Many of its stoutest backers were people fighting for all kinds of reforms, including votes for women. Therefore, the Wyoming Legislature set up a new agency specifically to enforce Prohibition statewide. Other than federal officers, there were no police whose authority reached statewide.Under pressure from groups like the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League, Colorado outlawed the possession, manufacture and sale of alcohol in 1914. Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana followed in 1916, and Utah in 1917. Wyoming was the only wet state left in the Rocky Mountains. Governor Robert Carey appointed Fred Crabbe—a lawyer with no police experience, but president of the Wyoming chapter of the Anti-Saloon League—to head the new state prohibition agency.Liquor, wine and beer, illegal in the state since 1919, often were openly available in the same places.
Prohibition was on its last legs in Wyoming when top public officials—Casper’s mayor and police chief and the Natrona County Sheriff—were accused of corruption.
The men who ran the town and the county, prosecutors claimed, were in cahoots with the crooks who supplied illegal liquor to the people of central Wyoming.
But whether they were actually paid to ignore these crimes of pleasure would turn out to be hard to prove in a court of law.
Prohibition’s beginnings The temperance movement, opposing liquor and saloons, grew stronger and stronger in the United States in the late 19 centuries. No one, it seemed, ever expected local police or county sheriffs to do much.
Wyoming’s oil-drilling, oil-refining, mining, ranching and railroad economy attracted a lot of single men. The brothels and speakeasies clustered in the Sandbar district, just northwest of downtown.
Town and county officials—and the police and sheriff’s officers they employed—had to have known what was going on.
Its border towns did a brisk business with booze customers driving in from neighbor states. In 1919, the Legislature passed a state law banning alcohol. Crabbe hired John Cordillo, a former Denver policeman with prohibition enforcement experience in Colorado.
By then, enough states had approved a change in the U. Constitution that national prohibition of alcohol, too, had become law. John Cordillo brought with him his brother Pete, and another Colorado cop named Walter Newell. The Albany County prosecutor, following suspicions of his own, began questioning the three state prohibition agents.
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