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Alias Soapy Smith

Lou

The Blonger Gang

For more than thirty years,
Lou Blonger and his boys were above the law.

Known to con men across the country as The Big Store, Denver was a wide-open town under Lou's protection. By the 1920's he had a veritable army of grifters prowling the streets in search of suckers, executing a variety of complicated cons, and giving Lou up to half the take. Should the cops be forced to do their duty, a phone call from Lou to the chief of police on his private line could spring any unlucky bunk.

By day, Lou watched the money roll in from the comfort of his office. At night, he moved easily among Denver's elite, a charming, respected local businessman of wealth and influence. Seemingly, Denver was content to let Lou have his fun. They were, after all, only fleecing the tourists. The newspapers clucked their tongues and generally spoke of Lou in tones of bemused disdain.

Then came Van Cise.

In 1922, District Attorney Philip Van Cise bypassed the Denver police and used his own ragtag force to arrest 33 con men, including Blonger. In one of the most publicized trials to that time, the "Bunco King" and his cohorts were convicted and sentenced to prison at Cañon City. Lou Blonger died there just six months after he arrived.


 

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