August 24, 2022, marks the 100th anniversary of Philip Van Cise’s roundup of Denver’s Million-Dollar bunco ring, which marked the end of Lou Blonger’s criminal empire. It’s a date we’ve been anticipating for so many years that it almost slipped by without noticing. Luckily, some important news jolted us into action.
Colorado journalist Alan Prendergast, who writes for the Denver weekly Westword, was one of the voices behind the successful drive (Denver – The Latest Word – No Justice for Van Cise) to put Van Cise’s name on the criminal justice center that was built in 2009.. The Blonger case was probably the most famous case Van Cise prosecuted, but the district attorney pursued other cases that were just as important, and the sum of his career stuck with Prendergast. Many years of research and writing later, his efforts will culminate in a book that’s set for release in March 2023.
Gangbuster: One Man’s Battle Against Crime, Corruption, and the Klan (Gangbuster: One Man’s Battle Against Crime, Corruption, and the Klan) ties together Van Cise’s battles against the criminal influences that plagued Colorado in the 1920s, focusing at length on the biggest scourge of them all. “The Ku Klux Klan had emerged as a shockingly mainstream middle-class movement,” the book’s teaser informs us, “employing anti-immigration scare tactics, encouraging vigilantism, and instigating culture wars, all while claiming to protect true American values. Van Cise saw the toxic ideology for what it was: a new version of the Big Con sold as populism.”
We’re gratified to hear from Alan that the research and writing on this site provided solid background for the Blonger sections of Gangbuster. But even more exciting is the news that he unearthed the transcript of the “Trial of the Century” (then only 22 years old), which was missing from the district court archives and long assumed to be lost. It showed up in the Colorado Supreme Court files — just where it should have been, we now realize — after Lou and other members of the gang appealed their cases.
Gangbuster is sure to be a favorite among readers of this site but is also likely to appeal to a wider audience. On this historic date, we offer our congratulations to Alan and encourage our readers to pre-order the book now or seek it out when it hits stores next year.