Paper Hanging with the Stauber Sisters

The Stauber SistersLos Angeles
February 12, 1927

The sad story of Blanche and Grace Stauber was revealed today when the sisters, ages 44 and 51, respectively, landed in the poky after a trip to Judge Baird’s court. It seems the college-educated spinsters fell on financially hard times after they moved to California in 1910 from their native Kansas. After their pleas to friends and family for monetary assistance went unheeded, Grace started forging checks. She did her best to keep knowledge of her wrongdoing from younger sister-they were daughters of a Methodist minister after all. But when Blanche inevitably discovered her sister’s malfeasance, she made a pragmatic decision: they would “join forces in an effort to keep themselves above poverty” and, above all, avoid being separated from one another.

It worked like this. Blanche and Grace would move into a small town somewhere in southern California. They’d rent a house, and Blanche would write a check in the amount of $300 to $600 (roughly $3,600 to $7,200 in today’s currency), drawn on a bank in another city. Grace would take the check to a bank in their new town, where she would open both savings and checking accounts, depositing half the check in each. Thus funded, the sisters went on a shopping spree, buying merchandise and often receiving change on their purchases. They’d be gone before the bank opened the following day.

Over the years, Blanche and Grace Stauber passed worthless checks to the total tune of about $25,000 (almost $300,000 today) in twenty-five different towns. The sisters “prayed frequently” for the success of their nefarious operations, prayers that appear to have been granted as they eventually opened a store in Palms to dispose of their hot items.

Judge Baird remanded the “elderly” sisters to General Hospital, where it was determined they were sane, though lacking in “moral appreciation.” Blanche and Grace faced possible sentences of from two to twenty-eight years in San Quentin, but it was said their greatest fear remained being separated.

Update: Blanche and Grace Stauber were each sentenced to serve one year in County Jail for forgery and issuing checks without sufficient funds. They were also sentenced to five years’ probation on a separate forgery charge. The sisters didn’t go quietly: they “told probation officers they felt the church owed them a living” and only started passing paper when it didn’t come through.

Cute Enough to Deserve Them


January 6, 1927
Los Angeles

itsaCRAVINGGladys Nolan, 22, of 5510 Lexington Avenue, had a craving for fine clothes and expensive perfumes.  She needed them.  Yes, there’s a difference between needs and wants.  She NEEDED them.  

Gladys was no klepto.  She paid for the items, and not with money from the handbag of some white-glove spinster she’d clobbered and left twitching in her death throes down a urine-soaked alley.  Gladys paid for these things with all the nicety befitting a girl of refinement, trouble being, she paid for the lovely things with forged checks.

A $200 ($2,206 USD 2007) fur coat and $34 bottle of perfume, she picked up at I. Magnin’s; a check signed in a fictitious name at Maison Blanche allowed her a gown and hat totaling $110.  Some killjoy by the name of “Deputy District Attoney Frampton” got in a twist about this, convincing some other sourpuss called “Judge Ambrose” to hold her to answer in Superior Court and fix bail at $2000.

Gladys was given probation and told to keep her nose clean.  Which she almost did.


Whatever became of Gladys Nolan?  A lady whose refinement and obvious taste sadly outdistanced her pocketbook?  Guess we’ll never know.


The Check Is In The Mail

The Check Is In the Mail

November 13, 1927

A dead dancer,her restaurateur ex-husband, and a World War I flying ace: it was a cast of characters that wouldn’t be out of place in the pulpiest fiction. La Monte McGinnis, currently a Major in the Army Reserve and
"one of the earliest American aviators to see service with a famous French Flying squadron," was arrested today on suspicion of forgery and mail fraud.

At some point in the past (detectives
didn’t say just when), McGinnis met Mr. and Mrs. S.S. Schwartz in New York. Schwartz owned a restaurant; his wife, Tommasine Fabri, was a "French dancer." After the Schwartzes divorced, Fabri moved to Los Angeles where she seems to have become reacquainted with McGinnis. The change of climate was supposed to help her regain her
health, but Fabri died in August. She had been receiving payments from her ex-husband. McGinnis apparently saw no reason to chase this cash cow away by telling Schwartz of his ex-wife’s death. Instead, he signed Fabri’s name to "numerous requests" for money sent to Schwartz. According to detectives, Schwartz in turn mailed his dead
ex-wife $1800 (approximately $22,000 in 2007 dollars).

Several weeks ago, friends stopped into Schwartz’s New York eatery and informed him
of Fabri’s death. Schwartz hightailed it to Los Angeles, where he initiated the search that ended with McGinnis’s arrest.

McGinnis admitted writing the letters to Schwartz, but said it was at Fabri’s
request. "Before Miss Fabri died she asked me to look after her little girl until such time as I could get in touch with her
grandparents in Paris, France." Fabri apparently left no address for them; McGinnis claimed to have contacted the "prefecture of police in Paris" concerning their whereabouts but received no
reply. "The money I received from Schwartz for Renee’s living and school expenses were due Miss Fabri anyway," he claimed. "She told me that she had loaned Schwartz money to start the restaurant business in New York. When they were divorced Miss Fabri asked for her money but agreed to accept a certain amount each month. . . . Miss Fabri told me this shortly before she died and asked me to send for the money and use it for Renee."

In case his sterling qualities as a protector of little girls failed to move police, McGinnis then stated he was a disabled war veteran, who contracted tuberculosis as a result of being gassed overseas. The case was turned over to Federal authorities for further investigation.