Smuggling liquor into the U. S. tempts alien 'leggers and U. S. Congressmen alike. Their purpose is the same, their methods different.
To high Government officers returning from "official missions" abroad, the Treasury grants "free entry" through the customs barrier. "Free entry" luggage is passed without inspection at the pier. Many a Congressman during recesses of Congress goes to Panama (wet) for a vacation, pretending to make an official study of the Canal Zone, and thus becomes eligible for "free entry" on return.
In December, 1927, Congressman M. Alfred Michaelson, of Chicago, born 51 years ago in Norway, once a schoolteacher, now a William ("Big Bill") Hale Thompson political supporter, asked for and received "free entry" for a trip to Panama. In January, 1928, he re-entered the U. S. through Key West, his six trunks passing without inspection by customs agents. At the Jacksonville railroad station a baggageman traced a liquor trickle to a broken bottle in one of these trunks. Federal agents seized the trunks, removed the liquor, shipped them to Washington where, upon claiming them, their owner was identified.
Last October the federal grand jury in Florida returned a secret indictment against Congressman Michaelson, charging him with illegally importing "six quarts of John Haig whiskey, two quarts of creme de menthe liquor, one quart of taffel Akavait, one quart of creme de cacao, one quart of cherry brandy and one keg of plum Barbaucourt." In November, Congressman Michaelson was elected to the House for the fifth time. Last February he voted for the Five & Ten (Jones) Law as commanded by the Anti-Saloon League. Last week a warrant was out for his arrest on the Florida indictment. Bond was set at $2,000. But for three days Congressman Michaelson played a hide-and-seek game with U. S. Marshals. He spent a lonely Easter and the next day gave himself up.
Last week the Government-owned S. S. Cristobal brought back to Manhattan from Panama 23 junketing Congressmen and Senators. One of these was Representative William M. Morgan, of Newark, Ohio, merchant, farmer, implacable prohibitor. On the pier Customs Inspector L. E. Crawford began to go through the Morgan handbaggage. Thereafter Inspector Crawford gave this version of events :
The inspector asked the Congressman if he had any liquor. The Congressman replied that he had four bottles of whiskey, but as he was a Government official returning from an official mission he could not be stopped. The inspector dipped into one bag and brought up four bottles which he set conspicuously upon a packing case. Customs Inspector James McCabe, working nearby, witnessed the incident, saw the bottles. The Congressman went to a telephone, called the Custom House, obtained a "free entry" order. Liquor was not mentioned in that telephone conversation. The Congressman was thereupon passed, tak- ing with him his four bottles of contraband.