Dictograph in Local Hotel Nabs Crook – Guy Downing Makes His Living Falling Off Trains

Tacoma, Washington, January 24, 1914 – Today Guy Downing, alias James Murray, was sentenced to from one to 15 years for grand larceny. Downing, recently employed as a brakeman on the Northern Pacific Railroad, allegedly fell from a freight car earlier this month, and demanded $750 in compensation.

Although Downing appeared on crutches, Company doctors’ suspicions were aroused when they were unable to find any injuries upon Downing’s person. They reported their concerns to Chief Attorney Quick of the Railroad, who suspected that he had a “personal injury shark” on his hands.  Quick, true to his name, arranged to have a dictograph placed in Downing’s room in a downtown hotel while railroad company agents transcribed any conversation taking place inside the room.

Downing and a companion were caught laughing at his scheme to bilk the company, and to prove that he was suffering no injury, Downing threw down his crutches and put on a boxing demonstration for his friend.

Quick reported the matter to Deputy Prosecutor Askren, who had Downing arrested. Confronted with the evidence against him, Downing confessed to prying the iron handhold loose and throwing himself to the ground. Downing was hauled before Judge Clifford where he pled guilty, and sentenced to the Walla Walla penitentiary, all within a few hours of his arrest.

Said Chief Attorney Quick; “Downing might have gotten away with his claim all right, but he made too much noise. He overplayed his part, and we became suspicious. From my evidence, I am certain he is a professional at this fake claim business, and has worked the same game all over the country.”

True to the end, Downing kept up his act by walking out of the courtroom on crutches.

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