Lou Rises from the Grave
Sounds like Lou made an appearance last Sunday at Fairmount Cemetery during Tom Noel's gravesite tour.
News from researcher Amy Reading calls into question a long-standing accusation against Lou.
As noted in articles in both the Rocky Mountain News and the Los Angeles Times, Lou was implicated in a nefarious bunco scheme in 1915 in a decade otherwise nearly devoid of news on the Blonger gang when workers renovating deserted office space on Welton Street in Denver discovered evidence of a hastily abondoned setup for the notorious wire con.
The workmen found numerous slips of paper detailing transactions in the thousands of dollars, and telegraph wiring intended to fool prospective bettors. The scene was right out of "The Sting:"
The paraphernalia was simple in some ways and complex in others. The electrical wiring was quite complex. The victims apparently sat about in the east room of the suite of three and listened to the "returns" upon which they had been slipped "sure thing" tips by outside "steerers."
The telegraph instruments clattered merrily, while an employe referred to as the "boardman" kept things humming with excitement by writing down the "results" on the blackboard, which was suspended from the east wall between rooms No. 1 and No. 2. Pieces of red and white chalk and splashes of color showing where the "boardman" wiped the wall below the blackboard with his eraser, told a plain story.
But the arrangement in electrical wiring would delight a connoisseur. It was elaborate and painstaking as to effect. Any bona fide player who was out to beat the "bookies" on "inside" tips would be deceived by just such ultra-obvious wiring. The tout ensemble gave the impression of a real poolroom, "run on the quiet, because the authorities wouldn't stand for it if they got wise, of course," as the victim is invariably informed.
But was it on the up and up?
Reading, in town to attend the opening of the new jail, did some research as well, and has the following to say on the Welton Street affair:
...did you know that the 1915 expose of Blonger's fake betting parlor was itself a frame-up that, at least on the surface, had nothing to do with Blonger? Apparently, a man named Glen Duffield, Undersheriff and warden of the county jail, staged the dismantled swindlers' lair along with a bunc named Isidore "Kid" Warner, so that Duffield could "discover" it, oust the Chief of Police (a man named O'Neill who was a good friend of Blonger's), and get himself appointed Chief. It worked, even though his association with Warner and the rumor that he'd faked the fake betting parlor were plastered all over the papers. Let me know if you want any of the newspaper articles on this one.
Do we ever. Duffield is not unknown to us. He was one of the detectives who accompanied Lou to Colorado Springs in 1894 to investigate the tar and feathering of Col. Tarsney following the so-called Battle of Bull Hill. Duffield had been assigned by Denver police chief Armstrong to extract a confession from a "special deputy" implicated in the affair. Lou's presence on the trip is unexplained, but extracting confessions is noted as one of his talents.
Reading also researched the "Maiden scrapbook," compiled by a Denver cop over many years on the force. In it she found an article detailing a deposition given by Lou after his conviction in response to a suit filed by a man named Peck. He was deposed by Henry May, whom Van Cise defeated in the Republican primary on his way to becoming District Attorney:
Blonger Swears Duff Led Million-Dollar Bunco Ring That Operated in Denver
Dealings With Ring Are Denied in Deposition Taken For Defense of $17,000
Suit Filed By Victim of Confidence Game
Lou Blonger, testifying under oath for the first time, placed the leadership
of the million-dollar Denver bunco ring on the shoulders of A.W. Duff, in a
deposition taken Saturday at the Canon City penitentiary.
Blonger readily admitted ownership of the bank passbook which played such an
important part in the trail of the bunco ring. He admitted that the
memoranda of telephone numbers of "Dapper Jackie" French, bookmaker for the
ring; Len Reamey, confessed member of the gang, the 'Lookout', and various
other members of the ring, were in his handwriting. But-
Deposition Made to Defend Suit
He explained that he had written these memoranda, not for his own use, but
at the request of Duff.
'Those people would be calling for Duff,' he said in response to questions
by Attorney Henry May of Denver. 'Duff asked me to put them down so I could
tell him if they called or asked where they could find him.'
He insisted that he didn't know French or Reamey, and that he 'just knew
Duff' although he and Duff had occupied offices together for years.
Blonger's testimony was given in a deposition taken by the defense in the
suit filed by John S. Peck, Flemingsberg, Ky., to recover $17,000 which was
taken from him by confidence men in Denver. Blonger, Duff, French, and
others are defendants in the suit which is scheduled for trail Nov. 13.
Blonger Declares He is Farmer
On direct examination by Attorney Howard L. Honan, who with Tom Ward
represents the defendants, Blonger denied dealings with the members of the
bunco ring, declared he knew nothing of the 'trimming' of Peck, and said
that his occupation is that of a 'farmer.' He as cross-examined by Attorney
May, who with A.J. Gould, Jr., appeared as counsel for Peck. The direct
examination lasted on a few minutes but the cross-examination required two
and a half hours.
Peck was accompanied to church one Sunday morning in Denver by an escort of
'con men.' They had communion with him and his wife and daughter. The next
morning they 'blew him off' for $17,000, according to his testimony at the
Attorney May produced the receipt for the telephone in the bunco lookout for
the month in which Peck was fleeced, and asked Blonger how that receipt
happened to be in his desk.
'If it was found in my desk, Duff must have put it there,' he said. 'I
didn't. Duff sometimes puts some of his papers in my desk.'
Asked concerning his farming activities, he said that he formerly owned a
farm near Brighton which he sold ten years ago, one near Boulder which he
sold eight years ago and one in Jefferson county, part of which had been
Admits He Ran Gambling Business
'Blonger admitted tht he had been a gambler and that he was in the gambling
business as lon as gambling was permitted in Denver,' Attorney May said
Monday. 'He admitted receiving a telegram from Duff which read something
'Store closed. No sales today. Didn't make enough today to pay the nut.
'When I asked him what was meant by the store, he first said he thought it
meant what it said. But later when I inquired if store didn't refer to the
activities of the bunco men, he admitted that might be possible. He finally
admitted that 'no sales' might mean the boys hadn't been able to find any
suckers to trim, and that the reference to the 'nut' might mean that they
weren't getting enough to pay expenses.
Denies Opening Bank Box
'Blonger admitted that Duff had a safety deposit box at the American Bank
and Trust company to which he had access but he said he never opened the box
and had no idea of its contents. He denied he had had any dealings with
George Sanders, former city detective, but said he might have loaned Sanders
$10 some time just to help him out.
'When asked concerning the tapping of his telephone and the planting of a
dictaphone in his office, Blonger declared he knew of both. He said he asked
Billy Arnett, then department of justice agent, to check up on one of them.
He said Frank Milligan told him about the dictaphone being in his office.'
According to Attorney May, Blonger admitted that District Attorney Van
Cise's 'bunco list' was delivered to the Blonger-Duff office, but said it
was sent there to Duff. He denied that he looked at the list.
Testimony was introduced at the bunco trial to the effect that Sanders
obtained the list from the Colorado Springs police and gave it to Duff.
Poor Farmer Lou. framed by Duff...
Amy Reading also sent these pics of Cindy Van Cise at the dedication of the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center in Denver. Thanks, Amy!