The end of August 1882 there were two bunko gangs working Denver, the Charles L. "Doc" gang and another unnamed one, believed to be the Soapy Smith - John Taylor gang. John "Old-Man" Taylor was Soapy's criminal mentor. According to the newspapers the police were successful in removing the Baggs gang from the city, but the other gang is not mentioned as they were never caught and arrested. That other gang may have never left the city. For a short couple of weeks all seemed well, according to newspaper reports. Then all hell broke loose.
A New Game for Their Edification Introduced in Denver Lately.
A Miner Swindled by It and a Wealthy Banker Swindled by Bunko Men.
A "sucker" is an animal that was in the old days very rare in Colorado, but of late he has become very numerous. For the benefit of that class of respectable citizens unacquainted with the meaning of the term “ sucker,” THE REPUBLICAN offers the information that it applies to men who are not well up in the ways of the world; in other words, the term is synonymous with greenhorn," "gray," "gull," "Injun," etc. For this class of people a tender solicitude is constantly being manifested by another class of men known as "confidence men," and the latter invent a great many very pleasing and instructive games for them. After the departure of that great teacher of experience, Doc Baggs, the suckers were left without a single friend to entertain them until a few days ago, when they wereOVERWHELMED WITH AMUSEMENT.
The first friend who struck them was John Fitchett, of the Turf Exchange, and he showed a game entirely new. So pleased was the “sucker” with it that he paid $1,650 for the privilege of learning all about it. So novel is this game that THE REPUBLICAN will devote several lines of space in explaining it. THE REPUBLICAN was very fortunate in obtaining possession of it without paying anything, by the kindness of General Dave Cook, who explained it theoretically and is now thrown in free to subscribers.
To play the game three persons are required, just as in dummy whist. The other implements required are a hotel and a safe. It is also necessary that one of the players should be the landlord of the hotel, another a very intimate friend of the landlord, sometimes called "a capper, or steerer," and the third man must be a "sucker." The "sucker" is absolutely necessary, or the game is no good. When all the factors are properly placed the game opens by the "capper" steering the man into the hotel and introducing him to the landlord, who receives him with open arms, and impresses upon him the fact that he is particularly welcome, because he is brought in by suchA PARTICULAR FRIEND,
As the "capper," is represented to be. The bar is thrown open, and the "Sucker" is treated time and again, until he is in a proper condition when the "Capper" proposes that the party take in the town. Before going, however, the party informs the "Sucker" that there are many robbers in town, and they had better leave their pocket books behind. The landlord is represented to be a very wealthy man, just keeping hotel for fun, and finally the "Sucker" and "Capper" deposit their wallets in the safe. After having a good time they retire. Next morning "Sucker" asks for his pocketbook. The landlord goes to the safe and hands out a wallet. The victim opens it and finds only a five dollar bill stead of $1,650. He makes a great noise, and says it is not his pocketbook, but the landlord insists upon it that the pocketbook is the same one deposited in the safe the night before. The victim makes a great outcry, and the landlord appears much distressed. Finally he pleads with the "sucker," and says he would not have the good name of his house injured for anything. Then comes the final play. He writes out a note payable in five days, and handing it to the victim, says: "Take that and I will pay it in five days." The "sucker" believing the landlord to be a responsible man, accept the note.THAT INSTANT THE LANDLORD IS SAFE,
For the note distinctly States value received, no law can touch him,
Such is the new racket. Fitchett was the landlord, Edward Smith, of Butte, Montana, a miner, was the "sucker," and the "capper" is unknown. Fitchett also played the note racket on Brasher Bros. for nearly $1,000, and is supposed to be out of town. His wife purchased two tickets for California, but as far as known Fitchett did not go with her. It is certain that he did not leave Denver with her, although he may have preceded her a few hours and met her down the road. The racket is a new one to “fly” men, and will probably in time become very popular, although it requires some capital and time to work it successfully. When all the factors are in conjunction the game is sure to work.
Was the "capper" Soapy Smith or John Taylor?
It was believed by all that after Doc Baggs had been driven out of Denver no more bunko rackets would be worked, but the imbecile police force allowed another racket to be played last week. It was a plain game and the victim, who is a prominent and wealthy man, was swindled out of $900 in a manner which, while often told, contains this time some
The newspaper begins to figure out that the police are in league with the current bunko gang.
The crime is surrounded with mystery and the police have striven desperately to keep the affair quiet. Owing to the efforts of Chief Lomery, who is more energetic in concealing crime than in discovering it, only a few facts could be learned, but they are sufficient to present case in detail.Could "Mr. John Taylor, or John Smith" be just a mere coincidence for being con men John Taylor and Jeff Smith ("Soapy")?
About two weeks ago a man named Miller came to Denver from New Haven, Connecticut. He is the father of a fine family, and has always stood high in the community in which he has lived. He has been, as far as is known, engaged in banking, and came to Denver to go into business. About three days ago a nice-appearing man met him on the street, and greeting him very heartily as Mr. John Taylor, or John Smith, or something else, from Podunk, obtained his true name.
Soon afterwards another man met him and calling him by his right name entered into a conversation, in which he mentioned the names of several cashiers in New Haven, and invited Mr. Miller to go down to a picture store, where Mr. Miller's newly-found friend had drawn a fine painting in a raffle. Mr. Miller went with the stranger and was roped into a bunko game. In a very few minutes he had lost $400 in money, but the spirit of gambling was on him and he put up a $500 draft. This also went, and he walked out, looking for some one to advise him. He ran across a prominent young merchant and told him a few of the facts, and by him was introduced to Chief Lomery who sent Sergeant John Phillips out on the case. He soon arrested a man from pueblo and
So that he returned all the money and the draft, upon condition, however, that he should be released. This condition was carried out and thus Lomery deliberately compounded a felony.The fact that the police do not name the swindler, and then allow him to be released, clues the newspaper reporter that the police are in league with the bunko men, so he paid the police chief a visit.
A REPUBLICAN reporter, learning some of the facts, went the Chief for further information. He at first professed ignorance and said he did not know the name of the victim or that of the confidence man. Upon being pressed closely he said he was under promise not to reveal the name of the victim; that he was a responsible man and did not desire publicity, and he was under promise not to reveal the name. The reporter started for the store of the merchant who first met Miller, but the Chief of Police, not satisfied with refusing information himself, sent Officer Moll out on a run to warn the merchant not to give any information. The reporter arrived while the officer was doing his Chief's bidding, and, disgusted with this evidence of venality and corruption shown in concealing the existence of crime from the people, left the store without seeking further information.
Thus it will be seen that within a week two confidence games for large amounts have been played in the city, and in each case the police have kept the facts from the people. Such venality in the work of the guardians the city's morals and peace has never been seen before, and is a warning to citizens who desire some information regarding the work done by their servants.
"You cannot beat a roulette table unless you steal money from it."