New York Times, May 30, 1911, pages 1-2:
FIVE WIRELESS MEN ARE FOUND GUILTY
Col. Wilson and Four Associates Get Prison Sentences for Swindling Sales of Stock.
ATTEMPTS AT BRIBERY
U. S. Attorney Wise Says a Lawyer Tried to Reach Him--Juror Got an Offer of "Five Figures."
A verdict of guilty on all four counts of the indictment charging misuse of the mails in a scheme to defraud was returned yesterday before Judge Martin in the United States Circuit Court, by the jury which tried the cases of Col. Christopher Columbus Wilson, President of the United Wireless Telegraph Company of America; W. A. Diboll, Treasurer of the company; Francis X. Butler, its counsel; George W. Parker, its Western Sales Agent, and W. W. Tompkins, who ran the Eastern agency for the sales of wireless shares to the public. The verdict was returned against all the defendants alike, and Judge Martin, denying them bail, immediately imposed these sentences:
C. C. WILSON, three years in the Atlanta Penitentiary.
GEORGE W. PARKER, two years in the Atlanta Penitentiary.
FRANCIS X. BUTLER, two years in the Atlanta Penitentiary.
W. W. TOMPKINS, one year in the New York County Penitentiary.
W. A. DIBOLL, one year in the New York County Penitentiary.
The costs of the trial, which are said to aggregate $50,000, were taxed by the court upon the defendants, and the Government will enter judgment against them and proceed to collect if possible from Wilson and Parker, both of whom are believed to have accumulated large fortunes through the campaign to peddle the worthless stock of the United Wireless Company to small investors all over the country.
Two other United Wireless men are awaiting the action of the court. One is S. S. Bogart, Vice President, who pleaded guilty while the trial was under way; the other is Charles C. Galbraith, whose trial was separated from the others.
Efforts at Bribery.
Immediately upon the return of the verdict, and in the course of argument on the question whether the defendants should be admitted to bail pending the disposition of their appeals, United States Attorney Wise made the statement that one of the jurors serving on the case had been approached with an offer of any amount "within five figures" to hang the jury, and that he (Mr. Wise) had himself been approached through a friend by a lawyer connected with the case, who was not, however, engaged in the active conduct of the trial. Later Mr. Wise named this lawyer and said that the attempt made to "reach him" had been made through a man who had had an acquaintance with his father, John S. Wise. Asked if he would prefer charges before The Bar Association, Mr. Wise replied:
"I guess that matter will take care of itself without it being necessary for me to take the initiative."
This ending of the long-fought case was reached after 5 o'clock in the afternoon. At 5:05, the jury, which had gone out at :45, filed into the court room and announced its verdict of guilty on all four counts against all of the defendants. Under the lead of John B. Stanchfield and V. Bourke Cochran, counsel for the defense, the various lawyers for the defense made the customary motions to set aside the verdict, and then Mr. Stanchfield moved to admit the defendants to bail. This brought Mr. Wise to his feet.
"These men would put themselves beyond the reach of the court the moment that motion is granted. The offense of which they have been convicted is not extraditable. In my time as District Attorney a number of men admitted to bail after conviction have skipped the country. We have here at least one man, Wilson, with a million and a half in his pockets which he has stolen from the small investors of the country, and if he is released on bail and has any sense at all he will get out of the reach of this court.
Demand for Jail Sentences.
"I earnestly and strenuously urge that all sentences be imposed. I know that money has been offered to me to pull me off the prosecution of one of these defendants; I know that one juror last night was offered a very large amount--any amount within five figures--if he would hang the jury. I know that a certain lawyer was interested in landing money in my hands to throw this prosecution." All the attorneys who had been trying the case for the defense were on their feet in a moment at this charge, and Mr. Stanchfield shouted: "Name him."
"I will do so at the right time," replied Mr. Wise. "In justice to the counsel, however, I will say that he did not take an active part in the conduct of this case."
There was not much further argument of the matter of bail after this, as Judge Martin intimated plainly that he would not consider such a proposal. The next move of Mr. Wise was a motion that the costs of the case, aggregating on his estimate $50,000, be taxed on the defendants. The lawyers for the defense did not have much to say at that, and Judge Martin, after some desultory discussion, announced the sentences.
Then came motions for a stay of sentence pending an appeal, counsel for the defense contending that the record could not be prepared for the Appellate Division, even to pass on the question of bail, by June 6, when the court meets for the last time before the Summer vacation. Mr. Wise said he would join the defense in asking for a consideration of the question of bail on the typewritten record, without waiting for the tedious job of printing the report of the four weeks' trial, but added that if the defendants in addition to their sentences wanted to stay in the Tombs all Summer while their counsel had the record printed, before appealing to the higher court for bail, he was content.
Bail Was Refused.
It was necessary for Judge Martin to say once more that he would not grant bail under any circumstances, for the counsel for the defense to agree to a ten-day stay of sentence, during which they were remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal, which means lodgment in the Tombs. Within fifteen minutes thereafter Col. Wilson and his four fellow-officers of the United Wireless, handcuffed together, had started up Centre Street with the usual accompaniment of Federal deputies, small boys and curious hangers on.
After the proceedings in court were over Mr. Wise talked to reporters in his office.
"For once," he said, "a lot of crooks are going to jail after being convicted at their own expense. I consider this one of the most important cases that the Government has ever had here, for we have landed every responsible officer of the company, from the President down, and including the lawyer who fixed up the conditions under which he thought they could swindle the people and get away with their game. I am going after the costs just as fast as I can get them into shape for the entry of judgment.
"I want to say, however, that every bit of the credit of winning this case is due to my assistants--G. H. Dorr, Robert Stephenson and Abel I. Smith--who prepared and tried it, and to the Post Office Inspectors and Government special agents, who chased up the facts and brought the witnesses together from all corners of the country."
Asked about his charges of attempted bribery, Mr. Wise said:
"Henry W. Newcomb, who was juror No. 11, came to me this morning and told me that he had been approached last night at his home in the Bronx by a man who called him to his door and said he could name his price at anything 'within five figures' if he would hang the jury. Newcomb was so outraged that he shut the door in the man's face and does not know who he was. I told Judge Martin of this to-day and told Newcomb to watch out to see whether his tempter was in the court room. Unfortunately the man did not show up.
"As to the attempt to bribe me I have this to say: A man who had been a friend of my father and myself for years, a member of the New York Bar, went to a personal friend of mine and told him that he could have a trip and a certain amount of money if Butler got off. My friend asked whether it was for him or for me, and he replied that he didn't care how the money was divided so long as Butler got off. This occurred at an early stage of the trial, but I said nothing about it as I did not want to prejudice the jury."
Mr. Wise was asked if any attempt was made to reach him directly, and he replied:
"No, I guess they knew too much. I am sometimes hot tempered, and I am afraid I might have killed the man who did that."