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Two Weeks in Hell: Spiritual Lessons From the Green Beret Training Camp

Posted on January 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

Remarkable lessons in our spiritual walk with Christ, in this life can be gained from the Green Beret’s training program. Discovery Channel aired a documentary showing the rigorous qualification testing volunteers must endure in order to prove themselves fit for the famous Green Beret Armed Forces group. They must prove themselves:

• physically fit,
• psychologically able to endure enormous physical demands; however,
• Integrity: able to carry out their mission alone or in a team as instructed when no one is watching,
• a spiritual component shows itself to be a vital quality,

to most recruits who successfully qualify for the grueling two week ordeal where they are either accepted or rejected for the privilege to continue into Green Beret course training.

Many recruits did not last the first several hours or even the first day. They had a choice of voluntary exit the program or get eliminated. They operated sleep deprived to simulate the battlefield in this test environment with a few hours of sleep; they were called into action at any time of the day or night. Those who were over-confident or even arrogant were quickly eliminated since they had no idea of the difficulty of the program they were about to endure.

• The Green Beret’s Motto: “To Liberate the Oppressed”

To follow formal reason, the achievement of the above motto requires a personal sense of Apriori mission in the soldier’s heart. It must require a sense of non judgmental thinking as if they “deserved it” somehow, but focusing on the tyrannical injustice to the victim of those circumstances inflicted upon those victims, far above their ability to liberate themselves.

That sense of mission resides in us by that sense of “eternity” planted in our hearts as described in the book of Ecclesiastes and Augustine, to inherently know good and evil on the same standard as our Creator-God, Yahweh who says, “I am the Lord; I change not”.

I fail to see how a non-believer could follow that sense of mission, since his foundation is set on his own subjective sense of good and evil which may change from day to day, week to week or whatever situation he may find himself, a subjective shifting-sand type of right and wrong that is so prevalent in our society as God hating entities continue to ram their Godless agenda down the throats of those who believe through fallacy filled legislation, Constitutional error and Judicial decisions by judges who appoint themselves as legislators, ultimately resulting in the violation of everyone’s First Amendment Rights on a defective premise our God fearing forefathers never intended. A soldier on a shifting- sand faulty foundation could never achieve this mission To Liberate the Oppressed.

Two Weeks: Two Parts – Solo Performance And Team Performance

Week One focused on solo performance. They were taken out into the training environment wilderness in the middle of the night with only rudimentary direction finding equipment – a map and a compass. They were specifically instructed to avoid high traffic routes where they could be ambushed or spotted in a battlefield environment, especially traffic route bottlenecks where the enemy would spot them.

Their route finding required them to cross swamps, trackless wilderness without trail, high risk to parasites and other wild beasts, while avoiding the easier traffic routes as they were instructed, all during the middle of the night.

Although they carried flashlights, they were instructed not to use them since the enemy in a battlefield environment would spot them miles away and reveal their location. They were also given packs weighing 50 to 100 pounds. Should they be caught using a flashlight, it would be cause to immediately expel them from the course.

Vertigo: rolling
Volunteers training included rolling on the ground for long periods of time. The rolling induced vertigo and dizziness where many volunteers got dizzy and vomited. They were instructed not to vomit on the course but rather outside the area. Many got quite sick; some could not continue since they were both sick and disoriented. Not continuing meant they were out of the program. Many were eliminated in this step, which was only in the first day or so.

Climbing
Volunteers were required to climb rope ladders, walls and log devices up to about 50 feet high. Some volunteers were not originally afraid of heights; yet, having gotten up high without any safety net caused some volunteers to freeze and had difficulty getting down. Delays in getting down meant they were scrutinized for possibly getting ejected from the program, depending on how they did in that situation.

Heights
Some who were previously not afraid of heights because a bit freaked out when thy discovered they were 50 feet in the air with no safety rope or net. Numerous obstacles in the course included poles, walls and other obstacles the volunteers were required to scale quickly.

Integrity: Following Orders
The definition of integrity has been described as to whether or not a person does what is right whether or not anyone sees them. In this rigorous program, the volunteers were taken out into the middle of the wilderness, dropped off and given a destination with a time limit to arrive at. They were unaware that the program Officers were observing them using night vision equipment (FLIR), which revealed the activity of the volunteer as if it were noon day. Those that were observed to be using flashlights, sleeping or failing to follow orders were eliminated immediately.

The volunteers were also required to wear Geo-location GPS satellite navigation equipment to monitor their location for safety and monitoring reasons. Some recruits were caught sleeping, some were lost, some lost their sense of direction and did not arrive at their required destination either in the time limit or failed to arrive at all. Both were eliminated. By the end of the first day approximately 50 out of the 250 were eliminated.

Those volunteers who were observed to take the high traffic routes were eliminated immediately. Those routes bottlenecked the volunteers into areas where the enemy could easily ambush them. Although other routes were far more difficult including snake or wild beast infested swamps, deep waters, they were required to take those routes which avoided ambush.

Preparation
The video showed some volunteers were poorly prepared physically. Upper body strength was lacking to the extent that some volunteers were in such poor shape that they could not finish their mission. Muscles were obviously flabby, big bellies and soft arms like the Pillsbury doughboy.

The Source of Orders
The volunteers orders came only from one source: a white board posted in the middle of camp. Orders were changed and executed any time of the night or day; volunteers were expected to execute them immediately with no delay. Delayed execution of the orders was reason for expulsion.

Team Performance.
Week one focused on individual performance, obedience and personal resolve to execute their mission quickly and efficiently, to simulate the battlefield. In week two, volunteers were placed in groups of 10 – 20.

They were given orders to move a 400 pound, 50 gallon drum of liquid about 7 miles. They were only given 4 poles, several wheels and some ropes. Each team appointed a leader; afterwards they devised a plan to use the poles, wheels and ropes in a makeshift system to move the barrel.

The most efficient teams took their system, filled in for those parts that lacked such as wheels falling off the poles, balancing the drum or whatever. They made their mission in good time.

Some teams lacked good leadership. Their system was poorly designed, causing excessive failures and ultimately low morale. Some gave up and just laid down by the side of the road from exhaustion and hunger. Several men had left their weapon behind and had to backtrack several miles to get it. Not to have a weapon was grounds for immediate expulsion. Inefficient teams argued and engaged in excessive discussion while the other teams worked together, filled their part and made the system work in a way where each man filled a need.

A critical function causing several teams to fail their mission was a lack of navigational skills. Their navigator failed to read the map correctly causing their team to take the wrong road, wasting valuable time in a hard lesson where they were required to move the barrel back several miles to the correct road, expending valuable time and energy.

Eventually, the last team arrived approximately 6 – 8 hours after the first, but long after the deadline had passed to fulfill their mission.

Lessons we can Learn

Personal Integrity v. Self Assured Destruction – S.A.D.
This author finds the lessons we can learn in our daily life, spiritual life, business life remarkable and long lasting. We as Christians are given a mission to “Liberate the oppressed.” We can’t liberate the oppressed until we ourselves are liberated. We liberate ourselves beginning in the times we are alone, when it seems no one is watching, as those volunteers found themselves in the middle of the night, in the middle of the wilderness, with only basic provisions for direction finding and given a mission to complete in limited time. Most failures were self inflicted; therefore, I will coin an acronym: SAD – Self Assured Destruction.

Arrogance and Pride
The first device for SAD is pride and arrogance. Regardless of how well even the few prepared, even the most confident were shaken by the difficulty of the course. Life brings us curve balls, ambushes and unexpected grief many times from our own shortcomings or something we have no control over. Those who successfully endured to the end reaped the prize; the prize and honor of the Green Beret; a heritage to be passed down through the generations of the family and nation. Those who were self absorbed in the glory of their own abilities found themselves SADly mistaken.

Disoriented in the Dark
Like those volunteers, we find ourselves in life seemingly dropped off in the middle of the night, we don’t know where we are and have few resources, save a map which is our Word of God. Self pity would be our second device for SAD.

If we sit down and wait until things are better, like those who hid themselves in a field, covered themselves until daylight, failed their mission, their fellow soldiers and their own integrity. We don’t have forever. The Psalmist says, “teach me to number my days.”

Alone in the dark, secrecy gives us a false sense of our ability to “get away with something”, to cheat the system. What those volunteers failed to know or remember is that their supervising officers were watching their every move, even though it was pitch black in the middle of the night, through their night vision glasses (Infra Red FLIR).

Their every move was being observed through the night vision binoculars, just as God watches us as well. God will hold us accountable for every SAD device we engage in. Jesus said, “What is done in secret will be shouted from the housetop.” Let’s remember to do good things in secret, when no one watches, save God, so those things shouted from the housetop will be a pleasant return of honor, rather than shame and humiliation.

24 Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord.
Jer 23:24 (NLT)

Taking Shortcuts: Another device for S.A.D.
Those volunteers were monitored by GPS – satellite; their every move was known, just as God watches us from his Eye in the sky. If we were outside of His knowing, He would cease to be God. They were instructed not to take routes which led them into a closed area, limited for escape, even though it was a shorter and easier route, where the enemy could ambush them.
Their alternative (and instruction) was to take those paths which assured their safe arrival, if necessary cross swamps, through snake or other hostile environments with their heavy 50 pound or more packs and weapons. Those volunteers who took the short cut were eliminated.

Just as Jesus said, 13 ” Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. 14 “For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.

Matt 7:13-14 (NASB77)
Although us as Christians may not lose our salvation by taking the easy path; that license for grace cannot be assured since it is God who judges. For the volunteers, the easy path was another device for S.A.D and ejection from the program. Officers intercepted those even in the middle of the night when it was most unexpected, who took the easy path and eliminated them from the program.

Teamwork
The physical, moral, spiritual character and ability of those volunteers shown brightly when teamwork became essential. Leadership qualities each of them demonstrated as a requirement during the 400 pound barrel mission where navigation, map reading and direction finding became essential to complete the mission on time and on course.

As is in our Christian walk, our direction is not subjective, subject to the shifting sands of our whims, moods or societies ever changing standard. Our directives are given to us by our Commander Jesus Christ, they do not change and neither does He. His truths are Apriori- they are true in all times and all places. His truths and Word is a Lamp to our feet and a light to our eye even when it’s dark outside, there is no one around and we don’t know where to go; we can depend on the light of His Word and Spirit to guide us.

When those Volunteers were dropped off in the middle of the night, it appeared they were alone; we too seem like in life’s situation no one is around to help, talk to or guide us; but the Holy Spirit is God’s down payment of the promise He has given us that He will always be with us and never forsake us.

Those Volunteers, when in a team, had no room for ego or arrogance when they were focusing on their mission; neither do we have room for ego or arrogance to accomplish that mission (or purpose) God has given us. The ability to work with other believers is essential to accomplish those purposes.

The timing of the mission also determines a mission successful or a mission failed. Martin Luther King said, “Justice delayed is Justice denied.” If we delay the Justice of God’s directive, we are an accomplice to rebellion. To those Volunteers, bringing in that 400 pound barrel 8 hours behind scheduled mission was a failed mission. To those Volunteers that failure happened by, A) Lack of leadership, B) Lack of direction or navigation, C) Lack of Unity (or ego), D)Lack of preparation (lack of physical, moral or Spiritual strength.

The ability for each team to prevail or transcend their difficult mission, was determined by the ability of each Volunteer to prevail in each person’s Spirit, Soul and body; to focus on the prize of the glory of a mission accomplished and a job well done when they operated days or weeks sleep deprived, hungry, exhausted, doubting their abilities; but their strength of character; self talk must prevail against those inner voices screaming out JUST QUIT!

When David was at Ziklag, he found his wives and children taken captive, his village was burned, his men ready to stone him and Saul was still after him, but David encouraged himself – he made a deliberate choice for encouraging self talk, not to listen to those internal or external voices screaming for our defeat, but he remembered how God had been faithful to provide, protect and meet his every need. When he humbled himself, asking God’s direction; God directed him to go and recover his wives, children and goods. David executed that directive with all of his might like those Volunteers; David did not sleep until his mission was fully accomplished; he continued all night pursuing his enemies… to “liberate the oppressed.”

Our self talk also determines what outcome we will have as well. Like the spies who spied out the promised land; they prophesied their own victory or defeat. Those who said “we are like grasshoppers” were defeated and died in shame in the desert exactly like they professed in their fears. Those who professed they could take the land did exactly that; they went forward and took the land. They watered the Word with faith, on the Word they received from their God who promised them victory. They chose courage, faith and reaped a harvest of honor and victory, ultimately demonstrating the eternal strength of their God in the face of overwhelming circumstances where their enemies were bigger, stronger and were on their home turf.

Summary
It is the opinion of this author that those Volunteers for the Green Beret’s have much to teach us if we stop, look, listen and acknowledge their dedication, strength of character and integrity they demonstrated while in the middle of the dark wilderness, crossing swamps, bearing enormous physical burdens, bearing up alone or with others, while given strict time constraints, sometimes disoriented, puking and exhausted. Prevailing against those burdens require a strength of spirit that prevails over those without a sense of the eternal good and evil. I say it is our forefather’s character in the WWII generation that sometimes overshadows ours.

In contrast we see our societies icons of fame, wealth and power falling like dominoes in shame and humiliation by moral failings where they forgot their fear of God while, dirty deeds done dirt cheap while they were in secret, forgetting that God will shout their unfaithful deeds from the housetop. Many athletes, corporate executives’ fortunes and honor have ended up in divorce court, prison, dishonor or all of the above.

We got it wrong. Our icon’s of the latter are a paper moon of self, immediate gratification. Our real icons we have overlooked are those men and women, who like those who Volunteer for the Green Beret’s, may never be known for fame or fortune; yet, their Apriori strength of character is what gives those iconic failures the opportunity to fail. We as Christians should learn from them.

Let this article honor the demonstrated character of those Green Beret’s… and let us learn from them.

LPO (Legal Process Outsourcing) and Document Review

Posted on January 17, 2019 in Uncategorized

Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) is an industry that has been growing rapidly in the recent year and involves outsourcing of legal works by the legal communities of the developed countries like the US to lower wage developing countries like India.

LPO usually involves processes like Legal Research, Document Drafting, legal contracts, agreements, client letters, patent applications and various other Intellectual Property research and Paralegal Services.

LPO is increasingly being preferred these days because it has become a time consuming and expensive process, mainly triggered by data explosion, technological evolution, and the sudden increase in electronic stored information. One cannot also deny the fact that US practices lack consistent teams to perform document review work.

Document review in the context of litigation is done in two levels. The first level of document review is the discovery phase and first part in any litigation. This process is performed after receiving the legal “request for production of documents”. During this process the objective is to reduce the document set into a workable and responsive data set. Even though the e-discovery best practices have reduced a data set by almost 70% there still may remain millions of documents to be reviewed. This is because the total quantity of documents has multiplied several times over the years. In the second level these workable documents are reviewed more seriously by seniors.

As legal document review forms the major part of litigation expenses today law firms are trying out all methods to reduce the cost of litigation and outsourcing of e-discovery is a viable solution. During the document review process quite often millions of documents have to be searched and identified for

  • Case relevance
  • Confidentiality
  • Privileged /protection
  • “key or “hot” status

Besides in litigation, document review is also performed in matters of regulatory compliance and corporate due diligence.

The India based LPO services are a great boon in this regard because, attorneys in India doing the work come from the best law schools with a good understanding of the US legal system. They also use the best e-discovery technology, tools and processes and implement the highest level of security.

Mobsters and Crooks – The Green Goods Swindle

Posted on January 15, 2019 in Uncategorized

In the late 1800s, the “Green Goods Swindle” was the most successful scam in America. The beauty of the scam was that the victims were trying to commit a criminal act themselves, and hardly in any position to run to the police, crying they had been swindled.

The basis of the “Green Good Swindle” was that people from around the country would be lured to New York on the premise of buying counterfeit money at a mere fraction of face value. The swindle worked like this: Men called “Writers” sent out tens of thousands of circulars throughout the country to people who had bought tickets in lotteries. The feeling was that these were the type of people who were not always honest, and could be sucked into a scheme preying on their greed. The language in these circulars was intentionally vague, and could be taken to be perfectly harmless.

A typical green goods circular sounded something like: “I am dealing it articles, paper goods – ones, twos, fives, tens, and 20s – (do you understand?). I cannot be plainer until I know your heart is true to me. Then I will satisfy you that I can furnish you with with a fine, safe, and profitable article that can be used in any manner and for all purposes, and no danger.”

The green goods writer was careful not to mention the word “counterfeit.” Sometimes to misdirect a police official who might intercept one of these circulars, the green goods writer would pen something like, “These goods are a certain brand of cigar.”

Former Confederate soldiers were also likely targets for the “Green Goods Swindle.” New York City assistant district attorney Ambrose Purdy said, “Former Confederates were so emotionally embittered and economically indebted, that they viewed green goods as a good way to hurt the government. They became an easy prey of Northern sawdust men.”

One of the top green goods operators (bosses) was James McNally. McNally directed his writers to state on their circulars, “If you have been unsuccessful in your business, I can supply you with goods which you can pay off all your debts and you can start free and clear again.”

Some operators ordered their writers to be more specific in what they were doing, Even going as far as to mention the word “counterfeit.” One such circular read:

“Dear Sir, I will confide to you through this circular a secret by which you can make a speedy fortune. I have on hand a large amount of counterfeit notes of the following denominations: $1, $2, $5, $10, and $20. I guarantee every note to be perfect, as it is examined carefully by me as soon as finished, and if not strictly perfect it is immediately destroyed. Of course, it would be perfectly foolish to send out poor work. And it would not only get my customers into trouble, but would break up my business and ruin me. So for personal safety, I am compelled to issue nothing that will not compare with the genuine. I furnish you with my goods at the following low prices, which will be found as reasonable as the nature of my business will allow:

For $1200 in my goods (Assorted) I charge $100.
For $2500 in my goods (Assorted) I charge $200
For $5000 in my goods (Assorted) I charge $350
For $10,000 in my goods (Assorted) I charge $600.”

Once the out-of -town marks arrived in New York (either New York City, or somewhere in upstate New York), they were met at the railroad station by the middlemen called “steerers.” These steerers would take the marks to the operator, or “turning point,” who was waiting in a bogus storefront, ready to complete the old switcheroo, which would leave the mark devoid of this cash, and not in a very good mood.

The scam ran like this: As soon as the mark arrived, he was shown a stack of bills that looked genuine, which of course they were. Then, after taking the mark’s money, the “turning point” would fill the mark’s suitcase (a suitcase provided by the turning point himself) with the prescribed amount of money the mark had purchased. Then a diversion would take place, and in seconds, an identical suitcase, stuffed with newspaper or just plain sand, would be substituted, with the mark being none the wiser until much later.

The steerer would then tell the mark to follow him to the nearest railroad station, where the mark would board a train to take him to his hometown. The steerer would tell the mark not to speak to anyone on the streets, until he was safely on a train and headed back home. During the train ride (or when he arrived home), the mark would realize he had been swindled, but by then, he had little recourse, since what he had intended to do – buy counterfeit money – was against the law.

Sometimes as a safety precaution, a New York policeman, or detective, was in on the deal. These crooked cops would follow the mark and the steerer, and if by chance the mark opened the suitcase and discovered no counterfeit cash, before the mark could make a scene, the policeman would hustle the mark, by force if necessary, onto the train and quickly out-of-town. Almost always, instead of being taken to jail, the mark would decide that discretion was the better part of valor, and he would reluctantly hop on the train, with his tail between his legs, cursing to himself how utterly stupid he had been.

The chief operators in the “Green Good Swindle” had as many as half the New York City Police Department in their back pockets, sometimes paying the fuzz as much as 50% of their profits. Some cops were paid to look the other way, and others were paid handsomely, to chase the marks out of New York once they had been relieved of their cash.

One of the most prolific steerers was the famous pickpocket George Appo. Appo, half Irish and half Chinese, had been in out of jail so many times for pickpocketing and other street crimes, he decided the “Green Goods Swindle” was a step up on the totem pole of criminality. This decision almost cost Appo his life.

“I worked as a steerer for over eight years and was very successful,” Appo said, in his autobiography which was never published. “Everyone I steered to the ‘turning point’ always made the operator from $300 to $1000. I received only 10% of the money, while the writer and the man, who put up the bank roll of $20,000, each received 45% of the deal. The man who put up the bankroll would have as many as 15 writers on his staff, and each of these men would bring on at least one or two victims per day.”

Because most of the marks usually carried firearms, the steerers were sometimes in danger of being, shot and sometimes killed. George Appo was once sent to Poughkeepsie, New York to “steer” two marks who were coming in from North Carolina. After he arrived in Poughkeepsie, Appo went to a hotel and met Hiram Cassel and Ira Hogshead. Both men were 6’2″ tall, and they towered over the diminutive Appo, who was 5’4″ and barely 120 pounds. Appo handed the men an envelope which introduced him as a messenger and friend of the “Old Gentleman,” with whom they had been corresponding about the sale of the green goods. Appo told the two men that the “Old Gentleman” had instructed Appo to deliver the two men to Mott Haven, where they could examine the goods.

Appo took the men to the train station, telling them “I will get you your tickets, and after you are through with your business with the ‘Old Gentleman,’ I will see you safely aboard the train to your home. While we are walking to the depot, stay 10 feet behind me and don’t talk to, or ask questions of anybody, not even me. Remember the nature of our business. Don’t board the train until you see me get on board. Take a seat near me. When the train starts, I will hand you your tickets, and have a talk with you, and give you other instructions.”

Unfortunately for Appo, Hogshead was suspicious and did not heed Appo’s orders not to speak to anyone on their way to the train station. After the three men arrived at the train station, Appo, while he was standing with Cassel, spotted Hogshead in deep conversation with an Officer Morgan. Appo approached Hogshead and asked him why he had not boarded the train. Hogshead told Appo, “I don’t care to do business. I’ve changed my mind.”

Appo, trying very hard not to lose his mark and a very profitable payday to boot, told Hogshead that he would return to hotel with them and discuss why they had had such a change of heart. When they got the hotel, Appo joined Hogshead and Cassel in their hotel room. Hogshead began drinking heavily from a flask of whiskey, and was getting more belligerent by the minute. Appo told the two men he would go by himself to Mott Haven and tell the “Old Gentlemen” that two men did not want to do business. He’d also tell the “Old Gentleman” that “goods” should be brought here to the hotel for the two men to examine. And if the two men were not satisfied that the goods were as the “Old Gentleman” said they were, Appo would then give the two men expenses to and from their home in North Carolina. So what did they have to lose?

Mr. Cassel seemed pleased with Appo’s proposal, but Hogshead kept drinking from his flask of whiskey. Then Hogshead screamed at Appo, “I tell you! I know what I’m going. I’ve changed my mind and that settles it.”

Appo knew his little scheme had reached the end of the line, so he offered his hand to Hogshead and said, “You are leaving an opportunity of your life go by unneeded. So I will bid you goodbye.”

Whereas Hogshead refused to shake Appo’s hand, Cassel was happy to do so. As Cassel and Appo were shaking hands, Hogshead pulled out a Colt revolver and shot Appo in the right temple. Appo, severely wounded, spent several weeks in the hospital with a bullet lodged close to his brain (it remained there the rest of his life). In days, Appo’s right eye became severely infected, and as a result, it had to be removed.

However, although Hogshead and Cassel were arrested for shooting Appo, Appo was also arrested for running the “Green Goods Swindle” on the two men. Since Appo was a career criminal, and despite the fact he had only one eye, Appo was convicted and sentenced to three years and two months at hard labor. And fined $250.

After Appo had been sentenced, at Hogshead’s and Cassel’s trial, Hogshead maintained he shot Appo in self-defense because, “I was afraid of him. I didn’t mean to kill him.”

Being the standup “good fella” that he always claimed to be, Appo refused to testify against Hogshead and Cassel. In fact, Appo said he had not been in Poughkeepsie perpetrating any scheme, but was in fact looking for his long-lost father, who was reportedly in a lunatic asylum somewhere along the Hudson River. Due to the lack of evidence, and Appo’s refusal to testify against them, under the direction of Judge Guernsey, Hogshead and Cassel walked out of court free men.

The innocent verdicts of Hogshead and Cassel, and incarceration of Appo, were so outlandish, the Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle wrote in their editorial, “These acquittals and the incarceration of Mr. Appo is the most wretched farce we’ve ever seen in a court of justice. Cassel and Hogshead were not simply innocent victims; but rather both were ‘morally guilty.’ One gets his eye shot out, and his life put in serious danger at the hands of the other, and he gets three years in state prison. The other, who does the shooting, goes free on the payment of a $50 fine. That may be Judge Guernsey’s idea of justice. It certainly isn’t ours.”

Probably the most famous green goods dealer of his time was James McNally. McNally, who was born Lower East Side of Manhattan, was the declared “King of the Green Goods Men.” Famed New York City detective Thomas Byrnes described McNally as being “industrious, educated, self-assured, ingenious, and gifted, with a good knowledge of human nature.”

In 1890, McNally was considered not only the top green good ‘s operator in New York City, but also of the entire entire states of America. McNally’s scams even ventured into Canada. McNally had over 35 employees working for him, and they had 800 different aliases. McNally was so prolific at his job, his “writers”printed more than 2000 circulars at a time. And they sent out more than 15,000 circulars every day.

McNally was so proud of his green goods trade, he didn’t even consider it to be against the law. “There is nothing wrong with the green goods trade,” McNally said. “It does not hurt anybody. I meet all my men face-to-face, man-to-man, and if he loses his money, he certainly ought to, because he is a bigger crook then I am.”

McNally claimed that the”Green Goods Swindle” was “built upon the common desire in human nature to get something for nothing.” McNally’s green goods scams made him a millionaire. He claimed that he once made $48,000 in one day, and $250,000 in one month.

The downfall of McNally, and the “Green Goods Swindle” in particular, started in 1893 with an investigation by the Lexow committee. The Lexow committee was an offshoot of an anti-Tammany Hall campaign started by the Rev. Charles Parkhurst of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church. The Lexow committee consisted of seven state senators, and the chairman was Republican Clarence Lexow. This committee uncovered the incestuous relationship between the green goods operators, and the New York City Police Department. The Lexow Committee concluded that police officers were little more than “criminals in uniforms.”

As a result of the Lexow investigation, more than 30 police officials were indicted. The Democratic machine of Tammany Hall Was stripped of its power, and Republican William Strong was elected mayor. One of the Strong’s first moves as mayor was to appoint Republican Theodore Roosevelt as his Police Commissioner. Roosevelt, who would later become Governor of New York and then President of the United States, went full force against corrupt policeman, and the “Green Goods Swindle” in particular. All the main green goods operators were arrested, and basically put out of business. James McNally was particularly hit hard. In late 1894, McNally claimed that he was totally broke. McNally had bought a house in Connecticut in 1893 for $30,000, but he soon lost that house because he couldn’t make the mortgage payments.

McNally moved to Chicago and tried his “Green Goods Swindle” there. However, he was soon arrested for postal violations and sentenced to four years in the Joliet state prison. By 1905, McNally was impoverished and working as a waiter in a Coney Island restaurant. In 1907, McNally was homeless and living out on the street. He was so desperate for food and a roof over his head, McNally went to the Tombs Prison and begged to be admitted as an inmate.

By 1912, the “Green Goods Swindle” basically ceased to exist in New York City. Famed lawyer Arthur Brisbane said that Police Commissioner Roosevelt, using the postal inspectors as his allies, started treating the green goods operators as “a farmer treats weeds – root them out and prevent them from coming back again.”

Roosevelt was so successful in weeding out green goods operators, by 1914 the official police instruction manual no longer mentioned the “Green Good Swindle” as one of the most common confidence games perpetrated in New York City.

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