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Arrests of police officers and deputy sheriffs, including “higher ups,” on charges of conspiracy with bootleggery in all districts of the city to violate the prohibition law, are to be sought by the Federal Prohibition Director Samuel Rutter.

photograph of police chief Daniel O’BrienIn making this announcement today Rutter declared that he, working with Chief of Police Daniel O’Brien and Captain Charles Goff, had uncovered a gigantic bootlegging conspiracy by which blind pig proprietors had paid money to police officers and “prominent deputy sheriffs” for “protection.”

Rutter and police officials conferred during the day with United States Attorney John T. Williams with a view to having blanket indictments brought by the federal grand jury against blind pig operators, policemen and deputy sheriff’s in the ring.


“Evidence already uncovered,” said Rutter, “leads to higher-ups in both the police department and the sheriff’s office. Under the prohibition law persons who pay for so called protection and officers of the law who accept bribes can be prosecuted on charges of conspiracy to violate the Volstead act.

Photo of San Francisco police captain Charles Goff“With Chief O’Brien and Captain Goff this department has been gathering evidence for weeks and a big shakeup should result.” The arrest last night of Patrolman James M. Rawlins, the suspension of Patrolman Arthur L. Christiansen and the arrest of Tom Joyce, former policeman and alleged proprietor of a blind pig at 47 Sixth street, on charges of accepting or paying money for protection, is only “scratching the surface” of real conditions, Rutter intimated.

Rutter asserted that evidence of similar conditions had been gathered in other California towns and that sensational developments were to be expected.

Federal agents, he said, had been “planted” in various bootlegging resorts and evidence gathered.

Those arrested last night, including Joyce’s four bartenders and John Wylie, proprietor of an alleged blind pig at 232 Fifth street, also raided, appeared today before United States Commissioner Thomas E. Hayden and were released on bonds. Their hearing was set for Wednesday. Wylie’s bail was set at $1500. The other obtained their liberty on $500 bail.


While Rutter was planning federal action, Chief of Police O’Brien, Theodore Roche, president of the police commission, and Otto A. Jungblut, foreman of the county grand jury, were co-operating in the inquiry.

Forced sale of musical instruments, piano rolls, sheet music and such by Peter Bacigalupi because of Prohibition“Evidence tends to show,” said Chief O’Brien today, that some of the higher up officers in the department may be implicated in the conspiracy. If so, none guilty shall be spared.

“In conjunction with Mr. Rutter we have been investigating various rumors and complaints for several weeks. These complaints have come from all districts of the city. In some instances the bootleggers themselves have complained against extortion, but would not go so far as to swear to formal charges. Bootleggers, it seems, have been paying for protection which members of the police department are in no position to give. My belief is that the great majority of my men are honest.”

Chief O’Brien intimated that someone had “leaked” about the investigation. This necessitated premature action and the arrests last night resulted.

Foreman Jungblut of the county grand jury conferred with Chief O’Brien during the day relative to steps to be taken.

Commissioner Roche said that rumors of policemen accepting money from saloon keepers in return for immunity from arrest had come before the department from time to time and were still being investigated.


“Policemen who may be accepting money from bootleggers will be weeded out of the department,” said Roche, echoing the sentiments of Chief O’Brien, who said:

“I have no use for a crook inside or outside the police department. I am going to clean up this department for the benefit of the good officers and honest men in it.”

Sheriff Tom Finn was out of the city today. In his absence his chief deputy, Frank J. Burke, said:

“If such conditions exist Sheriff Finn, of course, is not aware of it. He will assist in an investigation, and if conditions as alleged are shown to exist the men who have violated their oath of office will suffer the consequences. It does not seem necessary to say that the sheriff will not tolerate crookedness.”


President Roche, continuing his statement said:

“There is absolutely no excuse for grafting, and this department and this commission will not tolerate it under any circumstances. It has been the policy of the commision in the past to temper justice with mercy in cases of violations, but under no circumstances will we permit, tolerate or recognize graft.

“The police officer’s position is a hazardous one, but he is well paid for it. There is a desire by many for positions of this kind. It has its reward. But we will not tolerate graft from the lowest or the highest officer.


“It has has been the policy of the Police Commission and the department not to take an active part in prohibition enforcement, it having been decided that this hardly comes under the jurisdiction of the police department. However, when the department has found, located and learned of places which would not be conducive to law and order, it has stepped in and enforced prohibition. This is especially so where the cases of juveniles would be affected.

“At all times the police department has co-operated with prohibition enforcement officers.”

The arrest of Rawlins, who was caught with marked money, declared to have been paid him by Joyce, followed a conference between Chief O’Brien and Federal Prohibition Director Rutter. He made a confession to having accepted the bribe, it is stated.


Joyce was arrested after he is alleged to have attempted to attack Rutter with a butcher knife and had been felled with a club in the hands of Assistant Prohibition Agent Fred Goessel.

After his appearance before Commissioner Hayden today, Joyce said he was a “much misunderstood and wronged man.” Regarding the knife incident, he said this charge grew out of the fact he was carving a roast of pork at the time of the arrest.

Joyce owns a ranch at Suisun, and is said to be a man of considerable wealth. Lately, it was said by the police, he had branched out as a bail bond broker, supplying bail for liquor law violators.

With the exception of three other resorts, the place of which he is said to be the proprieter has suffered more frequent raids than any other “soft drink parlor” in the city. On one day the place was raided four times, but Joyce’s name never figured as the proprietor. On one such raid the proprietor was named as Frank Chase.


Rawlins was charged with conspiracy and accepting money. The money, marked, had been secretly placed in the bootlegger’s till and Police Captain Goff, working in conjunction with Rutter, saw the money passed, he stated. Joyce was held in a charge of conspiracy in connection with alleged violation of the dry laws. Two barrels of whisky were found on his premises by raiding officers, they said.

Joyce’s four bartenders, “Honey” Rollins, William Clarkson, Angus McDonald and Henry Howard, were arrested on charges of conspiracy to violate the Volstead act, while three visitors giving the names of Henry Convert, George Reeder and William Cook were charged with frquenting a disorderly house.


From Joyce’s place the officers went to the resort conducted by Wylie and arrested Wylie after Captain Goff had driven his foot through a partition revealing a hall leading to an “inner bar” in the adjoining cottage reached by climbing through a window. Whisky and other liquors were seized.

Federal officers said that for a long time they had under surveilliance both Joyce and Wylie’s places. In the latter place, frequented by women, they said that frequently $600 had passed over the bar in four hours.

It is stated by federal officers that if a customer complained to Policeman Rawlins of being overcharged for drinks the officer would frighten him away by threatening to arrest him for vagrancy.

Patrolman Christiansen is accused of having accepted “protection money” like Rawlins, but denies the charge. He will be given a hearing.

Christiansen had not been formally charged with violation of the Volstead act today.

San Francisco Call and Post
April 24, 1922

See: Senator Phelan Attacks Prohibition.

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