Ace of Spades
       Belonger Genealogy * True History * The Blonger Gang * Sam's Posse       

The Mark Inside

The Trial.



Denver Post, Feb. 8, 1923

Wheels of Justice Slowly Move, Checked by Continual Heckling
The trial of the alleged bunco ring is in full swing at the west side court. There, in spite of the delays, brought about by attorneys' bickering, bantering, jawing; by the applications of their knowledge of all the tricks of the legal machine whereby time is used up, the edge of the event dulled and its color faded, crowds, remembering that memorable, raiding day in August, gathered Wednesday to learn how gullible human nature continues to be, and to get a close-up of the "gulls." Wednesday was the first day of taking testimony. A Michigan banker, with keen features, soft, slow voice, that had named Denver's Seventeenth street "Main street," was telling how he was fleeced of $25,000 by one of the crew who introduced himself to the banker as George Shire, also a stranger in the city.
Every seat in the court room was occupied. To the right of Judge George F. Dunklee and spreading out like a wing opening for flight were the twenty defendants, young, mature, aged, soft hands toying with unlighted cigarettes.
In front, at a table, their attorneys sat: Horace Hawkins, Thomas Ward Jr., William A. Bryans, John T. Bottom and the towering S. D. Crump, the same Crump who in his statement to the jury, alluding to District Attorney Philip Van Cise, recently decorated by order of the federal government with the distinguished service medal, said: "I'll place the pure, open life of Lou Blonger against that of this tin soldier, Van Cise, who, with his crucifiers of public decency, beat and starved these defendants, imprisoned them in a church and left them without food or legal counsel."
On the opposite side of the inclosure the jury, looking like men who work for a living and work hard, sat and listened intently. In front, Special Prosecutors S. Harrison White and Harvey E. Riddle were stationed.
Aloft the judge, dignified, tolerant, presides, color occasionally flooding his face, as when Attorney Hawkins told the court what was what in an answer to an objection from Prosecutor White to conduct unseemly in a court. And so the stage is set.
Watching the drama unfold, one is impressed with the idea that the people, not the defendants, are on trial; that Philip Van Cise, medal on breast, is on trial rather than Lou Blonger; "Yankee" Jack French; George Walker; J. H. Foster, alias A. B. Cooper; R. D. Davis; Grove Sullivan; Walter Byland; A. H. Potts; G. C. Bailey, alias "Red" Wilson; Louis Muschnick; John Allison, alias Denver Ed Smith; Steel Olson; William Daugherty; W. L. Straub; G. H. Williams; Thomas Beach; Jack Hardaway; George Belcher; or "Kid" Duff.
The impression grows in spite of the even balance held by the judge and because of the heckling and baiting the witness - all quite within the law, to be sure.
"Are you one of the banker suckers?" asked Horace Hawkins of the witness in cross examination. The banker moistened his lips, hesitated as tho studying, and refused to answer the question.
In his opening statement to the jury Special Prosecutor White had asserted that the people would show how certain members of the international bunco ring rounded up in Denver had played a Michigan banker for a sucker to the tune of $25,000.
It was on this description that Hawkins claimed the right to so address the witness. Continuing, he implied by his questions, sent like sharp darts, that the banker had entered into a conspiracy with the so-called Shire to rob the latter's employers, since Shire had explained to the banker that as an employe he could not play the market.
The witness kept an even temper.
He admitted he was in court on the invitation of the district attorney, that he had paid his way here from his home in Michigan, and expected to be reimbursed, but that he was here in behalf of the people.
Again and again the prosecution objected to the form and manner of the questions. Again and again Hawkins drew his lips [illegible] the term and manner.
The story told by the Michigan banker was one which tested the credulity of the hearers. A stranger in Denver, he had started for a morning walk about the city. In the downtown district, "Main street," he had been approached by a stranger who asked a direction. They started off together and soon the new acquaintance, who said his name was Shire, spied another whose name was Grayson. The three went thru the formalities of introduction and then Grayson suggested a visit to a stock exchange.
The banker wasn't in Denver to make money, but to see the sights.
Nonetheless, he went to the Denham building and there began those speculating proceedings by which winnings of $2,000 were made and by which $100,000 was made and revealed in a stack of cash and later by which the Michigan banker became poorer by $25,000.
The banker was plainly humiliated in telling of how easily he had been deceived. Protected by a ruling of the judge, he refused to state the amount of capital and reserve of the bank of which he is president. He stated that he had no intention of entering into any conspiracy with Shire to rob the latter's employer, nor was he prompted by cupidity even when $100,000 in bills was laid before him.
"You didn't want that money?" asked Hawkins, leaning far over the desk and making clutching motions with his hands. "Not particularly," answered the banker. "What do you mean by particularly?" Hawkins came back, and so it went for four straight hours of heckling, of snapping argument, of personalities between attorneys which one must hear to believe possible.
There was a moment when attorney Riddle asked the judge to rebuke members of the defendants' counsel for making comments in a manner not only unprofessional but unethical and which the jurors could hear. And there was a time when Judge Dunklee, after a remark by Hawkins, declared "the trial of this case is serious business and must not be made ridiculous."
Yet on and on they went, haranguing, bickering, jawing, but always within the law. Meanwhile, the defendants became restive. At the end of the line Lou Blonger, who had heretofore sat at the other side of the room, by himself, squatted in his chair, his gray hair haloed by the light of the descending sun. Behind him, active as a mosquito, was "Kid" Duff. "Yankee" French, immaculate as to toilet, picked at his bird-wing mustache and by his manner announced: "I'm here because I'm here." The trial of the alleged bunco gentry promises to be long drawn out. It will draw crowds who want to hear how men lost their money to others who know the tricks of the game and maintained the International Exchange with its nifty stationery, mahogany furniture and all the paraphernalia of prosperity and big business; crowds who probably will be amazed that the group to the right of the judge look much like other men, even like the opposite group in the jury box who are really men who work at honest toil for their livelihood.

NOTE: The banker on the witness stand, unnamed in this report, was P. G. Shibe.


Rocky Mountain News, Feb. 8, 1923

Bunko Trial Might Give Many Pointers To Theatrical Director in Picking Cast
Every Type of Character Is Seen, Either Among Defendants, Prosecution or Spectators; Even Women 'Leads' Could Be Chosen From Crowd.
By Eileen O'Connor.
Abundant material for a casting director are the principals and spectators in the trial of twenty alleged "bunko" men in the West Side court this week.
It would take little or no stretch of the imagination to picture each and every one in a characteristic role in some drama, other than that they occupy in the alleged bunko ring and the prosecution. Even the feminine members of the production might be drawn from the scattering of the women spectators in the courtroom.
Seats in the courtroom were at a premium, with spectators eager to hear how gullible human nature can be get a "close up" of the victims.
All Classes Present.
The spectators are from every rank of life. Here and there is a proverbial "cake eater." In the front rows are some interested law students, now and again a prosperous business man saunters in from curiousity.
A large percentage of the spectators are the pool hall habitutes. From the number of them in the courtroom yesterday, it would appear that Thursday's business in these establishments suffered a decided "slump."
Feminine interest in the trial is not running high, judging from the half dozen - to place it high - women spectators yesterday. A sweet-faced, grayed-haired motherly type of woman occupied a front seat. Back of her sat a large, buxom woman of the landlady type. Her very appearance carried with it suggestions of constant contact with the world and hinted at ... in the trial thru a possible former "fleecing" out of board and room rent.
Jury In Contrast.
To the right of Judge George F. Dunklee sat the defendants. A striking contrast are they to the jury on the opposite side of the room. Young, for the most part, and well kept, especially "Yankee" Jack French; debonair and suave, they remind one of the wax figures which sit cool and collected, as they listen to their alleged activities thrashed out.
A little at the side and end of the line sat Lou Blonger, alleged "brains of the gang," looking more like a grandfather toasting his shins by the fireside than a defendant in a courtroom.
All through the afternoon, until relieved by a short recess, the trial was punctuated with dreary bickerings, harangues and conflicts of Special Prosecutors S. Harrison White and Harvey D. Riddle and a corps of attorneys for the defendants.
All Look Alike.
It would have taken at least a Philadelphia lawyer to distinguish attorneys from some of their clients when recess was called and they mingled togetther in the corridors of the building.
After that things moved fast and furious. When the curtain rose on the second act of the afternoon, Simon Oppenheimer, real estate man of New York, who barely escaped being relieved of $50,000 by the alleged "bunko" game was again the star witness. Cross-examined by Attorney R. D. Crump, his answers were so sharp and quick that they brought laughs from spectators and attorneys alike, until the bailiff was forced to rap time and again for order.
All too swiftly the minutes flew, as Oppenheimer, settling down in the witness chair and seemingly himself as at home and comfortable as if he were occupying his own parlor Morris chair, gazed into the barrage of eyes upon him and became not the least bit flustered at the attention being paid him.
Many Crane Necks.
Time and again necks of the spectators were almost craned out of joint to get a glimpse of the star witness. He proved most evasive under the corss-examining of Attorney Crump and staged a "vaudeville" show all of his own, as he quick-wittedly reverted back a majority of the attorney's questions, until it began to appear as if he were questioning Mr. Crump and not Mr. Crump him. As the drama unfolds again today, Mr. Oppenheimer will again occupy the courtroom stage and continue his recital of how he almost parted with $50,000 to the alleged bunko gentry.
The trial promises to be a long, drawn-out affair and will continue to draw crowds, who want to hear how keen men lost their money to others just a little keener than themselves.


Denver Post, Feb. 20, 1923

"Army" Life Just One Jail After Another for Defendants in Denver Bunco Trials.
It was the august Samuel Crump who, hand aloft as tho invoking high heaven to witness and register his statement, shouted: "We'll place the pure white life of Lou Blonger beside that of the tin soldier Philip Van Cise and let the jury be the judge."
The day before Crump clothed his client Blonger in virgin white, the United States government, in grateful appreciation of Van Cise's record as a soldier, had pinned the distinguished service medal on the breast of Denver's district attorney and nemesis of the bunco pack.
So why should the august Crump have set Blonger, the lily, by the side of the be-medaled Van Cise and clothed Van Cise in tin, if he hadn't meant what he said?
One question leads to another, and a serious one, it is this: Might not the men, especially the young men, grouped in solid pack behind learned counsel at the trial at the west side court, point to war experience as the cause of taking, as charged, to the come-easy way?
Were these young men of the pack in the bunco trial the victims of shell shock, of gas, or other of the horrors of war which undermined their moral and spiritual nature and left them hopeless addicts of greed?
If so, they are to pitied rather than condemned. If these young men, French, Mushnick, Cooper, Kelley, and the rest, had marched away to war gladly to offer their lives, even as Van Cise offered his, on Freedom's altar, only to return beyond repair, they are subjects for hospital treatment, instead of being placed on trial as alleged criminals.
Wherefore, looking at both sides of the shield, impartially, and as a solemn duty toward a possible hero found under a cloud, the records have been searched in order that credit may be given where credit is due.
So the people may know, the search has been finished and in the now immortal words of the bunco to the bunkee, "we must report, gentlemen, that the market-"
But let the records herald their own tale. Lacking advices from the war department those of the police departments must be relied on to show how the members of the pack have served their country in its hours of need.
Let's begin at the beginning: Lou Blonger, Nestor of the alleged bunks, was a lad of ten when Abraham Lincoln called for men to save the Union of States.
Therefore, unless Lou joined up as one of those precocious drummer boys who rata-ta-tatted the troops to mortal combat, and there is no record to show that he did, his has been the way of peace - and profit.
But pause! There was the Spanish-American war. Where was Lou then? 'Tis claimed by old-timers that THEN Lou was "side kick" for Denver's most notorious, prosperous and unmolested gambling joint.
That's that for Lou Blonger, Crump's fair lily, and his service record.
A.W. Duff, alias Myers - and remember to hold these aliases in mind as they come tripping along, by twos, threes, and quintets, for to the generous-minded they have a mitigating effect in behalf of the gents involved in the story. They may prove that the owners, flitting hither, thither and yon, [illegible] that their country was calling them, and certainly their country would be put to it to follow them hither, thither and yon.
Back to Duff, alias Myers. His record is long and unmartial. Five arrests are set down against him in the following order: Denver, 1897; Colorado Springs, 1903; San Francisco, 1908; Kansas City, 1914, and Denver, 1919, all made on suspicion that Duff, alias Myers, was practicing confidence games.
Several of Duff's photographs, with numbers where the dickey should be, do not create a sentiment of confidence in the mind of the beholder and one, especially, forces the question: Where did he get that Valentino hat and that sheik pose?
That's that for Duff, up to the present, so let's be on our way among the heroes and set forth their story as furnished by wardens, chiefs of police and mere jailers.
Tom Wilson, registered as Thomas Beach in the present trial, alias Riley Wilson, H.D. Rhoades, Louis Yaney, Charles Soots, Charles Clark, Frank Woodward, Thomas Buelmer, might have dug his way into service as a soldier brave, if he hadn't been marching from the Ohio state penitentiary, where he served a six-year sentence for larceny, thru Missouri penitentiary, where he served five years for larceny, to Minnesota penitentiary, where he did time for shoplifting and previously had fallen into step with his pals at the Illinois house of corrections for larceny.
C.V. Wilson, 53, alias G.C. Bailey, Charles Watson, Charles Wray, was recording just one arrest after another in his pocket memo between 1914 and 1922. So how in the name of Mars, we ask, could he offer himself a sacrifice for his country. He couldn't. And he didn't.
Charles E. Smith, 56, alias Denver Ed, James Davis, George Franklin, Jimmie Brown, James Allen, John Evans, went, so we read, from an Omaha jail, where he served time for swindling a farmer out of $3,000, to a Wichita, Kan., prison, for working a confidence game, and before that had served five years, beginning in 1905, in the United States penitentiary at Leavenworth, for grand larceny.
That's that for "Denver Ed."
George "Tip" Belcher, alias George Williams, Walter Flavin, Charles McKay, could, so far as age is concerned, have gotten in a volunteer, a fine husky volunteer, when the president called for men to fight. But George "Tip" evidently got lost among his aliases and was drifting from one penal institution to another beginning as far back as 1902, when he graduated from the Colorado reformatory, to 1918, when he went for a visit to the Minneapolis work house, sentenced as a pickpocket. In between these dates he posed for his picture in San Quentin penitentiary and subsequently did a short, snappy stretch at Denver's county jail, in 1920, for picking pockets. So the records declare.
Picking pockets. Ugh! That shakes one's faith in the sincerity of the artistry of buncory. Belcher was the man who rented a race track for Deneen, magic nag, in the Kittredge building.
Belcher shot and killed Charles Russell in Denver Feb. 19, 1917. He was tried and found guilty of second degree murder April 28, 1917. He was granted a new trial, and acquitted.
Walter F. Byland, alias William Bolands, Frank Thomas, J. W. Blake, William Perry, C. W. Davis, C. Edwards, Ed Perry, is 40 years old. Plenty young enough to have enlisted or answered to the draft.
What was Byland, the gent who has declared he didn't want any Capitol hill Christians on the jury, doing these faithful years?
In 1905 he started to serve a sentence in the Colorado penitentiary for grand larceny and in 1915, 1919, 1920 he was answering "present" when called in police courts and is now under indictment in Texarkana, Texas.
Now comes "Artful Artie" Cooper, 31, alias J. D. Brady, A. B. Cooper, Manly Jackson, M. L. Jackson, who is running whisker to neck with Deneen in appearance records at the trial. It seems, eye on the record, that instead of jumping over the top, as he might well have done, Artful Artie jumped his bond in Winnipeg, by which he was held for obtaining money under false pretenses, and in 1915 he was arrested for "buncoing" in Little Rock, Ark., and while our men, including Van Cise, were up and at the enemy "Artie" was arrested in New York on suspicion that he knew more about a certain postoffice matter than an honest man should, or could, know. Indictments stand against "Artie" in Florida, Arkansas and Texas.
Roy Coyne [several words illegible] fool in a filthy trench, had he not been doing time in Montana state prison for robbery, and now he's jumped his Denver bond and is alias at large again.
Leon Felix, alias Leon Davis, 35, just right to volunteer in Uncle Sam's service, was, in 1917, or thereabouts, playing hide and seek with the police of St. Louis, doing the same little now-you-see-me and now-you-don't in Minneapolis in 1918, because he had played a confidence game. Now he is the guest of the people of Denver at the county jail.
That's that for Felix.
William Dougherty, alias William Sullivan, 42, was of war age, but after two penitentiary terms, one in the penitentiary of South Dakota and later five years at Leavenworth he probably felt like a pacifist and wanted to give his alias the air. So he disappeared for a time. But he's here now. O! yes, he's here.
William Mead, 45, alias J. W. Reed, "Christ Kid," John H. Foster, J. W. Parker, did a stretch, so the records say, at San Quentin. In 1920 he was apprehended in Miami, Florida, in 1910 he jumped a bond in Portland, Ore. In 1906 he left someone holding a bond sack for $750 in Los Angeles where he waited trial for trying to fleece a lamb. He's now among the valiant Crumpian guards at the west side court.
Comes now natty J. H. "Yankee" French, 32, alias John French, Homer L. French, John Fillmore, J. H. Fifield, J. H. Fullis, J. H. Fairmount, J. H. Francis, John Fitch, J. R. Clark. How could he resist the call to arms, the chance to serve his country? How could he shirk the "Great Adventure?" Perhaps the warden of Atlanta federal penitentiary can best answer. For French was in the warden's charge at about the time the world was ringing with "The Yanks Are Coming!" Before this, in 1909, French was called into a Chicago court to answer a charge of playing a confidence game. In 1910, Indianapolis told him to move along since it had no room for loiterers. Back in Chicago, it is recorded, he was arrested for disorderly conduct. Kansas City got French in 1914 and filed a charge against him for operating a con game. Jacksonville, Fla., pointed to him as a vagrant and pickpocket in 1918, and in 1922, even as he was snared in Van Cise's net in Denver, he was indicted in Jacksonville, Fla., for putting over a $120,000 confidence game. When did French had time, we ask, to rush to the colors?
Aren't these war records inspiring? Can't you hear the crash of bursting shell (games), the bleat of the skinned, the moans of victims of the beast of Denham, Kittredge, et al?
But let's be patient and proceed. Let's face the whole heroic gallery.
John Joseph Grady, 27 years old, has this to boast about: Twenty-three arrests, exclusive of the Denver pinch. Grady's aliases are John J. Grady and Harry Thomas. Not many, but enough to get by with. It is said Grady was caught in the draft and went into training. Out on bond in the present case, he made a regular Deneen sort of get-away.
Jack Hardaway, 67 years old, alias Jack Williams, John Hardwin, and bless us, "Pappy," couldn't go to war, so he remained at home and by aid of his somewhat reverend appearance urged gentle strangers to join up with others not so gentle. "Pappy" has been vagged several times and also kissed a perfectly good bond goodby out in Oakland, Calif.
T. J. Brady, 40, real name Tom Hogan, alias T. J. Johnson, William (Billy) Wynn, Irish Tom Kerrigan and Carrigan, doesn't know much about trenches or dugouts, but is a specialist on penitentiary architecture. He has, so the records state, done time at Leavenworth penitentiary for burglary, Missouri penitentiary for burglary; and was arrested in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1921 as a "con" suspect.
Emery S. King, 35, alias John D. Day, John Jackson, E. Guy King, was, and we stick strictly to records, the perpetrator of confidence games in Kansas City, 1913; Fort Worth, 1913; Minneapolis, 1917; St. Louis, 1918, and Little Rock in 1918. In Minneapolis the charge was more serious, the short, ugly word "thief" being lodged against the name of King on the police blotter.
Robert Knowles, 40, alias Harry Rogers, George Neff, Fatty Neff, R. R. Knowles, comes to light in Cleveland in 1914 as a pickpocket; in 1914 he was sentenced to ten years in the Missouri penitentiary for burglary, and in 1922 was charged with safe blowing in Kansas City.
William Loftus, 47, alias E. J. Loftus, Edward James, Kid Loftus, Joseph Mason, James Raymond, Joseph Moore, Thomas Collins, Foley Higgins, William Lang, J. C. Burton, has been arrested ten times, and in Florida, in 1917, got a stiff fine as a wire tapper.
Louis Mushnick, alias Fifhe Mushnick, 34, came to "The Promised Land" from Russia not so long ago, but long enough, according to records of the Rhode Island police, to have won this sort of a record: Arrested July 16, 1910, for theft, sentenced to four months in state prison. Nov. 4, 1912, arrested and fined. Nov. 30, 1912, arrested, tried and convicted and sentenced to six months in jail in Providence, and in October, 1915, Mushnick was given four months behind bars to contemplate the folly of going up against the law in America.
Stephen Julius Olsen, 37, hasn't been identified with the gentry long enough to acquire a brace of aliases. Except the charge now launched against him with his alleged co-conspirators, Olsen has not piled up a record for himself as soldier or bunk.
Audley H. Potts, 41, alias John Fox, Al Hamilton, Andy Potts, Jack Hendricks, has done time twice in the hoosegow of Nebraska and in St. Louis, in 1921, he jumped a bond of $750 placed on him for operating a confidence game.
J. R. Smith, 44, "Smithy the Bear," might have won fame at Vimy Ridge with the Canadians. Instead, he was arrested far behind the lines in Calgary, according to records.
E. P. Schultz, 50, alias Ed Herman, Edward Stern, Edward Stone, Edward Scholtz, was among those present in Sing Sing prison, where he had been for nine years, from 1907 on. Before that he had been arrested as a con suspect in St. Louis and later, in 1917, was picked up in Detroit.
Garland Kelley, alias "Pretty Kelley, Leo Kelley, George Walker, George Ryan, 41, arrested in San Francisco in 1910 for vagrancy, and given hours to leave town.
Ralph S. Sadler, 32 years old, alias Thompson, was arrested in Salt Lake in 1919 as a floater and in Omaha, 1920, he was picked up and charged with picking pockets. Further deponeth sayeth not.
Grove Sullivan, 45 years old, alias George Williams, J. Richard Sutton, George Jones, between 1916 and 1920 was busy keeping a few laps ahead of the police of Salt Lake, San Diego, and Los Angeles.
Lon Reamy, the bookmaker, had no penitentiary record, but a long record of petty offenses, having been arrested in Sacramento in 1914, in Salt Lake in 1915, in San Diego in 1920.
That's all for the present. These men have been prowling about Denver off and on for the past three years. And Denver has the nerve to expect to acquire 500,000 in 1930.

NOTE: Who'd have believed it, but Lou Blonger was telling the truth. In 1864 he enlisted in the Union Army, at Apple River, Illinois, as a musician, shortly before his 15th birthday. There's no record of his suing the Denver Post for defamation.


Rocky Mountain News, March 27, 1923

To Mayor Dewey C. Bailey:
Yesterday you caused to be printed in the paid advertising columns of the Denver papers an announcement of your candidacy for re-election as mayor of Denver.
In justice to the main prominent and law-abiding citizens whose names you caused to be printed in your paid ad you might give publicity to your views on certain things that at this minute are agitating Denver.
CAN YOU AND WILL YOU EXPLAIN your silence in the face of repeated sworn statements on the witness stand that the alleged bunko ring on trial in the West Side court was working under protection of your police department?
CAN YOU AND WILL YOU EXPLAIN why law-abiding citizens without prison records are thrown into jail on the least pretext and held there—in some cases allowed to die without medical care—while certain members of the alleged bunko ring, boasting long jail sentences, are given more consideration and treated with more courtesy by your personal appointees than could or would be commanded by highly respected citizens?
CAN YOU AND WILL YOU EXPLAIN why Tom Clarke, your deputy sheriff, was permitted to make honor guests of certain members of this alleged confidence gang and turn over to them a room in the West Side court building for the staging of a wild orgy, when in all justice they shoud be behind bars the same as any other alleged law violator awaiting decision of a jury?
CAN YOU AND WILL YOU EXPLAIN why your warden of the county jail made special arrangements for these same members of the alleged bunk ring, placing cots in the office of the jail for their comfort during the time they were in custody?
You are responsible to the people of Denver for the acts of your appointees, and if you are not willing to accept this responsibility you have no right to be mayor of Denver.
The attitude of your administration thruout the trial of the alleged bunko ring has been one of opposition toward the district attorney and the special prosecutors and one of protection and condolence toward the accused men.
Denver's fair name is at stake. The open operations of an international bunko ring in Denver is a paramount issue in the coming city election. If you are to be a candidate for re-election, the people of Denver demand to know and have a right to know where you stand on this question.




Genealogy - History - Gang - Posse - Evening Review
The Grafters Club - Blonger Bros. Fake Restaurant