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Why Did Al Capone Go to Jail?

By D.J. Harrington

One of the most famous American gangsters of all times was Al Capone. He was known for many things. Not only was he a notorious killer, but he was known and feared for other reasons, as well.  His nickname was “Scarface.”  He became known as the leader of the Chicago mafia during the Prohibition Era. It was a troubled time in Chicago, as the headlines will recall. We know he killed many people and was behind the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Al Capone should have been an escape artist because he was always able to escape arrest due to “lack of evidence.”  Even though a known bootlegger and a corrupt businessman, he wasn’t accountable for anything because there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest him for anything he had done….that is, until October 17, 1931.  On that fateful day, a jury of his peers found Al Capone guilty of several counts of Tax Evasion. The judge sentenced him to 11 years behind bars. Finally, Chicago was free of Al Capone.

I share this story because it reminds me of what happened at the 3rd Annual New Mexico Recycling Summit held in Albuquerque last month. Sandy Blalock, the managing director, invited their newly elected state senator to their meeting. He listened intently to the towers complain about the unlicensed, uninsured towers who take away business from those that did.   The senator had listened and recorded every concern of those in the room on his canary-yellow legal pad.

Knowing this group was comprised of all kinds of folks from the automotive, towing and metal recycling industries, Senator Padilla thanked his constituents for their votes and support. He has listened to the group that put him into office. These industries needed fresh ears. The past senator was voted from office by this same group of people because he never listened to their concerns. With high hopes, the group felt that Senator Padilla was the new set of ears they needed. But was he? Being so new to Congress, what could he do to help them?

After the senator listened to the towers complain about the unlicensed, uninsured towers who have taken away the business with their cheap prices, the senator began to speak. I know these details because I was there. As speaker for the day, I had been trying to get towers and recyclers together for a good cause. (I’ll get to that later in the article.)

As Senator Padilla stood to address the group, the first thing he said was, “What did Al Capone go to jail for?” Okay, someone get the hook! Had the senator lost his mind? Maybe he was writing other constituents a letter instead of listening. Everyone yelled back, “TAX EVASION.” “That’s right!” he said. “I think I need to call my cousin!” The whole room, including me, thought “Call your cousin???” What in the world? He wasn’t trying to be a millionaire asking for a “life-line” or call a friend or family member for the answer to win some cash on the show Cash Cab.

You could have heard a pin drop in the room. The audience looked around the large outdoor tent to see if someone might know what he meant. At that point, the senator validated the legitimacy of his statement. “My cousin is the Secretary of Taxation for the entire state of New Mexico.” The government controlled Al Capone in a way that the judicial system couldn’t.

All of us are mad about this so-called, underground economy. Unlicensed towers and, yes, unlicensed recyclers are making a living in our backyard. It’s not what we want, but they’re here. It’s certainly not what we deserve. We need the state to enforce established laws, but there isn’t any money for hiring compliance officers.

Senator Padilla is a problem-solver. Without assistance in getting evidence to close them down through a department that couldn’t fund the activity anyway, the senator’s cousin was able to shut them down. Just like Al Capone, those businesses are now out of business because of tax evasion!

Towers and Recyclers need to work together.  Do you know this? The past president of the Michigan Recyclers Association, Slaytor Shroyer, is a tower in Lansing, Michigan; everyone knows Bill Giorgis, owner of Mike’s Wrecker Service. Mike is the president of the Michigan Towers Association and just bought a recycling center.

The largest tower in Tampa, Florida, is also one of the oldest towing companies in Florida. I’m referencing Stepp’s Towing. A few years ago, Todd Stepp purchased a recycling center and had me help “hook him up” with another recycler. Did you get that? I got it, too, so I introduced him to other recyclers.

Happening next month in Phoenix, Arizona, is the Auto Recyclers Annual Meeting. Plenty of towers will be walking the convention floor. Since 81% of recyclers own tow trucks, why don’t we invite recyclers to tow shows? Just a thought for those producing tow shows that feel we have enough people attending tow shows. It would be great if we could work together.

Now that we realize we have the power to vote people from office who don’t listen to us, let’s replace them with good people like Senator Padilla. Furthermore, now that we realize we can remove people from our industry that don’t follow the rules, let’s help get them out of business.  Let me help you put the unlicensed, uninsured towers out of business – Just call the Doctor.

See you next time.

D.J. Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar, and Damon Corporation. He can be reached at 800-352-5252 or by e-mail at dj@djsays.com.