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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Oil claims subject of fraud investigation

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 3, 2022

Experts were being called into Spokane to examine if the “seepage” in the basement of a home along Southeast Boulevard was made of natural oil, or was it fake oil as part of a fraud scheme, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Jan. 4, 1921.
Experts were being called into Spokane to examine if the “seepage” in the basement of a home along Southeast Boulevard was made of natural oil, or was it fake oil as part of a fraud scheme, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Jan. 4, 1921.
By Jim Kershner For The Spokesman-Review

The debate was not yet finished over this question: Was the “seepage” in the basement of home along Southeast Boulevard made of natural oil, or was it fake oil as part of a fraud scheme?

Two government officials arrived in Spokane to further investigate this question. One was L.C. Calkins, “a geologist of national reputation,” and the second was J.S. Swenson, a postal inspector specializing in mail fraud.

The question had seemingly been answered when the owner of the basement, Alfred L’Ecuyer had been cleared of charges of fraud due to lack of evidence. Yet the U.S. attorney in Spokane clearly was not yet convinced.

“They are taking samples and examining the cuttings that come from the drills which are operating in Spokane,” said the Spokane Daily Chronicle.

L’Ecuyer, who had consistently claimed innocence, said he was cooperating with the inspectors.

From the bigamy beat: A Canadian boilermaker living in Spokane, Frank E. Carpenter, 41, sent for Mabel Roberts of Cranbook, B.C., and married her here in December.

The only problem was, Carpenter was already married. To two other wives.

His first wife was Annie Morrison, whom he apparently abandoned when he went off to war with the Canadian forces. His second wife was Winnie Black, whom he married in Toronto, but he apparently abandoned her when he was sent to jail in Canada for bigamy. He had never divorced either of them.

Spokane police and immigration officials arrested Carpenter in his Spokane rooming house. His wife (No. 3) was being held as a witness.

Both she and Carpenter would probably be deported back to Canada to face consequences there.

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