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accountants portrayed in popular culture

death from overwork

accountants' glamorous world

history of accounting
"Sarbanes-Oxley Blues," words and music written by Headwaters Co-Founder & Chairman Dave Maney

evil taxers

U.S. tax history

IRS history

Al Capone, FDR, LBJ, MLK, Watergate

Sex of a Hippopotamus

Tax Court

tax return publicity

famous wealthy people



The Elmer Irey - Frank Wilson Story
IRS Captures Al Capone Video

It’s generally known that Al Capone went to prison for income tax evasion because the authorities couldn’t convict him of his more heinous crimes. Eliot Ness, a Treasury detective, wrote the 1957 runaway bestseller, The Untouchables, a wonderful book which exaggerated his crusade against Capone. It was made into a television series, a 1987 movie, followed by yet another television series. The truth is that Eliot Ness, brother-in-law of the Prohibition Bureau chief in Chicago, was a minor figure. Ness was a courageous law enforcer who got the headlines, but a five-man team of accountants with the Bureau of Internal Revenue were the real heroes in the Capone case. They were headed by Elmer Irey and Frank Wilson. Here’s a great video that tells the story of how they got Capone. It's an orientation film for the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. Quite informative and entertaining.

The Elmer Irey - Frank Wilson Story, Part 1 of 3

IRS Criminal Investigation Division orientation film about the capture of Al Capone and the workings of the agency.

The Elmer Irey - Frank Wilson Story, Part 2 of 3

The Elmer Irey - Frank Wilson Story, Part 3 of 3

While writing The Sex of a Hippopotamus: A Unique History of Taxes and Accounting, I heard that IRS had made a video about Elmer Irey. It took me four years to track down someone at IRS who had the video. Many thanks to Patti Reid, Communications and Education Director at the IRS Criminal Investigation Division for providing me with a copy which I converted from VHS tape to YouTube.

Elmer Irey was chief of the Enforcement Branch, United States Treasury Special Intelligence Unit. Irey, not the FBI, placed marked bills in the Lindbergh ransom that resulted in the arrest of Bruno Hauptman in 1934. There's much more on Elmer Irey who also headed criminal investigations of Andrew Mellon, Huey Long, Hamilton Fish, Moses Annenberg, Lyndon Johnson, Franklin Roosevelt and Henry Morgenthau. You can read these great stories in The Sex of a Hippopotamus: A Unique History of Taxes and Accounting.