Sentencing of the Blonger Gang
Denver Post, June 1, 1923
ELEVEN BUNCO CHIEFS SENTENCED TO 7 TO 10 YEARS IN STATE PRISON; INCLUDE BLONGER, DUFF, FRENCH
Eight Other "Con" Ring Members Given 3 to 10 Years - New Trial Pleas Are Denied All.
By JOSEPH E. COOK.
Seven to ten years behind prison bars for Lou Blonger, A. W. Duff, "Jackie" French and other leaders of the bunco ring; three to ten years for the lesser lights in the international confidence ring -
These were the sentences meted out to members of the bunco pack in the west side criminal court, shortly after noon Friday, following the denial by Judge George F. Dunklee of the defendants' motion for a new trial.
After passing sentence, Judge Dunklee granted a sixty day stay of execution, to permit the bunco men, if they desire, to take the case to the supreme court.
Grove Sullivan, alone of the twenty men convicted, escaped sentence. He was declared insane by Dr. D. E. Phillips of Denver university, Thursday, and Judge Dunklee, at the request of his counsel, deferred action in his case.
Attorney Horace N. Hawkins reserved an exception to all sentences on the ground that the latest statues applicable provided only a maximum fine and thirty days' imprisonment for offenses such as charged against members of the ring.
The following were sentenced to serve from seven to ten years in prison on the two counts of conspiracy to commit grand larceny, and to from seven to ten years on the single charge of conspiracy, the sentences to run concurrently:
Lou Blonger, A. W. Duff, J. H. French, Thomas Beech, George Belcher, Walter Byland, Arthur B. Cooper, Robert B. Davis, Louis Mushnick, Stephen J. Olson, and A. H. Potts.
The following were sentenced from three to ten years upon the same counts:
William Dougherty, George Walker, George Henry Williams, John Allison, W. L. Straub, Jack Hardaway, G. H. Foster, and G. C. Bailey.
The next move of counsel for the defense will be to seek a writ of habeas corpus in the United States district court on the grounds that the defendants were denied their constitutional rights and could not get a fair trial in the state courts, it was said by those familiar with the plans of the defense.
Grove Sullivan was the only defendant who did not receive sentence. Sentence will be passed upon Sullivan after a jury in the west side court Friday afternoon passes on his sanity, which has been questioned by defense attorneys.
The prisoners received their sentences stolidly. Only two made personal pleas for leniency when asked by the court if they had any reason to give why sentence should not be passed on them.
Hardaway, the oldest man of the bunco men, made an impassioned plea, asserting that he had not been identified by a single witness.
Potts protested strenuously to the court because his lawyers had refused to permit him to take the witness stand, maintaining that he could have cleared himself if permitted to explain to the jury.
Blonger's attorney, Howard W. Honan, made a formal plea for leniency for his client, saying that his record had always been clear up until the time of his arrest on the bunco charge, and also upon the grounds of his advanced age and physical ailments.
DEFRAUDED PUBLIC OF $241,000, SAYS DUNKLEE.
In denying the motion for a new trial, Dunklee said:
"The defendants have been guilty of defrauding the public of at least $241,000 thru their operations in Denver. If the testimony of the witness, Len Reamey, is to be considered, this amount would be much larger and there are many more victims."
Judge Dunklee called each defendant before him in turn, asking him if he had anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon him. Most of the defendants said nothing. In some instances attorneys volunteered reasons for leniency, such as the recommendation of the jury in the cases of Hardaway, Allison and Dougherty.
WRITTEN OPINION DENIES ALL POINTS.
In a written opinion, Judge Dunklee denied each and every clause of the motion of the bunco defendants for a new trial. His reasons given for the denial of the motion, answering the principal reasons advanced by the defense counsel, were as follows:
That the jury was permitted to separate during the trial. The court observed that Special Prosecutor S. Harrison White, at the opening of the case, both in open court and in private conference of attorneys with the court, asked that the jury be refused permission to separate.
Defense Counsel Crump objected, saying, "You might as well send the jury to jail for three months and lock up the court."
The court held that it had been customary in Colorado to lock up the jury only in capital cases, and that the separation of the jury in wholly a matter of judicial discretion. The jury was cautioned not to read press accounts of the trial or discuss it with other persons, and to make sure that the rights of the defendants were not prejudiced.
That the jurors were influenced by newspaper accounts of the trial. The court assumed that the jurors had obeyed his instructions to refrain from reading newspaper accounts, and that, therefore, the rights of the defendants had not been prejudiced.
That the jury communicated with the court, asking that Len Reamey be made a defendant. The court held that this communication did not concern any defendant in the case, and that, therefore, the rights of the defendants were not affected.
That Juror G. E. Sharp hesitated in agreeing when the final verdict was announced. The court held that Sharp had taken his solemn oath that the final verdict was his verdict, and that his action, therefore, did not vitiate the verdict.
Insufficient evidence. The court held that the evidence in the case was sufficient to convict each and every defendant.
HAWKINS DELIVERS PLEA FOR A. W. DUFF
The court overruled each and every one of the additional reasons advanced by the defense for granting a new trial.
Attorney Horace Hawkins for the defense then took an exception to the court's ruling.
Hawkins then moved that judgment be arrested in the case of A. W. Duff, lieutenant of Blonger, leader of the bunco ring. He advanced the technical ground of insufficient evidence to constitute a cause of action; asserted that Duff had not waived a preliminary hearing, and charged that the information had not been sworn to by any person who knew of the facts of his own knowledge.
Attorney Howard L. Honan then made the same motion on behalf of the defendant Blonger, and Attorney William A. Bryans on behalf of all the rest of the defendants.
Judge Dunklee overruled the motions in each instance.
Bryans then entered a motion to arrest judgment in the case of Grover Sullivan, defendant recently adjudged insane. Judge Dunklee granted this motion, without prejudice, and announced that he will hear more later on the question of Sullivan's sanity.
Hawkins asked that the remarks of Judge Charles C. Butler, made during the preliminary hearing, when he scored District Attorney Van Cise for "trying his case in the newspapers," be incorporated in the record of the case.
Judge Dunklee denied the motion on the ground that this had happened in another case, before another judge, and in another term of court.