would touch if she had fifty foot tweezers." Considering that Scarface's greatest hits include the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and bashing men to death with baseball bats, it makes perfect sense that there's almost no love for him. But the mad batter of Chicago had an enormous amount of love for his son, Albert Francis Capone, better known as "Sonny."

The bond between father and Sonny

While incarcerated at Alcatraz for income tax evasion, Al Capone penned a three-page letter to his son that read in part, "Well heart of mine, sure hope things come our way for next year, then I'll be there in your arms." He signed it, "Love & Kisses, Your Dear Dad Alphonse Capone #85." They were some of the most endearing words ever associated with the architect of Prohibition's most vicious criminal undertakings. Sonny clearly brought out the beauty in his beast of a father. But there were hideous aspects to being Capone's kid.

As told in Capone: The Man and the Era, Albert "Sonny" Capone was born on December 4, 1918. Per History, this was a little more than a year before the 18th Amendment went into effect and effectively propelled Al Capone from small-time thuggery to a booming bootlegging business. Sonny didn't inherit his father's sins, but he did inherit his syphilis. Initially it seemed he dodged the biological bullet, appearing healthy at birth. But soon, Sonny's compromised immune system showed him to be prone to infections. At age eight he contracted a nasty mastoid infection and needed surgery that would rob him of his hearing.

It seemed that for Al Capone, money was the best medicine. He offered a doctor in New York $100,000 to operate on Sonny. The physician insisted on accepting the standard $1,000. Al traveled to the Big Apple with Sonny. It might have been for moral support but since he wasn't very moral, Al also used the trip to discuss booze shipments with his former boss, mobster Frankie Yale.

I Love Lawsuits

Al Capone wasn't the only high-profile person in Sonny's life. One of his childhood friends was bandleader and I Love Lucy star and creator Desi Arnaz. Unfortunately, Sonny didn't exactly love Desi after Desliu, the production company Arnaz ran with his wife and co-star Lucille Ball, made the two-hour pilot for what would become the long-running ABC series The Untouchables. A heavily dramatized take on the U.S. Department of the Treasury's quest to take down Al Capone (Neville Brand), led by agent Eliot Ness (Robert Stack), it first aired in 1959, about a dozen years after the mobster died, according to court documents

That was 12 years too soon for Sonny and his mother, who sued. The younger Capone's primary legal complaint against Desilu was that The Untouchables had a devastating impact on both his work life and family life. For example, his children were frequently reduced to tears at school by constant taunting from their classmates. Suing for libel and unfair use of image and asking for millions in damages, the Capones lost the case.

The many Miami jobs of Sonny Capone

According to Florida newspaper The Star, Sonny Capone spent the majority of his adulthood in that state. His father loved the Sunshine State — Al Capone died on his property in Palm Island, Florida (pictured), in 1947 — but Sonny ironically tried to escape from his family legacy by setting up a life for himself there. 

After attending the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Sonny Capone transferred to the University of Miami, earning his bachelor's degree from the institution in 1941. In one of his first big career choices, he found he couldn't escape the criminal element entirely. While working as a used car salesman in Florida, he found out his boss was changing the numbers on vehicles' odometers, a seedy and illegal practice. So, Sonny quit, and switched gears into printing, where he served as an apprentice before deciding on a couple more profession changes. In addition to giving tire distribution a try, the younger Capone ran a restaurant in Miami with his mother. According to Capone: The Man and His EraSonny attempted to use his underworld connections to secure a loan, asking the Chicago "Outfit" for $24,000 to expand the business. It refused.

Sonny Capone may have threatened to kill a Kennedy

Of the three male Kennedy political siblings — John, Robert, and Edward, or "Ted," as he was more commonly known — Ted was the only one not to be assassinated, dying in 2011 at age 77 after serving as a powerful senator for more than 40 years. But he may have just narrowly avoided the sad fate of his brothers.

After Ted Kennedy's death, the FBI released his file, which contained information about numerous threats on the senator's life. One entry concerned a man who alerted the agency to a call he overheard Sonny Capone make on a payphone at the New England Oyster House in Coral Gables, Florida. Reportedly, the tipster heard Sonny say that if Edward Kennedy "keeps fooling around" that he "was going to get it, too." Sonny Capone even identified himself by name, because after he was done talking to whomever it was, he needed the operator to bill the call to his home. The call took place in June 1968... just a couple of weeks after the shooting death of Robert Kennedy.

Sonny Capone got busted for shoplifting

Albert Francis "Sonny" Capone had crime in his blood. It would almost be more surprising if the son of the one of the most notorious bosses in the history of organized crime lived his entire life without ever breaking the law. 

The most talked about incident in the younger Capone's criminal life is relatively minor as far as these things go. Per Capone: The Man and His Era, Sonny got busted in 1965 for allegedly swiping two bottles of aspirin and a pack of batteries (total value: $3.50) from the Kwik Chek market in North Miami Beach. "Everybody has a little larceny in them," Sonny quipped upon his arrest. He pleaded no contest to the charge of shoplifting and was sentenced to two years' probation. 

Sonny Capone's day in court seemed to be a turning point. Not long after, the criminal scion legally changed his name, dropping "Capone" entirely and going by Albert Francis, and sometimes Albert Francis Brown. According to Find a Grave, the man formerly known as Sonny Capone died in 2004 at the age of 85.