Monday, December 19, 2016

Bootlegger chooses wrong customer

A man running a bootleg operation out of his room at a Pendleton boarding house in January 1917 was arrested by one of his customers: Pendleton’s chief of police.

Jack Archer was running his business out of a boarding house at 205 West Webb Street, selling bootleg liquor through several agents. Being fairly new in town, Archer was heard to be asking around what the chief of police looked like. Chief Gurdane took advantage of his anonymity and arranged to be introduced to Archer as a merchant.

Archer opened negotiations at once, asking $6 per quart of his whisky. “Seems to me that’s a pretty stiff price,” said the chief.

“It’s a pretty stiff chance I’m taking too,” replied Archer.

The chief agreed to the price and handed over $12 for a half-gallon jug. The interchange had been so friendly that Archer lent Chief Gurdane a grip (like a travel bag) to carry his booty away, and invited him to return the following Saturday if he decided to purchase more. Gurdane grabbed the grip, and then took Archer by the arm and advised him to come along also, identifying himself as a “government man,” to Archer’s astonishment.

Gurdane handed Archer over to Officer Scheer a the police station. It wasn’t until the following morning that Archer was told he had sold liquor to the chief of police. He wilted, and pleaded guilty in court to a charge of bootlegging. Archer was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $100 fine.

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