"Caught Coining Cash - Greeks Arraigned on the Charge of Counterfeiting" article - Chicago Daily Tribune, May 21, 1893

Published in Chicago Daily Tribune, May 21, 1893

Caught Coining Cash
Greeks Arraigned on the Charge
of Counterfeiting.
The Two Leaders Are Run Down by Capt.
Porterand Detected at Work - The Others
Arrested for Circulating the Spurious
Money - President Russell of the Building
Trades Council Arrested on a Charge
of Assaulting a Boss Carpenter -
General Local News.

Nine men of foreign birth faced Commissioner Hoyne in his court-room yesterday, charged with making and passing counterfeit silver coins of the United States.  They are said to be members of one of the most dangerous gangs of counterfeiters that ever operated in Chicago or the West.  Their names and residences as given are:

Theodore Maltezos, barkeeper in the saloon of Nicholas Mazarabos, basement of No. 47 Clark street;  Speros Calam, lodging at No. 192 West Jackson street;  John Roose, lodging at No. 192 West Jackson street;  James Chooloyanis, fruit peddler, living at No. 289 Desplaines street; Peter Spathas, fruit peddler, living at No. 289 Desplaines street; James Alemonas, fruit peddler, living at No. 289 Desplaines street;  Alexander Lio?rs, fruit peddler, living at No. 289 Desplaines street;  Louis Castanis, fruit peddler, living at No. 289 Desplaines street;  Nicholas Argianes, fruit peddler, living at No. 289 Desplaines street.

Capt. Porter of the Secret Service was present as the prosecuting witness, and, after District Attorney Milchrist had extracted protestations of innocence from each member of the gang, bail was fixed by the court.  In the cases of Calam, Roose, Maltezos, and Alemonas, as the principal offenders, it was fixed at $2,000.  Spathas' bail was entered at $1,500 and the others at $1,000 each.  In no case was the proper bond forthcoming and the prisoners were marched to the County Jail, there to await the action of the Federal grand jury.

This disposition of the offenders was only reached after weeks of unremitting labor on the part of Capt. Porter.  Some time ago it came to his knowledge that a vast amount of well executed spurious coin was being circulated, especially on the West Side.  Careful investigation showed that much of the money was put into circulation by peddlers of fruit.  This business is almost entirely in the hands of the Greeks, and thus the first decided clew was obtained.  Careful watching brought out the fact that the peddlers were getting regular supplies of counterfeit coin.  As the investigation narrowed the saloon at No. 47 Clarke street, it is said, was found to be the principal distributing agency.  Working on this track brought to light the workshop where the coins were made.  Calam and Roose are said to have been the makers, and their first location was at No. 51 West Ontario street.  To cover their tracks they moved their plant, it is said, out on Milwaukee avenue, and after another stay their final choice fell upon a lodging house at No. 192 West Jackson street, just east of Halsted.  It was here that the first arrests were made at an early hour yesterday morning.

On many occasions a seizure was planned and as often declared off for want of the elements of success.  At length the crisis came and at 9 o'clock Friday night Capt. Porter assembled his men at the Farwell House, on Halsted street.  Their selection had been made with care, and the choice fell upon Deputy United States Marshals Hitchcock, Shanahan, and Charles.  The house was closely watched until near midnight.  Then out waled Calam and Roose.  The Greeks were followed to a saloon near the Academy of Music and staid there until about 1 o'clock, when they came back to the house.

It was decided to let them continue the ???ing, so that a good case would result from a seizure, and at 2:30 o'clock the order was given to raid the house.  The officers could see the men at work until the lights were suddenly put out  The signal was given and Capt. Porter passed through the street door closely followed by Marshal Charles.  Calam and Roose were arrested.  In the room there was little furniture.  Half-made coins strewed the floor and tables, while acid bottles and metal were in plenty.  There was about $50 worth of nearly finished coin in all, for the most part halves, quarters, and dimes.  These effects were taken.

At 4:30 o'clock yesterday morning Capt. Porter and his workers opened the door of the fruit and lodging house at No. 189 Desplaines street, just south of Harrison.  Six Greek paddlers were there taken by surprise, and when their clothes were searched bad money was found in almost every pocket.  The men were made to rise and dress and were marched in procession to the Federal Building.  Shortly before noon Capt. Porter called at the saloon of Nicholas Mazarakas and placed the barkeeper under arrest.

Capt. Porter has a host of witnesses ready to go on the stand and testify that they have received bad money in change made by the Greek peddlers of fruit.  Roose is no under an indictment returned against him by the county grand jury for burglary.  His fellow-???? has a charge standing against him in Justice Gibbons' court.