Jury Will Probe Dictagraph Row

jury-willAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Thursday, June 5th, 1913

A. L. [sic] Colyar, Jr., George M. Gentry and G. C. Febuary Summoned at Request of Chief Lanford

An investigation of the separate phases of the row resulting from the dictagraph traps laid by city detectives for Attorney Thomas B. Felder and Mayor James G. Woodward is believed to be forecast on the grand jury by the summoning before it of A. L. Colyar, Jr., George M. Gentry and G. C. Febuary. All these men played an important part of the performance and were summoned it is claimed at the request made by N. A. Lanford, chief of the detective department.

One of the most startling features of the afternoon session was the probing into the affairs of Police Commissioner William P. Fain. Allen Young, a real estate dealer, was put upon the stand and is said to have been asked to furnish proof in regard to the revelations in which Fain was said to have been the central figure in a carousal in an Ivy street house.

Whipping Charge Answered.

It is claimed that Fain also mistreated one of the women most brutally and that when the police answered the women’s screams and raided the place they arrested Fain, who was later given his liberty by order of higher police officials.

Mr. Fain made the following statement to a Constitution reporter:

“In answer to the charges which appeared against me in an afternoon paper, I beg to say in justice to my friends and the public that I am not in the least surprised at any accusations that have been or may be brought against me or any other city official who is publicly known as a strong supporter of James L. Beavers, chief of police and his administration of the police department.”

As the main issue was directed at him and his department, it is but natural that the same muckrakers would also attack his supporters with the hope of at least sway in public opinion to suit their ends regardless of the cost to others.

As for the accusations against me they are of such absurdity, their origin of such undermining purpose, their author so insignificant that I do not care to waste my time in further discussion of the matter but I am perfectly willing for the people who know me and the better ones with whom I am not acquainted to judge for themselves.

The other four witnesses who were called before the jury were Colonel Felder who testified also on Tuesday. Police Chief James L. Beavers, J. D. Skaggs, agent for the Southern Express company and Thomas Butts, a negro elevator boy for the Southern hotel.

The fact that Mr. Skaggs was summoned and that another man whose name was not given had been communicating with the solicitor in regard to the operation of locker clubs in Atlanta makes it appear that the question of liquor as connected with vice and immorality will be taken up in a comprehensive report at the end of the term of the present grand jury.

During the morning session Colonel Felder declared in a public statement that he had never held Chief Beavers to be connected either personally or officially with graft or corruption and that he had never said anything that he believed might be constructed to reflect upon the police chief himself.

As Colonel Felder made these remarks he referred to the head of the other department by which it was taken to mean that he was speaking of Chief N. A. Lanford and in this case renewed his accusations.

Session of Three Hours.

After querying the five witnesses for something like three hours the grand jury conferred among themselves for nearly an hour and finally adjourned at 9 to until 10 o’clock this morning.

It is declared that Colonel Felder in his statements before the body gave an added list of houses and hotels where it is claimed that vice flourishes without hindrance.

Colonel Felder is also said to have repeated his request for a grand jury hearing on the charges growing out of the dictagraphing of himself by detectives and the allegations that he had offered Febuary $1,000 for affidavits in the Phagan case.

I talked to them about the vice situation and along practically the same lines as on the first day, was all that Chief Beavers would make in comment upon his testimony.

At the conclusion of the days work Foreman L. H. Beck declared that the probe would be one of the most extensive and thorough ever undertaken by a Fulton grand jury.

We intend to go deeply into the matter and to try to get the facts in both sides and at the proper time we will make them public.

Make Report to Judge.

It is believed to be more than likely that the grand jury which is taking up this probe independently of Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey will make its findings to the superior court judge who dismisses them in July and that they will be a general statement of the vice situation in Atlanta.

In lieu of this the body may indict any persons whom it sees fit provided it secures evidence against them. Should the former way be adopted the situation would probably come back to a succeeding grand jury in case the indictments should be asked by the solicitor.

For today’s session summons were issued to the appearance of John Brice and Harllee Branch, both connected with an afternoon paper. It is believed that through them a phase of the dictograph case may be taken up.

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Atlanta Constitution, June 5th 1913, “Jury Will Probe Dictagraph Row,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)