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Crime

The Mid-West Hotel Reporter of Omaha on February 11, 1921, included an interview with W. C. Brown. "Brown has lived most of the time for the past forty years in comfortable luxury," the Reporter told its readers, the hotel keepers of the Midwest. "He has eaten of the best; he has been most comfortable. And he has done all this, not only at the expense of the hotels, but he has also been able to keep himself well supplied with money from the hotels to spend for other things. Brown was arrested last Wednesday in Lincoln after he had left a string of bad checks behind him in Lincoln and in Omaha."

Considered something of a celebrity for his check writing prowess, Brown was interviewed while in the Lancaster County Jail. "I have lived at most of the best hotels east of Lincoln," Brown said, "and most of them have souvenirs of mine in the way of checks. I could not say whether the eastern or western hotels are easier to work. I have stayed several times at the McAlpin and Waldorf-Astoria in New York. I always made my stay at these six days. On the seventh day they always present the bill, you see. By that time I was gone. These hotels will also lend small amounts of money and will cash checks during the six days for their patrons and I have availed myself of both of these kindnesses." Brown gave a series of tips on the kind of assumed names one should use when trying to cash a bad check, the manner of approaching a desk or sales clerk easily, and when to admit defeat and flee.

Brown conceded, "You never can tell when you will be caught. The last time I was brought up was when I least expected it. I had left a string of checks in Omaha a short time before, among them one on the Brandeis stores. These were a series of checks that I was putting out at the time with a picture of the Gayety theater in Omaha on them. We all make mistakes and I made the mistake of continuing that same type of check too long. The hotel men and the Brandeis stores got together and I was advertised over all the hotels in the country."

Brown apparently felt little concern over his approaching imprisonment and told the interviewer he planned to write a book or magazine articles warning hotel keepers about the frauds he had practiced on them for so many years.

(February 2003)

 

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