Secret Partners: Big Tom Brown and the Barker Gang

By Tim Mahoney

 Among the main harmful criminals of the general public enemies period was once a guy who has lengthy hidden in history’s shadows: Tom Brown. within the early Thirties, whereas he used to be police leader of St. Paul, Minnesota, Brown turned a mystery companion of the notorious Barker gang. He profited from their violent crimes, he secure the crowd from raids by means of the nascent FBI—and whereas he did all this, the gangsters gunned down police officers and voters in his hometown.

Big Tom Brown, 6'5" and 275 kilos, endured to implement St. Paul’s corrupt O’Connor method, permitting criminals to stick within the urban so long as they paid off the police officers and devoted no crimes inside of fifty miles. yet within the early Thirties, the method broke down: now not supported by way of funds skimmed from unlawful booze, gangsters grew to become to robbing banks, and the Barker gang abducted of the sought after voters who were complicit within the liquor exchange. Brown was once the insider who stored the criminals safe—but for hugely political purposes, he used to be by no means convicted of his crimes.

Timothy Mahoney tells this interesting tale, info how the fraud used to be exposed, and finally exposes the corruption of a mystery partnership.

Timothy Mahoney, an editor on the St. Paul Pioneer Press, previously labored on the San Francisco Chronicle and the Wisconsin kingdom Journal and has additionally taught journalism and English. he's the writer of 2 novels.

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Roadhouses, cafés, grocery shops, voters jogging down the street—all have been robbed at gunpoint. jewellery shops have been frequently held up, as have been banks open air town limits. whereas today’s financial institution robbers are usually lone desperados armed with a word, those heists have been pulled off via brazen machine-gun gangs who occasionally bought away with the similar of $1 million or extra. In 1927, Minnesota’s governor named a panel of amazing voters to enquire the financial institution robberies and gangland slayings. They concluded that neighborhood police had failed of their tasks and echoed prior demands the institution of a kingdom police strength. How did a cop with one of these blemished popularity develop into leader of police? The FBI finally chanced on the reply to that question. whilst Brown used to be appointed leader, in 1930, there have been 3 underworld energy agents, and he used to be allied with them all. The kingmaker was once Leon Gleckman, whose puppets sat at the urban council. Brown additionally had connections to 2 felony fixers, nightclub operators Harry Sawyer on the eco-friendly Lantern and Jack Peifer on the Hollyhocks. yet a extra valid strength dealer additionally subsidized Brown. He was once Adolph Bremer, a multimillionaire banker and brewer. He had made a fortune in the course of Prohibition. His Schmidt’s beer confirmed up in barrels on the eco-friendly Lantern and different speakeasies. His advertisement country financial institution profited from the bills of Leon Gleckman, Harry Sawyer, and lots of different gangsters and bootleggers. The FBI additionally realized that Bremer’s financial institution had laundered stolen funds and securities. Adolph Bremer had connections either low and high. He was once an influence within the Democratic social gathering and had an outstanding many associates and allies. It was once Adolph Bremer who made a behind-the-scenes push to get Tom Brown appointed police leader. The good fortune of his brewery in the course of Prohibition depended upon a corrupt police strength. He ultimately admitted that to the FBI. Adolph Bremer could quickly remorse backing titanic Tom Brown, his sour tears illuminated by means of the flash of reports cameras. four ROARING in the course of the OZARKS so far as an individual is familiar with, Tom Brown by no means met Ma Barker, even if he may have a disastrous impression on her existence. through the Roaring Twenties, whereas Brown used to be graduating from tavern bribery to wholesale corruption, Ma Barker’s boys have been roaring during the Ozarks. the men have been Scotch-Irish on either side, with, a few proposal, just a little Cherokee ancestry. the top scholarly mark any Barker boy reached was once 8th grade. yet their father, a miner, gave them a backcountry schooling in fishing and searching that will final all their lives. George and Kate Barker raised their sons on Presbyterian revivals, however the gentle of the Lord quickly light to the beam of a burglar’s flashlight. All 4 boys joined numerous gangs, committing road robberies, motor vehicle thefts, burglaries, and occasionally homicide. via all money owed Kate used to be a controlling mom, keen about her sons, and when they landed in legal she lobbied demanding for his or her liberate. In Tulsa, her boys ran with the scourge of that oil boomtown, the primary Park gang.

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