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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

A lifelong con man named Matt Glaster, 60, was arrested for running a “wire” swindle – and he proceeded to lecture the Spokane police chief about why the police should leave him alone.

“I don’t think you ought to arrest a man for ‘skinning a sucker,’ chief,” said Glaster. “It may be all right to get after crooks who hold up trains, or yeggs who blow safes, but taking a sucker’s surplus money away – why, that’s a legitimate occupation.”

He said he had never “skinned a sucker who wasn’t trying to skin me.” They all think “they’re beating you out of something, or they wouldn’t bite.”

Glaster’s nickname throughout the region was “The Sheep.” Glaster, however, was usually the one doing the fleecing.

He was caught bilking John Burns, a visiting California fruit grower. Glaster and his associates told Burns they had a foolproof method for winning horse bets, because they received advance information over the wire in their secret underground betting hall and poolroom.

They even showed Burns the door of their subterranean lair.

Burns “bit,” and gave Glaster all of his money, $215. When he tried to collect his “winnings,” Glaster said there was an unfortunate mix-up in the names of the horses. But he gave Burns $10, just to tide him over.

The door, by the way, turned out to be the basement door of Lewis and Clark High School.

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