|Police corruption in 1930s LA included|
taking protection from the brothels
After the Shippey family left for California, they settled at 601 South Berendo in Los Angeles in the Wilshire Center neighborhood. They took on a boarder, a young policeman, divorced, whose father, Kean St Charles, had been a prominent politician in Arizona. Bradford J St Charles had been a policeman for a few years and eventually, Edna and Bradford married. They had two children in short order: Betty Jo 1933 and Edward D., who was born after the trouble their dad would next find himself in.
In 1930s Los Angeles, the police department was still fairly corrupt, though the chiefs appointed in the 1930s made a lot of headway to clean things up. This corruption included taking protection money, turning a blind eye, and other less-than-lawful behavior on the part of those hired to serve and protect without added inducement.
In PRIVILEGED SON: OTIS CHANDLER AND THE RISE AND FALL OF THE LA TIMES DYNASTY by Dennis McDougal, Bradford merited a mention as one of those who got nabbed doing wrong but did not pay a price...yet:
"Like to Visit a Whorehouse?" LAPD Commander Bradford J St Charles sprang the
Bradford St Charles, 1935
surprise question on a reporter and a photographer employed by the Times late in a routine squad car ride along one evening in 1934, leaving the pair giddy and a little embarrassed, but certainly interested. St Charles parked in front of a two-story building in a non-descript Hollywood neighborhood and guided the Timesmen up the outside stairwell to a side porch where he rang the bell. While the journalist poised his pencil and the photographer got ready to snap a candid shot, the madam greeted the dapper cop with the Clark Gable mustache as if he were a relentless bill collector:
"Officer St Charles!" she snarled, "I paid you last week."
After she slammed the door, St Charles turned, shrugged, and smiled guiltily. The mortified cop drove the Timesmen back to the precinct and the reporter raced off in his own car to the Times. But if he thought he was going to get a bonus for writing up this astonishing and incriminating incident, he was mistaken. Times editor LD Hotchkiss stopped him as he rolled paper into his typewriter and told him the Times would print no such story. A prostitute's payoff to a cop was routine stuff.
"Inconsequential," sniffed Hotchkiss.
LA in the mid-1930s was a bit more sophisticated than it had been in the 1920, but it was just as much a haven for whores, pimps, con men, and gamblers. Only the police/city hall middleman role had grown more refined, intimate, and low-key. The city still played host to such renowned madams as Lee Francis, who had served champagne and caviar to visiting vice officers throughout the Roaring Twenties, and Ann Forrester, aka "The Black Widow," who took her nickname from her incriminating address book. Forrester's little black book contained the names and private home numbers of many of the city's business elite as well as the LAPD brass, Commander St Charles among them.
But St Charles name would never see print in the LA Times just because he took protection money from prostitutes. The Times finally printed St Charles' name after he stepped so far over the legal line that even LD Hotchkiss could not ignore him. A few months after Hotchkiss killed the brothel payoff story, Asa Keyes' successor, District Attorney Burton Fitts, indicted Commander St Charles as chief informant for a gang of bank robbers; only then did the Times dutifully report that St Charles would spend the next fifteen years in San Quentin."What would come next is St Charles was charged and convicted of robbery of the Securities-First National Bank, for being the "brains" behind the fairly bungled bank robbery. According to his co-conspirators, he provided the gun, auto, and served as lookout. No one on the LAPD was willing to look the other way, and everyone moved full steam ahead to try him. The two actual robbers were caught immediately after an alarm was sent. They both testified against St Charles, who received a 15 year sentence (or two year sentence depending on report) but did not serve it at San Quentin, but instead served his time at McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary in Washington.
His 1935 appeal to the high court failed, as they refused to hear the case. St Charles always said it was a "frameup" but that was unlikely based on the careless manner he flaunted his corruption in front of the press. It appears as though he got out sometime before April 1943, as he enlisted in the US Army at that time. Edna divorced him along the way, marrying twice more. The whereabouts of her children are unknown, but Bradford died in New York State in 1971.
A point of quibble is that in the LA Times book, Bradford is referred to as a "Commander" but in other reports he was a "radio car patrol officer." That latter scenario is probably correct given his age and the description of his activities where he was visiting illegal businesses in his radio district.