Ralph Capone Sr. was born on January 12, 1894 in Angri, Italy. He was one of nine siblings born to Gabriel and Teresa Capone, and the older brother to Al “Scarface” Capone, future boss of the Chicago outfit.
Ralph, his brother Vincenzo, and his mother arrived in the United States at Ellis Island on June 18, 1895. His father arrived several months earlier and established a home near the Navy yards in Brooklyn, New York. As his father worked in a nearby barbershop, Teresa stayed busy with their growing family. Four years after they moved to Brooklyn Ralph’s mother gave birth to Alphonse Capone. In 1910 the family moved from their home near the Navy yards to 38 Garfield Pl. in Park slope, Brooklyn.
Ralph married Filomena Muscato on September 24, 1915. He was 21 years old and she just 17. They had one child, a son named Ralph Gabriel Capone on April 17, 1917. They divorced in 1921.
During the time Ralph was establishing a family his younger brother Al was being groomed by a well-known Brooklyn gangster named Johnny Torrio. After Al married in 1918, Torrio beckoned him to Chicago in anticipation of the start of prohibition. Ralph accompanied his brother Al to Chicago taking his son, but leaving his wife behind.
In Chicago Ralph was placed in charge of the bottling plants for the Chicago version of the mafia formally called the Outfit. Torrio was attempting to monopolize nonalcoholic beverages that were commonly used in mixed drinks during the time the sale of alcohol was outlawed. The family became successful in their endeavors taking large profits for the Outfit. They even became the second largest soft drink vendor during the 1933 World’s Fair.
By 1930 his brother Al had complete control of the Chicago Outfit and nearly all of the illegal alcohol flowing in and out of Chicago. In April, 1930 Al was named as public enemy number one by the Chicago Crime Commission. Ralph was number three. Less than a year later his brother would be tried and convicted for tax evasion and sent to prison on an eleven year stretch. Frank Nitti was picked to be the new boss of the Chicago Outfit. Brother Ralph remained with the crime family and placed in charge Chicago’s Cotton Club, a front for syndicate gambling.
Though Ralph was the older brother of Al, he never held a position of power within the Outfit. He was a trusted front man and good earner, but stayed clear of the dirty side of the business choosing to earn money from legitimate business fronts. In 1932 Ralph, like his brother, was also convicted of tax evasion. He served three years.
After his release from prison, Capone moved to Mercer, Wisconsin where he purchased a home and eventually a hotel named “The Red Hotel” and attached tavern named “Billy’s Bar”. During his time in Wisconsin he still had ties to the Outfit as members of the crime family were frequent visitors of his hotel; a safe place to lay low. He died on November 22, 1974 of natural causes in Hurley, Wisconsin.