Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I am so EXCITED! I get a day off so I am going to the Archives to look at the Luer kidnapping file! I can't wait. I've been wanting to do this forever and now I finally have the chance. It has to be done during a week day because the archives doesn't pull files on the weekend. There are supposed to be 3 boxes so we'll see if I can get anything interesting!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fleagle Gang

This book is interesting because I'm not sure how much I enjoyed it! The book is about the 1928 robbery of the First National Bank of Lamar Colorado committed by the "Fleagle Gang". The Fleagle's were a group of brothers. There were 4 of them, Ralph, Fred, Little Jake, and Walter. Whether they were all thieves or whether it was just Ralph and Little Jake isn't easily determined by the book. It's definite that the other 2 brothers knew of Ralph's and Little Jake's activities and offered assistance that 8 years later would have had them thrown in jail.

While I'm not sure I enjoyed the books reliance on old newspaper articles to tell the
Fleagle's history; the use of the articles brings the reader into the dramatic events. A traditional narrative would have told the story much quicker and still have been interesting.

This book is the first I've read about a robbery that was prior to the depression. The Lamar robbery was violent: 2 deaths during the robbery; a hostage murdered; a doctor kidnapped and murdered. A comparison with some of the depression bandits who were both vilified and praised in different circles would make for interesting commentary.

Ralph Fleagle or maybe it was the sire Jake Fleagle made the commentary that they didn't steal from anyone who couldn't afford it. Sound Familiar? Crime was on the increase and local police were at a disadvantage because of jurisdiction problems and inferior transportation. Hmmm....

Anyway, one of the things that I liked about this group of cold blooded murdering thieves is that they took a very pragmatic approach to gang membership. While Ralph and Little Jake were the corner stones they actually hired other gang members for each job for a set fee. The hired men in the Lamar, Co. robbery, Abshier and Royston, each got $1500 for their part and a date with the hangman.

Oh yeah, this case is also great because it's one where forensic science really brought the killers to justice. One fingerprint brought the whole gang down during a time when there was a huge amount of scepticism on the science.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I wanted a really good book to read after all that studying and Ellen Poulsen's the Case Against Lucky Luciano hit the spot.

This book is not an homage to Charles Lucky Luciano (thank God); it's an analysis of the vice trials that finally convicted him. The central players in the book are the madame's ,prostitutes and bookers who acted as material witnesses and the prosecution's methods of obtaining witnesses and material.

Prostitution is an old story and I really didn't think this book was going to shed any new insights on it's history in the US. I was wrong. The start of the book details a racket in setting up innocent women to be charged with prostitution that was carried on with cooperation from police officers, bailsman, and judges. The book shows how Luciano's racket wasn't simply owning a house; he essentially saw that the money was in making the workers pay for protection against being jailed. He found a way to make the protection racket apply to Prostitution. Madame's and prostitutes were used to paying off police, janitors, cab drivers, etc to steer in business and look the other way; no one had ever made them pay insurance against getting arrested and making bail. A super pimp to make a bad situation worse.

It's a fast read but with great details. Poulsen sums up the trial, the convictions, and the attempt of the 2 main material witnesses to go straight and Luciano's war effort. Buy the book it's new and easy to find.