Charles H. Crawford

Charles H. Crawford

Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio, USA
Death 20 May 1931 (aged 52)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Whispering Pines, Lot 993, Space 2
Memorial ID 8980 · View Source
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Crime Figure. Nicknamed "The Gray Wolf" and "Good Time" Charlie, was a kingpin politician and key player in what was known as the "City Hall Gang" or "The System", a low-profile but all-powerful syndicate that ran the gambling, prostitution, and bootlegging rackets in Los Angeles. By mid-1930s, his empire had begun to crumble and had had too many close brushes with the law. It was reported he was a model for some of Raymond Chandler's villains. In 1930, Charles was indicted for bribery in connection with a securities scandal involving the Julian Petroleum Corporation. Prosecutors alleged that he and the former State Corporations Commissioner conspired to accept bribes in exchange for business privileges. Those charges were dismissed in October 1930 when the government's main witness refused to testify. Also in 1930, shortly after his indictment on bribery charges, Charles was baptized and admitted into the membership of St. Paul's Presbyterian Church. The pastor at St. Paul's was Rev. Gustav A. Briegleb, the noted minister portrayed by John Malkovich in the 2008 film Changeling. On the day of his baptism, Charles placed a ring set with two large diamonds, and valued at $3,500, in the collection plate at Briegleb's church. Accompanying the ring was a note from Charles asking Briegleb to sell the ring and use the proceeds to help build a parish house. In November 1930, Crawford made a further gift of $25,000 to be used in building a parish hall to be named Amelia Crawford House in honor of his mother. Charles sought legitimacy by opening an insurance and real estate office in Hollywood and also funded a periodical magazine called "Critic of Critics", operated by newspaperman Herbert E. Spencer. It was at this office building, that on May 20, 1931 both men were shot. Spencer was fatally shot with a bullet to the heart, but Charles survived and was transported to the hospital, where he died at 8:54 pm despite blood transfusions. The bullet had plowed its way through his abdomen, rupturing his liver and one of his kidneys. Though he regained consciousness prior to his operation, he refused to reveal his assassin's identity saying that if he had to die, the secret would go with him to the grave. And so it did. Three days later, on May 23, 1931, David H. Clark, known to the press as "Debonair Dave" or "Handsome Dave", a former deputy District Attorney and candidate for Municipal Judge, turned himself in to the police and admitted that he had shot Crawford and Spencer. Eleven of the twelve jurors found Clark not guilty. Charles was survived by his wife and two children, after his death his widow built the historic Crossroads of the World, a shopping center shaped like a ship, on the site where Charles was shot.

Bio by: Shock

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 4 Apr 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 8980
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Charles H. Crawford (22 Apr 1879–20 May 1931), Find a Grave Memorial no. 8980, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale), Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .