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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, May 27, 1902, Image 1

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1902-05-27/ed-1/seq-1/

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Warden Aguirre and his cronies have
secured quantities of horsehair and silk
for chairs and lounges and the articles
have been charged to "general repairs"
for the prison. The Call is prepared to
prove that in a certain month lumber
amounting to $975 was purchased for
the prison at San Quentin and in the
falsified books was charged to the jute-
The records of the San Quentin
prison show that considerable furniture,
made in the prison, has been shipped to
the city of Los Angeles. At the proper
time The Call will present the proof,
showing to whom the furniture was
In charging that Governor Gage is
the beneficiary of the felonies com
mitted by Warden Asruirre and his
convict aides The Call will later on
present further proof.
Warden Aguirre has in the past few
months utilized the services .of .convicts
to make elaborate household and of
fice furniture. The material for the
same has been obtained by fraud. The
lumber has been charged up. to the
prison jutemill and other accounts:
convicts supported by the State have
been employed for months in making
the furniture, and the articles have been
presented by Warden Aguirre to his
friends or converted to his own use.
The making of furniture for the pub
lic in the State prisons by the labor of
convicts is absolutely prohibited by act
cf Legislature.
Furniture Is Made.
Having presented proof of felonious
transactions as to obtaining goods by
means of forged bills, prepared by con
vict bookkeepers, and the purloining: of
large quantities of State food supplies
by fraud and falsification of oubiic rec
ords at the instigation of Aeuirrc. The
Cail to-day exposes the methods used
by Warden Aguirre in presenting con
vict made furniture to his friends and
other acquaintances in direct violation
of law, the material for the furniture be
ing obtained by fraud and falsification
of public records.
collars for the State penitentiary
across the bay.
¦ ¦¦'. i \yiien;representatiTe« of .The Call .'
irere .Informed last "week by Acting
"Warden -ABnl rre V thnt no • fa rn ltn re
Tra'»; r beina:.;.njade; In San Qnentln
¦prl»oi\. -he.' lied." : . .1" >'%'•.'- j''££ tlXi;
'. ".'/. OriJ-t h.e^J day., t h a t ; . h e . wa n inter-
Vlevvied ".the vfolloWlng articles ; of
the'jaVticles has been charRcd to sundry
(accoitnti ,and^the V J books ¦: and" records
have been ;fai sifted by ; convict. clerks.
acting ominstructions. in order to cover
.tip -the transactions. ._¦-'...'/.,' ¦ "
V- AVarden-; Aguirre hasemployed many
convicts in riiakinp: furniture since the
; day he asstimedofiice at. San Quentin
¦ prison.;. Bedroom sets, office furniture,
dihingVroom .'articles, have .been made
; ait the prison a'nd presented by the War-
j deri; to: Kisr favorites. The material for
best known' to himself. Even if. he cred
• ited it to the prison account: lie violated
the law,, \yhich prohibits the sale of con
;vict-niade;furnittire. This bedstead, of,
;handsonic: proportions, is made of fine,
.mahogany, ¦__ and many, weeks of convict
labor were: on the delicate
carving. ;The : bedstead was seen yester-'
dayby representatives of The Call, and
a. photograph of it is published in this
paper- to-day.;' : \ ".' :"
What 'Aguirre did with the '$45
\Convicts Are Busy, v V
; Tlie visitors ordered J a' bedstead toi be
made on these terms. .Warden, Aguirre
received . $45 for. the j'wqod ¦ of . 'which the
bedstead was, made, andjthe work on^the"
piece of bedroom furniture • • was; ; per
formed bV convicts.;. . -. "/^
The visitors were delighted with the
article and Warden Aguirre was asked
where, such' products of prison rwork
Avere for sale.. .• , '¦•
. The Warden informed his. guests that
the law prohibited the sale of convict
made furniture, but he would, have a
similar, bedstead "made ;,by. the'eonvkts
if his -guests paid for the material. o ••'
' Some 'time ago^a'promineht- business
man of San- FranciscoV.accompanied'.by;
his wife, visited Warden Aguirre at'Sari'*
Quentin prison. The. : visitors were
shown through certain 'portions of., the
prison, and among other things shown
to them was an elaborately carved/ma-;
hogany bedstead. ' -'-V ¦¦;. .-]
many of his' f fiends.
'ord shows that convict-made furniture
was shipped by' Aguirre, the, Warden, to
Los Angeles and : to Sah : Francisco .-to
furniture Tvere being completed In
the prison "by convict labor: »f
¦ : For ."Warden M. G.'Asrulrre. ,..'
•jj 9 cotom for; inlaid, tablet), tops
nil finished.
•1. "roKcrroort Bed, car-red.
.; 1 Sidebonrd, carved.
' Ift Inrse Armchair*, pnrtly fin-.
Inhed. "
IS fancy Chairs, carved. »- . . ... '
.; 2 Dre^slng-Canes, carved. \
..General Overseer ' J. . A. Asrulrre,;
brother ot the "Warden, haw been
slated : for . r the • position of: Bank
Commissioner' to wucceed \ Barney
Murphy. In anticipation of ¦ecu*.
Inc thin position J. A. ARuljrre ham
¦ielected r. house In Berkeley nnd a"
complete ; wet .' of furniture .for the
dwelling;" Trns belngf ' irorked. upon
by convict* lust vrcek In San
Qnentln prison.
~^~Fov~eC" friend of "Warden A«nlrrp.
llyingr_in Lai "Angeles/ whose name.
is McClure, /the following fnrni
tnre'!na«; being prepared ln*t vreek
In.Snn Qacntlm
- ,1: DOOlvCRHF.
;'. '.i Dressing-Cnse.
\ . These, article*, for McClure. arc of
; quarter. .'oak. i of the best • quality. -
; Since the' visit of representatives : of
The contents of the wharf 'shipping
book arc known, however, ; and the rec- '
Acting Warden, j. A. Aguirre refused
to show the book,- even defying the or
der of President Fitzgerald of theBoard
of Prison Directors that, all the records
of the prison should be produced for in
spection ' by The Call's .representatives.
At the very time that Acting Warden
J. A. Aguirre, representing his brother,
Warden M. G. Aguirre, stated. that no
convicts were employed in making fur
niture or that any convict-made furni
ture was in the prison he knew that a
corps of inmates of the prison was en
gaged in making furniture ior the War
den and himself and friends: ; that a
valuable stock of the articles was on
hand. In making, a demand on. Acting
Warden J. A. Aguirre to produce the
"wharf shipping book" representatives
of The Call sought to learn to what
points the records showed the shipping
of some of the convict-made furniture.
he was lying and he had good reason for
denying that any furniture was. being
made in the prison or that any furniture
was to be seen there as the product of
convict labor. .
Continued on Page Two.
".When -I first; read the, accusations in
The' Call I .was utterly dumfounded. Since
the' first "article appeared I have" read
every- line '.printed with intense interest
and concern because if what The Call as
serts is . true can be proven, it is a very
serious matter. and .the Warden is placed
in "a" very bad condition.'; The matter will
of -course' be rigidly investigated b>- the
Board ; of Prison Directors. This investi-'
lotion will. I have no doubt, be at the in
stigation of Aguirre.; I understand he has
"returned from. Los Angeles and arrived at
•the] prison to-day, but I have not seen
. . SAN RAFAEL. Cal., May. 26.-J. H.
Wlikins, one of the five State Prison Di
rectors of San. Quentin. was seen at his
home. in this' city" to-night. -When asked
what „ he .thought, of the sensational
charges made by The Call against War
den Martin, Aguirre he said:
Prison Director Declares That
.He Desires the Guilty-
Parties Punished.
destroying some of the prison's records
has been discussed.
"Well, I should think so. Personally X
was always in favor of paying the War
den a stated salary* and then let them
pay for all maintenance out of that sura.
This $100 is only for food. All servants
in the house are convicts, the house rent
costs nothing, and even water and gscs
are furnished him free. There is one b!g
meter that acts for the whole prison. The
fpod is procured cheaper than any out
rider could even get it. Meat, for in
stance. The best of it only costs about 6
cents a pound. His coal is furnished at
about ?S per ton, whereas I pay $13 or $14
for the same kind. There are lots of
vegetables grown on the prison grounds
that are used and don't cost anything.
So you see the Warden ought to do a
great amount of entertaining on $130 a
month. He has done lota of it since ha
has been there. -Whether or. not this
entertaining > is right and proper ' in the
eyes of the taxpayers of the State or
whether it should be criticized is a i ques
tion.. The Warden necessarily has to en
tertain. Sheriffs, Judges* and even Su
perior Judges are frequent visitors to the
prison. At those times he is supposed to
treat them nicely.' It seems to me that it
ought to be done on $100. I know I have
often asked him if the amount allowed
was sufficient * and Martin - VrouW \say it
was plenty. In. regard to k these ; night
shirts I have no doubt, but what I have
slept in them. There are five rooms In
the Warden's . house set apart ; for . the
Prison Directors. I know there has al-
"Now, in regard to the J10O a month al
lowed the Warden for maintenance of his
house. Should that be ample, Mr. Wil
actual cost- of material and convict labor
at about 75 cents per day added. I was not
aware that any furniture had been man
ufactured within the last three or four
years, although I suppose if any was
wanted or required the Warden could
have it made. If he wished any repairs
he could have them dtine."
"Do you know that furniture has been
made and sold within the last few
weeks?" was askedV
"No. I am not a-^gre of it.".
"Do you know that there is now a large
amount under construction?"
"No, I was not aware of that, either.
You see when it was decided years ago
to abandon the manufacture of furniture
there was a very large supply of hard
wood and other fine material on hand."
said Mr. Wilkins. "Until this material
was consumed furniture was made, but
this was supposed to have been the caae
four or five years ago."
"Well, you know, years ago the manu
facture of furniture -was the chief indus
try at the penitentiary.' There was a com
plete furniture and sash and door factory
there from which* large quantities were
turned out. Later this manufacture was
only for consumption at State institutions,
such as the deaf and dumb 'asylum, etc..
they having 1 first to present proper requi
sition papers to the Board of Directors.
In recent years this was . abolished and
the furniture was only salable to officers
of the prison for use in their houses or
for use in the prison . offices and apart
ments. The officers of the prison getting
such furniture would be charged for
"Mr. "Wilkins, has the board at any time
authorized the manufacture of furniture
at San Quentin?"
him. neither have I been able to talk with
the other members of the board as yet.
You ««e I have been away for several
months and only returned to California
from Mexico last week. Personally I know
of nothing: that has transpired at any of
the Prison Directors* meetings since Jan
uary 28. The board does not meet nntfl
June 14 In regular session. Whether or
not a special session will be asked for I
am not aware." ..
The Call to San Quentin prison for the
purpose of investigating the records
consternation has reigned in the institu
tion. A cousin of Warden Aguirre has
for two 'days past been busily engaged
with a number of convicts in hiding
away the furniture that has been made
by convicts for ' .> the Warden, his
brother and his friend McClure of Los
Angeles. Some of the guards have a
quantity of. old furniture stored away in
the big abandoned furniture factory,
and in some of the dismal; rooms the
Warden's cousin and convicts have hid
den • away the" "hew " furniture, piling
up around it the old articles belonging
to the guards.
The corrupt ring of swindlers and for
gers, in control of San Quentin prison
are trembling-in their.shoes now that an
investigation of affairs is to be held by
the Prison Directors.
Consultations have been" held by
members of the ring and the question of
Wilkins Declares If Accused
Are Guilty They Must
i Be Punished.
President Fitzgerald De=
mands Call's Charges
Be Probed.
bers of the San Quentin
ring is bearing good results. President
R. M. Fitzgerald of the Board of Prison
Directors yesterday announced that the
gravity of the accusations made by this
paper demanded a thorough investiga
tion of the affairs of San Quentin
prison. The inquiry will be ordered
just as soon as the Directors can get to
gether and arrange the time for the
In making charges of fraud, forgery,
obtaining goods by false pretenses,
misappropriation of public funds, falsi
fication of public records and malfeas
ance in office against Warden M. G.
Aguirre of' San Quentin prison The
Call has published but a few samples of
the felonies committed by the leading
members of the corrupt ring that con
trols the disbursement of thousands of
laT^ XPOSURE by The Call of
0 v the betrayal of trust on the
B& part of Warden M. G.
¦^ *W . Aguirre and other mem-
mill, with the exception of $50. The
lumber was used for making furniture
for Warden Aguirre's friends at the
hands of convicts.
Acting Warden Lies.
Representatives of The Call visited
San Quentin prison last week and in. the
absence of the Warden requested Act
ing Warden J. A. Aguirrc^to be shown :
the furniture being made in the prison.
"No furniture is being made in the
prison," was the reply of the Acting :
Warden, "and therefore you cannot sec,
men working on those articles.", f . . '¦
On being pressed for "information as,"
to any work being done by convicts on ¦
any kind of furniture, . Acting Warden j
J. A. Aguirre stated that ''perhaps some?
of the infirm - prisoners might be cm- I
ployed in making a chair or two." * He :
refused, however, to allow the "chair or,,
two" to be inspectedl .
When the Acting Warden made ; the!
above statement he knew full well that:
/4 THOROUGH investigation of the financial affairs of San Quentin prison is to be made by the S^^Wo^^j^Sl^^^^fcfCJi^^ 'M. Fitzgerald, president of the board, was interviewed yesterday as to the charges of felony made by
The Call against W'ardcn M.G. Aguirre and other officials of the penitentiary. President Fitzgerald made v 'the 'following} statement r; .
"There will be a most thorough investigation of the charges made by The Call. This mtist be done jn.^ who are accused and to the people of the State. The accusations are of the gravest
nature, and the Board of Prison Directors must take cognizance of them. 1 cannot say when , the investigation will.take placci my brother directors I must iconsult with them and Arrange the details of an inquiry.
The records of San Quentin prison arc open to the public, and the Warden or any one acting for him has' no right] to rcfus£*anAnspcctio!i of any book, document or paper connected zvith the affairs of the institution."
The San Francisco Call.

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