|Imposition of sentence on Dr. Frederick A. Cook; November 21, 1923|
United States Government, General Services Administration
RE: U.S. District Court Records of the trial of Dr. Cook
This is one of those times when your peculiar and persuasive hypnotic personality fails you, isn't it? You have at last got to the point where you can’t bunco anybody. You have come to the mountain and can't reach the latitude; it is beyond you.
First, we had Ananias, then we had Machiavelli; the Twentieth Century, produced Frederick A. Cook. Poor old Ananias, he is forgotten, and Machiavelli—we have Frederick A. Cook.
Cook, this deal of yours, and this conception of yours, and this execution of yours, was so damnably crooked that I know the men who defended you, defended you with their handkerchiefs to their noses, rank, smelling to Heaven.
I wish I could do with you as I might, the way I feel about you; I wish I were not circumscribed by some conventions, that I think are mistakes, yet until public sentiment is educated to a better respect for the law, we have got to respect them to some degree. I don’t think you ought to run at large at all; you are too dangerous.
Undoubtedly you have got these ill-gotten gains of yours laid away. Why, one of your counsel came to me this morning wanting to know something about what the supersedeas bond would be. Not knowing then just what you should be made responsible for in this case, I fixed it too low. He said you could not give it—could not put it up. "Why?" I said to him, as every sensible man would say to him, who wasn’t under the hypnotic spell of your peculiar personality—like any man whose brains work—function normally. I said to him, "It is a waste of breath for you to make any assurances that he has means to put up any kind of a bond that the court would think to fix”. The money you have taken in—right now you—are holding money that belongs to poor people all over the United States. If you had the slightest sense of honor, you would set up a new trust deed for all you have got—if you had any sense of honor at all you would write a trust deed and put in the hands of some trustee for disbursing, in favor of those people from whom you stole the money, this property that stands in your name, and not make them go to the expense of a receivership proceeding. I don’t see how any living man who had any appreciation of the standards of decency or honesty, can suggest that you ought to hold a penny of it; that you ought to be permitted to give it to your wife or daughter for a nominal consideration, easily fixed up, because every penny of it was robbed from the orphans and widows and credulous old people; people in the depth of poverty; people anxious to get money enough so as to ensure a decent burial.
I have a letter today—a pitiful letter—from a Texas woman. A most pitiful letter—only one of the dozens and dozens of letters that I have had—saying she was going blind; she knew—she realized that she was going blind and encountered this lurid literature of yours, that the bombastic, flamboyant Cox had written, and Stephens had written—the man you said was crazy—and paid—paid him to write for you. She saw that and fell for it. Thought you were going to provide for her old age and blindness. Put every penny she had in your name, to you.
I got a letter a few days ago from a woman in my State—the most pitiful thing I have ever read, and I do have some pitiful situations. Poor creature—just as pitiful as the poor woman from Coshocton, Ohio, who sat on this stand here (indicating) suffering. She affected your counsel so that they persuaded you to try and make good. Crippled; bed-ridden; no means at all; charity for surgical attendance, because every penny she had was given to the fellow who calls himself "Dr. Frederick A. Cook".
Oh, God, Cook, haven't you any sense of decency at all, or is your vanity so impervious that you don't, respond to what must be calls of decency to you? Aren't you haunted at night? Can you sleep?
I can't begin to absolutely take care of you, I am only conscious of the fact, which is a vast consolation, that you are under indictment in my district right now—subject to removal there; subject to prosecution there, and that this same record that has been made here can be poured into the ears of honest farmers of Northern Ohio, just as it was poured into the ears of the honest farmers of Texas. You may be brought to justice here, and which you will be, probably, if the Government thinks it is a matter of good policy to do it. One consolation. If it wasn’t for that, Cook, this sentence I am going to give you would be a good deal stiffer. I know—I know what my colleagues in the Northern Ohio District would do to you if they were standing facing you as I do. I won't have to try that case. Of course, I would not, because I have got started knowing you too well. I would not try your case. I would have to disqualify. One contract with you is enough. But I know what they would do, because I know what kind of men they are.
Thank God that the statutes of the United States run so that you can be indicted in every District in which you sent a letter—be prosecuted, and be prosecuted over and over again, from one District into another. There isn't probably a District in the United States from which you could not be prosecuted right now, as a result of abusing the mails—using the mails. They have jurisdiction everywhere.
What's the use of talking to you, your effrontery, vanity and nerve are so monumental, so cold-steel, so impervious, so adamantine to what I have to say, that the only satisfaction I got in saying that, is that I know that I am voicing the feelings of the decent people of Texas, without any question; those of them that have brains enough not to fall for what some of these foolish people call your personality. I don't know where it is. They call it "personality", whether it is poker face or false face.
I know it is foolish for me to talk to you, because it don't sting you at all, but this is the last chance of those who can say anything of those who can be represented, to voice any expression of contempt for you.
Now, I am going to do you justice, Cook; I am not going to give you the sentence you ought to have, because I expect that you will get the balance of it some place else. You ought to be carried around over every District in which you exhibited your wares, to be put on exhibition, as a trifle worn. Those people you swindled in the Northern Ohio District ought to have a chance to look at you. Those you swindled in Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, the Southern Ohio District, ought to have a chance to look at you; Vermont, Wyoming, California, Colorado, everywhere. New York—these poor people in the South, many of them, I spent my forenoon answering letters this morning, just on your account, I can’t do you justice.
It is strange—I don't know why—I would not say for a minute that these people fell for your personality; I know that you are too hard-shelled for that, but it is strange that the prosecuting officers have suggested to me that I be not quite so stiff on you. It is my own disposition, and my abhorance for such a crook as you are.
The sentence in your case is, if you need any further sentence; a normal man wouldn't need any further sentence, after what I have said to you, but you do know you are abnormal. The sentence is your case is that you be imprisoned in the penitentiary for five years—in the penitentiary at Leavenworth, on each of the first three counts of this indictment, but that that imprisonment be served on those counts concurrently, and so, that is all, you serve five year on those three counts, and that you serve on each one of the other nine counts, a period of imprisonment in the penitentiary at Leavenworth, of 13 months, and that you serve those so that when you have served your sentence on the first three counts you will serve 13 months on the fourth count, and then you will serve 13 months on the 5th count, and so on down, until you get through serving this string of counts, and that you pay a the of $1.000.00 on each one of the 12 counts, and that you stand committed until you—as to each one of these fines until the fines have been paid.
I very much regret that that is the maximum of the fine. If it were $10.000.00 maximum, I would have made it $10.000.00. The Government ought to have some of this money. If you won’t distribute it back to the people from whom you stole it, the Government ought to have it, but that is as far as I can go. And that you also pay—and this is a part of the judgment of the Court—the costs of the case. I don’t know what they are taxed at, but you pay them.
Now your bond is—by way of supersedeas, and it shall be a supersedeas bond—that is fixed in the sum of $75,000.00
|© 2002 Russell R. Robinson and Dr. Frederick Cook
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