Felder is Charged with Bribe Offer for Phagan Papers

Felder is ChargedAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Saturday, May 24th, 1913

City Detective Department Holds Statements Alleging Attorney Made Attempt to Secure Coleman Affidavit.


Report of Conversation Between Col. Felder, Secretary Febuary and A. S. Colyar Taken Down by Gentry

Colonel Thomas B. Felder—the man who brought the dictograph south and used it with such telling effect in the Blease investigation in South Carolina—has himself [several words illegible] and a charge of [several words illegible] against him and [several words illegible] which [several words illegible] the department declared [several words illegible].

Charges are made that Colonel Felder offered a bribe of $1,000 in order to have affidavits [1 word illegible] Phagan murder case stolen from the [1 word illegible] of Chief of Detectives N. A. Lanford and that he offered  [several words illegible] the chief’s secretary if he would make the theft.

The charges are backed up by a detailed dictograph record of [several words illegible] which took place in a room of the Williams house No. 2 last Wednesday [several words illegible] Colonel Felder, Secretary G. C. Febuary and A. S. Colyar, [several words illegible] the [several words illegible] according to sworn statement by George M. Gentry [several words illegible] the expert [several words illegible] who is a nephew of Colonel W. T. Gentry [several words illegible].

Affidavit Says Felder Approached Colemans

The affidavit which the detectives declare Felder offered $1,000 to gain is a statement signed by Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Coleman and stepfather and mother of Mary Phagan. In this statement they [1 word illegible] that Colonel Felder approached them and [several words illegible] it would not cost them 1 cent.

Affiant told him he did not want to employ him and did not want to have anything to do with him, reads the affidavit. It goes on to explain that Mr. and Mrs. Coleman are satisfied with the work of the Atlanta police department.

Affiant is thoroughly satisfied with the great work of the Chief of Police Beavers and Chief of Detectives Lanford and the [several words illegible] under [several words illegible] and he believes as thousands of others [several words illegible] Atlanta that they have the real murderer in jail and the affiant  [several words illegible] himself to the conduct of Colonel Felder who is posing asa prosecuting attorney and wanting $5,000 from the people of the city to bring a noted detective here.”

Febuary and Colyar Swear to Bribe Offer.

In addition to the sworn dictagraph [sic] report the city detectives declare they have in their possession an affidavit sworn to by G. C. Febuary, Chief Lanford’s secretary and A. S. Colyar, the private investigator with Febuary at the alleged interview in which both testify to the offer of a big bribe by Colonel Felder on Monday night at Colonel Felder’s office in the Equitable building.

Colyar and Febuary declare that Felder told them to go and get the evidence saying that he wanted to impeach both Beavers and Lanford.

In another affidavit A. S. Colyar declares that after this conversation on Monday night he telephoned to the home of Colonel T. B. Felder, the Howell Mill road telling him he had received a new bit of evidence and receiving Colonel Felder’s reiterated statement that he would pay $1,000 in cash for the Coleman affidavit and other papers hearing on the case. Colyar says that Colonel Felder was intensely anxious to obtain evidence that was derogatory to Beavers and Lanford.

The complete dictagraph report of the conversation of Wednesday night was sworn to by the expert stenographer George W. Gentry is as follows:

Dictagraph Report Is Published in Detail

Following is the dictagraph record alleged to have been made from the conversation at Williams House No. 2, 34-36 North Forsyth street, Atlanta, Georgia, Wednesday, May 21, 1913 between Thomas B. Felder, G. C. February [sic] and A. S. Colyar.

A. S. Colyar: I have been stopping here off and on for five years.

Thomas B. Felder: When I moved here 23 years ago this was the finest hotel in Atlanta.

A. S. Colyar: Well, tell me, I thought you told me the other day that you became solicitor general six months after you were 21. And I was reading the statutes and it stated the solicitor general had to be 25 years old.

Thomas B. Felder: No. The statute has been changed since I was made solicitor.

A. S. Colyar: The statute stated that he must be 25 years of age and must be an attorney at the bar of Georgia for three years in good standing and must take an oath that he will prosecute all without fear or favor.

Thomas B. Felder: Yes.

A. S. Colyar: How old are you Colonel?

Thomas B. Felder: I will be 49 in October. How old are you?

A. S. Colyar: I will be 47 next February.

G. C. Febuary: Mr. Colyar looks a good deal older than you.

Thomas B. Felder: Well! I have an appointment with another gentleman at 3:30.

A. S. Colyar: Well. There’s the man you want to talk to.

G. C. Febuary: Now, you know this is pretty ticklish business—

A. S. Colyar: I told him last night that they could put him in the penitentiary for stealing these papers—

Thomas B. Felder: Penitentiary hell. They can’t put you in the penitentiary as long as Hugh Dorsey is solicitor general.

G. C. Febuary: Well. You see I am the chief’s stenographer and I write all these affidavits.

Thomas B. Felder: Can this young man be trusted all right?

A. S. Colyar: Absolutely. I would trust him anywhere on earth. Who is this fellow Miles?

Thomas B. Felder: Well, you see Miles is in the bureau of investigation and he has three or four experts in the way of investigators and things like that.

Now what I say to you is strictly confidential. Day before yesterday I saw Woodward.

A. S. Colyar: You saw Woodward Monday?

Thomas B. Felder: Yes. Woodward says now it is all right for you to get the papers and we will pay you for them.

Promised Evidence Against Beavers.

Thomas B. Felder: I will tell you what I have been doing for the last month. I have been investigating certain things for this company Mr. Miles works for and I called on the mayor Monday afternoon with C. C. Jones and I told the mayor I could get the evidence on these grafting …. Beavers and Lanford and the mayor told me to see Mr. Miles. That he had been working on it for a month. To show you how conscientious Mr. Miles is, although he has been in my office nearly every day, he has never mentioned it to me. The mayor also wanted me to prosecute them in the courts as attorney and I told him, “No, I had my hands full, but I would help get up the evidence.” Miles came over yesterday afternoon and I had a conference with him about an hour or two and without calling any names, I told him that I could get the evidence. But I said this young man doesn’t want to lose his position. Well, he says, tell him for me that I will give him a position today just as good as the one he has. Mayor Woodward said to get him the evidence and he would be glad to prosecute this bunch.

A. S. Colyar: Well. I told you he wouldn’t. I tell you that this thing will put us in the penitentiary.

Thomas B. Felder: Well, I assure you that I have never mentioned the names of either one of you.

A. S. Colyar: Well, say; Dorsey told Chief Lanford, so I have been informed, that you told Dorsey Sunday night that I was the —— framer and double-crosser and blackmailer in the state, and you know if you know the law at all that a blackmailer has to threaten a man with a crime, and you know I have not charged you with any crime.

Felder: No, you have been straight with me and I will put up a thousand dollars to ten cents that I never mentioned your name to Dorsey, but he mentioned your name to me.

Colyar: If this is going to get us into trouble I am not going to have anything to do with it.

Said He Controls Mayor.

Felder: Trouble, hell. Why, I can control the judge, the mayor and Hugh Dorsey.

Colyar: What judge?

Felder: The judge of the criminal court. And I wouldn’t do it in an improper way.

Colyar: I wouldn’t want you to do that.

Febuary: Well, it is just like this. There is only one certain time of day that I can get those papers and I don’t want to carry them around with me.

Felder: Well, you understand I don’t want the papers unless they are evidence enough to put Lanford and Beavers out of business. Now, Colyar says you say that you have got the papers that will put him out. Well, Mr. Febuary, can’t you see Miles who is working on this thing for me and give him the papers?

Colyar: We don’t want to deal with Miles. We are dealing with you.

Felder: Personally, I know Miles is all right and you can deliver the evidence to Miles.

(On account of street car passing dictagraph was indistinct.)

Colyar: What fellows did Woodward want to prosecute?

Felder: Lanford and Beavers.

(On account of noise in room dictagraph was indistinct.)

Felder: All that you have got to do is to go and do it and just tell Miles and he will do just whatever is necessary on that end of the line.

Colyar: Yes?

Felder: Now so far as you and Febuary being prosecuted or indicted or put in jail, that is all bull.

Colyar: Yes, I understand.

Felder: Where did you see Lanford?

Colyar: I did not see him. I heard through Febuary that he heard Dorsey make this statement. He thought that you and I were good friends and he would turn you against me.

Felder: He told you that Hugh Dorsey told him that I told Hugh Dorsey that you were a crook and framer and double-crosser. He is a damned liar. When did he tell you that?

Febuary: I don’t know whether it was the first of this week or the last of last week.

Colyar: You told me Monday that you had taken this down in a statement and had filed it away and that Hugh Dorsey told Chief Lanford that I was the damnedest blackmailer and crock he ever saw and told him not to have anything to do with me. You told me that Lanford dictated that statement and put it away—that Tom Felder told Dorsey that I was a crook and a damned liar and a frame-up and a double-cross.

Felder: Don’t you understand Lanford? That was a statement of his own imagination in order to get you in that frame of mind toward me.

Colyar: I do not know Lanford.

Felder: Let me tell you another thing —

Colyar: Lanford knows that you and I have always been good friends.

Felder: Hugh Dorsey has got no use whatever for Lanford and wouldn’t talk to him and if I had told him anything about you he wouldn’t tell Lanford. I could have said all that to Dorsey and he never would have mentioned it to him.

Colyar: Mr. Febuary will tell you what he has got to say.

Felder: Now Febuary can get those papers, can’t he?

Febuary: I can only get them at a certain time of the day and I don’t want to carry them around with me. I want to turn them loose right away.

Felder: Now you understand I must see the papers first in order to do what I told you.

Sought All Affidavits.

Febuary: Let me understand you. You want this Coleman affidavit and all other Phagan affidavits that I can get hold of.

Felder: Yes. Colyar told me that he was to have the evidence that would get those two chiefs out of commission, the Phagan papers and the Coleman affidavit. Now what have you got?

Febuary: I haven’t got these papers. The chief has these papers in a large envelope. I do not know whether he keeps any graft sheets or not. I never saw one.

Colyar: You will have to examine the papers after Mr. Febuary brings them up —— Tell me this. Wasn’t you employed by Coleman to work on this case?

Felder: Coleman said this to me (failed to catch part of conversation) Then I said, “Mr. Coleman, I was invited by Mr. McCall.” I believe that was his name (scraping of feet on floor interfered with dictagraph). I said, “Mr. Coleman, I would like to go in on the prosecution of this case.” He said, “I haven’t got any money to employ a lawyer.” I said, “You misunderstand me, it isn’t necessary for you to pay me any money, that has all been arranged.” McCall said, “Now you meet us down there at 4:30,” wasn’t it, Febuary, that the inquest was to be held that afternoon and I went down and was introduced to Mr. Coleman, but I have forgotten who introduced me to Coleman. Now he said, “Mr. Felder, we would like to have you look after the case but I haven’t money to employ anybody with.” Now I said, “Mr. Coleman you misapprehend the gentleman, now he is asking you for no money, he is simply asking you for your consent to represent you.” Before we could close the deal the coroner’s jury broke up and we all separated. Now there wasn’t anything said about the regularity of my employment, but it was taken for granted.

Colyar: I want to put you in position where you can act without bringing me into it.

Felder: I don’t have to say you gave me the papers.

Colyar: If you do they will give me hell and you know it. I will be an accessory before the fact for him getting those papers and giving them to you.

Felder: You violate no law.

Colyar: He has.

Felder: No, he hasn’t. To abstract a lot of framed up documents is no larceny.

Colyar: Well, tell him what you want to Febuary. Felder, can you bring Miles up here to see me? Can you bring him up at 4 o’clock?

Felder: Yes. All right.

Febuary: It is 3:20 now.

Felder: Tell what you are going to do about the papers.

Febuary: Well, I put them back. I was afraid to deliver these papers to you in Atlanta.

Felder: What is that?

Could “Frame Him.”

Colyar: He said he was afraid to give them to you in Atlanta. He will give them to you at East Lake or Decatur.

Felder: Now, I don’t know just exactly that he has absolutely got the papers that I want.

Febuary: I will bring them up and let you examine them and see if they are what you want.

Colyar: Well, I will meet you at East Lake or Decatur with him.

Felder: That isn’t necessary at all.

Colyar: No. Tom Felder, I am not going to do anything with these papers in this city because they can prosecute me and frame up a lot of evidence, and swear hells an ice box.

Felder: Nobody would believe them.

Colyar: They can frame up on anybody.

Felder: Well, now what time could you see me?

Febuary: Well, about 2 o’clock.

Colyar: Well, I think that would be best.

Febuary: Oh! I know it is.

Colyar: I am not going to deliver the papers to you in Fulton county. We can meet tomorrow at East Lake or Decatur.

Felder: They can indict you at East Lake. They can indict you anywhere ——— Did you ever see Coleman?

Colyar: No, can’t anybody get to see him that I know of. I know a man that was raised up with him in Cobb county or wherever it was he was raised and he went to see him but Coleman wouldn’t let him come in.

Felder: Well, he told somebody all about how he happened to sign that affidavit.

Colyar: How was it?

(Noises interfered with sounding on dictagraph)

Febuary: Well, will 2 o’clock suit you?

Felder: That will suit me.

Colyar: Well I would suggest that we go to East Lake.

Febuary: I am afraid to fool around in the city here.

Felder: There is one place you can go where it will be safe. That is the Transportation club. There will be no danger of anyone seeing you up there. You are safer there than you would be anywhere else. There are no damn policemen ever allowed up there and there is no danger of anyone intruding.

Colyar: I am not going to deliver them anywhere in Atlanta. He has got the papers you want but he don’t want to lose his job.

Felder: I can get you a job anytime. How in the hell are they going to know he got the papers?

Colyar: Nobody knows the combination of the safe but him and the chief.

Felder: They would not know it.

Febuary: It is not supposed that the chief would take them out.

Colyar: How long will it take you to examine the package?

Felder: Well it’s all owing to the number of papers in the package. What time does the chief leave in the evening?

Febuary: He don’t leave down there until 8 or 9 o’clock. Sometimes a littler earlier, most of the time about 8 o’clock.

Felder: Which one of those detectives down there don’t like him?

Febuary: I never heard any of them say anything against him and don’t know who it is unless it is Pat Campbell.

Felder: Isn’t there friction between some of them?

Febuary: You can hear things like that on the outside that we never hear on the inside, but I don’t think there is anything to it. Who do you think it is?

Felder: I don’t know, somebody told me, but I am sure there are a half dozen of them.

(Street car passed drowning the words in the dictagraph)

Offered to Pay $1,000

Colyar: Will a thousand dollars be paid if we can get the papers?

Felder: Yes.

Colyar: I don’t want any of that money.

Felder: Well, I have got an appointment with Miles. If the papers will do what you think they will do I will give you a thousand dollars for them.

Colyar: We will get the papers and turn them over to Mr. Miles. But damned if I do it in Fulton county.

Felder: Why?

Colyar: I have got my reasons for it.

Felder: Well, if you can get the papers for me to examine by 2:30 to-morrow—

Colyar: He can tell him he is going fishing or something like that, just as he gets the papers; and he can go to Lakewood.

Felder: I would rather do it out there.

Colyar: You and Miles can meet us out there.

Felder: I have some business engagements tomorrow that will not allow me to get away long enough to go out there.

Colyar: Oh! Pshaw! You can hop in your machine and go out there in a couple of minutes.

Felder: You won’t meet anybody else except Miles and myself?

Febuary: No. It is like you said a while ago, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”

Felder: That’s right.

Febuary: Well, if you are in a hurry now, suppose we think this thing over and let you know later today or tomorrow whether to meet you here or out yonder.

Felder: I can’t possibly go to East Lake.

Colyar: You can take your man and go out there and get the papers in a few minutes, give us a receipt and the money.

Felder: I told Woodward that I would get the papers that would put these two fellows out of business.

Febuary: That is all you want the papers for?

Felder: That’s all, yes.

Colyar: Well we will meet you at East Lake at 2:30.

Felder: Well I will send Miles up here and you can talk to him.

Colyar: Well write your name on a piece of paper for I don’t know whether I will know him or not.

Felder: Why, you just met him a short while ago.

Colyar: Yes, I know but I don’t know whether I would recognize him or not so you write your name on a piece of paper.

Felder: Well I will write my name on a piece of paper so you will know him. As soon as I can get hold of Miles I will send him up.

Colyar: Send him up by 4 o’clock.

* * *

Atlanta Constitution, May 24th 1913, “Felder is Charged with Bribe Offer for Phagan Papers,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)