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The Boss

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

When things seemed to be going best, when he was just establishing his leadership in the Horseshoe, came a crisis that might well have wrecked Frank Hague's career. The trouble arose because a Horseshoe boy, Thomas ('Red') Dugan, a boyhood friend of Frank and Skidder, was not content as Frank was to take the sure but slow way to success; he wanted to get rich too fast.

From Boston word came to the Horseshoe early in October, 1904, that Red Dugan was in trouble. Red had been in trouble before: it is a matter of record that he was a general practitioner of the modes of crime of his day, a burglar, confidence man, pickpocket, ballot-box stuffer, and thug. In 1900 he had broken into the home of the Reverend Mr. J. C. Petersen of Jersey City. Surprised by the pastor's wife in the act of robbing her house, he drew his gun and shot her, the bullet striking her head: but unfortunately for Dugan she recovered to identify him, and he was sentenced to the penitentiary for fourteen years. After serving four years, however, he was paroled.

On October 4, 1904, subscribers to the Jersey Journal read that Dugan had been arrested in New York for swindling the People's Bank of Roxbury, Massachusetts, of $500 on a forged check. Dugan, with the aid of a confederate dressed as a clergyman, had deposited a forged certified check for $955 and had persuaded the bank president to permit them to withdraw $500 cash. (Boston Evening Transcript, October 4, 1904.) At the request of the chief of police of Boston the chief of police of Jersey City sent a Bertillon expert to Boston to identify Dugan and to testify as to his record at the trial, which began October 27. Inspector Watt of Boston was so surprised to learn on the day of the trial that deputy sheriffs Frank Hague and Thomas Maddigan had also arrived to testify to an alibi for Dugan that he wired for an explanation to Chief Benjamin Murphy in Jersey City, who gave out a public statement:

Inspector Watt of Boston notified me by wire that Frank Hague and Thomas Maddigan were in Boston, where they will attempt to prove an alibi for `Red' Dugan, who is charged with swindling a bank out of $500. Chief Watt told me that he had Dugan `pat' and that if Hague and Maddigan attempt to carry out their purpose they run the risk of spending some time in Massachusetts. (Evening Journal, October 28, 1904.)
They took the risk, for, according to another statement issued by Chief Murphy the next day, they 'attempted to prove an alibi for Dugan by testifying that they saw him in a park in Jersey City on a Saturday in August but were not sure as to the particular Saturday. Their evidence was so immaterial that they were cross-examined but little.' (Evening Journal, October 99, 1904.)


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