In April of 1882, a prominent Albuquerque businessman traveled to Denver, where he fell into the clutches of the notorious Charles "Doc" Baggs. What followed was a comic lesson in both the con man's hubris and the sucker's shame.
Denver Republican, Saturday, April 15, 1882
WILL NOT BE DOWNED.
The Redoubtable Doc. Baggs Scoops in the Hon. M. A. Otero.
The Vice-President of the Santa Fe in New Mexico a Victim of Bunkos.
Doc Baggs, the great confidence man, has at last made his great coup, not in a financial way, but in corralling fame and making her pay tribute to his name. His latest victim is not a paltry farmer or innocent sucker from the East, but a distinguished Western banker and statesman, in fact none other than Hon. Miguel A. Otero, the famous banker of Albuquerque and statesman of New Mexico. The game was the old threadbare bunko racket, which should have been worn out years ago, but still survives to fool greenhorns and New Mexican statesmen.
Mr. Otero arrived in Denver a few days ago and was approached by a young man on Larimer street, who pretended to be well acquainted with the Albuquerque banker, to prove which he mentioned names of his victim's family and prominent citizens, including Columbus Moise, who is an intimate friend of the Otero's. After gaining his confidence the smart youth said he had drawn a prize in a lottery, and asked Mr. Otero to accompany him to the lottery office to see about it. Mr. Otero consented, and his fate was sealed. In a side street the lottery office was found, and the twain went up a flight of stairs into an office where a fine-looking man in green goggles was sitting at a table with lottery wheels and devices scattering around. This fine looking old man was Doc Baggs, and he paid the young man $75 with cheerful alacrity. Another lottery was about to take place. Would the young man draw. Yes, and he drew another prize and another, until Mr. Otero was induced to draw, and in a minute or two he found his note for $2,400 in the hand of the man with the green goggles, and himself standing alone in the middle of the floor, while the two men were closing the door from the outside.
Mr. Otero was flushed and anxious, and when the last turn was to be made he thought he saw a chance to make a big haul. But he lost, as he might have known he would if he had thought of the matter as a man of common sense and discretion. Baggs had the ex-congressman's note for $2,500 and he held on to it as firmly and smiled as blandly as if he was the most innocent man on the face of the earth. Otero attempted to argue the case and convince Baggs that the whole thing was a swindle, but the great confidence man wouldn't take it in, and walked away with his pal, leaving Otero to get back to his hotel the best way he could. The old gentleman reached the hotel and told his son what had been done to him, and the junior Otero telegraphed at once to Albuquerque stopping payment on the note.
The case was placed in the hands of General Cook, of the Rocky Mountain Detective Association, and the Chief went to Baggs at once and attempted to make him disgorge, but Baggs coolly declined to do anything of the kind. He said he did not know about the game being played, but that he had bought the note at seventy-five cents on the dollar. He added, however, that he had sold it, and didn't have it in his possession. Otero offered Baggs, through General Cook, $500 to give up the note and thus hush the matter up, but Baggs was master of the situation, and wouldn't consent. Threats of arrest failed to move him, and he declined to compromise. Otero is desirous of avoiding publicity, and is willing to come down handsomely, but Baggs believes he has a good thing, and is going to hold on. The note runs until Monday.
Baggs has not yet been arrested. The only way for Mr. Otero to save himself is to come out like a man, acknowledge his weakness, and have Baggs arrested, first stopping payment of the note.
Denver Daily News, Saturday, April 15, 1882
A Very Smooth and Sleek Young Man,
Who Knew the Old Gentleman in Las Vegas,
Succeeds in Working Baggs' Lottery Racket
To the Lively Tune of Twenty-four Hundred Dollars.
A Hot Contest to be made over Otero's Note.
Hon. Miguel A. Otero, the well-known banker of Las Vegas, New Mexico, who is now visiting in Denver, was strolling down Larimer street on Wednesday evening "betwixt the gloaming and the mirk," feeling on excellent terms with himself and the rest of mankind, when a nice-looking young man with a smooth face and a sweet voice, rushed up and seized him by the hand, saying: "Why, how do you do, Mr. Otero, and when did you come to town?"
Mr. Otero was somewhat surprised at the enthusiasm of his sudden friend whom he could not at once recognize, but he was quickly reassured by a plausible explanation to the effect that the youth also lived in Las Vegas, and his familiarity with the names of prominent people there and with members of Mr. Otero's family, soon convinced the banker-statesman that his memory was at fault, and he heartily welcomed his confiding young friend.
"I'm almost ashamed to confess it, Mr. Otero," said the youth, "but sometime ago I bought a lottery ticket and I have just been informed that my ticket has drawn a big prize. I was just on my way to get my money, but being a stranger in the place I'm half afraid to go alone. I wish you'd step up with me, for you are a business man and not so apt to be imposed upon."
It was a very old and threadbare story, to be sure, and Mr. Otero had heard it told over and had read it again and again a thousand times during his long career in Congress and his active business life. But there was a pleading winsomeness in the silvery voice and a confiding look in the clear blue eyes that were turned so entreatingly on his own dark orbs and he hesitated.
The rest was easy. Together they strolled along, stopping occasionally to check the chill, caused by the untimely snow storm, with moderate libations of good liquor until in some cross street, which Mr. Otero could not now locate to save his soul, they climbed a winding stair and reached the cozy office of Charles Baggs, M.D., otherwise know as "Doc" Baggs.
The place was presided over by an innocent looking part, who wore a long coat and gazed upon his visitors in a mild, benevolent way through a pair of green glasses. There were two or three lottery wheels in the room and a table covered with a green cloth.
The youth produced his lottery ticket and the notification that it had drawn a prize of $75, and hesitatingly asked if the money was really his?
The man in the green goggles smiled half kindly, half pityingly as he handed over the money. That was a small sum for the concern to lose, he said, and he was glad the youth had won. Another drawing was to take place in a few minutes and would the young man follow up his luck?
Of course he would, and he did. There never was such luck. He won every time and was fast qualifying himself to join the Bonanza combination in politics when Mr. Otero was induced to better his fortunes in the same easy way. He yielded.
It is needless here to repeat a story that has worn out more cold type in the past fifteen years than the death of Jesse James.
On the last big turn, when there was no possibility of losing, Mr. Otero did lose. The man in the long coat and green glasses had his note at five days sight for $2,400, the youth was "broke" and Mr. Otero was possessed of the terrible consciousness that he had been taken in and done for.
He tried to convince the operator of the game that the thing was a swindle and that he ought to get his note back, but he was laughed to scorn. The long-coated individual and the smooth young man slipped out of a side door, locking it behind them, and Mr. Otero was left to make his way out as best he could.
He was so absorbed in thinking of his loss, and the damning duplicity of the silver-tongued youth that he forgot to note the location of the den and made his way back to the hotel where he told his son M. A. Otero, Jr., what had occurred.
The young man had his wits about him and immediately sent a dispatch to their bank in Las Vegas, instructing the cashier not to pay out any money on any paper signed by M. A. Otero unless it was countersigned by M. A. Otero, Jr.
On Thursday morning the Oteros called upon General D. J. Cook, of the Rocky Mountain Detective Association and placed all the facts in his possession. General Cook immediately called upon "Doc" Baggs and told that slick confidence man that the note must be returned immediately. Baggs mildly but firmly declined to do anything of the kind. He said that the "trick had been turned" without his knowledge, but that he had bought the note for 75 cents on the dollar and had immediately sold it again.
"It is now," he said, "in the hands of an innocent fourth party and what is more has been sent away for collection."
Then Mr. Otero, who feared publicity, offered to pay $250 for the return of his obligation but when the proposition was laid before the bunko man, he laughed and said he "couldn't see it in that light."
"I'm poor and Otero is rich," he continued. "I need the money and he can afford to lose it. He dare not squeal or have me arrested for he is a business man, has served several terms in Congress and is afraid of publicity. Besides I had nothing to do with the affair except to buy and sell the note as an innocent third party."
"But the authorities will be turned loose on you and you will be arrested," said General Cook.
"They dare not arrest me. What evidence have they against me," was the cool rejoinder.
All day yesterday Mr. Otero and his son racked their brains in fruitless efforts to devise some means of at once saving the $2,400 and escaping publicity, and General Cook exercised his ingenuity in equally futile attempts to make Baggs disgorge his ill-gotten gains.
The note runs until Monday, and if Mr. Otero will do his manifest duty and begin legal proceedings against the suspected parties this morning, he may save his money and bring several bad men to justice.
"Doc" Baggs was around his favorite haunts yesterday looking as cool and placid as if he had never "turned a trick" in his life. He is unquestionably the most successful confidence man in the West. By his own admission he has been arrested a thousand times, but has never yet been legally punished for any of his manifold robberies. He holds that it is in his very blood to be a confidence man. He never earned an honest dollar in all his life and several handsome fortunes have passed through his hands. He maintains that the men who become his victims do so because they imagine or are led to imagine that they can beat his game and his game is one that cannot be beaten. He operates only among the wealthy, poor men not being worth his attention and skill.
The law of compensation operates in his case as in most others, for all the money he wins by his confidence operations is lost by him in turn at faro. He has a perfect mania for this game, and never can remain away for a lay-out while he has a dollar in his pocket.
Last evening the Oteros were in doubt as to what course they ought to pursue, but it is probable that this morning they will seek such redress as may be obtained in the courts. The bunko men may weaken, and there is a strong likelihood that they will, and return the money, in which case the prosecution may not be pressed.
Mr. Otero is very well known all over the West, having long been a resident of Las Animas county in this State, and having served several terms as Congressional Delegate from New Mexico. He is Vice President of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe road for New Mexico, and is one of the wealthiest men in the Territory. It would seem strange that as shrewd a business man as he should be caught by so old a swindle as bunko if it were not a well-attested fact that the shrewdest business men, the ablest lawyers and the most eloquent preachers fall the easiest victims to the wiles of the confidence men.
Denver Republican, Sunday, April 16, 1882
CAN SUCH THINGS BE?
Status of the Game in Which Doc. Baggs and the Hon. Mr. Otero Figure.
The publication of the facts in yesterday's REPUBLICAN regarding the confidence game played upon Miguel Otero, of Las Vegas, New Mexico, by the notorious Doc. Baggs, created a great deal of excitement and comment among all classes of people. Otero is a very prominent and wealthy man, and has represented Mexico in Congress one or two terms. He is an old gentleman, about 55 or 60 years of age, and one would suppose that his experience in life was of so varied a character as to make him proof against the wiles and machinations of the bunko steerers and confidence men. But such was not the case, because Baggs found him one of the easiest cases imaginable to rope in. With all his experience, the Hon. Ex-Congressman fell an easy prey, and he mourns today the loss of his $2,400 note. It is true that Don Miguel Otero is not accustomed to the allurements of a fast, metropolitan city like Denver although he has traveled considerably and for this reason one can think leniently of his folly; but really he ought to come to the front like a sensible man, acknowledge his weakness and prosecute the men who fleeced him to the last extremity of the law. Baggs has flourished simply because he selects victims who, after being fleeced, prefer to drop the matter and compromise rather than have their folly and indiscretion exposed.
The Hon. Mr. Otero is of this class. He prefers to lose his money rather than appear in the courts and prosecute the case. But he should not be so modest, now that the facts have been made public. He has been in a capacity to aid in making laws for the punishment of all classes of crime, and now, although he is the victim of time, he ought to be only too glad to come to the front as every good citizen should do and leave no stone unturned to convict and land Baggs in the penitentiary.
There is no probability that Otero will take this course. On the contrary, he will content himself by resisting payment of the note. Instead of prosecuting Baggs for swindling him, he will simply endeavor to evade payment of the note, on the ground that it was secured by fraud. Baggs realizes the fact that he would not stand much of a chance to get the money if he went to law for it, and he is, without doubt, playing a big bluff game in the hope of securing a favorable compromise. He has refused to accept $500 which Otero offered but $1,000 would likely bring him to terms. Otero is a very rich man, and he will probably be willing to pay Baggs a handsome sum to drop the whole matter and give up the note. A compromise is more probable than anything else.
Baggs has not been arrested, Otero declining to prosecute him. The latter cannot tell the place where the trick was turned upon him, and he alleges that he could not identify the operator or anyone connected with the game. The fact is, the old gentleman has no distinct recollection for obvious reasons in regard to what occurred during the evening in question. The note was forwarded by Baggs for collection several days ago, but young Otero telegraphed the bank not to honor it, and they will likely not do so. An thus matters stand at present. The old gentleman, although chagrined and humiliated, looks at the matter philosophically.
Albuquerque Evening Review, April 18, 1882
A LOSS RETRIEVED
Hon. Miguel Otero is Bunkoed in Denver.
And Is Save from Loss by the Action of His Son.
It was only a few days ago that the dispatch clicked along from Denver, announcing that Hon. Miguel Otero had been swindled by the notorious Denver confidence man, Doc Baggs, out of $2,400. The particulars were meagre, but they are given at length in the Republican of Denver. This is the story as told by that paper:
"Doc Baggs, the great confidence man, has at last made his great coup, not in a financial way, but in corralling fame and making her pay tribute to his name. His latest victim is not a paltry farmer or innocent sucker from the East, but a distinguished Western banker and statesman, in fact none other than Hon. Miguel A. Otero, the famous banker of Albuquerque and statesman of New Mexico. The game was the old threadbare bunko racket, which should have been worn out years ago, but still survives.
"Mr. Otero arrived in Denver a few days ago and was approached by a young man on Larimer street, who pretended to be well acquainted with the Albuquerque banker, to prove which he mentioned names of his victim's family and prominent citizens, including Columbus Moise, who is an intimate friend of the Otero's. After gaining his confidence the smart youth said he had drawn a [sic] in a prize lottery, and asked Mr. Otero to accompany him to lottery office to see about it. Mr. Otero consented, and his fate was sealed. In a side street the lottery office was found, and the twain went up a flight of stairs into an office where a fine-looking man in green goggles was sitting at a table with lottery wheels and devices scattering around. This fine looking old man was Doc Baggs, and he paid the young man $75 with cheerful alacrity. Another lottery was about to take place. Would the young man draw. Yes, and he drew another prize and another, until Mr. Otero was induced to draw, and in a minute or two his found his note for $2,400 in the hand of the man with the green goggles, and himself standing alone in the middle of the floor, while the two men were closing the door from the outside.
"Mr. Otero was flushed and anxious, and when the last turn was to be made he thought he saw a chance to make a big haul. But he lost, as he might have known he would if he had thought of the matter as a man of common sense and discretion. Baggs has the ex-congressman's note for $2,400 and he held on to it as firmly as smiled as blandly as if he was the most innocent man on the face of the earth. Otero attempted to argue the case and convince Baggs that the whole thing was a swindle, but the great confidence man wouldn't take it in, and walked away with his pal, leaving Otero to get back to his hotel the best way he could. The old gentleman reached the hotel and told his son what had been done to him, and the junior Otero telegraphed at once to Albuquerque to stop payment on the note.
"The case was placed in the hands of General Cook, of the Rocky Mountain Detective association, and the chief went to Baggs and attempted to make him disgorge, but Baggs coolly declined to do anything of the kind. He said he did not know about the game being played, but that he had bought the note at seventy-five cents on the dollar. He added, however, that he had sold it, and didn't have it in his possession. Otero offered Baggs, through General Cook, $500 to give up the note and thus hush the matter up, but Baggs was master of the situation, and wouldn't consent. Threats of arrest failed to move him, and he declined to compromise."
The sequel of the affair showing that Denver bunko men are sometimes unequal to a bright New Mexican youth, is given in this associated press dispatch this morning from Denver:
"Pliny S. Rice, a stock broker, who has heretofore bore a good reputation, was arrested in the First National bank a few minutes before three o'clock this afternoon, charged with having stolen property in his possession. The stolen property in this instance was the $2,400 note recently obtained by the bunko man Doc Baggs and his confederates from Don Miguel Otero. Miguel Otero, Jr., met Rice at the bank by appointment with a check for $1,000, which was to be paid in return for the note. Young Otero, upon receiving the note, snatched the check back and pocketed both papers, while a couple of policemen appeared, and after a short struggle marched Rice off to jail. More developments are expected."
Denver Daily News, Tuesday, April 18, 1882
HOT SPRINGS, N.M., April 17 - Hon. M. A. Otero has received a dispatch from his son at Denver, stating that he has recovered the $2,400 note and has some of the parties under arrest. He will visit Denver to be present at the meeting of the Grand Jury, and will prosecute the parties vigorously.
The Bunko Men Fall into a Little Trap,
And Their Victim Recovers His Promissory Note.
Clever Work by Young Otero and Officer Hopkins.
It was formerly a recognized theory that misery made strange bed-fellows, but in this glorious climate of Colorado it appears that prosperity has that effect. Yesterday revealed the distinguished kleptomaniac Doctor Baggs in the same couch, figuratively speaking, with the no less distinguished directors of the "Commercial Bank." It would seem that the Doctor is desirous of starting the Commercial Bank into business as a first step toward filling its electric Saratoga trunk safe with countless wealth. He accordingly selected Mrs. Van Wœrt of that institution as an innocent third party to whom to transfer Mr. Otero's $2,400 note. Having accomplished this little business transaction, Mr. Pliny S. Rice, the ill-known broker, proceeded to negotiate with the Oteros for the purchase of the note. Young Otero offered him $250 for the note which was declined with thanks, but after his father's departure, the young gentleman remained here for the purpose of getting the note, and continued the negotiations with Rice. Rice finally informed him he could get the note for $1,000, and an agreement was made on this basis. It should also be stated that prior to this at one of their meetings, Rice, by request, produced a copy of the original note, which as soon as it was displayed, was snatched by the young gentleman and kept. The writing of this copy is the same as of the original note.
In pursuance of their agreement they went to the First National bank yesterday afternoon, shortly before the hour of closing. Mr. Otero had previously notified Officer Hopkins, who followed them into the bank in citizens dress. Rice asked the cashier if they would pay $1,000 on Otero's check. The cashier replied that they would. Otero then stepped to the desk and commenced filling out his check, but just before signing his name he turned to Rice and said;
"Before paying you, Mr. Rice, I want to be sure that the note you have is the one I want. I don't want to buy any bogus note."
"I don't know about that," said Rice, "when I showed you the copy the other day you snatched it away. I have no guaranty that you wouldn't do the same now."
"Oh, you needn't come close to me," replied Otero, "all I want is to see the signature."
Rice then stepped back, and taking the note out of his pocket, folded it so the name would show, and held it up.
"That's all right," remarked Otero, "arrest that man."
"You are my prisoner," said Officer Hopkins, laying his hand on Rice's shoulder.
"But you can't arrest me, sir," protested Rice, drawing back. "I am a business man."
"There is no necessity of having a seance over it," replied Hopkins. "I never undertook to arrest a man without doing it."
But Rice wasn't satisfied with this assurance and commenced resistance, whereupon Hopkins took him by the collar and threw him out on the street. There was quite a struggle on the sidewalk, but two more officers came up and the three marched the banker over to headquarters. There he was asked to produce the note, but objected to doing so until he could "see Dr. Baggs." The officers went through him just the same and secured the note.
He was then taken before Justice Sopris and held in the sum of $500 to answer any charge that may be brought against him. This was a mere formality, however, as he gave only his name on the bond and his signature was not considered as adding anything to the value of the paper. The case has been put in the hands of Officer Hopkins and there is now some hope that something will be done, as it is understood that Hopkins will not be interfered with by his superior officers.
Young Otero is entitled to a great deal of credit for his ingenuity and perseverance in working the affair to its present standing, and also for his excellent judgment in calling in Officer Hopkins to assist him. It is thought that between them they will make a clean sweep of the gang.
The people are thoroughly awakened in the matter and public opinion will effectually squelch any man who dares to interpose himself to shield the scoundrels.
The elder Otero has returned to his home in Las Vegas, a sadder and wiser man. He is not slow to say that no stranger will ever succeed in gaining his confidence on the street.
The young gentleman, satisfied with the return of the note, proposes to return to New Mexico to-morrow.
Doc Baggs was around town last evening as cool and unconcerned as if he had never fleeced a man in all his life.
He Claims he is Merely a Board of Equalization,
And Robs the Rich to Enrich the Poor.
He Denies Responsibility for Chilcott's Appointment.
Yesterday afternoon after the arrest of P. S. Rice the whole police force were doing special duty and were on the lookout for "Doc" Baggs. Early in the afternoon the police reporter of THE NEWS met the notorious M.D., who was walking along the street and protecting his glossy stove-pipe hat with a new silk umbrella.
The reporter accosted Mr. Baggs and made known the fact that he was of the newspaper fraternity. "Oh, yes," said the doctor. "Well, I shall be very glad to talk. I believe you are a young man that I have been making appointments to see at the rooms of my attorney, John T. Deweese. Well, I am glad THE NEWS is making such a strong ware\fare for public morals and for the breaking up of fraud and chicanery. They are doing a good work and have my full sympathy. But I think the papers do wrong in trying to slaughter me. I am conducting a fair, legitimate business. My mission is to skin suckers. I will defy the newspapers or anyone else to put their hands on a single man I ever beat that was not financially able to stand it. I'd score to cheat a laboring man or a poor mechanic. My dealings are with gentlemen.
"Why don't the papers pitch into bad places and try to break them up, and also go for the 'tin-horn' gamblers, who are robbing the poor laboring man of his last dollar. Here are all these keno and faro rooms running night after night and no one says 'stop them.' Many a poor laboring man who has been robbed of his few dollars of hard-earned money has come to me for help and I always help them in such cases.
"I have often found a poor devil of a clerk gambling away $25 of his employer's money and I have taken him one side and said: 'look here, you are bracing yourself against a game that I can't beat, smart as I am. Here is $25, take it, fix matters straight and never bet on a game again.' There are many young men that I have thus saved from ruin. I never try to rob these poor fellows, but now because of an ex-member of Congress, who told me that he knew all about finance and was the smartest man in this whole Western country, starts out with me and gets robbed of $2,400, at least they say he was, the press all began to attack me. I look down with supreme contempt on all these 'tin-horn' gamblers, and I will give $250 toward suppressing them and driving them out of town. But I will tell you one thing: We want a chief of police that can see a trick when it is turned, and who won't let a sucker be skinned before his face and eyes. "What is your moral defense for your action, Doctor?"
"Emotional insanity, sir. A few weeks ago a poor man was tried for murder and acquitted. The man he killed had broken down his home, destroyed his wife's honor, cheated and lied to him, and Stickney was thus driven insane. Guiteau, controlled by base passion and maddened by his thirst for office, killed Garfield. Sickles found that a man had betrayed the honor of his home and had polluted his wife. Whenever I see one of those robbers of human nature, who have grown rich from public plunder, but who still desire more, when I see such men looking into the windows of banks and wishing they could steal the bonds without being publicly disgraced, or gazing into a jeweler's window and thinking how they would like to get away with all the diamonds, I know what with all their cunning and shrewdness they are suckers and an irresistible desire comes over me to skin them. I am emotionally insane. I feel like downing them if I can.
"If you could see men as I see them, surrounded by the glistening pile on the counter or table which they hope so soon to be theirs; if you could see the cold, selfish, cruel glitter in their eyes, you wouldn't blame me. When the last trick is turned, however, and the pile they think they are cheating somebody out of, slips from their grasp, the look of blank amazement and horror that comes over their faces is one of the funniest things I ever saw.
"What do the papers want to abuse me so for? I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't chew, I don't cheat poor people, I pay my debts. And there is one thing more you can say: I never made any attempt to and have never used my influence with Governor Pitkin to have Chilcott appointed Senator. I thank God that that is a crime I have never been accused of."
With this parting shot at the follies and vices of the day, the doctor bade the reporter "good-day," and lifting his umbrella passed out of the doorway and up the street, leaving the reporter more puzzled than ever at the singular character of the cleverest confidence man in Colorado.
Denver Republican, Tuesday, April 18, 1882
BAD FOR BAGGS.
His Agent Arrested While Trying to Negotiate the $2,400 Otero Note.
Pliny Rice Acts as Middleman and Makes a Most Lamentable Failure.
Young Otero Does Some Shrewd Work In His Father's Interest.
Rice Resists Arrest, but Is Run In Doc. Baggs' Remarkable Safe.
The redoubtable, invincible Doc. Baggs has at last been vanquished, notwithstanding his repeated boasts that he could not be downed. For years Doc. has stood proudly at the head of the ancient order of most worthy and estimable swindlers, and has never met his match until yesterday, when this Napoleon of confidence men found his Wellington in a beardless youth who has never had any detective experience, but who is considered one of the brightest young men in the West. The one who vanquished Doc. is the younger Otero, son of the distinguished New Mexican Congressman and banker.
It will be remembered that last Friday Doc. Baggs obtained from the Hon. Miguel Otero a note for $2,400 through a bunko racket. The note was payable in five days and was obtained as follows. As Mr. Otero was walking down the street he met a young man who greeted him very warmly and pretended to know him intimately in New Mexico, to prove which he named several intimate friends of Mr. Otero. He then informed Mr. Otero that he had drawn a prize in a lottery and asked him to step in and help him draw the money, to which a good-natured assent was given and the two proceeded to a room in a side street, where they found Doc. Baggs surrounded by lottery wheels, lay-outs and all the paraphernalia of a lottery shop, including a big safe which looked as solid as the Opera-house.
This safe has a history as long as the distance between New York and San Francisco, and as broad as the country which stretches from New Orleans to Canada. It is about seven feet high and five feet square, and is painted in glowing colors, with devices and a prettily-lettered sign across the front. It has been Doc's most able assistant in his many operations, and could, if provided with a tongue and memory, tell many a wonderful tale. Solid-looking as the Bank of England, grand as the peaks of the Rockies, it has settled the doubts of many a man who, in Doc.'s lexicon, is known as a "sucker." Many a victim has come in saturated with doubt, and, looking upon that safe, has felt the doubt die within him, while an ineffable sense of serenity filled its place. It would be impossible to doubt Doc. Baggs after once gazing at that safe. A sucker would reason that it was impossible for any crookedness to exist in a room where that safe stood, for it was evidence of solid permanency. He would reason, and reason sensibly, too, that the noble safe could not be removed with three day's hard work, and as it was undoubtedly worth at least $1,000, no owner of it would skip out and leave it behind. It was an immovable rock to which every sucker anchored his bark of faith; but how frail is human understanding.
Doc. Baggs' safe was and is a bigger fraud than Doc. Baggs, if such is possible, for it is of wood, painted to represent iron, and so neatly arranged that it can be folded up into the compass of an ordinary valise, with the combination lock and all, and carried off as easily as a drummer handles whisky samples. Doc has carried this wonderful safe all over the country with him, and still owns it.
But to proceed with the history of Doc.'s downfall from the lofty eminence on which he stood. Mr. Otero's fresh young friend drew his prize for $75, and Doc. persuaded him to invest again. He won so many times that Mr. Otero was induced to try a chance, but of course lost, and to cover his losses gave his note payable in five days for $2,400; then he suddenly found himself alone with the fact of his being swindled gradually striking him.
The facts were obtained by the REPUBLICAN and published Saturday morning. Since that time there has been shrewd work going on to obtain the note. Threats and expostulations only made Doc. smile. He said openly that Otero dare not push him to the wall for fear of exposure, and that the only thing left for him to do was to pay the note and let the matter die out. But Doc. reckoned without his host, as Otero had gained all possible publicity, and cared nothing for this terrible ally of Doc.'s. He also failed to include in his calculations Mr. Otero's keen young son, who, failing to make a satisfactory arrangement with the detectives, resolved to work up the case himself.
Doc. in the meantime placed the note in the hands of Pliny S. Rice, a mining broker of unsavory reputation, and Pliny started out to earn an honest penny in commissions. He entered into negotiations with young Otero, and the latter made him an offer for $250. Pliny held out for $1,000, and young Otero asked to see the note before paying the money. Rice produced it, and like a flash young Otero tore it from his hands. It proved, however, to be only a copy. This scene occurred in front of the Opera-house, and Rice indignantly accused Mr. Otero with ungentlemanly conduct. This was rather fresh, and Mr. Otero responded to the effect that when he transacted business with gentlemen he did it in a gentlemanly way, and when he dealt with thieves he transacted it in a different manner.
Pliny could not answer this argument and took a walk. Finally the price of $1,000 was agreed upon and a meeting arranged for a settlement yesterday at the First National bank, at 2 o'clock. Mr. Otero was there when Pliny arrived, and immediately started to write out a draft for the sum named. When half through with the instrument he turned to Rice and said:
"Before I make out this draft I want to be sure that you have the original note."
"I have it," replied Pliny, all smiles, "but you can't see it unless you stand off a little. You can't snatch it this time."
He then held up the note at arm's length. Mr. Otero laid his pen down calmly and walking over to Pliny caught him by the coat collar, and turning to Sergeant Hopkins, who was standing close by, dressed in citizens' clothes, said, "This is your man, take him." Sergeant Hopkins seized Pliny, who resisted, and a struggle ensued in the bank room. Both men fell to the floor and fought a little, when Sergeant Ryan and an officer stepped in and wafted Pliny to the Central station, where his smiles were changed to tears. Mr. Otero demanded the note, but Rice demurred, until the officers started to take it by main force, when he gave it up in a hurry. He remained at police headquarters for two or three hours, when he sent for Judge Tifford[?]. Justice Sopris was called, and upon Rice representing that he merely acted as a middleman, he allowed him to go on his personal recognizance.
While in durance, Pliny told the THE REPUBLICAN that he obtained the note from a certain man, in a certain room, in a certain block, but who that man was he refused to tell, except that he was not Doc Baggs, which is altogether unsatisfactory. Rice sang a sweet song to Justice Sopris, in which that astute gentleman took little stock, but as there was no charge against Rice, his explanation that he was only acting as middleman, or agent, to effect a compromise had to be taken.
Pliny has a reputation which does not bear the slightest resemblance to Caesar's wife. He has been mixed up in several schemes which had been saturated with crookedness. On one of his former partners, a gentleman who stands very high, he played it very fine. The gentleman loaned the sum of $200 to a young friend, for which he received a check on a bank in which the friend had a time deposit which could not be drawn against for a certain time. Rice took the check from the safe and sent it for collection. It came back protested, and Rice's partner had to take it up to protect his friend. He raised a row with Rice, who promised reformation, but in a short time afterwards he took the check to one of the young man's relatives, and showing him the protest said that he had lent him the money and had never been able to recover it. Upon this he received the face of the check.
Pliny's chief notoriety was obtained by his connection with Van Woert in the celebrated bank which was to have been started in the Opera-house block and was to be furnished with a safe almost as remarkable as Doc Baggs' imposing receptacle. It was to be provided with a charge of electricity strong enough to kill a burglar should he presume to bore through it. Pliny says he owns property, but even his household goods are mortgaged and he is evidently not as rich as he would have people believe.
However, he amounts to very little in the case, merely being a tool of the head men. His arrest is important as showing how Doc. Baggs, the king of swindlers, was vanquished by a mere youth. His trick was well played, but he did not received a dollar of benefit for his work. Otero says he will not prosecute Baggs, as he has obtained his note, and is nothing out except a little unenviable notoriety.
Denver Republican, Wednesday, April 19, 1882
Doc. Baggs' Agent Sues Otero, Jr., For the Value of the Note.
Charging That He Tore It From Him After Offering $1,000 For the Paper.
A Piece of Impudence Unsurpassed in the History of this Mundane Sphere.
Some Reasons Given For the Promised Downfall of Baggs A Celebrated Case.
The last exploit of the notorious Doc. Baggs is still kept before the public, but this time Pliny S. Rice, Doc.'s middleman, is the hero. It will be remembered that Baggs beat Hon. Miguel Otero out of $2,400 at bunko last Saturday, for which sum Mr. Otero gave his note, payable in five days. The note was given to Pliny Rice for negotiation and the latter was arrested by Miguel Otero, Jr., who took the note from him. Yesterday Pliny recovered from his scare, which was plainly evident when he was arrested, and filed the following complaint.
In the County Clerk's Office.
STATE OF COLORADO.
Pliny S. Rice vs. Miguel Otero, Jr., complaint.
The plaintiff in the above cause complains of the defendant herein, and alleges that the amount involved does not exceed the sum of $2,000. That on or about April 17, 1882, at the city of Denver, the plaintiff entered into an agreement with the defendant, by the terms of which the plaintiff on his part, and in consideration of the sum of $1,000, agreed to obtain possession and surrender to defendant a certain promissory note, made by Miguel Otero, defendant's father, payable to one Henderson, for the sum of $2,400, said note to be surrendered at the First National bank, between 2 and 3 p.m., April 17. In pursuance of said agreement, and at defendant's request, plaintiff obtained possession of said note, and met defendant, who said he was ready and willing to pay the $1,000, as per agreement, as soon as plaintiff delivered the note to him.
Plaintiff thereupon took the note from his pocket and started to hand the same to defendant, whereupon defendant called an officer and had plaintiff arrested, and had said note taken from plaintiff's possession by force and threats, and then refused to pay plaintiff the $1,000 and has ever since refused and still refuses to pay plaintiff said $1,000, or any part thereof. Not by reasons of the facts herein before stated the defendant is indebted to the plaintiff in the sum of $1,000, wherefore plaintiff demands judgment, with costs of suit.
NAYLOR & RICHARDSON
Attorneys for Plaintiff.
The papers were served upon Mr. Otero during the afternoon and created something of a sensation. Upon hearing what Pliny had done Doc. immediately said that he wanted him, and hired him at a large salary.
For cool impudence, this suit takes the prize and surpasses anything ever seen on this fair earth. The note was obtained through the rankest fraud by the greatest swindler in the country, and yet the agent who negotiated it has the impudence to sue in a court of justice for its recovery. Such a spectacle has never been seen in the country before, and will bring down on the plaintiff a storm which his head is not able to stand.
The great question yesterday was why don't the officers arrest Baggs. Up to midnight the question had not been answered satisfactorily, but THE REPUBLICAN wil vouchsafe the information that his tether is about reached. It is definitely settled that Otero will prosecute to the bitter end, and this time the last loop-hole of the great scoundrel seems about closed.
Doc. Baggs is a man with a wonderful insight into the motives of men, and knows the rule of three by heart, addition, division, and silence. He has always made it a point to swindle men who had money and standing, and who feared publicity. When he missed his aim and his victim's misfortune became public property, he brought this second resort into play and used threats. Failing in this he always succeeded in making a compromise, even when his victim demanded a greater sum he lost. Doc. has always been successful in this, and being a man who slings money about freely, has managed to keep out of the pen.
He has, however, failed in several places, notably in Kansas City, two years ago, when the police captured him and his bunko outfit and had him fined heavily after he had swindled a man out of $700. He left there hurriedly and went to Cincinnati, where he played his games for a few days and was again captured. This time he fell into the hands of the virtuous Chief of Police, Teddy Carson, who "shook him down" for a great deal of money and nearly succeeded in sending him up. Gaining by those experiences Doc. came to Denver, where he has operated with such shrewdness that he has been able to defy the officers, but now is upon the brink with a determined antagonist behind him resolved upon pushing him over.
Otero has announced that he will prosecute, and upon such a man all of Doc.'s weapons will fail. Otero cares nothing now for publicity, as he has received all of that which can possibly be given. Threats cannot affect him, and all the money Doc. could raise between now and next summer would not move the man he disgraced from his purpose. Mr. Otero says that he will prosecute Baggs for the good of the people, which can be his only object, as he has recovered his property. Doc. will be indicted by the Grand Jury and prosecuted to the death. He is still in the city, and boasts that he cannot be convicted; but Napoleon had his Waterloo, Caesar his Brutus, and Doc. will have his Otero.
Denver Daily News, Wednesday, April 19, 1882
Against Chief Lomery's Continuance in Office.
Partisanship Has Nothing to do with the Police.
Views of an Office Freely and Fully Expressed.
The recent frantic attempts of the police to capture "Doc" Baggs and the general worthlessness of Chief Lomery, was the subject for discussion all over town yesterday. The general impression was that the warfare against him was a matter of universal public feeling, and in no sense a partisan or person feeling.
The first man encountered by the NEWS man in his afternoon round yesterday was one of the Colorado barnacles, one of the oldest and staunchest Republicans in the State.
"Well," said he, "you fellows on the NEWS are going for Lomery pretty hard, but I think he deserves it. His general worthlessness is only too apparent. Were you the young man that crawled under his lounge? Well, you got a pretty good report of that meeting I guess. They were pretty sly about it, but I guess from indications that something will drop in the Police department presently."
Another man very prominent in Colorado politics, and whose Republicanism is unquestioned, said: "This isn't a party question, at all. I thought Lomery was unfit for the place when he was first put in the office. He was the laughing-stock of the police force from the very moment that he stepped inside the railing at police headquarters. In three days he took the … [ to be continued ]
A lively fight occurred on Fifteenth street last night and was continued without interruption until one of the parties was well thrashed. A large and enthusiastic audience was in attendance. The vigilant police are supposed to have been hunting for "Doc" Baggs in another portion of the city, as none of them put in an appearance.
BOLD, BAD BAGGS
Sought but Not Found by the Vigilant Police.
The Search Full of Interest and Incident.
The statement of THE NEWS yesterday morning that the whole police force were engage in hunting for "Doc" Baggs, was strictly correct, and further investigations revealed some rather amusing particulars. The office of Baggs' attorney was besieged till a late hour of the night by policemen and police sergeants, many of them in citizens clothes, who hung around the stairway and in the corridors waiting to find the bold, bad man whom Mr. Lomery thinks is armed with bowie knives and revolvers. The building in which the attorney has his office is a large one and has in it many law and other offices. The police were industriously examining the water closets, hanging around the back stairs and patrolling all parts of the building.
One suite of rooms in the building is occupied by a pretty milliner, who has very large and pleasant rooms, and is not often troubled by gentlemen visitors. About 9 o'clock Monday evening she was going into an alcove to retire for the night, when she became suddenly convinced that there was a man in the room. Turning on the gas a little more fully she suddenly recognized a slight-built form in a gray suit. "Whatever do you want?" she shrieked. "Isn't Doc Baggs here?" blustered out the un-uniformed patrolman; "I am a policeman and want to arrest him." "No, sir, he is not, and if you are a gentleman you will leave here at once. Do you hear?" "Yes, ma'am; all right, ma'am," said the man, edging toward the door. Pausing on the threshold he turned and remarked, "Have you a telephone, ma'am?" "Yes, sir, what of it?" "Well, ma'am, if as how the man Baggs comes here to-night and you hear him in the hallway, look out and see if it's him, and then telephone to headquarters. The old Chief says he must have the Doctor, dead or alive, before morning, or off goes his own head. That's what the Mayor tells him."
Some of the policemen were bolder in their ventures and nearly all of the whole forty-four called at the office of Baggs' attorney and inquired if the doctor was there, while one of them hung around the door for three mortal hours, and on being asked at the end of that time what was wanted, asked if "Doc" Baggs was inside. One policeman slept in the lawyer's office nearly all night and did not leave till 2 o'clock yesterday morning, when he was fired out by the janitor. A short time afterward he was seen groping about the alley at the back of the office looking for the great bunko-man. Baggs' attorney gave the policeman a letter to Mrs. Baggs, asking her to say to her husband that the police were hunting for him, and that if he would come down town and permit himself to be arrested everything would be all right.
Mr. Inman, of the police committee, was hunting after the Doctor till nearly midnight, looking through the blinds into saloons, peering cautiously up stairways and ransacking Lawrence street from Fifteenth to Sixteenth, on the lookout for the man that the police of Denver were unable to capture.
Poor Mrs. Baggs was visited by several policeman on Monday evening and all through the day, all begging her to turn her husband over to them. She failed to accede to their very reasonable requests, and the Doctor is still missing.
There is little doubt that the Doctor is hiding somewhere, and it is confidently asserted that some of the police know where he is; but he very naturally objects to being arrested at some late hour of the night, when he would be unable to procure bail and would be obliged to spend the night in jail. When the fly cops get tired of hunting for him, he will undoubtedly turn up, go before a Justice, offer bail for his appearance, and boast of the fact that the Chief of Police is the latest sucker he has skinned.