"Grand Jury Investigation of County Bondsman - Judge Stirred by Story of Greek Who Paid $225 to Get Out on Bail" article - Chicago Daily Tribune, May 19, 1914

Published in the Chicago Daily Tribune, May 19, 1914

Judge McKinley Stirred by Story
of Greek Who Paid $225
to Get Out on Bail.
Transcript of Evidence to be
Submitted to Bar Association

Nicholas Socrates, a Greek immigrant, 21 years old, recited to Judge Michael L. McKinley of the Criminal court, yesterday how he had spent $225 to be released from the county jail on bonds.

In the examination of the young man, it developed that a bond on which Socrates had been released had been pigeonholed in the clerk's office in the county jail for more than four months and no record of the boy's release was made on the books of the Municipal court.

It developed also that there is no means to prevent the release of prisoners from the county jail, or any police station, on forged bonds.  No record of any judge's signature is kept at any of the stations and few police officers or jailers know the judges' signatures.

May Lead to Change.

The investigation by Judge McKinley probably will result in an entirely new method of handling bonds.

Young Socrates, who was a bookkeeper with a high school education, involved J.J. Risdon, an attorney, in his testimony.  William W. Congdon, a profession bondsman, also was mixed in the scheme to get Socrates' money.

The statement of Socrates in court on Saturday that he had spent all his money for attorneys and bondsmen and then had been left in jail for three months caused the investigation by Judge McKinley yesterday.

"I want this boy to be taken before the grand jury tomorrow," Judge McKinley said, "I make no recommendation, but I want the state's attorney to have him tell the whole story as he told it here today.  In my judgement there is enough here to warrant such an investigation.

"Also I will tell you, Mr. Risdon, that I am going to present a transcript  of this evidence to the grievance committee of the Bar association."

Congdon was not in court.  Bailiff Charles Dall said that he had made an effort to find Congdon but was unable to locate him.

Socrates Tells Story.

Socrates recited in detail in answer to Judge McKinley's questions, his efforts to obtain his release from the county jail.  Finally, he said, he pleaded guilty to a charge of forgery and threw himself on the mercy of the court.

Socrates was employed as a bookkeeper in the Randolph Street Market, at Randolph street.  With forged checks for $310 he opened an account at the Fort Dearborn Trust and Savings bank.  He had forged the name of his employers, he said.

The young man was arrested three days after the forgeries and lodged in the county jail.  A prisoner named J. B. Jones, a cellmate of Socrates, found a bondsman for the young man.  Jones returned later - this was in February - and sent a note to Socrates, saying that Congdon would sign his bond for $75.

"Congdon went on my bond," Socrates said, "and when I was released he took me across the street to McEwen's saloon, where he paid McEwen $50.  He told me to meet him the next day at his office in the City Hall Square building.  Risdon was there.

"Congdon told me that I needed Risdon to defend me and that I was to drop Erbstein.  Risdon told me not to tell Erbstein anything about employing him, however.  Risdon said he could fix it so I could get off easily.

Risdon Picks Up the Money.

"Then Risdon, Congdon, and Jones went with me to the county jail to get $220, which had been taken from me when I was locked up.  The clerk laid my watch and the money on the counter, Risdon picked up the money.  He gave me $20, went to a bank and got one of the $100 bills changed, and then gave Congdon $30.  I don't know what he did with the rest."

Later Socrates was indicted and Congdon heard there was another warrant out for the young man.  Congdon went to Socrates' home at 2628 North Clark street.

"He told me that he would go down and fix up the other bond,"  Socrates told the court.  "He took me into the jailer's office and left.  I haven't seen him since that time."