On anniversary of Prohibition's end, a local mystery

Capone main

While researching his most recent book about Prohibition-era Grayton Beach, “Grayton Winds” author Michael Lindley stumbled upon some information to prove the presence of the mobster kingpin operating out of our fair shores. “There in my research I found that Al Capone was down here for a time,” said Lindley, who did not elaborate.

Photo Illustration | Special to The Log
Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 16:21 PM.

EDITOR'S NOTE: To mark the 80th anniversary of Prohibition's end, The Log presents this 2012 story on Al Capone's purported links to the Emerald Coast.

Growing up along the Emerald Coast, you can’t escape the stories of gangsters, bootlegging and illicit booze filtering in through our bays and bayous during 1920s Prohibition.

“Because it was desolate and hard to get to, it was known for its moonshine,” lifetime resident and historian Tony Mennillo said.

But local folklore includes the most notorious bootlegger and crime boss of all, Alphonsus “Al” Capone.

The Chicago kingpin had plenty of ties to Florida. He owned property in South Florida and was even in the Sunshine State during the nefarious St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929, when seven members of the rival “Bugs” Moran mob were machine-gunned against a garage wall. But pinning down Capone’s connections to the Emerald Coast is more difficult.

RELATED STORY: Readers recollections, stories of Capone's connections

The stories of the mob boss are most often tied to Valparaiso and Florosa, years before the Tampa Tribune dubbed Northwest Florida “Little Las Vegas” because of the proliferation of illegal gambling outfits.

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