Charles H. Crawford


Much of what is written about Charles Crawford and his Los Angeles crime syndicate today comes from a series of articles written in 1939 for Liberty magazine’s, based on information from cafeteria owner Clifford Clinton’s citizen-led vice investigations. Clinton’s work was sincere, but by that time Crawford was long dead and he was relying on secondary sources for information about him. The following is based on my original research.

Clinton’s efforts led to the voters of Los Angeles ousting Mayor Frank Shaw in 1938, often cited as the first mayor of a major U.S. city to be recalled. However, Seattle’s Mayor Hiram C. Gill beat him to it. Gill was booted out in 1911 after less than a year in office, when the public learned that he and his Chief of Police Charles “Wappy” Wapperstein were collecting a large percentage of the receipts from the Northern Club, a saloon-gambling hall-brothel run by a syndicate that included Charles Crawford.

Tacoma Times 10-8-1910

The Tacoma Times 10-8-1910

Born in Youngstown, Ohio in 1879 to Amelia and William Crawford, Charles was one of several children.

By the summer of 1910 Crawford had a thriving saloon on Sixth Avenue in Seattle’s tenderloin district and enjoyed steaming around Puget Sound in his private yacht, the Princess Chimay. Gill had been elected mayor earlier that year, having openly campaigned on an “open town” policy toward saloons and brothels. Within months however, the Gill administration had gone too far for even the most tolerant citizenry, when it became public knowledge that Wappy, more or less acting as the mayor’s bagman, was collecting a hefty per-girl profit from the Northern Club. The club’s brief but profitable 54 day run came to a close and a petition calling for Mayor Gill’s recall circulated in October 1910, calling Gill unfit and incompetent for the office, accusing him of having made improper appointments, failing to enforce the law and giving harbor to criminals.

Undaunted, Crawford and another Northern Club partner, Gideon Tupper, opened a new club across from the golf and country club. “They are of the opinion that there will be some mighty rich pickings thereabouts during the winter season. It will be a joy ride that you read about, when things get under full head way, for the women of the town to flock out there by automobile loads to spend a few hours in a resort conveniently close to the man with the money.” The Seattle Republican wrote on December 9, 1910.

In February 1911, Gill was duly recalled. He blamed his downfall on the women’s vote, women having been granted suffrage in Washington State the previous year. Wappy indicted on seven counts of bribery related to the Northern Club profits. Tupper faced some time in the hot seat, but not Crawford. Wappy was ultimately found guilty but the case was appealed.

Some sources say Gill’s recall send Crawford scampering to Los Angeles. But he still listed his address as Seattle as of September 1911, when he married his second wife in Salt Lake City. Crawford had relocated to Los Angeles by January 1914 for sure, however, and took over an existing public house, the Maple Cafe and Saloon.

Amelia and one of his brothers, George, had been living in the area, in Pasadena, as of 1910 at least.

Charlie Crawford c. 1915. LAPL

Charlie Crawford c. 1915.

Frank DeMonde opened 230 East Fifth as the Maple Café & Saloon in early 1899, having taking  over the lease in October 1898.

The property was a 2-story building on the southwest corner of Fifth Street and Maple Avenue that included the addresses 224-230 East Fifth. In 1891, a man named John Joseph Donovan had a saloon here, using the addresses 226 and 230 East Fifth. Donovan died in November 1893. His wife, Mary Ellen Donovan retained ownership of the property.

In March 1905, the Los Angeles Herald, in a survey of the city’s saloons, called DeMonde’s bar “one of the most popular places of good cheer in Los Angeles…spacious and well arranged.”

3-9-1905. Los Angeles Herald

3-9-1905. Los Angeles Herald

In January 1914 Crawford applied for a permit to make $2000 worth of improvements to the place, which was also used the address 226 East Fifth Street.

9/4/1916. LA Record.

Some say Crawford’s Maple Bar included gambling in the back room and a brothel upstairs. There’s good reason to assume that this was the case. The “rooming house” upstairs, addressed as 226-1/2, would continue to be associated with prostitution and linked to Crawford (as well as Donovan) in 1930.

In November 1917, Los Angeles voters passed the Gandier Ordinance, which closed saloons in the city limits, banned sales of strong liquor and severely limited where and when beverages containing even a minimal percentage of alcohol could be sold.

What Gandier ordinence? Lunch with a quart of beer at Charlie’s. Note the address- 226 East Fifth Street. 7/17/1918. LA Record.

3/27/1919. LA Record.

With national prohibition on the horizon, Congress passed the temporary Wartime Prohibition Act, effective July 1, 1919, which forbade the sale of intoxicants with greater than 2.75% alcohol. In Los Angeles, chaos reigned among saloons and law enforcement as it was not clear whether the federal law took precedence over local law, or if not, whether 2.75% “war brew” beer was considered an “alcoholic liquor” forbidden under the Gandier Ordinance.

Los Angeles Herald, 8-21-1919

Los Angeles Herald, 8-21-1919

City police made frequent raids of establishments that sold war brew and arrested the proprietors. Charles H. Crawford and the Maple Bar were a frequent target. Crawford emerged as a spokesperson for the other “café” owners who opposed the Gandier Ordinance as well as the Anti-Saloon League’s suggested solution (ultimately rejected by the City Council) that LA adopt a “bone-dry” ordinance banning alcoholic beverages altogether, regardless of the percentage. At midnight, January 16, 1920, however, Los Angeles went “bone-dry” along with the rest of the country.

Interior of the Maple Bar after yeggs broke into its safe, 8/28/1922. LA Evening Express.

Crawford’s outspokenness in the Gandier Ordinance may have attracted the attention of Kent Kayne Parrot. The USC-educated lawyer and Crawford formed an alliance and their candidate George Cryer was elected mayor in 1921.

Thereafter the newspapers generously referred to Crawford as a “politician” or political boss. They never called him a criminal or a racketeer. But that’s what he was. Protected by City Hall, he ran a vice syndicate, controlling gambling, prostitution and liquor. Farmer Page was head of the “bootleg trust” rum-running operations in the early days and oversaw the syndicate’s gambling and prostiution activities. According to madam Lee Francis, after Crawford tapped her to run some of his higher end “houses” (brothels in plain talk), it was Page and his brother who bankrolled the set up and had final say. Francis was only one of the Crawford madams. There was also a woman who used the aliases June Taylor and Mrs. A.M. Donovan.

Tutor Scherer also ran gambling rackets for Crawford. He and Page hung out at the former Jim Jeffries bar at 326 South Spring Street, which another gambler of the syndicate, Zeke Caress, had taken over in 1918. Former cigar stor operator Bob Gans supplied the slot machines.

Crawford also took on a protégé of sorts, a police officer named Guy McAfee. He could have met McAfee when the latter was raiding Crawford-backed establishments with fellow officer Harry Raymond. Crawford cultivated McAfee, who quit the police force in 1920 and rose quickly through the ranks of the syndicate. He may have had ambitions of becoming the “political boss” of LA himself.

But in the first half of the 1920s, Crawford was riding high. He had a mansion in Beverly Hills. He had real estate holdings all over town. In 1923, he bought an office on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and dabbled in real estate. My post on that property, at 6665 Sunset, can be found here.

In August 1927, Crawford, with help from the LAPD’s Dick Lucas, Harry Raymond and others on his payroll within the department’s ranks, engineered the trumped-up arrest on a “morals charge” of City Councilman Carl Jacobson. Since taking his seat in 1925, Jacobson had been a thorn in the syndicate’s side, calling loudly for police to Do Something about the joints run by Farmer Page and one of Crawford’s minions, Albert Marco. Marco helped with the liquor and brothel operations. The embarassment of the arrest may have quieted Jacobson for the short term but would come back to bite Crawford. And it didn’t stop his minion Marco from being arrested later that year by federal prohibition officers and convicted for violation of the Volstead Act.

Marco was free on bond while appealing his federal charges; the appeals failed and in June 1928 Marco was supposed to report to US Marshals to begin serving his time. He did not do so, however, and at the end of June was arrested in Venice, California, for assault with a deadly weapon. Captain Roy Steckel of the Venice division testified that Marco had tried to bribe him into letting him go. Steckel refused, he said, and Marco went to trial. David H. Clark was the Deputy D.A. who prosecuted him. Marco’s first trial ended with a hung jury, but Clark successfully convicted him on September 7, 1928.

It was a blow to Crawford (though his name was not linked publicly to Marco’s during the ordeal), and possibly the first move in an underworld takeover bid by McAfee. It’s true that his power seemed to rise as Crawford’s power declined.

The next crack in the Crawford stronghold was Kent Parrot breaking with Mayor Cryer in late 1928. Cryer decided not to run for reelection.

Then on January 1, 1929, Crawford’s name was not only to linked to Marco’s but he was being publicly accused with Marco of having engineered the arrest of Carl Jacobson in 1927. The woman in the case, who called herself Callie Grimes, swore out a statement as to her part in it and said that Crawford, Marco, Guy McAfee consipired with the police. They denied it. McAfee was never charged and his name quickly faded away from any association with the incident. On February 20, 1929, however, Crawford, Marco, Harry Raymond, Dick Lucas, and three other police officers were indicted for conspiracy to frame Jacobson.

2-20-1929. LA Times

Crawford (3rd from right) and the others accused in the Jacobson case. 2-20-1929. LA Times

Crawford’s lawyer, the mob’s go-to mouthpiece Gerry Geisler, argued that there was no evidence linking Crawford to the conspiracy. Which of course, there wouldn’t be. The boss always makes sure of that. The testimony of a co-conspirator was not sufficient to convict, either, as Geisler well knew- so Crawford’s charges were dropped. The others were of course, acquitted. But Lucas and Harry Raymond were fired from the LAPD. Two others involved “retired” soon after. Albert Marco went to prison. Kent Parrot was already gone, Mayor Cryer had been replced by John C. Porter, and, by the end of 1929, Chief of Police James Davis was out and Roy Steckel, the so-called “man who got Marco” was in.

Crawford was soon in the news again. In March 1930, Los Angeles Examiner reporter Morris Lavine and former private secretary to S.C. Lewis of the failed Julian Oil company Leotine Johnson were accused of trying to extort hush-money from Crawford and other “businessmen,” whom Lavine threatened with exposure of asserted criminal acts. At the time of his arrest, Lavine was said to have had $75,000 in marked bills that he’d received from Crawford at his Sunset Boulevard “real estate” office. Lavine told the grand jury that he believed he’d been framed, and challenged D.A. Buron Fitts (who became D.A. after successfully prosecuting his boss Asa Keyes for bribery in the same Julian Oil scandal) to thoroughly investigate the case, calling Crawford out as “an underworld character in this city for the past 20 years.”

Crawford testified before the grand jury on March 11. The LA Evening Express reported that he “broke down” on the stand and t”got confused” under questioning. Tears streaming down his face, “pale and shaking,” he had to be taken to lie down on a couch in an ante-room.

3/11/1930. LA Evening Express.

Lavine and Johnson were indicted on the bribery charges. The story was all about them and not Crawford’s own activties with Julian Oil.

On April 7, 1930, Crawford was publicly linked to prostitution activity at his old stomping grounds, 226 East Fifth Street. Upstairs at 226-1/2, the Maple Hotel “rooming house” was being cited for multiple violations of the Red-Light Abatement Act, a law intended to curb prostitution. D.A. Fitt’s office was threatening to padlock the place, citing 17 arrests of women for “morals violations” at this address since June 1926. As usual, no one had gone after the head of the organization- it was the women who got arrested. And those arrests had not been publicized nor linked to Crawford. Things had changed. Crawford shrugged it off. The building was owned by some woman… Mary Donovan. And Crawford subleased the space to a “Mrs. May Mansfield.” George Copeland, a realtor in Crawford’s office (identified at the time as Crawford’s secretary) was said to be Crawford’s bagman, collecting rents for him at various joints. Copeland later denied it.

The headline he’d managed to avoid but could have been written any time in the last 10 years but wasn’t: Charles Crawford in Vice Probe. But still refers to him as a “politician.” 4/8/1930. LA Illustrated Daily News.

Crawford had been associated with this property since day 1. It was upstairs at his Maple Bar. 4/8/1930. LA Illustrated Daily News.

4/8/1930. LA Illustrated Daily News.

One of the only times he was called “the lone grey wolf” in print before the murder. 4/7/1930. LA Evening Express.

Copeland, id’d as Crawford’s “secretary” here was supposed to be a realtor at Crawford’s office. As usual in such cases, the DA sought the women involved, not the men behind the operation. The only persons ever arrested for this were the brothel workers. 4/7/1930. LA Evening Express.

The story was a 1-day wonder. The friendly Times didn’t cover it at all. Crawford sent Copeland to the D.A’s office to deal with the matter and nothing more was heard of it until October 1931 when these articles were read in court by David Clark’s lawyer.

On April 16, 1930, as the Lavine-Johnson case was getting ready to go to trial, Crawford, S.C. Lewis and former State Corporation Commissioner Jack Friedlander were indicted on bribery-conspiracy charges related to Julian Oil, citing 14 specific instanaces where money changed hands between February 25, 1927 to September 1, 1929. Through his lawyer, Crawford denied the charges, proclaiming himself the victim of a “political plot.” It always is, when they get caught.

4-16-1930. LA Times

4-16-1930. LA Times.

On April 29, 1930, Crawford, as key witness in the Levine-Johnson extortion case, declared that he would not testify, only to reluctantly do so on April 30. With his lawyer accompanying him to the stand, Crawford told the court that he’d given Lavine $75,000 of his own money at his office at 6665 Sunset Blvd. He admitted meeting with Kent Parrot, Friedlander and others, but refused to state the reason, or to to explain why he’d given Lavine the money, on the grounds that he might incriminate himself. He denied framing or trapping Lavine. That was not entirely true. The DA’s office and Crawford had set up a sting to get Lavine.

5/1/1930. LAT.

Leaving the courtroom, he told Times reporters “I am not interested in getting anyone in jail. I feel sorry for Lavine and Miss Johnson, but I did the only thing left for me to do after he and she had threatened me. They came to me with their shake-down plan and tried to make me aid their scheme to extort money not only from myself but men that I know, and several others that I never heard of. I told them I had nothing to do with the matters that they were writing, but they would not listen. I did the only thing that I could do to protect myself and my interests.”

The trial ended in a hung jury, with a lone hold-out against conviction of Lavine and Johnson.

As a new Lavine-Johnson trial got underway in late June 1930, Crawford was very publicly joined St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, run by pastor Rev. Dr. Gustav A. Briegleb. Briegleb like Bob Shuler had been an outspoken critic of the LAPD and the underworld. In 1928, he’d championed Mrs. Cristine Collins in her unlawful detainment suit against the LAPD.

Was this Crawford cultivating his enemies as part of his “comback” plan to wrest control from McAdee?

Crawford showily dropped a diamond ring worth $3500 into the collection plate with a note urging Dr. Briegleb to sell the ring and use the money to build a parish house Sunday school.

7-1-1930. LA Times

7-1-1930. LA Times

Lavine and Johnson were found guilty on the extortion charges July 4, 1930 and given a year in County Jail and fines of $5000.

The battle then began over the $75,000 Crawford had paid to Lavine. Currently held by the County Clerk, Lavine’s conviction theoretically meant that Crawford (still facing trial for bribery) was entitled to get the money back. However, the estate of the bankrupt A.G. Wagy & Co. investment firm sued Crawford and Lavine in U.S. court, asserting that Crawford owed the company excess of $40,000 over a Julian Oil stock deal. Crawford claimed in U.S. Court that September that he’d been receiving threats that he had better give Wagy its share of the money or else. Lavine, who was appealing his case, maintained that it was his money and no one else had a right to it.

7-3-1930. LA Times

7-3-1930. LA Times

On October 20, 1930, D.A. Fitts suddenly dropped the bribery charges against Crawford, Friedlander and Lewis for our old friend, “lack of evidence.”

A couple weeks later, Crawford donated $25,000 to Briegleb’s St. Paul’s for the construction of a new church.

In February 1931, the Times ran a story about a massive new apartment building Crawford the real estate man was planning to build in Hollywood. Architect Scott Quentin, who would also design the new St. Paul’s, drew up the plans for the proposed venture. Crawford told reporters only families with children would be able to rent from his place. It was never built. It was 100% pure pie-in-the-sky hokum of the first order.

Crawford’s “proposed” apartment building for Sunset Boulevard. Yeah sure. 2/15/1931. LAT.

The apartment building was only of one of several projects Crawford’s totally legit real estate business was advertising in March 1931. 3/14/1931. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

Located at Jefferson Blvd. and Third St., the St. Paul’s Church Crawford had helped finance was dedicated on May 17, 1931. The Sunday school building was named the Amelia Crawford Memorial in honor of Crawford’s gray-haired mother.

5/18/1931. LA Illustrated Daily News.


St. Paul’s, designed by Scott Quentin, who also designed a never-built apartment complex on Sunset Boulevard for Crawford. LA Times photo.

Three days later, Crawford was dead, victim of a double homicide that also took the life of newspaper man Herbert F. Spencer. The two were shot to death at Crawford’s 6665 Sunset Blvd. office at roughly 4:30 in the afternoon. Spencer expired on Sunset Boulevard after, though mortally wounded, giving chase to the assailant. Crawford died at Georgia Street Receiving Hospital later that evening, ostensibly without revealing the name of his assailant.

Motives for the crime were proposed and speculated about. Initially it was generally agreed that it was gang-related, a battle for the title of underworld boss of LA; or Crawford and Spencer were shot to silence them, to keep them from exposing the LA vice rackets.

Battle for LA Vice Power in the LA Evening Express. 5/21/1931.

Crwford's offices, 6665 Sunset Blvd., 1931. LA Times.

In the Crawford-friendly Times, it’s a “political” tragedy. Crawford’s offices, 6665 Sunset Blvd., 8/2/1931. LAT.

Born in 1890, Herbert F. Spencer was in LA in 1912. He started out as a reporter for the Los Angeles Record, where under the pseudonym “John Danger” he had written a series of underworld exposes that ran from June to September 1914.

Herbert Spencer as John Danger- exposing the Vernon resort of Baron Long. 6/26/1914. Los Angeles Record.

From the Record, Spencer moved to the Los Angeles Evening Express and continued to write about vice and official graft. In 1926 he became the paper’s City Editor. In the early 1900s, The Evening Express under E.T. Earl had been the anti-LA Times. It’s vice protection investigations in 1909 had lad to a recall effort against then-Mayor Arthur C. Harper; Harper resigned before a recall election was held, otherwise he’d have been the first mayor of a major US city to be recalled from office.

Around January 1931, Spencer bought a half-interest in Critic of Critics, a periodical owned by Frederick “Mike” Schindler and left the Evening Express. Schindler, too, had been a reporter for the LA Record and then for the LA Express during Spencer’s time as city editor. Schindler wrote, among other things, about the mysterious disappearance of evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson in 1926 and the LAPD officers who quietly kept their jobs even after being accused of beating an elderly citizen, Henry Bate.

Critic of Critics, with Schindler writing and Spencer providing the “inside information” had repeatedly attacked McAfee, exposing him as a vice overlord, the “Al Capone of Los Angeles.”

Schindler told the LA Illustrated Daily News that it had come to his and Spencer’s attention that Crawford was bragging that he financially backed the Critic of Critics– which Schindler denied. He said that Spencer was going to get Crawford to issue a statement denying the rumors and believed that was what Spencer was doing there the day of the murder.

One of the first to be questioned was Guy McAfee, whose former association with Crawford and their recent parting of ways was now widely reported. “I made him and I can break him!” Crawford is supposed to have said.

There was initially speculation after the murders as to whether this was another Jake Lingle situation. Lingle was a Chicago Tribune reporter shot down in broad daylight gangland style on June 9, 1930. It later came out that Lingle had been working with the Al Capone of Chicago.

It was possible that Spencer believed that Crawford had reformed and wanted to help. Crawford most certainly had no real interest in reforming or in combating vice in the city. He was using Spencer, and Critic of Critics, to take down McAfee. The LA underworld had long fought its vice battles this way. In 1909 it was the LA Express and prohibitionist Wiley J. Phillips’ California Voice, being fed information by the pre-Crawford boss of the tenderloin Nick Oswald to take down his former ally turned rival Tom Savage.

McAfee had an alibi for the time of the murder. Because of course he did. He was at the Hall of Justice at the time. Of course he was. He was dismissed as a suspect.

Albert Marco’s name cropped up as police sought to question “June Taylor,” described as  “hotel owner” and a “sweetheart” of Marco’s who had visited him in prison shortly after the murders. Marco, now prisoner #46930, issued denials that he’d had anything to do with it, as if he was capable of masterminding a hit on his onetime sponsor from San Quentin. Marco himself had been called the “Capone of Los Angeles” during his trials; though he did have a similar physique, he was no Al Capone.

Superior Judge John L. Fleming also had some explaining to do. A letter from him dated March 20, 1931 was found in Crawford’s office thanking Crawford for a “substantial deposit.” Fleming lamely told reporters that as president of the Washington Commercial and Savings Bank of Venice, why “naturally” he would write (on Superior Court stationary!) to thank Crawford, whom he asserted he had never met. In August 1931 Fleming would be forced to resign from the bank’s board, and the following year was subject to a judicial recall – accused of using his official position and power to hand our receiverships as a means of furthering his outside business interests. He had twice given receiverships to W.A. Jacobson, a Crawford henchman. LA voters recalled him from the bench in November 1932.


Crawford’s funeral took place at the church he’d so recently helped fund, on May 23. Guy McAfee, Farmer Page and Tutor Scherer sent flowers.

Crawford memorial service. UCLA digital.

Boy scouts flank Crawford’s coffin during his memorial service. UCLA.

929 N. Rexford Dr., Beverly Hills

The Crawford mansion, 929 N. Rexford Dr., Beverly Hills. LA Times photo.

Then suddenly former Deputy D.A. David H. Clark confessed to the shootings, claiming self-defense. Rumors surfaced that Crawford possessed compromising photos of Clark taken back in 1928 when Clark was prosecuting Albert Marco for assault with a deadly weapon, and had threatened to use them to blackmail Clark, who was currently running for municipal court judge. The set up sounds similar to what happened to Carl Jacobson. However, if Crawford did have these pictures, they weren’t used- and Marco was convicted.

Clark denied the blackmail story, insisting that Crawford had admitted he’d been planning a “comeback” in the underworld and tried to involve him in a plot to frame chief of police Roy Steckel; Clark said he refused and the two had a heated argument that climaxed with Crawford brandishing a gun. He said he’d shot in self-defense.

No one was telling the whole truth, and certainly not nothing but the truth. But this was not a case that anyone intended to solve. For all the gallons of ink the papers devoted to it- full of mystery blondes, and black books (Dave Clark’s, Crawford’s) and jailhouse interviews with Albert Marco, nothing much was actually said or revealed. The floodgates opened about Crawford’s role in the underworld, but the papers never looked inward at why they knew all this but politely called him a “politician” or a “real estate man” for all those years. Nobody wanted Crawford’s secrets to come out.

Crawford's brother George examining an exhibit of guns at Dave Clark's trial, August 1931. UCLA.

Crawford’s brother George examining an exhibit of guns at Dave Clark’s trial, August 1931. UCLA.

Dave Clark was put on trial for Herbert Spencer’s murder in June 1931. Neither he nor anyone else was ever tried for Crawford’s murder.

The first trial for the Spencer murder ended in a hung jury. Crawford’s widow Ella E. Crawford implored D.A. Fitts not to pursue a retrial, charging that her husband’s name was being dragged through the mud and moreover, the prosecution was asking her to help fund the investigation! The families of criminals always get huffy when you suggest their loved one was bent as a paper clip.

Special Prosecutor W. Joseph Ford explained that Mrs. Crawford’s attorney had suggested conducting an independent investigation of the jury members; Ford said they would have to finance it themselves. And curiously, it was the prosecution blocking “dirt” about Crawford from being introduced in the case. Ford and Fitts kept an alleged report documenting Crawford’s connections to Lee Francis from coming out. Clark’s defense lawyer, W.I. Gilbert, fought for it to be included.

A second trial duly went forward and resulted in Clark’s acquittal, October 1931. Of course it did.

And McAfee did, for the record, take over as crime aka “political” boss of LA. His candidate, Frank Shaw, was elected in June 1933.

Crawford left an estate said to be valued at $113,724 including real property and the $75,000 given to Lavine.

Only days before the murders, the Wagy case had been settled in Crawford’s favor. The money, however, turned up missing. So did Chief Deputy County Clerk Liberty A. Hill, whose job it had been to watch over it. A nationwide manhunt for Hill ensued. He was found in Reno, arrested and brought back to Los Angeles to face 16 counts of embezzlement and 16 counts of grand theft. Hill said that he’d given the money back to Crawford two or three days before the murders, but could not produce a receipt. The prosecution, however, had evidence that the marked bills were squandered in the stock market. Hill was found guilty on July 1, 1932 and sent to San Quentin.


5-17-1932. LA Times.

Liberty Hill (center) in court , 1932. UCLA digital.

Liberty Hill (center) in court, 1932. UCLA.

The matter of the “Crawford cash” remained unsettled. In September, Union Bank & Trust Co., as executors of Crawford’s estate, filed suit, demanding the County cough up the $75,000. In January 1933, a judge held the County, specifically Hill’s supervisor, liable for the money, having entrusted it to Hill’s care. The Appellate Court reversed the decision in December 1934. In May 1935, the Crawford estate sued Hill’s former boss and two bonding companies in an attempt to recover the cash, but lost the suit in November.

11-8-1935. LA Times

11-8-1935. LA Times.

Crawford’s widow had a shopping center built on the site of Crawford’s onetime Sunset Blvd. offices. Known as the Cross Roads of the World, it opened in October 1936.

Cross Roads of the World, 6665 - 6671 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood.

Cross Roads of the World, 6665 – 6671 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood.


Top image: Charles H. Crawford on the stand, 1930. UCLA.

A Charles H. or C.H. Crawford appears in pre-1914 city directories; he is not the same Charles Crawford.

In January 1912, Gill decided to throw his hat in the mayoral ring again, campaigning on the “open town” platform as before and promising the “same kind of administration for which he was recalled.” His opponent, George F. Cotterill, though a “prohibition man” himself, assured voters that he would “not advocate such theories as mayor” (Los Angeles Herald, 3-5-1912). Gill lost. He ran again in 1914- this time on a reform ticket, vowing to turn the town dry, and was elected. In November of that year, Washington voters approve a statewide prohibition measure.

Mary Ellen Donovan, born c. 1858, remarried in July 1898 and is also know as Mary Ellen Cain. Both she and her son James Joseph Cain (who married a woman also named Mary Ellen in 1904; she died in 1934) took out permits for alterations to 226 and 226-1/2 East Fifth St. in 1919 and 1920. A “Mrs. M. Donovan” is still listed as the owner in 1949.

230 East Fifth St. was still referred to as the “Maple Hotel” as of 1951. The building, addressed as 224-230 East Fifth St., was demolished in December 1955.

Inquiries related to the $75,000 “Crawford cash” disclosed that Crawford and Kent Parrott had a joint investment account.

S.C. Lewis was arrested in San Francisco on April 10, 1932 with Chicago gangsters Frankie Foster and Eddie Rollins in connection with the theft of $100,000 worth of jewelry from a patron of the Palace Hotel.

Lavine and Johnston were at liberty while they appealed their case. After being denied in the lower state courts, in August 1931 they got approval to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lavine and Johnson, who had yet to serve their time or pay their fines in their 1930 extortion convictions, finally gave up and entered the county jail on July 18, 1932. Lavine was pardoned by Governor Rolph in January 1934. Lavine, who practiced law, sought reinstatement to the bar. Though initially denied, he won reinstatement in March 1936. Clients included Hollywood madam Lee Francis, who had originally backed by Crawford, following her 1940 arrest; and former County Jail physician Dr. Benjamin Blank, who was let go in December 1940 after it became known that he’d allowed Bugsy Siegel to leave jail on numerous occasions while awaiting trial for murder. Along with Sam Rummel, in 1941 Lavine also represented Deputy Sheriff Charles Rittenhouse (who had arrested Lee Francis) when Rittenhouse was charged with 61 counts of bribery in a Sunset Strip protection pay-off case. Mickey Cohen was another client. Lavine was disbarred again in 1954 but the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the decision.

Liberty Hill, after his case was unsuccessfully appealed, entered prison in July 1932. He was paroled in 1937.

Nick Oswald was still around. Most recently his name had come up as an owner of the gambling ship Monfalcone.