Conviction of the Bunko Gang
Denver Post, March 29, 1923
ALL BUNCO MEN GUILTY
Grand Jury Probes Bribe Charges
30-YEAR SENTENCE HANGS OVER HEADS OF TRICKY TWENTY
CONVICTION ON 3 COUNTS, UPHOLDING LAW AND ORDER, IS ACCLAIMED AS TRIUMPH AND AS WARNING TO CROOKS
DRAMATIC CLIMAX TO TRIAL ENDS MORE THAN 102 HOURS OF DELIBERATION BY JURY THO NO DEFENSE OFFERED
STIR, CAUSED BY ONE JUROR WHEN HE SAYS HE YIELDED BECAUSE ILL, IS DISPELLED UNDER QUIZ BY COUNSEL
By BRUCE A. GUSTIN
The wolves of Seventeenth street have been muzzled!
"All guilty," was the verdict of the jury late Wednesday afternoon in the case of the twenty "bunco" men in the west side court.
Thru that verdict Denver served notice upon the denizens of the underworld that Denver, Colorado, is still in the United States of America. Law and order still have the upper hand. No gang of criminals - no matter how cunning, no matter how much money they have, no matter how many high-priced lawyers they can hire, no matter how successfully they may be able to corrupt the police department - can forever openly and brazenly and contemptuously defy the laws made by the people of Colorado for the protection of society.
On the heels of the verdict of guilt, District Attorney Van Cise, "Bugaboo of the Buncs," launched a grand jury investigation into attempts made to bribe jurors. As the twelve jurors filed out of the jury box after delivering their verdict, which makes possible a maximum sentence of thirty years in the state penitentiary for each of the "tricky twenty," each juror was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury Thursday morning.
Accompanying the jury's verdict of "guilty" was a compromise recommendation of leniency for all the bunco men and particularly for Jack Hardaway, John Allison, alias Charles E. Smith, and William Dougherty. This leniency recommendation, it is understood, was the compromise agreed to by the majority of the jury to win over the three who are reported to have been holding out against a verdict of guilty.
20 DAYS ALLOWED FOR MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL.
Quaking in their boots, the twenty "buncs" were led back to the county jail until bonds can be arranged for them. Twenty days were allowed by Judge Dunklee for filing of a motion for a new trial. If this motion is overruled, sentence will then be passed, and it is expected an appeal will be taken to the supreme court.
Application to admit the convicted "buncs" to liberty under bail is expected to be the next move of defense counsel. The special prosecutors will fight such an application to the limit, insisting that the "tricky twenty" be kept locked up in jail. It is customary for defendants, convicted of a felony, to remain in jail until sentence is passed. Then, if appeal is taken to the supreme court, the question of release under bond is taken up.
MANY FEEL SAFER BEHIND BARS THAN OUT ON BOND.
There is a possibility bonds will not be asked as many of the defendants feel they are safer behind the bars of the county jail because of the overwhelming public sentiment which is against them.
Statements of a majority of the jurors Thursday indicated Foreman Armstrong and Jurors Sharp and Tharp were the three jurors who stood out so long for acquittal.
As the jury was being polled Wednesday afternoon on its verdict a tense situation was created when Juror Sharp was asked, "Was this and is this your verdict?" He replied:
"It is - under the conditions. I was sick and had to get out of there."
Defense counsel objected to acceptance of the verdict, contending advantage had been taken of Sharp's physical condition and he had been coerced into agreeing upon the verdict, but Judge Dunklee firmly overruled the objection after Juror Sharp declared:
"I DON'T KNOW THAT I WAS COMPELLED TO AGREE AND I'LL STAND BY IT (THE VERDICT)."
VERDICT REACHED AFTER MORE THAN 102 HOURS' DELIBERATION.
The verdict of guilty on all three counts in the information came after a little more than 102 hours of deliberation. The case went to the jury at 10:45 o'clock last Saturday morning. It was shortly after 4:45 o'clock Wednesday afternoon when the agreement was reached. Judge Dunklee, after sending Bailiff Kelly back to the jury room to confirm the reported agreement, directed that the attorneys be summoned.
The scene in the courtroom was intensely dramatic. Ashen faced, visibly unnerved, the "Wolves of Seventeenth street" sat in the prisoners' dock and watched the jurors file past them to the jury box. Every exit of the courtroom was locked. Four deputy sheriffs were placed at strategic points. Special investigators of the district attorney's office were "planted" in various parts of the courtroom, which was almost filled in spite of the fact that the agreement of the jury was not generally known. Manager of Safety Frank M. Downer and Chief of Police Rugg Williams were in the front part of the room. Gone from the face of Horace Hawkins, chief of defense counsel, was the tantalizing grin with which he had faced the jury during the trial. Defense attorneys knew, far better than the layman, that it was impossible, in law and in fact, for any honest jury to agree upon any verdict other than guilty. It was revealed to them at last that the attempts of defense counsel to becloud the issue and confuse the jury by reviling the district attorney, vilifying the newspapers and rawhiding the state's witnesses had proved a miserable failure.
SPECTATORS ARE CAUTIONED AGAINST DEMONSTRATION.
The twenty defendants were escorted into the prisoner's dock at 5:21 o'clock by Deputy Sheriffs Ronaldson, Dawson, Gist, and Marshall. At 5:35 o'clock Judge Dunklee ascended the bench and court convened. After announcing that "the court had been advised the jury is ready to report" and cautioning spectators to make no demonstration when the verdict was read, he directed Bailiffs Kelly and Ramsey to bring in the jury.
At 5:37 o'clock the jurors filed in. George McLachlan, clerk of the court, called the roll of defendants and of the jury.
"King" Lou Blonger, head of the million-dollar Denver bunco ring, wore a sickly grin. A. W. Duff, his prime minister, was trembling like a leaf. It was noticed that George Williams, alias Grover Sullivan, had shaved off his beard.
In response to an inquiry from Clerk McLachlan, Foreman Armstrong replied that the jury had arrived at a verdict, and handed it to McLachlan, who passed it to the court. Judge Dunklee scanned the verdict and then returned it to McLachlan who read it:
"We, the jury, find the defendants (enumerating the twenty accused men) guilty as charged in the information."
WIVES OF SEVERAL "BUNCS" BURST INTO TEARS AT VERDICT.
Wives of several of the defendants, seated in the courtroom, burst into tears. With an effort, the convicted "buncs" stonily listened to the ready of the verdict.
"Is this your verdict, gentlemen?" inquired the clerk.
All answered in the affirmative. Attorney Hawkins asked that the jury be polled. This was done. When Juror No. 3 - Sharp - was asked:
"Was this and is this your verdict?" he replied:
"It is - under the conditions. I was sick and had to get out of there."
The question was repeated several times, Sharp replying:
"It was under the conditions. I had to get out. I've been sick ever since Saturday night."
Attorney Hawkins was on his feet in an instant, demanding that the juror be allowed to explain.
JUDGE DUNKLEE - IS THIS YOUR VERDICT.
JUROR SHARP - IT IS.
Hawkins insisted that Sharp be allowed to explain.
JUDGE DUNKLEE - YOU NOW SAY ON YOUR OATH AND YOUR HONOR THAT THIS IS YOUR VERDICT?
JUROR SHARP - IT IS.
"I'LL STAND BY VERDICT," SHARP SAYS UNDER QUESTIONING.
Hawkins asked if the verdict had been returned of the juror's free will. Special Prosecutor Riddle objected, Judge Dunklee sustaining the objection. Hawkins asked permission to ask if the juror had agreed to the verdict of his own volition or if it was because of his illness. Sharp replied:
"I DON'T KNOW THAT I WAS COMPELLED TO AND I'LL STAND BY IT."
Special Prosecutor White objected to defense counsel interrogating the juror. The objection was sustained, Judge Dunklee ruling that "the juror has been examined enough." The clerk was instructed to proceed with the poll of the jury. Each of the other jurors declared "the verdict was and is my verdict."
Hawkins objected formally to the verdict "because the juror agreed to it on account of his physical condition." Special Prosecutor White said the juror's statement might as easily be construed as meaning that he would have agreed to the verdict earlier except for his condition.
HAWKINS MAKES DEPERATE EFFORT TO PROVE DURESS.
Hawkins then made an offer to prove by the juror that the only reason he agreed to the verdict was because he was physically ill and that "yielding was a matter of duress." Special Prosecutor Riddle's objection to the offer was sustained. Hawkins then requested that "the court read that other paper, if there was another paper, which was handed to your honor with the verdict."
"THE COURT ACCEPTS THE VERDICT OF THE JURY BECAUSE OF THE JUROR'S STATEMENTS THAT IT WAS AND IS THEIR VERDICT," Judge Dunklee announced. And then he read the request, signed by all the jurors, that leniency be extended to all the defendants, and especially to Hardaway, Allison, and Daugherty.
After granting the defense twenty days in which to file a motion for a new trial, Judge Dunklee addressed the jury:
"The court desires to thank you, gentlemen of the jury, for the long and patient hearing you have given this case, and, if any person feels inclined to think you have taken too long a time in arriving at your verdict, the court wishes to remind them that this is, so far as the court knows, the biggest case from the standpoint of time and interest of the persons involved ever tried in Colorado.
20 CASES DECIDED IN ONE, JUDGE TELLS JURORS.
"Sixty-two days have been occupied up to the present time. Eighty-three witnesses have been sworn and have given testimony and 524 exhibits have been admitted into evidence. In law, this is only one case, but, practically, more than twenty cases have been tried and decided in one."
The court then excused the jurors from further attendance. Reporters swarmed around the jury box before the jurors could leave their seats. And as the jurors left the box, Investigator Maiden of the district attorney's office served each of them with a subpoena to appear before the grand jury Thursday morning.
Defense attorneys, after speaking a word to their clients, prepared to leave the courtroom. Deputy sheriffs closed in about the prisoners and escorted them back thru the closed corridor to the county jail, where they were lodged behind the bars as the law requires that criminals be lodged.
District Attorney Van Cise, Special Prosecutors Riddle and White and Special Counsel Roy Samson, who was Van Cise's right hand man in the preparation of the "bunco" case, were deluged with congratulations.
In a formal statement, Van Cise said:
"IT WAS THE ONLY VERDICT AN HONEST JURY COULD RETURN. LOU BLONGER HAS BEEN A SINISTER INFLUENCE IN THE POLITICAL LIFE OF THIS CITY FOR THIRTY-FIVE YEARS. HE HAS BEEN CAUGHT AND BRANDED AT LAST. IT JUST GOES TO PROVE THAT NO MAN CAN LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME WITHOUT BEING CAUGHT BEFORE HE DIES."
VERDICT VINDICATION OF LAW AND ORDER, SAYS RIDDLE.
Special Prosecutor Riddle said:
"The verdict is a complete vindication for law and order and that is what the special prosecutors were fighting for. I am glad to know the government of the state of Colorado is still in authority."
Said Special Prosecutor White:
"The verdict is very gratifying. It is what we had a right to expect."
VAN CISE MAKES FIRST APPEARANCE IN COURTROOM.
District Attorney Van Cise's appearance in the courtroom Wednesday afternoon was his first since the trial began. Because of his activity in causing the arrest of the defendants and the possibility that he might be one of the principal witnesses, he was disqualified as prosecutor by District Judge Butler. But in compliance with Judge Butler's instructions, he and his entire staff went ahead with the preparation of the case and assisted the special prosecutors in every possible way.
Van Cise's entire office staff also was in the courtroom, assisting court officers in guarding against any possible demonstration when the verdict was read. Judge Dunklee at first directed the wives of defendants should be excluded from the courtroom when the jury was brought in, but revoked this order when Attorney Hawkins objected. Wives of three of the defendants were then permitted to enter. They seated themselves toward the rear of the courtroom near where Mrs. Van Cise was sitting.
ALL RECORDS IN STATE BROKEN BY BUNCO CASE.
The verdict of guilty, after a five days' vigil, brought to a sensational climax the biggest and most important "bunco conspiracy" trial in history. All records in the state were broken for the time the case was in the hands of the jury. The three counts in the information charged conspiracy to defraud by means of a confidence game, defrauding by means of a confidence game, and grand larceny.
Some eleven cases against individual defendants still remain to be disposed of. The action to be taken in these will be determined later at a conference between the district attorney and the special prosecutors.
In addition, federal warrants are out for Duff, French, and Beech, charging them with working a confidence game in Florida. Other defendants are wanted in various parts of the country. Duff, French, and Blonger were indicted by the grand jury Wednesday with former Chief Deputy Tom Clarke for their alleged part in the drunken debauch which desecrated the grand jury room of the west side court building last Saturday afternoon.
Attorney Bryans of "bunco" counsel Wednesday afternoon entered his appearance as counsel for Tom Clarke, whose participation in the booze party cost him his job.
CONFLICTING STORIES TOLD BY JURORS.
Conflicting stories were told by the jurors who convicted the bunco men of what transpired while the jury was deliberating. One juror declared they balloted upon the guilt and innocence of individuals; another asserted they voted only upon a blanket verdict. One said the first ballot stood 6 to 6; another asserted it was 8 to 4 for conviction. One estimated that more than 100 ballots were taken; another said only 38. One declared all the ballots were secret and that no juror knew how the others voted; still another professed to know who held out for acquittal.
The grand jury investigation launched by District Attorney Van Cise is expected to result in sensational discoveries regarding attempts to bribe jurors. It is expected that the grand jury will make an effort to discover what outside influences, if any, caused the "bunco" jury to be tied up more than 102 hours before it agreed upon a verdict of guilty in a case in which not one word of defense was offered.
PROBE IS BEGUN BEFORE VERDICT IS PRESENTED.
As a matter of fact, the grand jury started its probe of alleged attempts to bribe the "bunco" jury hours before the verdict of guilty was presented to court.
There was no demonstration of any sort when the verdict of "guilty" was read Wednesday afternoon. And after the jury was discharged the court room was quickly emptied. Nor was there any gathering or demonstration outside the court building. The verdict met with popular approval because the people of Denver are convinced it was a just verdict.
"Bunco" counsel were scheduled to meet in conference Tuesday to determined what the next legal step shall be and whether they will apply for admission of their clients to bail, pending new arguments upon a motion for a new trial.
It is considered improbable the defendants, because of the bond-jumping reputation of bunco men as a whole, will be able to raise bonds as easily as they have heretofore. Those who thus far have put up the security to protect the bonding companies which furnished bond for the defendants will be far more reluctant to risk their money or property now that a verdict of guilty has been returned, than heretofore, when the outcome of the case was in doubt.
SENTENCE OF 30 YEARS FOR EACH IS POSSIBLE.
A sentence of thirty years in the penitentiary is possible for each of the twenty bunco men. Under the Colorado statutes, conspiracy carries with it a penalty of from one to ten years for each offense. The information contained three counts and the Wolves of Seventeenth street were found guilty on each and every count.
The court has the power to say whether the sentences shall run concurrently or consecutively in any particular instance. Should the latter judgment prevail, with a maximum of ten years for individual counts, the defendants would find themselves facing thirty-year terms.
The evidence adduced at the trial indicated, however, that some defendants were less guilty than others. The lighter sentences, it is predicted, will fall to the lot of Jack Hardaway, John Allison, and George Henry Williams, the last named man having arrived in Denver only two days before the sensational August raids.
Duff, French, Cooper and other leaders, it is predicted, will receive "stiff jolts."
Denver Post, March 29, 1923
VERDICT CLOSES CAREER OF 40 YEARS AS CZAR OF BUNCO RING FOR BLONGER
Heretofore Firm in Belief in His Immunity From Law, Accredited Head of "Con" Men Is Changed Man as He Paces Cell in County Jail.
By its verdict in the west side court, Wednesday afternoon, the jury in the trial of twenty bunco men brought to a close the career of Lou Blonger, accredited head of the confidence men's syndicate in Denver for forty years.
Never before had Blonger run afoul of the law. Always, as czar of the Denver branch of the national and international band of crooks and fleecers, he had occupied his throne room in Denver, firm in the belief his position was so secure as to render him immune from arrest.
Thursday, in the county jail, he realized that the end had been reached.
APPEARS TO LOSE GRIP AS HE PACES HIS CELL.
Suffering from asthma and nearing his 75th year, Blonger presented a pitiful spectacle as he paced nervously back and forth in his cell. He realizes that his last years may be spent in the penitentiary. He seems to have lost his grip and the confidence which marked his conduct during the trial appears to have deserted him.
Thru the sixty-two days of the trial in the west side court Blonger sat apart from the other members of the ring. He preferred the company of his attorneys, rather than that of the men whose plundering in Denver and thruout the nation had brought him within the pale of the law.
As he sat in the courtroom Wednesday afternoon awaiting the verdict he was nervous. As he leaned forward to talk with his attorneys his hands time and time again slapped the arms of his chair in a nervous, uncertain movement. The confidence which had been written on his face was replaced by the look of a man who sensed a calamity.
NEVER BEFORE LOOKED ON AS CROOK, HE SAYS.
"I'm an old man now," he said Thursday. "I've lived in Denver thirty-five years or more. Never before in my life has the lock of a prison cell closed behind me. Never before have I been looked upon as a criminal. I have friends in Denver. They believe in me. They do not believe that Lou Blonger ever did the things charged against him and upon which he has been convicted by the perjured testimony of a man who has been a crook all his life."
Lou Blonger in the county jail, convicted of a felony and apt to die in prison of a malady which has made serious inroads on his health, is not the same confidence czar who directed the band of bunco wolves in Denver, unmolested over a period of forty years. He is a broken man, a man who seems too tired to fight back, or considers that there isn't any use. He is old, sick, and virtually friendless, and he doesn't seem to care.
Denver Post, March 29, 1923
COURT IN WEST NEVER HAS HELD MORE DRAMATIC SCENE THAN ONE WHEN BUNCO VERDICT WAS READ
Spectators' Look of Grim Satisfaction Shows Attitude More Clearly Than Could Any Noisy Demonstration - "Con" Men's "Joke" Is Over.
By CHARLES E. LOUNSBURY.
Never in all the west has a more dramatic scene been witnessed than that in the west side courtroom, Wednesday, when Clerk George McLachlan uttered the word "Guilty!"
The scene was dramatic in its tenseness; in its lack of sensational demonstration. There were no manifestations of jubilation on the countenances of spectators; instead, there was the look of grim satisfaction on the besmeared face of the day laborer of honest hire with an empty dinner-pail tucked beneath an arm.
There was the street urchin who sensed a great public duty had been done; there was the lawyer, banker, and merchant - all satisfied as citizens and potential owners of the city.
WIVES OF DEFENDANTS STUNNED IN VERDICT.
But as the clerk read on it was noticed that there were some among the spectators stunned and grieved at the verdict. The consorts of the confidence men, some weeping softly, others with eyes flashing angrily when the realization of hopelessness engulfed them. Mrs. Louis Mushnick, Mrs. John H. Foster, Mrs. A. H. Potts and other women unidentified heard the verdict and were visibly affected.
But "Dapper" Jack French, suave and complacent as he has learned to be in his "game of the gullible," merely lifted his eyebrows and resumed the work of preparing his fingernails spoiled by jail drudgery.
The other bunco men were staggered as tho by a mortal wound. Inwardly they suffered, most of them, but outwardly they seemed to hang on to an air of bravado.
The reading of the verdict was finished. One could have heard a pin drop as Defense Attorney Hawkins arose and requested a poll of the jury. The droning assent of the jurors that "this was and is my verdict" continued until the question was propounded to Juror Sharp.
His voice, almost inaudible, replied doubtfully and instantly the backs of the twenty "con" men stiffened. This was the straw to more than a score of men drowning in a sea of testimony and public opinion. Further questioning continued until Juror Sharp declared that this was his willing verdict and as the roll call of other jurors went on the "con" men relaxed, but intently eyed the jury box, sprayed with last rays of a brilliant red sun.
With the details of the verdict completed Judge Dunklee discharged the jurymen, who arose, overcoats and hats in their hands, and filed thru the courtroom entrance. Then conversation began. Before the bailiff could close the court the hum of comment drowned his voice. Judge Dunklee stepped from the bench. "It's all in the washing," he said, when asked if he was glad it was over.
BLONGER'S STEP IS INFIRM AFTER VERDICT.
The convicted bunco men arose at the order of Deputy Sheriff Ronaldson, all of them with clamped jaws and eyes front, except Lou Blonger. Trembling from the shock of his conviction, this old man made no effort to conceal his feelings and his step was infirm as he filed out of the prisoners' dock with hands gripping the railing.
Gathered around District Attorney Van Cise were scores, eager to shake his hand and congratulate him. Defense attorneys sat conferring at their table making notes and commenting quietly. The courtroom began to empty and soon all but the wives of the confidence men were gone. Then they sought to see their husbands in the county jail.
Gripping the bars of the west wing in the old brown stone building, twenty bunco men cursed and raved at the setting sun. Fate had played a wicked trick on them; it wasn't such a big joke after all. The bunco trial was over and all twenty of 'em felt just as the suckers did when their rolls were amputated.
Denver Post, March 29, 1923
"THE DENVER POST CONVICTED US," "BUNCO" MEN WAIL IN PRISON CELL
"Perjured Evidence," Blonger Growls, Denying That Reamey Ever Saw Him - Duff Skulks Away In Jail, Shouting "I Won't Talk"
By FORBES PARKHILL.
"The Denver Post convicted us!"
This, shouted again and again in a wild chorus of profanity and obscenity which created a small panic as it rang thru the corridors of the county jail, is the interview of all the bunco case defendants except Lou Blonger. Blonger issued a milder statement blaming his own conviction on perjured evidence.
Immediately after the twenty defendants had been led under a heavy guard from the west side court over the "bridge of sighs" to the county jail and back to the west wing, they were approached by a Post reporter and questioned regarding the trial.
The questions met with a flood of obscene epithets against The Post and Post reporters. All the defendants except Blonger and Duff rushed to the bars of the west wing, shouting and cursing and threatening. Guards hurried from other parts of the jail.
DUFF SKULKS AWAY, REFUSING TO TALK
"The Post convicted us! If we had you inside here we'd kick the life out of you!" they chorused, some of them shaking their fists and others beating on the wire screening which covers the inside of the bars.
Blonger and Duff did not join in the demonstration against The Post.
Duff stood at the far end of the cellroom and shouted: "I won't talk."
"Perjured evidence. That's what convicted me. I'm speaking for myself and not for the others.
"Reamey never saw me in his life. When he testified I had handed out a bundle of money he lied.
"Not a single one of the alleged victims ever testified that he saw me, or identified me in any way. When I was arrested and taken to the church, not a single person identified me. Rotten, perjured evidence is all that is responsible for convicting me. The Denver Post ought to be the first to print this statement."
Blonger asserted that he had no comment to make on the manner in which the case was conducted, or upon the actions or statements of counsel for either side.
HAVE GREAT FAITH IN THEIR LAWYERS.
Headed by J. Homer French, sleek and immaculate even in prison, seventeen convicted bunco artists crowded to the tall bars in the east lower wing of the county jail, Thursday, and declared with one voice that they will exhaust every recourse known to law before they will take penitentiary "jolts."
"Our lawyers tell us we can get a new trial," French said in his smooth voice. "You can say for us all that we won't submit to Wednesday's verdict unless we have to."
Defendants Cooper, Sullivan, and Davis, who have been in jail since their arrest seven months ago, were returned to their old quarters in the west wing after the verdict and thus separated from the others. Imprisonment evidently has frayed their nerves. Whereas the seventeen were calm and seemingly anxious to talk in their own defense, the three broke into vicious curses when The Post was mentioned.
"The Post sent us to the penitentiary!" shouted Davis, between hair-raising oaths.
"I wish they'd turn a few Post reporters in here with us!" exclaimed Sullivan between clenched teeth.
FRIENDSHIP FOR REAMEY CEASES, SAYS FRENCH.
"Len Reamey is a rat!" French said, almost without emotion.
"Only a rat would lie as he did about former friends. The trial was full of errors. The verdict came as an entirely unexpected blow. None of us dreamed we'd be convicted on the evidence, and that's the truth, too. We're innocent, all of us. I'm worn out. I'm a mental wreck. But I'm going to fight. All of us are going to fight.
The sixteen with him muttered agreement.
A. W. Duff was the most silent. He refused to talk for himself, directly.
Jail officials say the bunco men remained awake until late Wednesday night, discussing the verdict in hushed tones among themselves. Occasionally a voice was raised to pronounce a curse of District Attorney Van Cise, The Post, the special prosecutors and the jury.
Soon after 11 o'clock all were quiet and apparently sound asleep. Early Thursday morning they were aroused by a none too gentle turnkey, and the majority of them were put to work with mops, pails and brooms, giving the steel and cement interior of the jail its daily grooming. French and several of the more fastidious changed to old clothing for the disagreeable task, resuming their expensive garments after its completion.
Noon found them reading newspapers and magazines. They are well supplied with permitted comforts by the wives of several of their number.
SO THE PEOPLE MAY KNOW
LAW AND ORDER STILL STAND SUPREME IN DENVER.
Justice and right and decency have triumphed over graft and lawlessness and knavery. Once more, Denver can look the whole world in the face, unashamed. Visitors may come to this city again without fear of being robbed in broad daylight by dirty, sneaking, contemptible, lowdown grafters who take advantage of man's innate confidence in the fairness and integrity of his fellows.
Thank God, there are in Denver at least some public officials who put fair enforcement of law and order and justice and right above the temptation of a "con man's" filthy bribe.
Thank God, Col. Philip Van Cise was and is the district attorney of Denver, and that all the threats and intimidations and machinations of the underworld cannot stop him from living up to his oath to enforce the laws without fear or favor.
Thank God, in George F. Dunklee the people of Denver have a district judge who administers justice impartially and who in this "bunco" trial ruled fearlessly and fairly as between the forces of righteousness and the hordes of evil.
Thank God, that in Judge Dunklee's court there was selected from the citizenry of Denver a jury of twelve men who could not be intimidated, or influenced, or confused by the wiles and trickery of the paid mouthpieces of the underworld.
"BUNCO" GOLD COULD BUY LAWYERS BUT IT COULD NOT BUY A JURY.
The verdict of "guilty" returned in the west side court Wednesday afternoon against Lou Blonger and his whole pack was one of the greatest - if not THE greatest - triumphs for law and decency ever won by the people of the state.
Colonel Van Cise is the man who is mainly responsible for the erasure of the "bunco" blot from Denver's fair name. Alone, but unafraid, the people's district attorney, single-handed, engaged in a death grapple with the biggest, most powerful, most dangerous and worst confidence ring ever known in this country. Against the millions of dollars of tainted money wrung by "bunco" men from thousands of credulous people all over the country, he pitted the insistence of Denver citizenry for enforcement of law and order.
Secretly he laid his plans, put his investigators to work, and got the "dope" on the Denver "bunco" ring. Like a bolt from the blue, he struck. Secure in the belief that because they had corrupted a part of the police department they had been licensed to prey upon moneyed visitors without interference from city hall, the "buncs" were caught unawares. Private citizens gave of their money and their time to make the raids a success. State rangers furnished the police cooperation which the district attorney feared could not be obtained from the city hall.
Not until Colonel Van Cise, thru the special prosecutors appointed to conduct the trial of the case, began to unfold in the west side court the amazingly complete details of the most astounding "bunco" conspiracy in history did the people of Denver fully realize what it all meant. And then there developed a volcano of public sentiment the like of which has seldom if ever been known in this part of the country.
To Roy O. Samson, formerly in charge of the Denver office of the United States department of justice, goes a lion's share of credit for the actual preparation of what attorneys are agreed was the most completely prepared conspiracy case ever known here. The co-operation of Van Cise's entire office force and the remarkable work done by his special investigators is a credit to the district attorney and the people of Denver.
Special Prosecutors Harry C. Riddle and S. Harrison White, with long records of public service behind them, never performed a greater service for all the people than in their successful conduct in court of the prosecution which resulted in branding the "bunco" gang. Defense counsel made the most that could be made in defense of an impossible case.
This "bunco" trial shattered old ideas of the ethics of the legal profession. Lawyers used to pride themselves on being "officers of the court." But in this case, attorneys resorted to all the petty trickery of the law which their brains could conceive in a brazen attempt to defeat justice. They tried to play horse with Judge Dunklee, newly elected to the bench, but he sat steady in the boat and made them toe the mark.
And, when the state had concluded its testimony, had proved the defendants guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, defense counsel announced they had no evidence to offer, no arguments to make. WHY?
BECAUSE THEY KNEW THERE WAS NO DEFENSE TO MAKE. THEY KNEW THEIR CLIENTS WERE GUILTY. IF THEY DIDN'T KNOW THEY HAD BEEN DEFENDING GUILTY MEN, THEN THEY ARE NOT AS SMART AS PEOPLE GIVE THEM CREDIT.
This verdict of guilty in the "bunco" case should be sufficient notice to "con men" and grafters and criminals and bootleggers especially of all types that they are not wanted in Denver and that Denver will not tolerate their presence here. And it should be sufficient notice to all public officials that Denver will no longer tolerate corruptness or incompetence or graft, either in high places or in low places.
LOU BLONGER BRANDED AT LAST, SAYS VAN CISE, COMMENDING VERDICT
(By COL. PHILIP VAN CISE)
(The People's Attorney, "Bugaboo of the Buncs.")
It was the only verdict an honest jury could return.
Lou Blonger has been a sinister influence in the political life of this city for thirty-five years. He has been caught and branded at last.
It just goes to prove that no man can lead a life of crime without being caught before he dies.
J. Homer French Surely Will Miss His Dainty Lingerie
As a humanitarian, Andrew Koehn, special investigator of District Attorney Van Cise's office, has but one regret in connection with the conviction of the twenty bunco defendants.
He fears that for a considerable time, J. Homer French, "the flapper's delight," Cannot wear his silken and satin underthings, sufficiently beautiful to delight any feminine heart.
When French's quarters at the El Tovar Hotel were raided on the occasion of the bunco roundup last August, the investigators found a vast quantity of wearing apparel deserving of nothing less than the name of lingerie. Dozens of suits of underwear were found, some of brocaded silk, others of peach-colored satin worked with rosettes, some with dainty ribbons, and all exquisitely delicate.
"Dear, dear," remarked Koehn, "you have no idea how pretty they were. And to think how out of place they would be in prison."
Koehn said he and other investigators found the seamstress who fashioned the charming garments. French, she said, ordered them in lots of a half dozen and was satisfied with only the most expensive, sometimes placing an order from Florida and other sections of the country.
Rocky Mountain News, March 29, 1923
CRIMINALS NOW FEAR DENVER, SAYS VAN CISE
BY PHILIP S. VAN CISE
The American jury system has been on trial, and has stood the test.
Justice may be slow; but she is sure. Lou Blonger has been a sinister
influence in our political life for thirty-five years, and his men have
always escaped the hands of justice. Today Denver has a new reputation
among denizens of the underworld, and professional criminals will give
her a wide berth. Secure in our homes and our firesides, we may now
build for a real prosperity.
Times Extra on Streets 10 Minutes Ahead of Others with Bunko Verdict
Law and order and decency triumphed in Denver yesterday in the
conviction of twenty bunko men and along with it THE NEWS AND THE TIMES
SCORED THE BIGGEST BEAT EVER RECORDED IN DENVER NEWSPAPER HISTORY.
The Times extra announcing the verdict in the case in which every man,
woman and child was interested was on the street fully ten minutes
before its next nearest rival and was selling in Curtis street, the
territory nearest its rival, five minutes before any other paper.
This great beat was made possible thru the efficiency of The Times and
News employes and thru the courtesy of the Mountain States Telephone
and Telegraph company, which installed a short notice direct wire
running from the West Side court into the editorial offices and press
rooms of The News and The Times.
Fort Collins Courier, March 31, 1923
HIGH SPOTS OF VAN CISE'S CRUSADE AGAINST SWINDLERS WHICH ENDED IN CONVICTION
William Arnett of the federal department of justice, at the request of Lou Blonger, investigated observation room abandoned by Van Cise's operatives.
Leonard DeLue of the DeLue Detective Agency arranged for meeting of Lou Blonger and Van Cise. Blonger offered to take care of the campaign expenses of the district attorney in return for keeping bonds at $1,000.
Confidential letter written by Van Cise to the district attorney at Kansas City, given to chief of police of Kansas City, reached hands of A. W. Duff.
Just before bunko raids last August, seventy bunko men operated in Denver.
Judges in some of Colorado's courts listened to Blonger, fearing underworld power.
Bunko steerers received an additional rakeoff from victim's spoils if they took the lamb to specified banks and to specified tellers in this city.
Detectives were placed on the payroll of the bunko ring at $50 a month, win, lose or draw.
George Sanders, who received a confidential list of the names and descriptions of sixty-five bunko men from the chief of detectives at Colorado Springs, immediately caught a train to Denver and placed the list in the hands of Blonger and Duff.
Denver Post, March 31, 1923
BLONGER 'SORE' AT HIS LAWYERS; DECLARES HE WANTED TO TESTIFY BUT THEY WOULDN'T PERMIT IT
Five Others Desired to Take Stand, but Duff Wasn't One - "They Had Too Much on Duff," Asserts "King" of Huge Bunco Ring.
By FORBES PARKHILL.
"King" Lou Blonger is "sore" on the "bunco" attorneys.
Saturday he ventured the opinion that his failure to testify in his own defense is one of the reasons why he is behind the bars of the county jail, convicted of being a "bunco" man. He said:
"I wanted to testify but the attorneys wouldn't let me. It was over my protest that no defense testimony was offered. And I know of five others who wanted to testify in their own defense."
Blonger said the defendant, Straub or Schultz, was one of the five. Asked if A. W. Duff was one who insisted upon testifying, Blonger opined that "they had too much on Duff for him to testify."
BLONGER SAYS JAIL STRAINS HIS HEART.
Blonger said Saturday the strain of confinement is beginning to tell upon him.
"My heart is getting weaker," he explained, "and my legs and ankles have begun to swell up. However, I'm not going to make an effort to get out on that account. If I should be extended leniency because of my physical condition, of course I'd take it. But I'm not advancing that as a plea for special consideration."
Blonger denied reports that he is in danger of losing the Forest Queen mine in the Cripple Creek district, on which a rich strike was made two months ago. He said he had funds with which to work the property, and that he could get all the necessary money if he needed additional funds.
"JACKIE" FRENCH DENIES KNOWING MRS. STONEHAM
With the exception of Blonger and a few others, the convicted "buncs" are confined now in the east wing of the county jail, where their cells receive direct sunlight and plenty of air. Most of the gang are considerably more cheerful that they were Wednesday evening when they were locked up after they had heard the jury pronounce them guilty.
"Jackie" French, former bookmaker for the Denver "store," denied Saturday that he even knows Mrs. C. A. Stoneham, wife of a New York millionaire, with whom he is alleged to have had an "affair" here last summer.
"I would be sitting pretty if I had a rich woman like that on a string," he said, "but I don't even know her. There's absolutely nothing in that report that we lived together here."
Both French and his counsel, Attorney Philip Hornbein, asserted the case will be fought to the limit, but neither would say just what the next legal step will be to keep the convicted "con men" from going to the penitentiary.
Fort Collins Courier, March 31, 1923
Victim Assumes Bunko Case Costs
DENVER, April 23.J. S. Peck, Kentuckian, called "the most unrelenting Nemesis of the bunko men," lived up to his name when he filed answer in the District court, stating that he would stand for costs of the trial of Lou Blonger, who, he charges, fleeced him out of $17,000 in July, 1921.
Several months ago Peck filed suit stating that he would push charges against Blonger and four of his retinue, A. W. Duff, J. H. French, A. B. Cooper, and Grover Sullivan, regardless of what their fate might be at the hands of the West Side court jury.
When Peck brought his suit, Lou, on his own behalf and for the sake of his four cohorts, announced through his attorney's that he would not stand trial unless the plaintiff, Peck, offered to stand costs of the proceedings.
Fort Collins Courier, April 2, 1923
BLONGER IS NOT ABLE TO GET RELEASE
Aged Member of Convicted Bunko Ring Pleads Age and Health To Get Bond, But Is Refused; Sureties Released For All
By Associated Press
DENVER; April 2.Lou Blonger, alleged head of the nationally known band of bunko men convicted here last week, was denied his release on bond today. His attorneys maintained that if he had to remain in jail his life would be jeopardized.
Blonger has been prominent in the business life of Denver for thirty-five years. In addition he has been charged with being the "brains" of Denver's underworld. He is facing a possible total sentence of 30 years in the penitentiary on the charges upon which he was found guilty last week in connection with the confidence game ring.
Sworn statements of three physicians were presented to the court asserting Blonger, who is 74 years old, was in poor health and that further confinement might result fatally. Blonger's attorneys declared they were ready to put up any sum demanded by the court.
At the same time he denied Blonger's application for bail, Judge Dunklee released the sureties on the bonds of all the defendants in the general conspiracy case.
By Associated Press
DENVER, April 2.While the Denver county grand jury investigating alleged attempts to bribe the jury which convicted twenty members of a nationwide confidence band here last Wednesday remained adjourned Sat. until Monday, attorneys for the convicted men made their first definite move in the litigaton intended to reverse the verdict.
Preparatory to filling [sic] a motion for a new trial, counsel for the prisoners ordered a complete transcript of the case. The trial, which lasted two months. [sic] The transcript covering about 3,500 pages of legal arguments and evidence will be made available to the attorneys at a price of approximately $4,000.
The grand jury investigation resumed Monday is expected in official circles to be followed by a sensation that will surpass even the dramatic story of the confidence ring from its capture last August to the conviction of its members last Wednesday.
Prominent men of social and political leaders have been linked with the activities of the bunko men in the past few days.
The United States government Saturday made first claim to vast tax sums alleged to be due by members of the ring as a result of their failure to pay incme local, general and special taxes in recent years. A lien was filled [sic] by the government upon the first of the twenty from whom the government and city and county, the district attorney's office and other officials propose to collect taxes. The government alleged A. W. Duff, against whom the lien was filed, owed $85,000 in taxes.
The nationwide ramification of the so-called "war" against "con men" was reported to have been the subject of conferences in the district attorney's office Saturday which were participated in by Thomas Lee Woolwine, district attorney of Los Angeles.
Walter Byland, one of the convicted twenty, was twice summoned to the district attorney's office, during the deliberations. Reports were that there was a possibility that Byland might turn state's evidence to testify against other bunko men here and in other cities, but District Attorney Philip F. Van Cise was reluctant to discuss the report.
DENVER, April 2.The convicted bunko men probably will have to pay the cost of their own trials, it was indicated Satuday when it was announced that the state was preparing to file liens agianst property of the alleged confidence men. The trial to date has cost the state approximately $50,000.
Under the law a man convicted of crime must pay the cost incurred by the state in his conviction.
The district attorney plans to levy upon the property of the twenty men convicted this week and also to sieze collateral alleged to be owned by the defendants which has been put up tp guarantee their bonds.
New York Times, June 2, 1923
DENVER BUNCO GANG GETS PRISON TERMS
L. D. Blanger and 10 Aids Are Sentenced to 7 to 10 Years, 8 Others to 3
to 10 Years.
DENVER, Col., June 1 (Associated Press). - Nineteen members of Denver's
"million dollar bunco ring" got penitentiary sentences today. After
overruling their motion for a new trial, Judge George F. Dunklee in the
West Side Court, sentenced Lou D. Blonger, called the brains of the
band, and ten of his associates to serve from seven to ten years each
in the Colorado State Prison. Eight other members of the convicted
group of swindlers received sentences of from three to ten years each.
Blonger is 73 years old.
The defendants were convicted on three counts, charging conspiracy,
conspiracy to commit confidence gaming, and conspiracy to commit grand
Those sentenced to serve from seven to ten years are: Blonger; A. W.
Duff, called the "first lieutenant" of the confidence men; Jack French,
who has wealthy relatives in Cleveland, Ohio; A. B. Cooper, Little
Rock, Ark.; George (Tip) Belcher; Thomas Beech; Steve J. Oleson; A. H.
Potts; Robert J. Davis; Walter Byland, and Louis Mushnick.
Those sentenced to serve from three to ten years are: Jack Hardaway;
John Allison; William Dougherty; John H. Foster; W. L. Straub; George
Walker; G. H. Williams and G. C. Bailey. The jury recommended leniency
for Hardaway, Allison and Dougherty.
Creede Candle, Feb. 16, 1924
Philip Van Cise has cold feet, and don't want to be a senator. Judge Burke of the Supreme Court and a few others will worry Phipps along until he opens the barrel. Carl C. Schyler has the inside track for the short term. That is the Republican situation to date.
The Albanians want Harry F. Sinclair, of Teapot Dome fame for King. He should bring home the bacon. Sam Blonger should not despair.