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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Hotel manager on trial for running illegal booze ring

 (SR Archives / SR Archives)
(SR Archives / SR Archives)

From our archive, 100 years ago

The Spokane Hotel liquor trial, in which manager J.G. Simpson was accused of running a vast booze ring, was underway in Superior Court.

Simpson was charged with exploiting a loophole in the state’s prohibition law which allowed people to get permits to bring in liquor from out of state. Prosecutors said Simpson operated a suite in the hotel which made it possible for people to buy booze without ever leaving the state.

A hotel porter testified that Simpson devoted nearly all of his time to running the “permit room.”

“I helped him when there was a rush and at odd times,” said the porter. “Men came to the room with their permits, and Simpson, after asking them what kind of liquor they wanted, would make a notation and issue claim checks. He would telegraph to Butte orders for the liquor, and when it came, the permit was pasted on the package, the liquor delivered and money collected.”

Police raided the suite after receiving several tips. Then they pretended to be clerks in the permit room, and “waited” on 15 more unsuspecting customers before shutting down the operation for good.

From the drowning beat: Fred Huber, 33, a steelworker on a new Spokane River bridge near the upriver pumping station, was attempting to float a raft into position using a pike pole. The pole slipped, and he fell into the river.

His fellow workers rushed to rescue him with poles and ropes, but he floated downstream and vanished. His body still had not been recovered.

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