Eliot Ness was born on this day in 1903

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Special law-enforcement agents of the US Department of the Treasury
Common clues: Feds;
Revenuers; IRS agents; Govt. investigators; Fed. gangbusters; Ness team; Capone's nemeses; “The Untouchables” extras; Bootleggers' bane
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Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life

Doubts raced through my mind as I considered the feasibility of enforcing a law which the majority of honest citizens didn't seem to want. --Eliot Ness

Eliot P. Ness (April 19, 1903 – May 16, 1957) was an American Prohibition agent, famous for his efforts to enforce Prohibition in Chicago, Illinois as the leader of a legendary team nicknamed The Untouchables.

Eliot Ness, Treasury Agent 1927-35

In 1926, his sister's husband, Alexander Jamie, a Bureau of Investigation agent (this became the FBI in 1935), influenced him to enter law enforcement. He joined the Treasury Department in 1927, working with the 300-strong Bureau of Prohibition in Chicago.

Following the election of President Herbert Hoover, Andrew Mellon was specifically charged with bringing down Alphonse Capone. The federal government approached the problem from two directions: income tax evasion and the Volstead Act. Ness was chosen to head the operations under the Volstead Act, targeting the illegal breweries and supply routes of Capone.

With Cleveland's corrupted law-enforcement agents endemic, Ness went through the records of all the treasury agents to create a reliable team, initially of fifty, later reduced to fifteen and finally to just eleven men. Raids against stills and breweries began immediately; within six months Ness claimed to have seized breweries worth over one million dollars. The main source of information for the raids was an extensive wire-tapping operation.

An attempt by Capone to bribe Ness's agents was seized on by Ness for publicity, leading to the media nickname "The Untouchables". There were a number of assassination attempts on Ness, and one close friend of his was killed.

The efforts of Ness and his team had a serious impact on Capone's operations, but it was the income tax evasion which was the key weapon. In a number of federal grand jury cases in 1931, Capone was charged with 22 counts of tax evasion and also 5,000 violations of the Volstead Act. On October 17, 1931, Capone was sentenced to eleven years, and following a failed appeal, he began his sentence in 1932.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Eliot Ness".