This week’s mug is George Remus, former successful defense attorney turned bootlegger and murderer. George was born in Germany, but he and his family arrived in the U.S. when he was a child. The family settled in Chicago. George found early success as a pharmacist, but at age 24, he decided to become a lawyer. He specialized in criminal defense and became known for developing the “temporary insanity” defense. This tactic became a portent for his future because he would use temporary insanity as the reason he killed his second wife.
Before he became a murderer, George Remus became a successful bootlegger in Cincinnati. At one time, he had close to 3,000 employees help him with his illicit trade. Remus studied the newly passed Volstead Act and used a loophole in the law to buy pharmacies and distilleries and sell his bonded, government-approved liquor as medicine. He would then hijack his own trucks and sell the booze illegally at a much higher profit. A brilliant move on George’s part and he quickly became a millionaire.
George’s personal life wasn’t so successful. His first marriage ended in divorce when he had an affair with his legal secretary, Imogene Holmes. He married Imogene and adopted her daughter from her previous marriage. When George was nabbed by the revenuers for his illegal liquor trade, he was prosecuted and found guilty. He received a two-year sentence and went to prison. George gave Imogene control over his money while he was gone. While in the pokey, George confided to a fellow inmate/undercover federal agent Franklin Dodge that Imogene controlled the cash. That agent quit his job and took up with Imogene and the two commenced to stealing George’s fortune. By the time George left prison, Imogene and her new lover, Franklin, had fleeced George and left him with $100. If stealing his fortune wasn’t bad enough, Imogene and Franklin took out a hit on George which failed. She then filed for divorce. George really was a horrible judge of character when he chose Imogene to be his wife.
George would soon have his revenge. Imogene was on her way to divorce court when her cab was forced off the road. George jumped out of his car and dragged Imogene from the cab. He shouted, “Now, you decomposed piece of clay, I’ve got you!” He then shot Imogene in the stomach. Imogene was transported to the hospital where she later died from her injuries. George hitched a ride to the police station where he confessed to the crime.
George took up his own defense and pleaded temporary insanity due to the dastardly acts of Imogene and her lover Franklin. His first wife, Lilliam, and daughter came to his defense at trial attesting to his character. Lilliam testified, “George was always a good man. He never hurt a fly. I cannot understand why he did this. But I am sure he was justified.” The jury deliberated for just nineteen minutes before acquitting him. He spent seven months in an insane asylum before being released. He then went on to marry his third wife- his secretary Blanche Watson. The two moved to Kentucky and lived a quiet life until George’s death in 1952.
George Remus, brilliant criminal defense lawyer and successful bootlegger, but a hot mess when it came to his women.
Photos courtesy of The Daily News December 25, 1927
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