Los Angeles (Oct. 1)
Charges that William Dudley Pelley, would-be antiSemitic messiah of the United States, mulcted his followers of their life savings, left a trail of broken promises behind him in his journeys around the country and acted in a manner that led his followers to think him a lunatic, were made here by James H. Craig, formerly editor of the Silver Ranger, Pelley’s defunct Oklahoma City organ.
The charges were set forth in detail in a four-page open letter addressed to Pelley in the weekly, Constitutional Legion Herald, organ of the West Coast Silver Shirts, who broke away from Pelley’s domination.
Craig describes his first contacts with Pelley, his coming to Oklahoma City to become editor of the Silver Ranger and his painful discoveries that all Pelley’s promises and boasts of huge sums were so much nonsense.
Pelley, according to Craig, left his devoted followers in Oklahoma taking with him all available cash with the promise that he would be back.
Finding it impossible to secure help or even explanations from the “Chief” as Pelley was known, Mr. Craig left Oklahoma and came to California, where Pelley, he says, once more unfolded wild, grandiloquent plans for getting huge sums, including a fabulous gold mine which was to produce $25,000,000 in a short time.
TRAIL OF BROKEN PROMISES
“Into the office of the temporary divisional headquarters came stories and recitals of the most heartbreaking character. Stories of blighted trust, of broken promises, of preying upon the faithfulness and loyalty of a devoted constituency and the collection of large sums of money unaccounted for. With these recitals came proof of such indubitable character as to make attempt at refutation out of the question. Loyal supporters were asking questions which could not be answered. They were demanding accountings which could not be given. They were making accustations as to business and administrative ability and integrity against the Chief which could not be denied.” So Mr. Craig said:
“Let us consider the case of J.. M.. B.., who, with his wife traveled all the way to Los Angeles to tell their story and try to get at the real truth of what it is all about. This is the story as it was told in the office of the comptroller of the provisional Pacific division.
HISTORY OF ‘B’
“B…. and his wife lived back in the hill country in a modest mountain cottage far from the beaten paths of travel. He, like many others, had been out of work for two years and without income, living chiefly from accumulated savings of past effort. The residue of these savings had dwindled until there was left $2,000 in gold coin, which, on account of one of the dictatorial presidential edicts of questionable constitutionality, to one so isolated was difficult to handle.
“On advice of two of the Chief’s confidential advisers, B.. and his wife trustingly turned over to them the $2,000 in gold coin with the understanding that it was to be changed into current cash, $250 of which was to be retained as a donation to the Silver Legion movement in which they had the most implicit faith, and the remaining $1,750 to be returned to them.
GOLD TAKEN TO MEXICO
“Information is to the effect that this gold was taken into Mexico where it was disposed of at a substantial premium, but instead of getting back $1,750, B. and his wife had returned to them only $750.
“It also can be authenticated by competent witnesses, that when these confidential advisers reported to the Chief that B.. and his wife still had $750 in tangible cash, that he immediately got in his automobile and paid them a hurried visit. At this time, according to their recital, they were told the story of the fabulous gold mine, with the result that the Chief took away their last remaining cash resources, leaving them with but meager funds, and with but little food in the house. As a memorandum of their trustfulness, he left them his personal 90-day note for $1,500, payable August 14th, 1934. This note, unpaid, of course is valueless in meeting current living expenses.
ONE OF MANY STORIES
“This is not merely one case, but one of many in this particular district which mark a trail of broken promises and human heartaches. We could cite numerous others, more fraught with tragedy and pitiful consequences and reports coming in from the east would seem to make even these cases sink into insignificance.
“In Los Angeles, in Hollywood, in Altadena and in Pasadena, are numerous men and women who knew William Dudley Pelley, not as he has glorified himself to be through the pages of his publications to those who have never met him personally, but from the first-hand and sorrowful acquaintance with him in both a personal and a business way. These people are staunch, upright and respected citizens, and what they have to say carries little of commendation.
“But evidence is confined to the conversation of individuals. It is written on the books of business firms, in records of the courts, speaking eloquently of debts, unsatisfied judgments and general business inefficiency. (For example see Superior Court cases 267602, 267685, 299260, 299354.)”