The Jacobson Case

jacobson-1925-lapl

It wasn’t the first time a public figure who opposed Los Angeles’ underworld suddenly found himself involved in a compromising position, intended to either discredit or bring them to heel. But the plot to silence vice-crusading city councilman Carl I. Jacobson didn’t run quite to plan.

Carl Ingvald Jacobson was born in Norway in 1877. The family came to the United States when Carl was a young boy, settling in Wisconsin. As of 1909 he had settled in Los Angeles where he worked as an engineer for the Southern Pacific Railroad.

He ran for Los Angeles City Council as a write-in candidate, backed by the W.C.T.U. and others, in the election of June 1925, loosing out to Joseph F. Fitzpatrick by only a handful of votes.

Carl Jacobson takes his seat on the L.A> City Council after the newly elected incumbent is accused of bribery. LAT 9-13-1925

Carl Jacobson takes his seat on the L.A. City Council after the newly elected incumbent was accused of bribery. LAT 9-13-1925

But “Jake” ended up being appointed to the Council after all, on September 12, 1925, as a replacement for Fitzpatrick who was accused (later convicted) of accepting a $2000 bribe from the Tunnel Transportation Company during his brief time on the job.

Jacobson earned a reputation as “vice crusader” almost from the start, taking over where councilman, Robert M. Allan left off. Allan had conducted investigations into vice conditions in the city, an in February 1925 alleged that gambling and vice laws were being openly violated in the city, referring in particular to a place a place on Third St. run by gambler Milton “Farmer” Page, then facing charges in a shooting death of a patron at a notorious speakeasy. In July Allan denounced Page as a vice leader in league with bootleggers, and, more sinisterly, noted that private investigators hired to look into vice conditions had “disappeared.” James E. Davis, head of the vice squad (and onetime colleague of former vice squad officer Guy McAfee, now said to be a gambler “high in the councils of Farmer Page”), scoffed at the allegations, claiming his men visited a supposed gambling den of Page’s referred to by Allan and found it dark. Allan thereafter stuck to less controversial topics, but newcomer Jacobson picked up where he left off.

Jacobson questions Albert Marco's criminal case. LAT 12-29-1925

Jacobson questions Albert Marco’s criminal case. LAT 12-29-1925

On December 28, 1925, Jacobson demanded an investigation from Police Chief Heath, City Prosecutor and D.A. Asa Keyes into why charges against Albert Marco, a politically connected bootlegger and brothel operator who’d been arrested by a beat cop on Christmas day for felony assault with a deadly weapon, had inexplicably been reduced to one of a misdemeanor disturbing the peace.

12-30-1925

12-30-1925

The resulting reports by the City Attorney and the LAPD were deemed a “whitewash” by the Council and Jacobson, who launched his own investigation into Marco’s operations. Police Chief Heath “resigned” in February 1926. His replacement was Jim Davis.

Councilman Jacobson continued to speak out against Marco and protected vice in the city. California Governor Friend Richardson weighted in, adding his own accusations of vice protection as well as overall neglect of duty on the part of D.A. Keyes. The county grand jury promised to investigate. Councilman Jacobson responded with what proved to be well-placed skepticism:

“If the grand jury shows that it means business, that it is sincere in its efforts to uncover the vice conditions, and who is responsible for the protection which our reports indicate those in charge of the traffic in women, gambling houses and bootleggers, pay and receive, then we shall work with the grand jury.”

In 1927, having served out the remainder of Fitzpatrick’s term, Jacobson was elected to the City Council in his own right. If his complaints against Marco fell on deaf ears, locally, the federal government was listening- they slapped Marco with a massive tax bill.  

On July 16, 1927, for reasons that were not specified, two members of the Police Commission were removed and the police department underwent a flurry of transfers (referred to in the press as a “shake up”). N. Rodney Webster was made president of the Police Commission. Captain of Detective J. Frank “Rusty” Williams was transferred from head of the vice squad, to “special investigator” for the Commission. Captain of Detectives Hubert “Bert” Wallis was transferred form that position to take Williams’ place as head of the vice squad. Detective Lt. Richard J. “Dick” Lucas was transferred form the vice squad to head of the Intelligence unit. Neither Mayor Cryer nor Chief Davis, both out of town, could be reached for comment. Rumors were flying that the City Council wanted to oust Chief Davis. Carl Jacobson spoke out in favor of Davis staying on, noting that, with the removal of the two police commissioners, he ought to be given a chance to “see what he can do.”

Less than two weeks later, on July 28, 1927, three federal dry agents raided Albert Marco’s “bootlegging dive,” the North Side Pleasure Club at 130 S. Spring Street and arrested Marco for violation of the Volstead Act.

Councilman Jacobson took the opportunity of the next City Council meeting to crow about Marco’s arrest, noting that he had repeatedly complained to the Police Commission about Marco’s barroom with no results. At the meetings of August 3 and August 4, 1927 he proposed a Council Resolution commending the prohibition agents for the raid on Marco, and pressed for a police investigation into a gambling club he alleged was being run by Farmer Page.

Then Friday night, August 5, Jacobson was arrested on “morals charges” following what some papers derisively called the Red Flannel Raid, a reference to the supposed color of Jacobson’s underwear.

Around 8:00 pm, Jacobson called at a cottage at 4372 Beagle St. belonging to an attractive woman constituent, “Hazel Ferguson,” ostensibly to discuss a tax situation resulting form the city’s proposed improvements to Beagle Street. Grimes offered him a drink, which the teetotaling councilman refused. She gave him a tour of the house. When they got near the bedroom, the lights suddenly went out. Jacobson later testified that he was struck by a blow on the neck, roughly shoved onto a bed and stripped of his jacket, trousers and shoes. His glasses were knocked off his face. When the lights went on again, there were police and a newspaper reporter present.

The police were Captain of Detectives Rusty Williams and Bert Wallis, and Detective Lt Dick Lucas, Special Investigator Harry Raymond (who, in 1919 during a previous stint with the LAPD had raided a gambling club of Farmer Page’s with then-officer Guy McAfee) and Frank B. Cox, formerly a patrolman, lately assigned to the vice squad. Wallis later testified that they’d gone to the home in response to an anonymous phone call reporting that there was a “wild partyin progress. Wallis would later say that the reporters, Albert Nathan of the Los Angeles Times had been in his office for a “friendly chat” when the call came in and tagged along.

The raid party: (L-R) Rusty Williams, Bert Wallis, Dick Lucas and Harry Raymond. LAPL

The raid party: (L-R) Rusty Williams, Bert Wallis, Dick Lucas and Harry Raymond. LAPL.

Lucas and Raymond alleged that, watching through a front window, they observed Jacobson fondle La “Ferguson” then the two went into a bedroom. When Jacobson started to disrobe, they rushed in. Capt. Wallis later testified that Jacobson had asked for Lucas’ gun:

“What do you want with my gun?” Lucas asked.

“Well, I will put a bullet through my brain. I realize that I am all through.”

Albert Nathan testified that he’d seen the councilman seated on the bed and heard him rambling on about being “ruined” and having walked into a “trap.” Nathan also said Jacobson spoke with him about wishing there was some way to “fix up” the case. Nathan later testified that he’d advised Jacobson against a “bribe,” if that was what he meant.

Jacobson denied all of this. He later stated that the officers tried to force him to sign a blank “confessionand indicated that there would be no scandal if he did so. He refused and demanded to be taken to jail. Instead, he was taken to the home of Police Commissioner Rodney Webster. Capt. Wallis later alleged that they had done so at Jacobson’s insistence, which Jacobson denied. According to Dwight F. McKinney and Fred Allhoff for their 1939 “Lid off Los Angeles” series for Liberty magazine, Jacobson was left alone in the car while they waited for Webster to return home; the key was left in the ignition and a revolver was left beside him on the back seat (Liberty, 11-11-1939). Webster got into the car with him.

“It doesn’t pay to write letters to the Police Commission and get them published, does it?” Jacobson would recall Webster saying.

The councilman was still not taken to jail but to the Chamber of Commerce Building downtown where the police Intelligence unit maintained a secret satellite office. Loyal Durand “L.D.” Hotchkiss, then City Editor of the Los Angeles Times and D.A. Asa Keyes were waiting there. Keyes later testified that although this was city business, not a matter for the county D.A., he was called in to “advise” as the City Prosecutor could not be located. Jacobson said that Keyes likewise tried to get him to sign the blank “confession,and they would “forget” the whole thing. Jacobson refused. Police records show that he was finally taken to jail and booked at 2:35 in the morning on charges of “lewdness and vagrancy.Liberty later reported that a jail employee tipped off Jacobson that his accusers were planning to inject him with the syphilis-tainted blood of a “landlady” at one of Marco’s “resorts” prior to the physical exam required in “lewd vag” arrests. Jacobson demanded he be examined by a doctor immediately. He was finally released at 7:00 a.m. on $500 bail. The charge was later changed to one of “resorting,” a misdemeanor.

8-7-1927. Los Angeles Examiner.

8-7-1927. Los Angeles Examiner.

Jacobson protested that he’d been framed due to his anti-vice activities and demanded a grand jury investigation. Keyes duly ordered one, which began on August 10 and ended on August 11 when Jacobson suddenly balked at testifying on the basis that it would require divulging the names of witnesses who might be called in his upcoming criminal trial and that the witness might well be intimidated into not appearing.

The "woman in the case," Callie Grimes. LAT 8-7-1927.

The “woman in the case,” Callie Grimes. LAT 8-7-1927.

One witness, the woman in the case, whose real name was Mrs. Callie (aka Katherine) Grimes, left town before Jacobson’s lawyers could interview her. She faced a separate trial on charges of “lewdness and idleness.” Officer Frank B. Cox, who was married to Grimes’ sister Susan, told reporters she’d gone to San Francisco for “a rest” but would be back in time for the trial. It was revealed that Grimes estranged husband Victor had also briefly served on the police force but was dismissed for failure to report for duty.

Supporters rallied around Jacobson. His arrest led momentum to an ongoing (and ultimately failed) movement to recall Mayor Cryer from office. Reverend Robert “Fighting Bob” Shuler of Trinity Methodist Church spoke out against the mayor, D.A. Keyes, and the Jacobson frame-up in his popular weekly sermons, which were broadcast over the radio.

Rev. "Fighting Bob" Shuler speaking out on the Jacobson frame-up. 8-20-1927

Rev. “Fighting Bob” Shuler speaking out on D.A Asa’s Keyes, the proposed Mayor Cryer recall and the Jacobson frame-up from Trinity Methodist and radio station KGEF. LAT 8-20-1927.

Meanwhile, a subdued Jacobson carried on with his civic duties. When the anti-vice resolution he’d proposed back on August 4, another lifetime ago it must have seemed, came up before the City Council on August 18, Jacobson said he didn’t care what happened with it.

8-19-1927

8-19-1927

The Beagle Street improvement plan (which actually did exist) was another order of business to come up, on August 30. The Council voted against it.

9-21-1927

9-21-1927

Jacobson’s trial began on September 5. Albert Marco, out on bail while awaiting his own trial for bootlegging, appeared in court as a potential witness but was not called. The police officers, D.A. Keyes, Police Commissioner Webster, L.D. Hotchkiss and reporter Nathan repeated their carefully coordinated versions of the story. The prosecution tried to establish that it was perfectly normal for so many high ranking policemen to respond to nuisance calls about “wild parties.”

Grimes, who claimed ill health, did not appear in court. Nor did Jacobson take the stand in his own defense, something the prosecution made much of.

Witness Fern Carlin testifying in the Jacobson case. UCLA digital

Witness Fern Carlin testifying in the Jacobson case. UCLA digital

One defense witness emerged as a hero in the sordid proceedings: a neighbor of Grimes’, Mrs. Fern Carlin. Carlin said she saw officers Frank Cox and Harry Raymond at the Beagle St. cottage earlier the day of the August 5 raid. She’d met Cox, Grimes; brother-in-law several times before and had been introduced to Raymond by Grimes a few days before the raid, on July 31. The prosecution tried to shatter Mrs. Carlin’s credibility by claiming she had been an inmate of the Sonoma State Home for the Feeble Minded in 1920, when she was 15. Carlin denied it and stood by her story. Frank Cox and Harry Raymond, recalled to the stand, denied having met before.

Jacobson’s legal council cited the interesting timing of the raid, coming so soon after the “shake up” that repositioned several of the raiding party, and one night after Jacobson’s vice resolutions over Albert Marco and Farmer Page. Former City Council member Robert M. Allan attested to Jacobson’s numerous anti-vice efforts. The city prosecutor, who had objected vigorously throughout to any mention of Marco, reminded the court that Marco was “just the name of an individual and that neither he nor the police were on trial in these proceedings.

In closing, Jacobson’s attorney H.O. Hilton spoke of Jacobson’s efforts against the underworld:

“Is it not sublime courage which prompted Jacobson to face this unholy combine and to do battle on the Council floor to rid this city of that element? He even braved assassination and is it not improbable his home would have been bombed.” (LAT 9-22-1927).

On September 23, the trial ended with the jury of 11 women and 1 man unable to agree on a verdict. Though prosecutors announced there would be a retrial, the charges against Jacobson were dropped on October 17, 1927. Grimes’ case never went to trial- her charges too were quietly dropped.

10-18-1927

10-18-1927

On November 16, 1927, Albert Marco was found guilty in federal court for violation of the Volstead Act. He remained free on bond while the case was appealed, which the U.S Circuit Court denied on May 22, 1928. Marco, however, failed to surrender to U.S. Marshals to begin serving his time. On June 27, he was arrested for assault with intent to commit murder following a brawl at the Ship Café in Venice. This time there was no knocking it down to a misdemeanor. Captain of Detectives Dick Steckel of the Venice division was a key witness, testifying that Marco had offered him a bribe in exchange for a “break.” The first trial ended with a hung jury. The prosecution, led by D.D.A. David H. Clark, persevered and in a second trial, Marco was found guilty on September 7, 1928.

Things were not going well for another member of the raiding party. In April 1928, the Municipal League of Los Angeles charged that Police Commissioner Rodney Webster had violated city charter in that the meat packing company of which he was vice president and a large stockholder had been providing the City Jail with its meat. The League demanded that Webster resign, which he did the first week of May.

On October 31, 1928, the grand jury charged D.A. Asa Keyes with “willful and corrupt conduct in office” in connection with “fixing” cases in the Julian Oil scandal. 

More trouble was brewing: On November 9, Callie Grimes swore out an affidavit to the grand jury confessing that the raid on Jacobson back in 1927 had indeed been a frame up, which she said was cooked up by underworld leaders Charles H. Crawford, Guy McAfee, Albert Marco and others, along with officers Wallis, Williams, Raymond, Lucas and her policeman brother-in-law Frank B. Cox. According to Liberty magazines investigation, it was Crawford who gave the order to “get” Jacobson. Cox was to get a promotion out of the deal (which he did, going from patrolman to vice squad detective). Grimes said Marco paid her $2500 upfront and promised a stipend of $100 a month “for life” thereafter; the now-jailed Marco having stopped the latter payment had prompted Grimes to sell her story to a tabloid for $1250. She went to the grand jury at the urging of Jacobson, who still wished to clear his name.

Carl Jacobson outside the Grand Jury Rooms in the Hall of Justice, 1928. UCLA digital.

Carl Jacobson outside the Grand Jury Rooms in the Hall of Justice, 1928. UCLA digital.

The grand jury turned the case over to the Police Commission, who in turn tasked Chief Davis with investigating the matter.

11-10-1928

11-10-1928

The department immediate action was swift and decisive:  Callie Grimes was arrested on new morals charges at a downtown hotel on November 14 (later quietly dropped).

Callie Grimes in 1928.

Callie Grimes the “puzzle woman” in the Jacobson case, arrested days after telling the Grand Jury police and underworld figures conspired to frame the councilman in 1927. LAT 11-15-1928.

On the last day of 1928, the police department issued its report, which found Grimes claims to be completely unsubstantiated. Marco and “others” swore out their own affidavits denying the charges.

LAT 1-1-1929

LAT 1-1-1929

The grand jury conducted its own mini-inquiry. The result was a Resolution, issued January 16, 1929, stating that while it was unable to declare either side wholly free from culpability, the grand jury believed that Dick Lucas and Harry Raymond to be the ringleaders and recommended, based not only on its investigation into the Jacobson case but several others, that Raymond and Lucas resign from the police department, and that the two men should ever again have any place in the public service of the city or the county.

The "finale" in the Jacobson case wasn't quite as "final" as the Times may have wished. 1-17-1929.

The “finale” in the Jacobson case wasn’t quite as “final” as the Times may have wished. 1-17-1929.

 Lucas and Raymond duly handed in their resignations, which Chief Davis accepted. The matter might have ended there, had Harry Raymond not written to the grand jury threatening a lawsuit if it did not issue a retraction. The grand jury’s response was to launch a full-blown investigation.

In the midst of it all, Mayor Cryer, who had had a falling out with “advisor” and supposed Crawford ally Kent Parrott, announced that he would not seek reelection.

On February 8, 1929, D.A. Keyes was found guilty on the Julian Oil bribery charges against him. His chief deputy, Buron Fitts, took over as D.A.

On February 19, 1929, Charles Crawford, Albert Marco, Dick Lucas, Harry Raymond, Rusty Williams, Bert Wallis, and Frank Cox were indicted for conspiracy in the false arrest of Carl I. Jacobson.

The Jacobson frame-up rogue's gallery. LAT 2-20-1929.

The Jacobson frame-up rogue’s gallery: (L-R) Dick Lucas, Harry Raymond, Bert Wallis, Rusty WIlliams, Frank B. Cox, Charles H. Crawford, Albert Marco and Callie Grimes. LAT 2-20-1929.

Grimes was indicted as well but turned State’s witness and promptly disappeared. She was still missing as the trial got underway the first week of March. She was located in El Paso, Texas and flown back to Los Angeles on March 13.

In his opening statements of March 22, 1929, Jacobson’s attorney Dennison called the raid a “diabolical scheme of the police and underworld with a servant girl.” He theorized that Jacobson had foiled the group’s original plan by refusing Grimes’ offer of whisky.

“Had he taken that drink, which we believed was drugged, he would have been photographed as other men have been.” (LAT 3-22-1929).

Harry Raymond later testified that Lucas had poured the contents of the whisky bottle down the sink, since they were unable to establish ownership of the illegal liquor.

Dick Lucas on the stand, 1929. UCLA digital

Dick Lucas on the stand, 1929. UCLA digital

Neither Crawford, Marco nor Grimes were called as witnesses. Wallis, Williams, Lucas, Cox and Raymond repeated their 1927 testimony, as did now ex-Commissioner Webster and ex-D.A. Keyes.

Jacobson took the stand, and for the first time told his story under oath. He faced a barrage of cross-examination from the legal council of all eight defendants, but would not be shaken. Asked pointedly about the color of his underwear, the councilman insisted it had not been red at all, but gray. He also told of having been offered a bribe of $25,000 from Marco in the summer of 1926- information that had not been allowed in the previous trial.

Carl Jacobson on the witness stand, 1929. UCLA digital.

Carl Jacobson on the witness stand, 1929. UCLA digital.

6-4-1929

LAT 6-4-1929.

Fern Carlin again testified as a witness for the prosecution and told of having been visited recently at her home by two police officers who suggested that she “not remember” her prior testimony. Mrs. Carlin responded that she would tell the truth, and did. In a desperate attempt to discredit her, the defense produced a witness who “remembered” being out of town with Mrs. Grimes on July 31, 1927– the day Mrs. Carlin said Grimes had introduced her to Harry Raymond. Another witnesses testified that Raymond had never worn white flannel trousers and white shoes as Carlin described.

3-28-1929

LAT 3-28-1929.

The frame-up case ended with the jury deadlocked, split 9-to-3 in favor of conviction, unable to reach a verdict. On April 15, Crawford’s lawyer Jerry Geisler, successfully moved that the charges against his client be dropped on the basis that the prosecution had failed to link Crawford to the conspiracy. Marco’s lawyer followed suit. Crawford proclaimed his innocence, claiming loudly that he’d never met Marco before this court case. For Marco it hardly mattered: he still faced convictions for bootlegging and assault; days later he arrived at San Quentin to finally begin serving his time for the latter.

4-16-1929

4-16-1929

A new trial was ordered for the remaining six defendants. The same evidence and testimony again produced a hung jury. On June 26, 1929, D.A. Fitts concluded that a third trial would not likely get different results and moved that the frame-up charges be dropped.

A few days later, officers Wallis, Cox and Williams, who’d been on suspension since the February indictments, were quietly reinstated. Williams retired in August 1929.

Grimes disappeared from the headlines. Jacobson, having retained his City Council seat by a landslide in the 1929 election, continued to serve.

On the final day of 1929, Jim Davis was demoted as chief of police for numerous offences- including the Jacobson matter- generally summed up as “neglect of duty.” He was put in charge of the Traffic division. His replacement was Roy “Dick Steckel, the “man who got Marco.”

In March 1930, as former D.A. Keyes headed to San Quentin to begin serving his time for bribery, Charles Crawford was himself indicted for bribery related to the Julian Oil scandal. The charges were dropped for lack of evidence on October 20, 1930.

On May 20, 1931, Crawford was gunned down in his Sunset Blvd. “real estate” office along with journalist Herbert Spencer, whose publication, Critic of Critics (said to be backed by Crawford) had been running attacks on Guy McAfee. David H. Clark, now a candidate for municipal court judge, confessed to the shooting, claiming it had been in self-defense.

5-25-1931

5-25-1931

One of the first theories to surface as a possible the motive was that Crawford possessed incriminating photos of Clark taken during the time of his prosecution of Marco in 1928- especially interesting given remarks at the 1929 Jacobson frame-up trial regarding “other men” having been drugged and photographed for blackmail purposes.

On June 2, 1931, Councilman Jacobson kept his Council seat representing the city’s 13th district. In the same election, Dave Clark received a respectable 33,048 votes to his opponent’s 49,251 in his judicial bid.

The outcome of the 1931 election: Carl Jacobson's remained on the City Council and Dave Clark's fair showing for municipal court judge despite facing possible double murder charges.

The outcome of the 1931 election: Carl Jacobson’s remained on the City Council and Dave Clark’s fair showing for municipal court judge despite facing possible double murder charges.

Special Prosecutor for the case Joseph Ford denied reports that he was in possession of an affidavit supposedly sworn out by Crawford two days before the shooting, alleging that two men had visited him and threatened to “put him on the spot” because of some deferred “pay off” in the Jacobson frame-up. (LAT 7-26-31). In August, it was widely reported in the syndicated press that Harry Raymond had provided “highly important information” to Ford. 

Clark denied the blackmail angle and stuck to his story of self-defense. He later testified that a heated argument had ensued when Crawford solicited his participation in a plot highly reminiscent of the Jacobson case to frame Police Chief Steckel:

“I said you want me to frame my friend, Dick Steckel, don’t you, you lowdown skunk?….You were indicted for trying to frame Councilman Jacobson, weren’t you, you skunk. Well, I’m going out and tell it to everybody in every speech I make you —”

david-h-clark-1931

David H. Clark on the stand, 1931. UCLA-L.A.Daily News collection

Clark’s first trial, for the murder of Herbert Spencer, ended in a hung jury. On retrial, he was acquitted. Neither Clark nor anyone else stood trial for the murder of Crawford.

In 1933, Frank Shaw was elected mayor of Los Angeles on a reform platform. Shaw reinstated Jim Davis as Chief of Police. Davis demoted Dick Steckel to Traffic and reinstated Dick Lucas and Harry Raymond. Jacobson, who lost his bid for reelection in 1933, lodged a complaint against the action, in vain.

Carl Jacobson protests the reinstatement of Dick Lucas and Harry Raymond, who the grand jury said in 1929 should never again be allowed to hold civil office. 9-14-1933.

Carl Jacobson protests the reinstatement of Dick Lucas and Harry Raymond, who the 1929 grand jury said should never again be allowed to serve the public. 9-14-1933.

Jacobson ran for City Council once more but was defeated and thereafter turned to the real estate field. Others took up the anti-vice cause, most notably cafeteria chain owner and 1937 grand jurist Clifford Clinton, who founded the Citizens Independent Vice Investigation Committee (C.I.V.I.C) with the reluctant support (soon withdrawn) of Mayor Shaw. Coincidentally, the group’s founding coincided with the attempted murder of Les Bruneman, a gambler and onetime associate of Farmer Page.

In October 1937ten years after Carl Jacobson’s lawyer remarked that Jacobson’s home might have been bombed as a result of his anti-vice activities- a bomb tore through Clifford’s Los Feliz Blvd. home. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Then, on January 14, 1938, Harry Raymond was critically injured when a car bomb rigged to his car went off. Raymond, who for several years had again worked as a P.I., had been conducting inquiries into Harry Munson, a former police commissioner. It was believed that Raymond had uncovered information linking contributions to Mayor Shaw’s 1933 campaign from Guy McAfee using Munson as a go-between. Raymond was due to be questioned in court about it on January 25. Clifford Clinton and Brigham Rose, lawyer for C.I.V.I.C, rushed to Raymond’s bedside. Clinton confirmed that Raymond had been doing investigating on Munson, but it wasn’t clear that his work was on behalf of C.I.V.I.C.

Capt. Bert Wallis, now head of Homicide, led the investigation into the bombing. D.A. Fitts’ office conducted its own inquiry. Frank B. Cox, since regulated back to patrolman, was brought in to act as a sort of go-between for the hospitalized Raymond and the various authorities– an odd arrangement. Though Cox and Raymond had claimed to barely know each other at the time of the Jacobson case, Cox was now identified as a longtime friend of Raymond’s.

Within days the bomb was traced to a police officer: Capt. Earle B. Kynette. A contemporary of Raymond’s, Kynette had been discharged from duty in 1927 for taking a bribe but was reinstated on the recommendation of Chief Davis. In 1936 Kynette was made head of the police Intelligence Unit, aka the “spy squad.” Though ostensibly under Chief Davis, the covert unit answered directly to Joe Shaw at City Hall. Lately, it seemed, the spy squad had done most of its spying on Harry Raymond. Chief Davis, who had once again been out of town when big doings were going down, exonerated Kynette after a cursory “investigation” and promptly put Kynette in charge of the case. D.A. Fitts’ investigators came to a different conclusion, however, and Kynette was ultimately indicted.

Frank B. Cox in 1938. LAPL.

Frank B. Cox in 1938. LAPL.

A Kynette assistant testified that Kynette had briefed him on Raymond’s past activities as justification for the surveillance, including his involvement in the Councilman Jacobson case. Kynette’s attorney brought up the fact that Raymond, Bert Wallis (also said to be a close friend of Raymond) and Frank Cox had been co-defendants in the frame-up trial back in 1929.

Jacobson testifies about his experience with Harry Raymond at the trial of Earle Kynette. 5-20-1938.

Jacobson testifies about his experience with Harry Raymond at the trial of Earle Kynette. 5-20-1938.

The defense also trotted out Carl Jacobson himself, in May 1938, to tell of his past experience with Harry Raymond, but the judge ruled the frame-up case not relevant in the Raymond bombing. In the end, Jacobson was allowed to testify only that Harry Raymond’s reputation in Los Angeles for truth, honesty and integrity was bad (LAT 5-20-1938). A police stenographer testified for the defense Kynette had accused Harry Raymond of “trying to shake down the city administration” prior to his being bombed.

Carl I. Jacobson

His decade-ordeal etched on his face, former City Councilman Carl Jacobson on the stand at the trial of Earle Kynette in the Harry Raymond bombing, May 1938. Author’s collection.

Kynette was found guilty in June 1938 and sent to San Quentin. Mayor Shaw was recalled from office in September 1938. His replacement, Fletcher Bowron, promised real reform would come to Los Angeles. Chief Davis “retired” in November 1938. In March 1939, 23 high ranking officers, including Captain of Detectives Bert Wallis and ex-Chief of Police Steckel, were allowed to “retire” from the police force. The new chief of police, David A. Davidson, issued an ultimatum to “big shot gamblers and vice lords” like Guy McAfee and Farmer Page, who were reported to have absented themselves from the city in the face of the mayor’s reforms.

bowron-fletcher-1938

Fletcher Bowron being sworn in as mayor of Los Angeles, 1938. LAPL

Carl Jacobson died in January 1960.

Notes

Robert M. Allan lost his bid for reelection in 1927.

Reverend Shuler’s church was bombed in January 1928. His radio license was yanked in 1931.

The Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Examiner coverage of the case was overwhelmingly anti-Jacobson. The Times seemed particularly reluctant at the time to admit that an underworld even existed in the city, consistently referring to it as the “so-called underworld” and Albert Marco, even after his convictions, its “so-called leader.” Coverage of Clifford Clinton’s anti-vice activities a decade later would receive similar treatment.

Longtime local journalist Ralph “Casey” Shawhan would misremember in a special piece for the Los Angeles Times in 1980 that Jacobson lost his council seat as a result of the case (“The Not So Angelic City,” 8-31-1980) and this has since been repeated in some present-day accounts of the case. In fact, as noted above, he retained his seat in the 1927 election prior to the raid and was reelected in 1929 and 1931.

Grimes was still living at the Beagle St. cottage as of 1940, using her maiden name Michaels and the first name Kathleen.

The Ship Café was managed by Tommy Jacobs. Both he and Albert Marco had been witnesses in Farmer Page’s shooting death case of February 1925.

Morris Lavine, a former Los Angeles Examiner reporter accused of extorting $75,000 from Crawford in 1930, indicated that S.C. Lewis, onetime promoter of Julian Oil stocks, was also involved in the Jacobson frame-up.

Dick Lucas continued to serve on the police force until his death in January 1937. Raymond served briefly; by early 1934 he was again working as a private detective.

Ex-mayor Shaw sued Liberty magazine and the “Lid Off Los Angeles” writers for libel in November 1940. In September 1941, when co-author Dwight F. McKinney was giving his deposition in the case, there was a mysterious arson attempt at his home. The suit ended in March 1942 with the jury unable to reach a verdict.

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