Over $133 Million ail e ‘1 Air thie INSURANCE COMPANY P. 0. Box.8098 Houston, Tom,* HAROLD E. RILEY Vice-President and Director of Agencies Insurance In Force Integration Preacher Jailed Eight Months AUSTIN Fifty-seven thousandthat is to say, 57,000Texans may lose all or part of their insurance as a result of the”collapse of the Bridges companies, seventeen mutual assessment firms and one small stock life outfit. There were 53,000 members in the mutuals and about 4,000 policyholders in the life company, Estate National Life Insurance Co. William A. Harrison, insurance commissioner, says that mutual assessment insurance is only about five percent of the life insurancein-force in Texas. Although there are 626 mutuals and 497 life cornpanies.operating in the state, all the ‘mutuals combined are smaller than several of the larger life companies. The Bridges companies were “just a tiny drop in the bucket,” Harrison says. The state insurance liquidator, C. H. Langdeau, has undertaken to transfer the 57,000 policyholders’ insurance to other firms”on some kind of basis,” as Harrison says. The staff at the insurance department are upset by the case. Corning so soon ‘after the period when the state’s sidewalks were spattered with insurance firms falling out of windows, a case involving 18 companies on the face of it shakes them and causes them concern about policyholder confidence. Don Cornett, chief examiner, says W. L. Bridges, Sr., acquired the first of the mutual companies in 1957, and the largest of them at the end of 1958 and 1959. “Most of this occurred in ’59, he says. “We got some clues from a company we examined last summer,” Investors Security Life Insurance Co. of Lubbock, now in receivership, Harrison says. “It was simply some remarks made by one of the employees of the company to the effect that these people had had a hand in fathering one loan in this company which was later determined to be fraudulent,” Cornett says’. Their role was not overt, but advisory. The department began inquiries into Estate National in July and August, 1959. At that time the state did not know the extent of the Bridges’ interest in mutuals. 57,000 Policyholders SHREVEPORT, La. The Rev. Ashton Jones, itinerant white preacher for integration, has begun serving an eight-month prison sentence on charges here of disturbing the _peace and vagrancy. After he had sought service at a Negro restaurant, he was arrested and given a mental examination. The Caddo Parish examiner pronounced him “not legally insane.” Jones said he was beaten, by a jail trusty and two other prisoners after police put him in a cell with many young men and told them he was a “nigger lover” and an “agitator.” He said he was taken to a hospital \(Confederate es were taken in his jaw, he was X-rayed, and then returned to a private cell. He testified that subsequently he was struck several times again and his glasses damaged when he refused to enter the same cell in which he had first been beaten up. He was put in a single cell. At 4 a.m. the morning of tlie trial, he said, the jailer struck him when he asked for a blanket. Police Chief Harvey D. Teasley denied the charges against the city jailers. Jones was charged with vagrancy, disturbing the peace, and driving without a valid license. He chose to affirm rather than swear, and he said he did not know the whole truth but would tell the part he knew. Two officers testified. they .first saw him when he drove his wagon, marked “Brotherhood,” up by their patrol car on the outskirts of Shreveport. They said he approached them, asked if they were following him, created a disturbance, and was taken into custody. Teasley granted that Sheriff Earl Franklin of Harrison County had called to tell him Jones would be there that morning. Teasley said he knew Jones was coming to town to make trouble. He said their concern was Jones’ safety and preventing violence. Jones said he was simply on his way from California to Jackson, Miss. \(In Dallas, Jones sought and obtained lunch counter service for himself and a Negro. In Marshall, he was arrested, charged, Jones continued that after being arrested he was warned to leave town in violation of his constitutional rights and then released. He talked to a minister, phoned newspapers, and stopped at a cafe to eat. He said he was “color blind” and the church and cafe he stopped at just happened to be Negro. Later, the Negro minister involved stated that Jones told the press he would pose for a picture and told them where his truck was parked. Minutes after he left an officer appeared and looked through the church. Officers testified they knew he had not left town because the newspapers had telephoned them. He was arrested at, the Negro cafe. Judge Whitmeyer dropped the charge of driving without a license when Jones’ license was found in order. In answer to question’s, Jones said he was born and raised in Georgia. His occupation was spreading the Gospel of Christ. He is with a group called “Pilgrims for World Brotherhood” in California. He tried to face the audience partially during his statements, but the officer would take hold of his shoulders and square him around. Teasley asked him if he upheld the Constitution. Jones said yes. Then Teasley asked him about convictions in 1943 and 1952 for failure to register for the draft. Jones amended his reply to say he upheld the Constitution as long as it followed moral law. He did not believe in war or in killing his fellow man. Jones was asked if he was a communist. He said he should not have been asked this, and replied no, he was not. Did he believe in any communist theories? If they meant living as brothers and sharing goods with one’s fellow man for a better world, yes, he said; if they meant the StalinKhrushchev type of communism, no. He was asked if any of his friends were communists: he did not ask his friends that question, he said. Did he know Carl and Anne Braden, who were convicted of contempt of Congress? He did, he said, they were good friends and had not been convicted of being communists. Judge Whitmeyer closed the trial with a brief speech, calling Jones an agitator who had come down to make trouble deliberately and work to destroy “the way of life that we enjoy.” He sentenced him to six months for . vagrancy and two months for disturbing the peace. Appeal bond was set at $500. Permission to see him was refused by the sheriff; he has been moved from jail to a prison farm. BARBARA DOWNES A school dispute led to a free-for-all in Brownsboro, East Texas, population 600, in which one man was killed, another knifed in the back and stomach, and .others shot, gashed, and slugged. This week officers were still taking statements. Evidently the dispute went back to the simultaneous dismissal recently of the district superintendent and 14 of 20 Negro teachers. Some reports said the fighting started after a Negro man asked if the board, intended to rehire nine Negro teachers. Some white teachers had resigned after the dismissals; a petition asking the school ‘board to resign was ‘scheduled for consideration when the fighting broke out. Charges of murder and assault and battery have been filed. State Liquidator C. H. Lang deau, acting for defunct Franklin American Insurance Co., sued San Antonians Sam Bennett, Jr., Barney Matteson, John Peace, E. J. Burke, and E. J. Burke, Jr., alleging they played parts in ar ranging an illegal loan used to buy controlling interest in the firm and that the loan was never repaid. Burke said the charges were malicious, unfounded, and untrue and he would sue for def amation of character if they were not acknowledged i n c o r r e c t. Langdeau said, “All “I’m trying to do is to follow the letter of the law . . . I don’t know any of these gentlemen, it can’t be malicious.” Burke, Jr., and Peace are Demo cratic ‘delegates to Los Angeles; Peace is a member of the state Democratic executive committee. Gov. Daniel appointed J. E. labor member of the Texas EmLatting to fill Lyles’ unexpired term as state labor commissioner. Daniel called together water authority officials and laid down the demand: he wants riverbasin plans and a state master plan completed. He got agreements to produce them this year. “The nail-down on it came in the year-end statements,” Harrison said. “We grabbed ’em as soon as they came in.” By tracing out the appearance of a mortgagor first in one, then in another company, the appearance and reappearance of loans, the Bridges operation was mapped out. “There were several different variations on the same general theme,” Harrison said. “There was a well-planned, ogranized, and executed method or scheme for removing good assets from these various companies and replacing them with assets of little value or questionable value. “There would be a loan arranged in some cases on property that had the value, in other cases that did not have as much value as the loan. There would ‘be a secured note deed of trust, attorney’s opiniongood looking papers, properly recorded. When you dig into it you find there has been a release or some kind of a compensating arrangement,” such as a lien against the property being recorded and a short time later a release given which was not recorded. One employee of a Bridges firm testified he had signed a note for $30,000 on some land in Harris County he did not own and had never seen. Some of . the companies used loose-leaf ledgers, Cornett says, but a loan generally changed identity legally before it got from one to another company. In retrospect, he said, one could see a loan secured by certain acreage in one firm, and next a loan would be secured by property subdivided out of the same acre age. normal rate of interest, five per’cent, and were paid monthly,” Harrison says. “They were paid they were current.” This made it harder to spot the trouble than if they had been one percent Ode II Sir: Some say, compared to Bononcini, That Mynheer Handel’s but a ninny. Others aver that he to Handel Is scarcely fit to, hold a candle. Strange all this difference should be ‘Twixt Tweedledum and Tweedledee. John Byrom The principle so well expressed In Mr. Byrom’s gentle jest Is one that soon may lead us hicks on To choose a Johnson or a Nixon Although it takes no little art To tell this pair of jacks apart. I sometimes doubt that Nixon knows How to enumerate his toes. Nor can I see how Johnson inade His journey through the Seventh Grade. Butas the fabulist opined A one-eyed man may lead the blind. The world was never in worse shape Since Man seceded from the Ape. It has some problems, most alarmi ng From integrating to disarming With which there is but little hope That either of these clods can cope. These gentlemen’ are most beguiling, Their countenances often smiling. They know that voters can be wooed With nonsense and with platitude: A circumstance they well may boast of, Since that is what they have the most of. Our Lyndon plainly hopes to win With photos of his genial grin. His ranch upon the Pedernales Is famed at least as far as Dallas. Although his parts be poor and cheap, At least he raises high-grade sheep. Although we voters, to be sure, Ourselves are short on literature, It’s all too plain from Nixon’s looks That he has not read many books. But give him credit when it’s due him: Somebody may have read one to him. When Richard came to his decision To tell us all on television, The picture of him that emerged Was of a man whose spirit surged, With family feeling all agog, And fiercely loyal to his dog. This portrait of himself endeared him To some who earlier had feared him. It may prove what we must depend on To choose ‘between our Dick and Lyndon: The friend of Fido and of Towser Should be the better rabblerouser. H. Mewhinney, Houston THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 2 June 24, 1960 The Week in Texas loans, with no payments on the principal, for example. “But the payments were made,.” he said, “by some of these other companies that they controlled and are not in the insurance field,” a commercial discount corporatidn or a Bridges agency. “The flow of the money was to acquire control of one of these companies. Usually the assets consisted of cash at the time he took it over. Then almost immediately or soon thereafter, there would be some loans by his companies. Some testified they didn’t get the money when they loaned it,” Harrison says. In one example he cites, nine loans aggregating $39,000 were secured in nine different cases by portions of the same shares of stock in Huey Philp Corp., Dallas shares with a total market value of $11,000, he said. Bridges, Sr., and his son, Langdeau says, bought the 17 mutual assessment firms for $700,000 and replaced their sound mortuaryfund securities with about $1,500,000 in “assets” Langdeau has estimated to be worth about $211,000. They offered as “assets” worth $391,200 franchises to sell Pega Palo, supposedly a male sex stimulant: in Northern states. The, elixir’s importation has never been authorized; the state securities commissioner has banned the sale of Pega Palo ‘securities as worthless. Most of the policyholders had small policies, sometimes for as
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.