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More on the wiretapping mystery

More on the wiretapping mystery

More on the wiretapping mystery

On December 8, 1941, as Los Angeles and the U.S. reeled from the attack on Pearl Harbor, California Attorney General (and later U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice) Earl Warren stepped into LA’s wiretapping controversy with its still mysterious and likely tangential connection to Alice’s Moyer family in Riverside. (Alice was Jim Muri's fiancé; they married in Tucson, Arizona, on December 25, 1941.)

Warren wrote a letter to Los Angeles City Councilman Roy Hampton requesting “further specific information on asserted wire-tapping activities in Los Angeles,” according to a Los Angeles Times article.

Warren’s letter was a response to one from Hampton, in which he sought a grand jury investigation of wiretapping charges. Besides empaneling the grand jury, Hampton asked Warren to appoint a special prosecutor because a member of the DA’s office was allegedly involved in wiretapping.

Warren’s letter said Hampton’s statement was general in nature. The AG asked for details about “what wire-tapping activities you have in mind and what officials are alleged to have engaged therein.”

Warren also asked if Hampton was ready to testify about the alleged snooping. If not, Hampton needed to provide names of others who would testify.

The probe continued into the early months of the next year. On February 26, 1942, the grand jury accused Mayor Fletcher Bowron of misconduct in office. The jurors indicted Cooper, Harrell and six others on felony wiretapping charges.

The drama dragged on into April 1942 when a superior judge from another California county exonerated Bowron of misconduct charges because they were not substantiated. In his ruling, the judge refused to comment further because of related legal proceedings that involved evidence to back wiretapping indictments filed at the same time as the charges against the mayor. Bowron teared up when he heard the ruling.


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Jamie Larson