September 16, 1909


Board Rules in Case Where Woman
Gave $25 to Show Appreciation,
That a Postage Stamp
Is Graft.

The police board ruled at its meeting yesterday afternoon that it would consider any officer as grafting who accepted "even a postage stamp or a cigar as a present."

The ruling was made after Detectives J. F. Lyngar and Charles T. Lewis had been suspended for sixty days for accepting a present of $25 from Mrs. Rose Herman, 909 Lydia avenue. The money was given to Lewis on September 1 for recovery of a $125 locket. He gave his partner, Lyngar, half of it. The board ordered that if the $25 was not returned to Mrs. Herman within twenty-four hours the officers would be dropped.

Mrs. Herman was an unwilling witness and when she took the stand she said, with her eyes suffused with tears: "I would like to make a preliminary statement. I am not making these charges against these officers. A friend of mine virtually trapped me into doing it. If in telling the truth here I am going to cause trouble for either of them I want to say now that I am very, very sorry for it."


The witness then went on to tell how previously she had lost $30 and how Detective Lewis had succeeded in recovering it for her. When the locket was stolen she sent for him. On August 30 it was located in a pawnshop at 812 Independence avenue, where sh paid the pawnbroker $10 to get it back.

"Both officers were there," she continued, "and advised me that I could replevin the locket, but lawyer's fees would have been more than $10, so I paid it. The man wanted $18.

"It was then I told Mr. Lewis to come to my house the next day. When he did I voluntarily gave him $25. I meant it as a present, as I felt very grateful to get my locket back. And I still want the men to have the money. I was dragged into this thing unwillingly."

Detective Lewis admitted all that Mrs. Herman said and added that he had worked on both cases alone, simply giving his partner half of the $25.

"It was my idea," he said, "that we were not allowed to accept of a published reward without permission of this board. I did not know it was a violation of the statute to accept a present. I have done it before, and so has every man on the force for that matter. Mrs. Herman will tell you that I told her she owed me nothing, but still she insisted and I took it."


Commissioners Marks and Middlebrook discussed the case in low tones for a long time before rendering a verdict. Then Judge Middlebrook wheeled swiftly about in his chair and said:

"Were it not for the fact that Mrs. Herman was an unwilling witness, that the money appears to have been thrust upon the officer, both men would be dropped from the department here and now. That is the only mitigating circumstance in this case. You are suspended for sixty days and the money must be paid to the secretary tomorrow. He will return it. Hereafter men found accepting presents will be absolutely dismissed from the force.

"The mere fact that you see no wrong in what you have done is to say the least distressing. You are paid $115 a month and the acceptance of a postage stamp above that is regarded as graft."

"Rear in mind now," added Mr. Marks, "this means that you are to accept nothing form the public, not even a cigar, without the permission of this board."

"If that rule is enforced," said an officer who heard the order, "the board would be kept busy examining new men for the force, as every ma on the department would lose his job every day. I know a copper who has lost his eleven times today, as he has just that many good cigars in his inside pocket."