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Alias Soapy Smith

Things you won't find in
''Fighting the Underworld''

 
Philip S. Van Cise

District Attorney Philip Van Cise literally wrote the book on the Blonger Case, Fighting the Underworld, but on several occasions, he concealed the truth for a variety of reasons.

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Van Cise noted that he used pseudonyms for two persons. In the book, Lou Blonger's mistress was Berna Rames. Her real name was Iola Readon. In addition, the bookmaker who turned state's witness was called Les Randle. His real name was Len Reamey.

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The author used other pseudonyms without mentioning them. The juror who, under questioning, stated that he had agreed to the verdict "under the conditions", was called Andrew B. Frank in the book. His real name was George E. Sharp.

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For unknown reasons, Van Cise's used pseudonyms for several of the corrupt law enforcement officers. The most important was the deputy sheriff, Tom Clarke, who was a close friend of Lou Blonger's, and who was involved in the "drunken orgy" in the grand jury room the night the trial went to the jury. His real name was Thomas R. Clarke. Van Cise noted (p. 341) that after Clarke pleaded nolo contendere, "he should have ... had his deputy sheriff's license revoked," leaving the reader the impression that he remained in power. He also puts Clarke in the courtroom as the verdict is read (p. 342). In actuality Clarke was forced to resign the day after the scandal and four days before the jury returned. Perhaps by the time he wrote the book, about 12 years after the trial, Van Cise had simply forgotten this detail.

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Several other thinly veiled pseudonyms have been noted: constable Abe Silver (real name Ike Goldman), detective Pete Land (George Sanders), and the private detective who introduced Van Cise to Blonger, Leon Dean (Leonard DeLue).

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For certain other notables, Van Cise withholds the names entirely. Mayor Dewey C. Bailey is simply "the Mayor." William Pinkerton, the detective who was Lou Blonger's close friend, is "the detective." And Van Cise also refuses to name the judge who prolonged four of the suits the con men brought against him, long after the rest of the suits had been dismissed by other district court judges. His name was Clarence Morley. Less than two years after the bunco trial ended, Morley was elected Governor of Colorado with the strong backing of the Ku Klux Klan. His two-year administration, during which he appointed hundreds of Klan members as prohibition agents, is considered the nadir of Colorado politics. Van Cise made no bones about their mutual dislike, and perhaps he took some satisfaction in Morley's eventual downfall. About the time Fighting the Underworld was published, Morley's investment firm came under investigation for defrauding customers, and Morley eventually spent time in Leavenworth for his part in the scheme.


 

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