19. Sonny changed his name to escape his father’s shadow
In 1965 Sonny was arrested for shoplifting, having stolen aspirin in some accounts, flashlight batteries in others, and both in still more. When he stood before the judge under the name of Al Capone he realized the burden caused by just the name. After his court appearance, in which he received probation, he changed his name to Albert Francis Brown. The fact that he did so at the age of 48 made the news, United Press International (UPI) reported the event in newspapers across the nation. He lived the remainder of his life in relative peace and quiet. Following his aspirin/batteries crime wave of 1965 he never again drew the attention of law enforcement. Except for J. Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation, which kept an extensive file on his whereabouts and activities.
If ever anyone was born into the gangster’s life, it would be the only son of Al Capone. But there is extensive evidence that the father did not desire the son to follow in his footsteps. Sonny received a liberal education, though his father dropped out of school at just 14. He did not learn of most of his father’s criminal activities in his youth. When his father was convicted and incarcerated for tax evasion in the 1930s, he maintained a correspondence with him in prison. Sonny Capone died in 2004, in a small town in California, where most of his neighbors and friends were astonished to learn he was the son of an infamous gangster, one who’s name is that of probably the most famous mobster of them all. He never approached the notoriety of his father, and instead went to great lengths to remove himself from his father’s legacy.