Wrongful Conviction, A Story in Several Parts

Part 3:

Although Factor’s kidnapping happened after Hamm’s, in a sense, it began Touhy’s troubles with the courts.

Factor, known as Jake the Barber, was born in Poland, but moved to St. Louis with his family early in the twentieth century. He became a con man.

In the mid 1920s, after defrauding a number of wealthy investors in England of millions of dollars in a stock fraud, he escaped to Monte Carlo, and then came back to the United States. Courts in England, meanwhile, tried and convicted him in abstentia for the fraud, then sentenced him to more than two decades in prison and tried to extract him from the United States.

Factor challenged the extradition; his extradition case made its way up to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled in 1933 that he should be extradited to England.

This was where Roget Touhy came in, or more accurately was brought into the story.

Factor’s kidnapping in July occurred during a period while his case was pending before the Supreme Court, but before the court ruled. Touhy, and others (including the English government) claimed the kidnapping was a sham, to try to get out of the extradition.

But Touhy also claimed that Capone’s gang had set him up, using Factor’s fake kidnapping as a way to try to get Factor out of trouble and give the Chicago police an excuse to arrest Touhy so that they could claim his territory.

Factor was missing for twelve days after his kidnapping. When he resurfaced he claimed Touhy and several other men stopped his car, seized him, and took him to a house where they held him and tortured him trying to get ransom money. Even before Factor made those claims, while he was still missing, Thomas Courtney, the State’s Attorney of Cook County, and Captain Dan Gilbert, a Chicago police officer who was assigned to the State’s Attorney’s police force, announced they were sure Touhy was behind the kidnapping. Gilbert also claimed Touhy and his gang was behind the kidnapping of Hamm in Minnesota, as did a Chicago FBI agent. Touhy, once again denied it and claimed that once again the Capone gang was setting him up.

It really matter. Touhy and some friends went on a fishing trip to Wisconsin in mid July.On their way back, their car skidded off the road and hit a light pole. Police who came to the scene found guns in the trunk of the car and took Touhy and the others into custody. Touhy and the others were taken to jail in Minnesota a few days later.



Writer. Formerly civil rights attorney. Currently professor. Working on new book about mental disability and criminal law in the 20th century.

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