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Monday, March 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Bootlegger accuses police officer of taking a bribe

J.L. “Dago” Smith, a bootlegger, went to police and accused J.S. “Stub” Hooker, proprietor of the Peyton Barber Shop, of double-crossing him and making off with eight cases of his whiskey and a police officer of taking a bribe the Spokane Dailly Chronicle reported on Sept. 24, 1918. (Spokesman-Review archives)
J.L. “Dago” Smith, a bootlegger, went to police and accused J.S. “Stub” Hooker, proprietor of the Peyton Barber Shop, of double-crossing him and making off with eight cases of his whiskey and a police officer of taking a bribe the Spokane Dailly Chronicle reported on Sept. 24, 1918. (Spokesman-Review archives)

An expose of a bootlegging scheme resulted in the arrest of a prominent local barber and the suspension of Spokane police officer.

Or was it all a frame-up?

The arrests were made after J.L. “Dago” Smith, a bootlegger, went to police and accused J.S. “Stub” Hooker, proprietor of the Peyton Barber Shop, of double-crossing him and making off with eight cases of his whiskey.

Here’s how Smith described the “trick” that was played on him:

Smith said he made a deal to sell Hooker 192 pints of whiskey. The two met on a dark corner and loaded the whiskey into Hooker’s car. They drove to Hooker’s house to complete the payment, and Hooker told Smith to “go unlock the garage at the rear.”

When Smith was unlocking the garage, Spokane police officer James Donovan emerged from the shadows and accused the pair of having a carload of illegal whiskey. Hooker told officer Donovan, “There is no use of us all going to jail. We ought to be able to fix this up.”

They all went to a “quiet place to talk it over.” Donovan asked Smith how much money he had, and he replied, “Only $20.” Donovan said that wasn’t enough, but Hooker piped up and said he had $150.

So Smith gave the officer $20 and Hooker “pretended” to pay him $150. Then Donovan drove off with the whiskey and the money.

Smith immediately suspected he had been bamboozled by both of them and went directly to police with the story. Police arrested Hooker for bootlegging and Donovan for taking a bribe.

However, Hooker and Donovan both claimed they were innocent and it was all a clever frame-up by Smith. The investigation continued.

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