Blonger Bros. was far more than the name of a company.
Known from Dodge City to San Francisco, from Deadwood to Deming, their moniker might have been uttered to evoke the gambler, the saloonman, the showman, the confidence man, influence peddler or even the hard-nosed lawman. Or any combination thereof. Surely the name also evoked, after a time, that mythical bond between brothers on the frontier that we find so appealing, watching each other's backs, taking on the challenges of the Wild West and being loyal to each other above all.
Which is to say that Sam and Lou did nearly everything together for the better part of forty-eight years, and by everything we mean all those things a true sporting man would find time to undetake: gambling, mining, saloonkeeping, swindling, gunplay, whoring, drinking, police work, politics, graft, more gambling, and then just one more drink.
And yet, a review of the evidence finds that in these early days Sam is never actually implicated in a crime, never arrested, never charged, to our knowledge. Lou left a trail of minor arrests along the way, but Sam, well, he was always guilty too, by association.
So we have to wonder: Did some in Albuquerque find Sam objectionable as marshal because he was protecting the activities of his brother Lou, and Lou's associates? We are told, after all, that Sam's greatest offense was inaction, "non-performance of duties." Might that inaction have been to the benefit of his brother, and ultimately, we would assume, Sam as well?
What illegal activities might Lou have been involved in, and did his brother's position as marshal serve to protect his criminal enterprises?
First we ask you to consider the policeman's postion crooked or straight when dealing with a bunco victim. To wit:
A man walks into a police station, and tells the officer on duty that he is a visiting businessman, and that a group of men have robbed him of $5000.
"Okay. They assault you?"
"No. See, they led me to believe that I had won $30,000 in a rigged horse race."
"Okay. You illegally won $30,000."
"But see, they wouldn't give me the money unless I came up with $5000 to prove I could have covered the bet."
"So you won $30,000 without betting any actual money?"
"Well, they thought I had an account. That is to say, they made me think they thought I had an account. Of course, I knew that I didn't, and so did they, but that didn't matter, because the race was fixed and we knew who was going to win."
"And so you had to give them $5000?"
"No, just show it to them."
"And you had it with you?"
"I went back to Boise to get it. Took out a second mortgage on my farm. I brought it back, showed it to the bookkeeper, and left it on his desk while we went to another room for a few minutes..."
"You left the room..."
"We decided to make another bet, everything we'd won. Hey, they said it was a sure thing."
"But it wasn't."
"This other guy screwed up when he made the big bet. Then there was a fight, and we all ran away and when I went back everything was gone! The office was empty!"
"Anyway, I just realized that I have been conned by criminals. So are you going to put somebody in jail, or what?"
It's not hard to see why bunco operations were so successful, and so widespread. Most victims of such fraud knew how it would sound if they went to the police, and decided instead to avoid the embarrassment, chalking it up to experience. Of course, it's still true today, always has been. That's what really distinguishes a con: the victim gives up his money without a threat, without a fight, and often, enthusiastically.
Bunco gangs operated, when possible, in towns where some influence over local law enforcement could be negotiated. Sometimes those in power were old friends of the bunco men, or new ones, or just easily bought. The bunco men themselves had sometimes served as lawmen at one time or another, or as so-called "merchant police" for towns, banks, railroads, and other entities. These connections to power would often prove lucrative over time, and protection was but one way a grateful old friend might express gratitude for earlier services rendered. Plus an additional fee, of course.
Deputy Sheriff Tom Clarke, for instance, was said by Van Cise to be a part of Lou's gang in Denver. He was the law in the county courtroom, and was an old friend of the mayor, going back to their days as U.S. Marshals. A call to the mayor could send word down to the city cops to lay off, and the cops would oblige.
Taking care, as they refined their techniques, to prey only on visitors, not residents a parasitic adaptation, meant to keep the host city healthy a confidence gang with allies on the police force could operate with little to fear. Should an arrest be made, a friendly court might impose a token day in jail, and a small fine, no more than a fraction of the actual take. Does this describe Albuquerque in 1882?
To set the stage, let's look ahead to an 1884 article about the arrest of Con Caddigan in St. Louis for selling a fake gold brick:
He appeared as a confidence man first in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the gang had their trans-continental rendezvous. Albuquerque was then a new town and the bunco men ran it with a high hand, electing as Justice of the Peace Dan Sullivan, one of their friends, and as Marshal and Constable Milton Yarberry, who was hanged last year, and Con Caddigan.
Yarberry was marshal before Sam, hanged for murder. Caddigan served after Sam. Sullivan was judge. But no mention of Sam (typical).
Assuming some accuracy on the part of the reporter (he is unaware that Caddigan's career began years before Albuquerque), it would be difficult to place Sam somehow outside of this arrangement, unblemished and pure if indeed there was an Albuquerque gang. The article suggests things were going full swing by the time Sam and Lou arrived. With the arrival of the railroad only a year before, Albuquerque had became a bustling crossroad of the rails, and confidence men had good hunting. Hustlers were flocking to Albuquerque, and the Blongers were hardly out of place there.
But that's not enough to indict Sam. This deserves a closer look.
The Blonger Bros. were never publicly at odds over any issue, ever. But did Sam's position as town marshal put a crimp in Lou's style? Did Lou's shenanigans put Sam in a bind?
We haven't been seen the evidence that details the common complaints against Sam, though there were complaints. Non-performance of duty, they said, which may simply have meant that Sam sat on his ass a lot, as the Review implied. Which is to say that there were characters about who needed rousting, and Sam wasn't getting around to it. Fair enough. Or maybe he was understaffed, as the Journal claimed.
But if Lou was breaking the law, it's easy to see how people would talk. So what was Lou up to in 1882?
Feb 15: Lou arrives in town, claiming to be visiting from Texas.
Later in life, Lou loved to tell stories of his youth, and he was particularly fond of a tale from his days as sheriff of San Angelo, in West Texas. Jimmy Smith and Nels Anderson fought a duel over a roulette wheel, killing each other instantly. Not much of a story, really. Unfortunately, the folks in San Angelo who looked into Lou's claims came up dry. There was no newspaper there at the time, 1880-ish, so his stories may yet prove to be true. San Angelo was known at the time as a great party town, so it's not a long shot Lou was there.
In any case, his "visit" lasted about a year.
Feb 16: The next day, Sam kicks grifter Ed Burns out of town. Burns would later work with Soapy Smith in Denver, perhaps in opposition to the Blongers. The AMJ states that it would be happy to publish the names of several more deadbeats they think Sam should escort to the city limits.
Mar 7: Two drunken bartenders, having too much fun, shoot at Sam, Lou and Charlie Ronan. Returning fire, the marshal and his men chase the "mixologists" into an adobe building, from which they continue to fire upon Sam and his deputies. The men escape under cover of darkness and high winds, but are arrested the next day.
Apr 4: Lou assists Sam in arresting a dance-hall owner named Griffin from Winslow trying to run out on his creditors. The corners the showman on a train's baggage platorm, armed with three pistols, but he doesn't have the courage to use them. Sam takes him in.
Apr 8: The AMJ gives us a first glimpse of Lou the swindler:
A man named Ben Meyer, a country merchant doing business in one of the neighboring camps, has been in the city for several days seeing the sights. A couple of nights ago he received the cash for a check from Lou Blonger and then lost about half of the money in a game of stud-horse poker with somebody else. He claimed that he had been swindled out of his money and perhaps he was, and for this reason he went to the bank and ordered payment stopped on the check, claiming that it had been stolen. Blonger now brings suit against Meyer for the amount and will certainly get judgment.
Here Lou assists by financing the sucker's losses. Innocent business on the face of it. On the other hand, a check is one obvious way to get at the funds a sucker might not have with him.
Apr 19: Sam goes to Denver to have an ore sample assayed, and leaves Lou in charge as marshal. Visiting town, at the time, are Wyatt and Warren Earp, Doc Holliday, Sherman McMasters, James Johnson, John Tipton and Jack Vermillion, until recently of Tombstone. The newspapers are asked to refrain from mentioning the posse's presence until after their departure, and the papers oblige.
Sam goes to Denver and leaves Lou in charge. Wyatt Earp and his boys are in town for a few days, laying low. So, what kind of week did Marshal Lou Blonger have?
Apr 20: Lou arrests two "young rats" who stole silverware from their employer, Leonie Winter, one of those women who, "from the nature of their business, have to do a good deal of confiding."
Apr 21: Someone breaks a couple of Leonie's windows, and a few as well at "555." Lou says he knows who did it, "and if they want to avoid trouble they had better 'walk up to the cap'n's office and settle' to-day."
Apr 22: Lou receives a telegram to watch out for "Gambler Jim," wanted for robbery. He makes an arrest, but decides he has the wrong man and sets him free.
Apr 23: Lou arrests two men for stealing horsehides when they try to fence the goods.
Apr 24: Lou arrests a drunk, then discovers the next morning that the man is recovering from smallpox, but still covered with disgusting scabs. Lou offers to forgo prosecution if he skips town. The man obliges.
Later that night, Lou runs in James Downing on a charge of drunk and disorderly after he frightened some of the girls at 77 Fourth street with a six-gun.
Sam telegraphs from Denver that he will be back next Thursday.
Apr 25: Lou arrests Charles Wallace for passing a forged check for $15. Wallace was found in a gambling room, where he had blown all the cash.
Apr 28: Lou puts two vagrants on a train.
Apr 29: The Earp moves on to Colorado around this date.
Apr 30: Lou "jugged two Mexicans last night who were displaying their six-shooters in the dance hall."
May 3: By this date, Lou is noted as checking in to a hotel, listed as Louis Blonger, Las Vegas. Has he been living in Las Vegas? We have no other such indication. It's just strange that he would be marshal one day, and three days later describing himself as resident of a town miles away.
Perhaps Lou left town with Sam's return, eager to address some opportunity in Las Vegas. Regardless, he's back by late May.
Bottom line, the Earp boys were good, and things in town were generally quiet. If Lou shirked his duty, neither paper made a point of saying so.
Okay, so Lou had a fairly uneventful tenure as marshal, notwithstanding the difficulty inherent in disarming a drunk waving a revolver. Or two. So what else was Lou up to?
May 4: U.S Deputy Marshal Tony Neis arrives in town from Santa Fe. Neis accompanied Bob Olinger while taking Billy the Kid to trial in 1881. He is in town to start a branch office of the Rocky Mountain Detective Association.
May 8: Sam informs the Review that he won't be talking with their reporters anymore. The Review indicates that its crime news will therefore now be more accurate.
May 10: The Journal mentions an undescribed wanton incident having to do with "that class of people who are of no use whatever but a nuisance to society." They lobby for more help for Sam.
May 11: The Review accuses the Journal of being in Sam's pocket, and claims that everyone knows that Sam isn't out "hunting for dangerous characters or criminals."
May 12: In an open letter in the Journal, Sam rebuts the charges of non-performance of duty leveled by the Review.
May 13: Tony Neis states that Sam has been appointed "agent of the detective force" for the precinct.
May 21: Lou makes an arrest in a robbery in which Tony Neis had been relieved of $200. The AMJ praises the quick work of Sam and Lou. The article goes on to state: "They are now members of the Rocky Mountain Detective association at this place."
May 23: Lou fires a warning shot in the course of capturing a hash fiend who had beaten a "widow woman."
May 27: Sam presents Tony Neis with a badge.
That covers the spring. Lou seems content in the role of lawman. Still nothing untoward reported, beyond that cashed check, but that's a petty slim case, no matter how you slice it. It's interesting to note the lack of reporting regarding bunco activity. Are con games on the list of sordid activities being decried by the AER? They don't say. Good bet though.
But is policework Lou's primary profession? He is never referred to by any other trade. He doesn't seem to be running a saloon, or a theater. Sam does go to Denver on behalf of the Star Mine. Perhaps they have mining interests in the area.
Lou was a noted gambler, of course, and gambler was sometimes trade enough, though it often led to other pursuits as well.
June 7: Two veteran grifters arrive in Albuquerque: Bill Nuttall and C.W. Caddigan.
Billy Nuttles and Con Caddican, two of the most popular variety actors of Leadville, are in the city. They have some intention of leasing Smith & Snyder's opera house if they can make satisfactory arrangements, and if they succeed in this the boys will have some fine evenings of entertainment.
They had made their way from Deadwood where Hickok died in Nuttall's saloon in 1876 to Denver and Leadville in 1879, and finally to Albuquerque. In fact, Nuttall had a theater in Leadville at the same time Sam was running for mayor, and Lou was running a theater a few miles away in Georgetown. Now here they all are in Albuquerque, a town suddenly teeming with travelers, workmen and miners, all with money to lose. And guess who's in charge? Gambler Sam and his canny brother Lou.
June 8: Sam goes to Santa Fe in a bid for a deputy U.S. marshalship.
July 8: Sam goes to Kansas City for ten days. Now it's starting to sound like he's losing interest.
July 10: Sam and Lou are relieved of duty.
July 13: Con Caddigan becomes a deputy sheriff.
July 18: Sam returns, and the AMJ states that Sheriff Armijo offers him his job back, but Sam graciously declines.
July 27: Lou mysteriously appears as the mastermind behind the arrest of a jewel thief. The following is not the only reference we have to Lou "inducing" a confession:
A day or two before Goodman was arrested suspicion was directed toward him, and Lou Blonger sent a man to him asking about the stolen jewelry and offering to buy it. He fell into the trap and it was ascertained beyond a doubt that he was implicated in the burglary, but before any positive evidence could be obtained he became suspicious of Blonger and refused to compromise himself further. He was arrested Monday by Judge Sullivan and locked up.
[Judge] Sullivan and [Lou] Blonger put their heads together Tuesday and in the evening Goodman was taken from the jail and induced by Blonger to go with him and show the hiding place of the jewelry. A small portion of the stolen goods was brought to light from an old adobe house in the northern outskirts of the city. The remainder Goodman has disposed of but just how he refused to state.
We know Sam and Lou are no longer marshals. Are they still deputy sheriffs? Maybe. More likely, if Lou is "sending men" anywhere, he is working as a detective, a private dick maybe. Neis has yet to establish his branch office. Could Lou nevertheless be working under the auspices of the RMDA? Sam too? Or are they freelancers?
July 28: The AMJ states that "quite a number" of prominent local businessmen want Sam back.
Aug 6: Armijo rejects a petition to reinstate Sam.
Aug 8: Constable Caddigan is on the move, and the AMJ is right behind him (surprised?):
Con Caddigan is on deck again with his street cleaning brigade. It's hard to tell what would become of us if it were not for our very efficient marshal. He should have the thanks and support of every citizen.
Aug 23: Tony will soon open his office, Sam will be collecting money to pay for it.
Aug 26: The office opens.
Sept 7: Sam goes to Prescott, Arizona, to open a hotel.
Sept 12: Lou gets in trouble, and in so doing tells us something about Lou we would otherwise not have known that Lou's unnamed female companion was a madam. Was Lou a pimp?
The AMJ neglects to mention Lou, or the Professor:
A disreputable fight occurred Sunday morning in the opium den near the corner of Fourth street and Railroad avenue between a gambler and a disreputable woman. The woman proved herself to be the best man. These hop joints are becoming the worst kind of nuisances, and some means should be devised to remove them, or at least to keep them orderly.
The AER is considerably less diplomatic:
IN A BAGNIO.
Lou Blonger assaults Park Van Tassel and Will Roast on the Legal Gridiron
Early this morning a party of three men, Lou Blonger and Park Van Tassel being two of them, went on a sightseeing expedition and in the course of their rambles reached that unsavory portion of Fourth street, north of Railroad avenue, occupied for the most part by houses which sell virtue by retail. One of them, kept by Blonger's woman, the trio entered, and began to amuse themselves, Van Tassel and the woman commencing a jocular conversation. Some remark used by Van Tassel angered Blonger, who without warning brought down his heavy stick on the aeronaut's head, following this blow by another and a heavier one with a long 45 revolver, which he drew immediately, in the same place. Springing back he then cocked the gun and threw it down on Van Tassel, with the exclamation.
"You s of a b, you can't talk to my woman in that way."
Van Tassel had jumped up when struck the first time, but the second blow stunned him and he fell to the floor. Blonger attempted no further violence, and the wounded man was taken to the office of a physician where his wounds were dressed.
This morning a warrant was issued for Blonger's arrest on the charge of assault with intent to kill. He was arrested, waived examination and was [held?] over in the sum of 3500 to appear at the October [district court?].
We don't know what happened in court.
Sept 14: Sam returns, anxious to set up shop in Prescott.
Sept 16: Lou and Tony Neis go "down the road" together.
Oct 14: Neis returns with two criminals he had been hunting. One would assume at this point that Lou accompanied Neis to assist in the manhunt.
Nov 2: The Cerrillos New Mexican castigates Neis for not stopping more crime.
Nov 3: And then this, an anonymous open letter in the AMJ, leveling charges of organized criminal activity:
And Still They Come.
To The Editor:
I fully endorse the sentiment of the last issue of The Journal in reference to the manner that affairs are conducted by those in power in Albuquerque. It has become a matter of comment throughout the whole country that the gang run the town. The communication of Santiago Baca has the true ring. The time has come when hold-ups and thieves must take a back seat. The experience of this country is the same as all new countries, the rough and cheeky scoundrels take precedence in the control of public affairs, and hold on until they are literally driven out by the better element of society. I trust the good work begun by the citizens of Albuquerque will be carried out to the utmost, and that they will not flag in their efforts until the gang are forced to retire and earn an honest livelihood.
To whom might he be referring? It's a big town, could be lots of folks.
Nov 4: Lou accompanies Santiago Baca on the campaign trail. Sam is running for constable against Tony Neis and Con Caddigan.
Nov 5: Santiago Baca pledges that, if elected sheriff, he'll only appoint marshals that are completely acceptable to local business.
Nov. 7: Lou tries to challenge the votes of two men, but he's too late.
So. Lou is actually most often referred to in the news as a deputy marshal, a marshal, and a detective of some sort. He cashes a check for a guy who then loses at poker, and he pistol-whips a friend in his woman's bagnio.
Meanwhile, Sam seems to pursue his duties as marshal with less vigor, leaving town fairly often. Eventually he is canned, but continues to pursue work as a deputy U.S. marshal, or again, as a detective of some sort.
And finally, there are murmurs that New Albuquerque is in the grip of some kind of gang. Not a violent gang, to be sure, but some vague type of organized criminal enterprise nevertheless. Where are the accusations, the evidence?
And if the Blongers can be said to be in Baca's camp, and Baca opposes those thought of as the local gang, one would assume that Sam and Lou were not affiliated with those considered to be the gangsters. Am I reading too much into it all?
Dec 2: Big news for this town, broken by the AER:
CONFIDENCE MEN CAUGHT.
A Wholesale Arrest of Alleged Confidence Men Creates a Sensation.
An Albuquerque Officer is Among the Rest.
This morning Chief Howe, assisted by his men, arrested John P. Thornton, Barney Quinne, Billy Nuttall, Sam Houston and Con Caddagan on complaint of Henry Griffiths, who charges them with grand larceny. He claims that they enticed him into a saloon and get a certificate of deposit on the Central Bank for three hundred and forty dollars and a ten dollar note. The trial is now taking place before Judge Bell in the court house, west end.
The chief witness, Henry Griffiths, who is a Scotchman by birth, has been in town but a short time, having come in from the front and deposited his savings, amount to $340, in the Central bank, for which he received a certificate of deposit. He says that Barney Quinn made his acquaintance and introduced him to Billy Nuttalls, and told him that Nuttalls was a mining expert. He also introduced him to Sam Houston, alias Hopkins, alias Brown, was a mining speculator who had just sold a mine for $17,000. In the meantime they were all taking a drink, and Griffiths got pretty full, when they went into a saloon and commenced shaking dice for drinks. They threw the dice so that the top and bottom of the dice made it count up twenty-one every time. Griffiths thinking that it was chance, bet ten dollars that it could not be done again, and lost, whereupon, a teamster standing near offered to be they could not throw twenty-one again, when one of the party turned to Griffiths and asked him to let him have the certificate of deposit to bet against the teamster's pile, so Griffiths pulled it out, the dice were thrown, and the teamster won; the certificate was passed to him, and almost before the victim knew it, the man had disappeared, certificate and all. Griffiths was condoled with by his companions, who guaranteed to get the certificate back before twenty-four hours, and then quieted him for that night.
The next morning was Thanksgiving day, and the Central bank was closed when Con Caddagan, accompanied by the teamster, knocked at the door. Mr. W. K. P. Wislon, the cashier, was sitting inside and went to the door to see who was knocking. Seeing Caddagan and the teamster he let them in. Caddagan asked him to pay the amount the certificate called for to the man, saying that he had to go off on the train in a hurry and needed the money. This Mr. Wilson refused to do, and after some words Caddagan and the teamster went out.
Griffiths sobered up that morning and told Chief Howe about it, who immediately started to work up the case, with the above result. The officers think that Thornton is the man who personated the teamster.
Billy Nuttall and Sam Houston are sporting men, Barney Quinn was formerly proprietor of a saloon knows as the Sportsman's Headquarters, and Con Caddagan is constable of precinct number twelve and has been on the police force for some time. Thornton is also a sporting man. Caddagan is on the stand as THE REVIEW goes to press.
Dec 3: The AMJ catches up the next day:
AFTER THE BUNKOS.
A Raid Made on the Confidence Men Yesterday.
Con Caddigan Arrested But is Honorably Acquitted of the Charge.
The Four Others Held to Bail in the Sum of $3000 Each.
Extreme Excitement Over the Affair Among the Sporting Fraternity.
On Friday evening Judge Bell, who had just returned from Socorro, was called upon by District Attorney Owen, and a Welshman by the name of Griffiths. The latter, who arrived in this city sometime during last week, made an affidavit that he had been swindled out of ten dollars in money and a certificate of deposit, payable at the Central Bank, and amounting to $345. Judge Bell immediately issued a bench warrant for the arrest of five men, who names appeared in the warrants as "One Brown, first name unknown, and one unknown man, as principals," and William Nuttall, Barney Quinn, and Con Caddigan as accessories.
Yesterday morning Chief Howe, assisted by several officers, arrested the parties named in the warrant, and they were all taken to the marshal's headquarters.
Judge Bell was at once notified of the result, and ordered that the prisoners be taken to the court house, in the old town. Upon taking his seat, Judge Bell inquired whether or not the defendants desired an examination, to which they all responded in the affirmative. The first witness called was the prosecutor himself, Henry Griffiths, who testified that he came to this city on the evening of November 22, from Chino Valley, on the line of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad.
The witness then went on to state in a very straightforward way, the whole circumstance attending the loss of his money.
He stated that he met Barney Quinn at John Boyle's restaurant, where witness was stopping, that Barney asked him to take a stroll, and that they went up street, where they took several drinks, that they then returned to Boyle's, and that he agreed to meet Barney at 8 o'clock in the evening. They did meet and took a walk down town, and stopped in at a saloon, where they met a man by the name of Brown and an old teamster whose named Griffiths did not know. Brown and Griffiths got to throwing dice and induced, after much talking, the Welshman to take a hand in the game. He did so to the extent of about $350. Nuttall came into the saloon just after the game was finished, and just in time to see the teamster leave with the roll. The witness went next morning and stopped payment of the draft, by stating the case to Mr. Wilson, of the bank.
All the defendants took the stand in their own behalf, and each described the portion allotted to him, so far as any criminality was concerned. Thornton acknowledged that he had the check, but denied that he had received it any but a perfectly legitimate way.
After a cross-examination of all witnesses by Judge Bell, and the district attorney, the court rendered a decision, discharging Caddigan from custody and holding the others in $3000 bail.
All the defendants were busy last evening procuring bail.
So, Billy Nuttall, John Thornton, Barney Quinne and Sam Houston take Griffiths for $340 with the top and bottom scam. Constable Caddigan is implicated when he tries to expedite the cashing of the certificate of deposit.
Dec 5: The AER expresses its hopes for an honest police force:
There is strong enough decent public opinion in Albuquerque to sustain a courageous and honest police force in the discharge of its duty. If it is necessary, that public opinion will become public resolution.
Dec 12: A local store sues Tony Neis for slander when he declares the store is a center for bunco activity:
W. H. Cline & Co. swore out a warrant last night for the arrest of Toney Neis, the well-known detective, on the charge of slander, it being claimed that he stated on the street that "Cline & Co." were running a bunko shop, and their business was swindling and that he would pull the establishment at the first opportunity. He was arrested by Con Caddigan and gave bonds for his appearance before Justice Sullivan.
A neat trick. The con man arrests the cop for speaking out about con men.
Come the new year, Lou and Sam seem to be gone, and Caddigan is off to Chihuahua to open a theater. He supposedly later absconds with the theater company's funds.
In 1884, Caddigan is arrested in St. Louis, with various bunco parapernalia, for being in on a gold brick swindle.
In the end, it is hard to say that Lou adversely influenced Sam's position as marshal, as reported by the local papers. Were they being good, generally speaking? Or were they mixed up with the local bunco crowd, and successfully offering their protection?
Perhaps the question is, considering the bunco empire they later control, is it more reasonable to imagine the brothers in opposition to Albuquerque's local bunco operations, or in cahoots?