SPECTACULAR ROGUE: Gaston B. Means by Edwin P. Hoyt


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Spectacular indeed is the word for Gaston B. Means, an incurably romantic egomaniac who bilked Germans and British alike with phony espionage data in pre-WWI days, bilked criminals with phony attempts to get their indictments quashed, bilked the Lindberghs of $100,000 ransom for the return of their baby, and operated from the eminence of his memberships in the FBI and Treasury Department. Actually, he had been a member of both government bureaus, but only briefly. But it was long enough for him to study thoroughly departmental files, discover who was being investigated and for what, and then to approach that person and agree for a sum to have the investigation set aside (because he, Caston, was ""the man whose desk the papers had to cross""). Caston got his money, gave no help really, and the victim went on to jail anyway, mystified and unable to complain. During Prohibition he sold legal liquor licenses, or rather sold promises of them. He was personally a huge Wellesian man of enormous calm and able to fabricate a Japanese spy plot at the drop of a chopstick. He spent a term in Atlanta Federal Prison, go out, then finally was put away for 15 years for his Lindbergh crime (the charge: ""larceny after trust""). He took rich widows also, apparently murdered one, made millions, left a legacy of $17.26. A fascinating life, told in journeyman prose.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1963
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill