Fact-Checking Trump’s Claim That He’s Been Indicted More Times Than Al Capone

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

During a Feb. 17 campaign rally in Michigan, 2024 hopeful and former President Donald Trump repeated the claim that he’d been indicted more times than Prohibition-era mobster Al Capone.

Verdict: Misleading

An expert who co-authored a book on Capone told Check Your Fact the mobster was indicted at least six times. Trump, on the other hand, has been indicted four times.

Fact Check:

Trump launched his own line of custom sneakers on Feb. 17 at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia, according to CNN. The sneakers, priced at $399 a pair, sold out hours after the event, Axios reported.

“A lot of [people] come to me and they’ll say, ‘How do you do it? You go through all these subpoenas. You got indicted.’ Now, in my whole life, I didn’t know what [the word] ‘indictment’ meant. ‘You got indicted more than Alphonse Capone, Scarface,'” the former Republican President and 2024 hopeful said during his Feb. 17 campaign rally in Michigan.

The claim is false. Trump has been indicted four times as of February 2024, according to CNN. In April 2023, Trump was indicted on 34 counts of “falsifying business records” in relation to alleged hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Trump was then indicted in July 2023 for allegedly taking classified materials with him to his Mar-a-Lago residence after he left office in January 2021, according to the superseding indictment. In addition, Trump, his longtime aide Waltine Nauta, and Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira are accused of conspiring to obstruct justice “by attempting to delete Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage that prosecutors say showed employees moving boxes around, in order to conceal information from the FBI and grand jury,” ABC News reported, citing the indictment. Trump faces 40 charges in all.

Trump’s third indictment involves alleged election interference ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.  Trump faces four charges–Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, Conspiracy to Obstruct an Official Proceeding, Obstruction of and Attempt to Obstruct an Official Proceeding, and Conspiracy Against Rights–over his attempt to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election, according to the official indictment.

Additionally, the indictment accuses Trump of knowingly “spreading lies” that he fraudulently lost the 2020 election to now-President Joe Biden, resulting in the attack on the Capitol, according to The New York Times. In February 2024, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected Trump’s claim that presidential immunity protects him from prosecution in relation to the case, The New York Times also reported. (RELATED: Biden’s Job Creation Claim Ignores Key Context)

Finally, Trump and 18 other individuals face various charges, including Violation of Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act in Fulton County, Georgia over an alleged attempt to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election. Citing the 98-page indictment, CBS News reported that Trump and his co-conspirators allegedly “refused to accept that Trump lost [the 2020 election], and they knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump.”

Trump has been arraigned in all four cases but has not yet been tried, according to CNN.  While the number of Trump’s indictments is clear-cut, there is a bit more debate over how many times Capone was indicted.

According to The New York Times’ Archives, Capone was indicted twice on charges of income tax evasion. Newsweek, on the other hand, reported Capone was indicted three times on “tax evasion and prohibition-related charges” in 1931.

Similarly, the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law totals three indictments for Capone, with two related to tax evasion and one related to conspiracy to violate the Prohibition Act, while History.com only lists one indictment for Capone on 22 counts of income tax evasion.

The FBI website says Capone was arrested twice in 1929, once for a carrying a concealed weapon and for contempt of court.

A. Brad Schwartz, a graduate student at Princeton University and co-author of “Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago” alongside Max Allan Collins, told Check Your Fact that Trump’s claim is incorrect.

“As I’m sure you know, President Trump has been making this claim fairly regularly in recent months, though with some variations.  Previously, he’s said Capone was only indicted once, which is definitely not accurate.  Here, Trump is saying he’s been indicted more times than Capone, which is harder to verify but also incorrect.”
“As far as I’ve been able to determine, Capone was indicted by a grand jury at least six times – once in October 1926, on Prohibition conspiracy charges in Chicago; once in May 1929, for carrying a concealed handgun in Philadelphia; three times in March and June 1931, for income tax evasion and Prohibition conspiracy charges in Chicago; and once in July 1933, for racketeering in Cook County, Illinois.  The 1929 and 1933 indictments were for state charges; the other four were at the federal level.  Capone was convicted and served prison time for the 1929 concealed weapon charge and for income tax evasion in 1931, but never went to trial on the other indictments,” Schwartz said.
“Capone faced other charges at different times, though it’s not clear if those cases involved indictments.  He did plead guilty to operating a brothel and slot machines in January 1921, which may have been his first indictment.  He was convicted in 1931 and served jail time on a federal contempt of court charge, but that case did not involve an indictment.  There was also at least one superseding indictment in the 1931 Prohibition conspiracy case, based on evidence gathered by Eliot Ness and the Untouchables, but I don’t know if it would be fair to count that one twice.”
“At a minimum, then, I’d say Capone still has two more indictments than Trump, and possibly three.  If you add up the individual counts in each indictment, Capone also comes out way ahead, since the 1931 Prohibition case accused him and sixty-eight co-conspirators of committing five thousand crimes,” Schwartz added.
Trump has claimed he’s been indicted more than Capone during multiple rallies throughout the 2024 campaign cycle thus far, according to Business Insider, The Hill, CNN, and The New York Times.
Check Your Fact has contacted a Trump spokesperson as well as multiple U.S. history and mafia experts and will update this piece accordingly if one is received.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter