Frame-Up Aimed at Burns’ Men, Says Tobie

FrameAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, May 24th, 1913

Denouncing A. S. Colyar as an “eagle-beaked crook,” W. C. Tobie, the Burns detective who is here making an investigation of the Phagan case, declared on Saturday that the charges of bribery and double-dealing brought against Felder were a frame-up concocted by the Pinkerton Detective Agency and the Atlanta Police Department, with these three ends in view:

To discredit the Burns Agency.

To drive the Burns Agency from the State of Georgia.

To discredit Colonel Felder because he employed Burns men.

Tobie charges also that Colyar was used as the “capper” in the frame-up. He declares that Colyar tried to induce him to be a party to a fake frame-up on the Police Department and the Pinkertons, and that Colyar invited him to attend the conference at the Williams House No. 2 between Colonel Felder, G. C. February [sic] and Colyar. He declares that Colyar told him he had affidavits that proved crookedness and graft in the Police Department and that he heard Colyar, on last Sunday, offer to sell the evidence to Colonel Felder for a stipulated sum. He declares also that Colyar said he wanted to get even with the police because they had arrested him once.

Tobie’s Complete Statement.

Mr. Tobie’s complete statement, in which he outlines the position of the Burns Agency in the squabble, follows:

“The charges against Colonel Felder are a frame-up betw[e]en the Pinkerton Detective Agency, the Atlanta police department and Colyar to discredit the Burns agency and drive us out of Georgia, and to discredit Colonel Felder because he employed the Burns people to work on the Phagan case. In my mind there is no doubt that Colyar is in the employ of the Pinkertons and the police department. His actions when he tried to inveigle me into the deal proves it.

“I was in Colonel Felder’s office last Sunday night when Colyar made his proposition to sell out the police department, and when he framed the conference in the Williams House. He told Colonel Felder and myself that he had affidavits that Beavers and Lanford were getting rich by protecting resorts, and that there was a world of near-beer graft in the police department. Felder agreed to attend the conference, but I didn’t like the looks of things and refused to have anything to do with it. I advised Colonel Felder to keep away from Colyar.

Called at Tobie’s Room.

“On Monday morning Colyar called on me in my room at the Piedmont Hotel. The eagle-beaked crook sleuthed in like a fly cop out of a story book, and was very mysterious. He saw to it that there were no exits open, that there was no likelihood of our being overheard, and then old eagle-beak began throwing out hints. He said he felt it his duty to warn me of the difficulties I would encounter, and the things I would have to overcome if I tried to work out the Phagan case. He said the police department was jealous and sore that the Burns men had begun work on the case. He declared that the Pinkertons were just as sore as the city police, and that both of them were framing on me and Colonel Felder.

“Old eagle-beak Colyar cursed the police department for everything he could think of. He called them more vile names than I have ever heard before in my life. He said he had been put in jail by the Atlanta police once, and that now was his chance to get even. He said he had affidavits that proved that Beavers and Lanford were grafters, and that the whole police force was rotten to the core. He wanted to read extracts from these affidavits, and I told him I didn’t care what he had, and what is more I wouldn’t believe he had anything worth while if he swore it on a stack of Bibles a mile high.

Asked to Attend Conference.

“He tried to inveigle me into a frameup against the police, and wanted me to dig into the doings of the police department. He asked me to attend the conference at the Williams House, when he said he would show a bunch of evidence that would prove everything he had claimed.

“I shut him off short and told him I wouldn’t have anything to do with him, or with any other eagle-beaked crook like him. I told him to get out.

“I told Colyar that I didn’t care a hang about the Atlanta police department, or about anything it does. I don’t care whether Atlanta has a police department or not. I have no grudge, private or otherwise, to work off on the police department. If there is graft in the police department here, it is none of my business, and I don’t care if they run a resort and a joint on every corner. I am here to work on the Phagan case, and I’ll continue to work on it to the best of my ability so long as the necessary money is forthcoming. The Burns Agency is not a charitable institution and requires a fee to handle a case. I am not in Atlanta to investigate the police department or anything else but the Phagan case.

Here for Phagan Case Only.

“If, when we are through with the Phagan case, anyone wants to hire the Burns agency to investigate the Police Department, we’ll do it, and get whatever evidence there may be. But now I’m here for the Phagan mystery and nothing else, and haven’t time to listen to the ravings of an eagle-beaked crook who is trying to play both ends against the middle.”

Mr. Tobie declared also that he has never been discharged from the Pinkerton agency.

“Colyar lied like the crook he is when he said that,” declared the Burns man. “I quit the Pinkerton agency to start an agency of my own with Captain Tellison. We handled the work for Burns, and when Burns opened a branch in Kansas City I was made manager.”

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Atlanta Georgian, May 24th 1913, “Frame-Up Aimed at Burns’ Men, Says Tobie,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)