DATE OF EVENT: Saturday, Jan. 9, 1937
DATE PUBLISHED: Sunday, Jan. 10, 1937, in The Kansas City Star
Editor?s note: Investigations into election fraud ? and the convictions that eventually followed ?? played a key role in the collapse of the Pendergast machine in Kansas City. The fraud had helped keep the machine running, inflating vote totals and assuring Democrats of power. After four persons were killed in the 1934 city elections, The Star began to study the machine?s system and uncovered widespread corruption. One funeral parlor was listed as housing 17 registered voters, when in fact only one person lived there.
Later, when a federal grand jury returned indictments, it would foreshadow Pendergast?s downfall.
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?The grand jury just has started its work,? Maurice M. Milligan, United States district attorney, said late yesterday following the return of indictments against thirty persons by the federal grand jury on the probe of alleged fraud in last November?s election. ?More evidence of election frauds will go before the jury when it reconvenes Tuesday morning,? Mr. Milligan continued.
The thirty precinct election officials and workers from the twelfth ward indicted yesterday by the jury must appear tomorrow in federal court to plead formally to the indictments and make bonds. Judge Albert L. Reeves, who received the jury?s first report, will fix the amount of the bonds in court tomorrow, it is understood?
Capias warrants for the arrest of the thirty men and women, in addition to six more charged in secret indictments, were issued late yesterday by Judge Reeves. The warrants were turned over to Henry L. Dillingham, United States marshal.
?I will see personally that the defendants are in court by 9:30 o?clock Monday morning,? Mr. Dillingham promised. He said he believed the defendants should be permitted to remain at their homes over Sunday. ?
The charge against all thirty persons whose names have been disclosed is, in effect, that they conspired to, and did in fact, deprive certain legal voters of their right to vote and to have that vote counted for the candidate for whom they cast the votes.
The thirty persons, Democrats and Republicans, men and women, all of the Twelfth ward, named in the four indictments made public are ?
The indictment charging those in the seventeenth precinct of the twelfth ward alleges they ?falsely, fraudulently, untruthfully and corruptly erased, eradicated and rubbed out from certain of the ballots cast in the precinct the cross-mark which was placed thereon to denote the intention of the voters to vote for candidates of the Republican party for election to the office of presidential elector in and for the state of Missouri, and falsely forged on said ballots a cross-mark denoting that the voters had voted for the Democratic candidate for representative in congress, instead of the Republican candidate.??
Next the indictments charge that after voters had duly and legally made out, marked and cast their votes as ?they and each of them meant, intended and desired said votes to be counted, recorded, certified and returned,? the defendants ?unlawfully, willfully, knowingly and with fraudulent intent falsely, fraudulently, untruthfully and corruptly count, record and certify and permit to be falsely, fraudulently, untruthfully and corruptly counted, recorded and certified, and cause the judges and clerks of election?to count and record and certify to the board of election commissioners the votes of said voters as having been actually and in fact cast by said voters for persons who were candidates opposing the persons for whom said votes were actually cast??
In the second count, a new overt act charges ?That the defendants altered, falsified, changed and forged the ballots of the voters, so as to give them the resemblance of having been marked, voted and cast for the Democratic candidate for representative in congress, instead of the Republican candidate for that office, for whom they actually were cast.??