New Exhibit “Follow The Money” features Smith & Wesson owned by undercover agent in the Capone Gang
The Mob Museum unveiled a new permanent exhibit, “Follow the Money,” on April 17 telling the stories of the legendary undercover agents and other agents in the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit who were instrumental in toppling mobsters such as Al Capone.
One of the highlights of the exhibit will be a Smith & Wesson .38 Special. The gun belonged to IRS investigator Michael Malone, the man who went undercover to infiltrate Al Capone’s gang in the 1930s and eventually helped to bring down the feared mobster. The serial number has been drilled out of the gun, suggesting it was used as part of Malone’s infiltration of criminal organizations.
“The greatest undercover agent in the history of law enforcement”
Ernst & Young is sponsor of the exhibit.
The gun was stored for decades in attics, closets and a bank safe-deposit box in New Jersey. Family members say the gun was found under Malone’s pillow after he died.
“Michael Malone was, I believe, the greatest undercover agent in the history of law enforcement,” said Paul Camacho, a former head of IRS criminal investigations in Las Vegas and member of The Mob Museum Board of Directors. “This was the riskiest assignment you could ever think of. People were dying left and right, witnesses were dying left and right. Nobody wanted to be with these guys.”
According to Camacho, Malone was so good at his job as an undercover agent that Capone invited him to a going away party when it appeared Capone was going to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Capone eventually was convicted on tax charges and sentenced to prison thanks to the hard work of IRS investigators, known as Treasury Men or T-Men.
“The real story of Mike Malone hasn’t been told,” said Jonathan Larsen, head of IRS criminal investigations in New Jersey, whose office is overseeing the examination of the gun and its transport to Nevada.
In addition to Malone’s Smith & Wesson .38 Special, the exhibit also features:
- Handwritten letter from President Franklin Roosevelt to Elmer Irey thanking him for the Intelligence Unit’s work.
- Handwritten letter from Charles Lindbergh to Elmer Irey thanking him for his help and guidance in finding the kidnapper and murderer of his son.
- Badges and I.D.s for Elmer Irey, including one providing access to the White House.
- Copy of The Giant Killers, one of the few books documenting the work of the T-Men.
- Copy of The Tax Dodgers, Irey’s memoir of his work as head of the Intelligence Unit.
- Editorial cartoon by Clifford K. Berryman published on front page of Washington Evening Star when Elmer Irey retired in 1946.
- Cigar ashtray from Intelligence Unit’s North Atlantic Region office in New York City.
The exhibit is located on the east side of the Museum’s third floor hallway.