Benny 4-4-39 newspaper headline

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Benny 4-4-39 newspaper headline

Postby CBSTelevisionCity » Sun Dec 07, 2008 2:29 pm

Hi gang, here's something I just ran across on eBay, having to do with Jack's involvement, along with George Burns, in the "jewelry smuggling" incident:

It's a 1939 newspaper front page, with a headline screaming "JACK BENNY ORDERED TO PAY $10,000 IN U.S. COURT", above a nice photo of Jack with a straw hat. The caption for the photo: "I am ashamed".

It's in the April 4, 1939 Marshfield(Wisconsin) News-Herald. Most of the paper survives, less the sports and comics pages. The Benny story is complete, and continues on Page 8.

There are some photos of the newspaper within the auction: ... m153.l1262

There's also a small front-page headline to the left of the Jack Benny article, which caught my eye:

4 year-old son proclaimed ruler"

Happy Holidays, everyone!
- William
From Television City in Hollywood...
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2008 8:42 pm
Location: Denham Springs, Louisiana

Re: Benny 4-4-39 newspaper headline

Postby Yhtapmys » Sun Dec 07, 2008 4:48 pm

CBSTelevisionCity wrote: It's a 1939 newspaper front page, with a headline screaming "JACK BENNY ORDERED TO PAY $10,000 IN U.S. COURT", above a nice photo of Jack with a straw hat. The caption for the photo: "I am ashamed".

Just in case people have never seen the story, here's the version put out by one of the three major wire services. I haven't looked for the AP version.

Jack Benny Pleads Guilty To Smuggling
Radio Comedian Given Suspended Sentence, Fined $10,000
By United Press
NEW YORK, April 4—Jack Benny, $12,000-a-week radio comedian, pleaded guilty in federal court to an indictment charging that he smuggled $2131 worth of jewelry in conspiracy with Albert N. Chaperau, confessed master smuggler.
Benny received a suspended sentence of one year and a day in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Benny stood in federal courtroom while U. S. District Judge Vincent L. Leibell passed the sentence and chided him for his admitted illegal activities.
"You must feel very much ashamed of yourself standing here, Mr. Benny," the judge said.
Benny turned a deep red. He muttered an almost inaudible:
"I do."
A few minutes before sentence was passed, Benny, who flew here from Hollywood last night, had changed an earlier plea of "not guilty," on the advice of his attorney and in the face of reports that the Government planned to prosecute his case vigorously.
Benny was indicted on Jan. 10 on charges that he conspired with Chaperau, confessed master smuggler, to bring in the jewels for the comedian's partner-wife, Mary Livingstone.
Burns Also Fined
George Burns, of the radio comic team of Burns and Allen, pleaded guilty to smuggling in another case involving Chaperau. Burns received the same suspended sentence as did Benny, but his fines and penatlies totaled $17,700.
In smuggling the gems Benny avoided the payment of duty estimated at not more than $700, it was charged.
By seeking to avoid payment of a $700 duty, Benny made himself liable to civil penalties equal to the domestic value of the jewelry, which, according to federal appraisers, was $2131.
If he wishes to regain custody of the trinkets he must pay the Government an additional $2131. He had indicated, however, when he turned the jewels over to the Government last Jan. 10 that he would not attempt to get them back.
"I never want, to see the things again," he said.
Benny heard U. S. Attorney John T. Cahill detail the events which led to the filing of the smuggling charge. Then, nervously shifting his weight from one foot to another he listened to as severe a denunciation of "human gullibility" as was ever heard in New York Federal Court.
Suggests Guardian
Judge Leibell said he believed that Benny had been victimized by his co-defendant, Chaperau. After suggesting the appointment of "guardians for persons of prominence who are easy prey for this type of man," Judge Leibell asked to see a copy of the three-count indictment. While he studied the document, tension in the courtroom mounted and Benny alternately blanched and blushed.
Leibell pronounced sentence count by count. On the first he fined Benny $5000 and ordered him committed until the fine is paid," and sentenced him to one year and one day in prison, adding "execution of sentence is suspended and the defendant is placed on probation."
Explains Sentence
He fined Benny $2500 each on the second and third counts and then explained:
"Mr. Benny, that means you must pay a fine of $10,000 and that you have been sentenced to prison but that the sentence is suspended."
He gave Benny until 4 p. m. today to pay the fine. The comedian's attorney indicated he would do so before leaving by airplane for Hollywood tonight.
The indictment charged that Benny smuggled, transported, and concealed two diamond-studded gold clips and one diamond-studded bracelet in order to cheat the Government out of less than $800 in duty.
As described by Cahill, the crime took place in the summer or fall of 1937. Benny and his wife, Mary Livingstone, went to France. In Paris Benny bought the jewelry at a total cost of $1462 in American money. They then went to Cannes where they met Chaperau. The smuggler took charge of the jewelry there and returned with it to the United States, entering under a non-resident passport and telling customs officials that the trinkets belonged to him.
Chaperau, who will be sentenced on April 11, delivered the jewelry to Benny in California through George Burns, Cahill said.
Carl Newton, Benny's New York attorney, told Judge Leibell that the smuggling idea was conceived by Chaperau, whom Benny had met in Hollywood.
Say U. S. Let Down
"He just wanted to do Mr. Benny a favor, I suppose," Leibell remarked, adding that Benny "should have been smart enough not to have fallen in with a plan of that kind."
"He should have been big enough," the judge said, "not to fall in with any plan to deprive his Government of a paltry $700. By doing what he did he was letting his country down. If I thought he really planned it I'd take a different view. Apparently we need a guardian for a good many of these people who become prominent and wealthy."
Newton had said that Chaperau approached Benny in the railroad platform as the actor was leaving Cannes and proposed the smuggling scheme.
End of the Play
"I suppose it didn' t occur to you, Mr. Benny," Leibell remarked, "as you stood on that platform at Cannes that this would be the end of the play."
Judge Leibell said the case was "exceptional because of the prominence and wealth" of the defendant but that he felt it was necessary to pass a sentence that would stand as a "lesson to you and to others who attain great prominence that you should be constantly on your guard against people who want to 'do you a favor.'"
"The Government," Leibell added, "must take steps to let everybody know that nobody, however prominent they are", can do these things.
Denies Intent to Defraud
"This defendant is going to pay a heavy fine and is going to realize that he violated the law. I don't think, however, that anything would be gained by sending him to jail."
After sentence was pronounced, Benny stood stock still until his attorneys took him by the arm and led him out of the courtroom.
After the 30-minute hearing was over. Benny, through his attorneys, issued a statement in which he said that he had "no intention of defrauding the Government." In committing what he called "a technical violation" of the law, Benny said, he had believed that what he did was "perfectly legitimate."

transcribed by Yhtapmys
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