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100 years ago in Spokane: Police officer accused of keeping liquor seized from bootlegger

One Spokane police officer, E.I. Prather, was dismissed from the police force, while another, V.B. Benaway, was reinstated after a civil service hearing examining a bootlegging case in which the police were accused of not taking confiscated liquor to the police station. (Spokesman-Review archives)
One Spokane police officer, E.I. Prather, was dismissed from the police force, while another, V.B. Benaway, was reinstated after a civil service hearing examining a bootlegging case in which the police were accused of not taking confiscated liquor to the police station. (Spokesman-Review archives)

One Spokane police officer. E.I. Prather, was dismissed from the police force, while another, V.B. Benaway, was reinstated after a civil service hearing.

Both officers had been charged with seizing 11 cases of liquor from bootlegger Frank “Red” Sullivan” and not delivering it to the police station. However, this was in dispute. The board’s action seemed to be based on the conclusion that Prather had withheld information from the police chief when confronted.

The board determined that Prather was the instigator of this liquor raid, while the other officer was simply brought along. They also determined that Prather was acquainted with Red Sullivan, while the other officer was not.

The testimony painted a picture of competing bootlegger gangs stealing from, and informing on, each other. Some of them may have been in cahoots with police. One of the bootleggers went by the name “Scarfaced Brown.”

From the draft beat: Mike Laleff, a Bulgarian in Spokane, applied for conscientious objector status because he said the Holy Ghost came to him in the woods and told him not to go to war.

Laleff even brought a photo of himself to “show how he looked recently when the Holy Ghost came to him.” He claimed that the photo “pictures him just as he was when he went into the woods to atone for wrongs he has done.”

The board rejected his claim.


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