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Capone the Lawman

The oldest brother of gangster Al Capone, James Vincenzo Capone, led a life quite different from that of his notorious sibling.  Leaving home at 16 he ultimately settled in Nebraska, losing his New York Italian accent.  He served in the Army both during the Punitive Expedition and World War I, earning a Lieutenant’s commission and being decorated by General Pershing.  Returning from the War he changed his name to Richard James Hart, married and became a Prohibition agent.  Leading raids against bootleggers he acquired the nickname of Two Gun Hart.  Newspapers in the mid 20s discovered his relationship to Al Capone.

In 1926 he embarked on a career as a special agent for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  During his years as a special agent he is credited with bringing in 20 wanted killers.  He was accused of brutality in the performance of his duties, but from this distance in time it is hard to determine the truth of the charges.  Law enforcement was a fairly rough occupation during that period, and in much of the West, the rough and ready spirit of the Wild West was still a reality.   On the other hand. he was noted for learning tribal languages and having good relationships among the Indians whose tribes he helped protect from gangsters.

He ultimately was fired from his post at the instigation of a superior who was on take from bootleggers. During the subsequent time of financial stress he received a large gift of money from his brother Al, family blood counting for more than the fact that they were lawman and crook.  Hart became a prohibition agent again and ultimately a justice of the peace in Homer Nebraska.  He died in 1952 at age 60 of a heart attack.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

5 Comments

  1. Off topic. I’ve a brother as well, whose just had five lymph nodes dug out of his arm for a pathologist to inspect. I’d be much obliged if you could utter a prayer for him.

  2. Many thanks. He’d been on radio silence for days up until this morning when he told me precisely what sort of report he was waiting for). Got back to me this afternoon. Not sure what the oncologist’s next move is, but they’re not finding any metastases. Much obliged to everyone. There’s a back story, but some other time.

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