Day in Court

In Newport, Ky. (pop 31,044), just across the river from Cincinnati, gambling houses and brothels have often caused trouble, so newsmen are ever on the alert for a stories there.  One night last summer, the Louisville Courier-Journal got a solid telephone tip about Newport, and sent photographer George Bailey hustling to the scene.  The Glenn Schmidt's Playatorium, a plush dining-drinking-gambling-bowling club, was about to be raided.  The leader of the raid was Newport's Detective Jack Thiem, who had hired 16 private detectives in Louisville, 106 miles from Newport, to help him.  When photographer Bailey arrive on the scene, he got more than he expected.  Inside the Playatorium the raiding party not only found such gambling equipment as crap tables and bingo games; they also encountered Newport's Police Chief George Gugel, and three detectives who had just dropped by “for a soft drink.”  Photographer Bailey snapped pictures, including one of Chief Gugel with Playatorium Proprietor Schmidt.  But Bailey's picture taking came to an abrupt end.  “Arrest that man!” shouted Chief Gugel, pointing a Photographer Bailey.  “I'm still boss in this town, and I'll tell you when you can take my picture.”  He seized Bailey's camera, ruined his film, and had him carried off to jail.  The Courier-Journal reported what had happened in Page One stories, and the grand jury indicted Police Chief Gugel for interfering with Photographer Bailey's civil rights.  Another grand jury indicted Gugel for “nonfeasance of duty,” i.e. failing to suppress gambling and prostitution.  The same jury also indicted Detective Thiem, the raider, on charges of breaking the law himself buy having an interest in a brothel, and said he staged the raid on the Playatorium to retaliate for earlier raids on houses he was protecting.  In the uproar of indictments, charges and countercharges, Gugel temporarily withdrew from the force and Thiem was fired (he is now a special deputy sheriff in Las Vegas, Nev.). Although Gugel got back his job as police chief after he was acquitted on the nonfeasance charge, he still faced a federal indictment for his attack on Photographer Bailey.  Last week in U.S. District Court in Covington, Ky., a federal grand jury decided that Gugel had exceeded his powers, convicted him of violating Photographer Bailey's civil rights, and find him $1,000 plus court costs.  Said District Judge Mac Swinford: “Bailey was performing his duties and had a right to take pictures [and] the right to his liberty. [He] took the pictures in an orderly and peaceful way [and] was within his rights.”


Time Magazine, March 22, 1954