Iron County, Wisconsin
Total Area: 919 square miles
County Seat: Hurley, pop. 1,818
|Burton House Hotel - Silver St. Hurley, WI|
It's reputation gave way to a famous saying in Wisconsin, "The three worst places you could ever find yourself to be was either Hayward, Hurley, or Hell"
From the beginning, Hurley was the wild, wide-open frontier town, in contrast to Ironwood just across the river, where mining companies based in Michigan reflected the more sober values of the eastern and Marquette interests that developed the Gogebic Range. The fledgling community of Hurley fought to preserve its autonomy by separating itself from more powerful and staid Ashland County, which it did in 1893. Hurley's elaborate courthouse with its impressive tower had already been built, in a prearranged deal.
Right into the 20th century, Hurley's reputation was bolstered by being nationally famous for the highest number of liquor licenses held per capita in the entire United States. The lower block of Silver Street dates from the Prohibition years, when a mining company decided to subdivide it and sell it off. Nearly 200 saloons, disguised as soda shoppes, lined downtown Hurley's streets.
Indeed, it is not surprising that the Prohibition was ignored in Hurley and even though Hurley was the scene of many Prohibition related raids by federal agents, locals were even known to have fought it out with FBI agents on the towns borders in 1920 which opened its doors as a well known place for relaxation for Chicago mobsters looking for the best of both worlds; Northern Wisconsin's serene and beautiful great outdoors and the wild nightlife on offer in Hurley.
Taken from St Paul Pioneer Press in 1938....'' In Hurley, they find 80 of 115 businesses are taverns, and the gangster era isn't quite over: "Local bosses run the city but their names are seldom mentioned, for it is safer not to talk or snoop in Hurley.''
|Al Capone relaxing in Mercer, Wisconsin|
|Click article to enlarge it.|
|Ralph Capone outside Al's Florida home.|
Upon leavin prison, Ralph wound up his big part in the gang and eventually retreated to Mercer, Wisconsin to build a home and run a Mercer bar where he lived the rest of his life. Whilst he enjoyed reminiscing of his past exploits he strived to become a normal member of the community in Mercer and once said to a newspaper reporter who tried to interview him, "Why do you want to interview me? I live just like everybody else." Ralph was one of Mercer's most respected, well-liked residents, always ready to help his fellow townspeople. Ralph "Bottles" Capone died November 22, 1974 of a heart attack in a Hurley, Wisconsin nursing home, age 81. [ Read Ralph Capone's Obituary ]
He was the Deputy Head of Special Operations and was involved in some of the CIA's most notorious projects; MKULTRA, MKNAOMI, MKDELTA, Project Bluebird and Project Artichoke where he specialized in aerosol delivery systems. He worked under CIA TSS chief, Dr. Sydney Gottlieb.
|Ironwood Daily Globe - July 17, 1975|
Declassified CIA documents reveal Olson was involved in "terminal experiments" in Germany and at Porton Down in England where people were administered drugs during interrogations without their consent and these interrogations always ended by death of the subject as part of Project Artichoke where the CIA was testing drugs and chemical weapons for use in assassinations and interrogations.
Documents also reveal Olson took part in the "Pont-Saint-Espirit incident" in France where aerosolized LSD was used in the village producing mass hysteria resulting in several deaths and injuries and many admissions to mental institutions.
It is said that Olson began to seriously question the morality of the experiments and the governments involvement in such atrocities and he then became considered a security risk to the CIA programs. Olson was then invited to an overnight meeting at Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. There he was himself dosed with LSD without his consent by his then boss, Dr. Sydney Gottlieb. Upon coming lucid, Olson was furious and returned home. He soon after tendered his resignation to the Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick. He was then called to attend a debriefing in New York before they accepted his resignation. Olson attended this debriefing at the Statler Hotel on November 28th, 1953 with CIA TSS Deputy Head Dr. Robert Lashbrook.
Frank Olson plunged to his death from his 13th floor hotel room window to the concrete below. Lashbrook was in his room when he fell.
|Ironwood Globe 7-22-75|
against the CIA for several million dollars. Then US president Gerald Ford invited the family to the whitehouse for an official apology. The government later signed a bill to compensate the family to the tune of $750,000. See released documents of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld & then CIA head George Bush Sr. discussing how they would settle with the Olson's in 1975.
Then, in 1996, Frank Olson's body was exhumed at the request of the family. Forensic expert, James Starrs ruled the death to be a homicide. It was discovered Olson had sustained blunt force trauma to the head that was ruled to have occurred prior to his fall from the window. Olson was likely to have been murdered by the other man present in his hotel room that night, Deputy CIA TSS Head, Lashbrook.
As of late November 2012, the Olson brothers, Eric and Nils have filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Washington for damages. They allege the CIA murdered their father and accused them of covering it up all this time.
"CIA sued over 1950's "murder" of government scientist plied with LSD" - The Guardian
"Frank Olson: CIA scientist murdered for moral stand" - henrymakow.com
"CIA: What really happened in the quiet French village, Pont-Saint-Esprit" - Hank Albarelli Jr.
You can read more about the Frank Olson story by following the link below:
In April of 1890 she “fell victim to both a pistol shot and an ax blow”, according to the coroner’s report. Lotta is buried in the Hurley cemetery under her real name, Laura Whitley. Her funeral was attended by all walks of society. Her case remains unsolved to this day.
Ferber's book was then adapted into a major motion picture under the same title by Hollywood director Samuel Goldwyn. The film was released in 1936 and Lotta Morgan was portrayed by actress Frances Farmer and Edward Arnold, as Barney Glasgow. Then, in 1937, Walter Brennan won an Oscar for "Best Actor in a Supporting Role" for his role as, Swan Bostrom, in the film.
Joseph A. Sullivan.
Sullivan left Hurley to go to school at UW- Madison to study law in the late 30's and early 40's while working in between semesters in an iron ore mine in Montreal, Wisconsin to fund his education. He also played football for a short stint at UW- Madison while he was there.
Author Tom Clancy once referred to Joe Sullivan as "the best lawman America ever produced."
|Lower Block of Silver Street, Hurley, Wisconsin|
"Hurley's six-block Silver Street is jammed with 56 bars, aswarm with dough-eyed girls.
Hurley's raffish oases have names like the 4 Ever Amber Tap, Nora's Gold Nugget, Augie's Rainbow, Lovely Girls, and Joan's French Casino. The loudest and most profane action is at Joan's, a small, chairless place cheered chiefly by the muted glow of the pinball machines. Joan, a 32-year-old blonde with a foul mouth and matching disposition, is the joint's leading (and only) attraction. Alternately kissing and cussing visiting huntsmen, Joan sets drink prices by a whimsical sliding scale based on how much the traffic will bear. Recalls one of Joan's customers: "Last year she had a big woodpile in here, and she just threw your change behind that. She made you feel like a heel if you dug around to get it back."
Something to Do. Everyone in Hurley expects an occasional raid by agents of the Wisconsin beverage and cigarette tax division. For staying open after hours a saloon owner coughs up $500, can reopen next morning; for soliciting too obviously, a B-girl may be fined $200. While sin is rampant in Hurley, and the town's three churches are fighting a losing battle to save its wild and woolly soul, the community is not totally without law and order. An estimated $22,400 enters municipal coffers from saloon licenses, and Mayor Sam Giovanni is torn between righteousness and revenue."
|A wild night in the Show Bar in 1978.|
While on the bench, Raineri recruited the Cuban born, Cira Gasbarri, widow of local Hurley man Jack Gasbarri to run the Show Bar in Hurley's famous lower block previously run by her deceased husband.
The Show Bar was well known as a wild gentlemens club featuring exotic dancers and prostitutes. Cira Gasbarri was a long time friend of Raineri after moving to the area in 1962 to work as an exotic dancer in Club Carnival where she eventually married the clubs owner Jack Gasbarri in 1968.
After moving back to Hurley to run the Show Bar for Raineri, Gasbarri became Raineri's lover and was well kept by him in exchange for running the Show Bar as he wished it to be run. Many events ensued at the Show Bar and the relationship between Raineri and Gasbarri in those few years and flared after a fire destroyed the Show Bar in 1979.
Meanwhile an ex- Show Bar prostitute was being held in a Milwaukee jail after being arrested on sale of heroin charges. She was then contacted by the FBI and offered immunity of charges relating to Show Bar activities if she was to testify to a federal grand jury about the illegal activities at the Show Bar.
After a 6 month long investigation by federal agents, Raineri was named in a federal grand jury indictment on 3 counts of promoting prostitution, perjury and threatening a federal grand jury witness.
After testimony from Raineri, an ex- Show Bar prostitute, a Show Bar bartender, Cira Gasbarri and others, Raineri was convicted on all charges and sentenced to 3 years in a federal prison and fined $15,000 by Judge Barbara Crabb.
In sentencing Raineri, Judge Crabb had this to say,
"My observation of the defendant during the course of the trial has convinced me that he lacks any recognition of the seriousness of his activities..."
Raineri was convicted "of acts corruptive of the very system over which he presided. Although he evinces little recognition of the implications of what he has done, his actions reveal to others a shameless disregard for the laws he was elected to uphold and for the people whose rights he was sworn to protect..."
She added, "perhaps through some psychological defense mechanism he has created his own view of what happened and refuses to acknowledge evidence that goes against his theory."
Judge Crabb took exception to reference by Gene Linehan, Raineri's attorney, that Hurley was "a unique society." She said she rejects empathetically any implication "that the people of Iron County neither wanted nor are entitled to a fair, even-handed and non-corrupt form of justice. It is precisely because the people of Iron County and everywhere else in the state of Wisconsin expect an deserve a judiciary guided by the princiles of fairness and integrity that the defendant's acts must be met with severity."
Then, in June 1981, the Wisconsin Supreme Court removes Judge Raineri from the bench in response to his conviction and also as a severe disciplinary measure in relation to complaints filed by the Judicial Commission against Raineri for ticket fixing and failing to recuse himself from a drunk driving case in which the defendant was his brother-in-law.
[ Read the official Supreme Court ruling removing Raineri from the bench for judicial and professional misconduct ]
Raineri newspaper archive - Ironwood Daily Globe
Click on links below to download an original copy of article in .pdf format
- June 6, 1980 - Raineri indicted on 5 counts
- June 7, 1980 - Raineri denies allegations
- November 12, 1980 - Raineri: Strange to be on other side of the fence - Gasbarri testifies in Raineri Case
- December 3, 1980 - Ex- Show Bar prostitute testifies in Raineri case
- December 9, 1980 - Defense opens in Raineri case
- December 11, 1980 - Priest testifies in Raineri case
- December 12, 1980 - Raineri takes the stand and denies all charges
- December 17, 1980 - Jury deliberating in Raineri case
- December 18, 1980 - Raineri convicted on all counts
- February 18, 1981 - Raineri sentencing set
- March 7, 1981 - Raineri sentenced to 3 years prison and $15,000 fine
- February 9, 1982 - Raineri appeal is denied
Hurley and Iron County still have yet to shake the reputation of corruption in the ranks of its public officials, law enforcement system and judicial system as we have seen in the events and persons involved in the case of Don Miller.
|July 1, 2003 - Ironwood Daily Globe article|
An investigator working for Don's attorney many years after Don was convicted, Lori Gonion, found out that Joe Robinson and Connie Vargovich were involved in a sexual relationship shortly after Don's arrest.
Joe Robinson resigned in 2003 after being suspended for misuse of department property. Robinson was alleged to have downloaded and sent pornography on a computer in the sheriff's department while on duty.
|2003 was a bad year for the Hurley|
Police Department - May 6, 2003
This section is currently under construction. We are currently collecting and compiling information and even more evidence for this section. Please bookmark this page and check back soon. In the meantime, we have 41 documents related to Martin Lipske so far on this site. Many of the articles you will find here relate to misconduct by Iron County District Attorney Lipske in the case of Don Miller and Mr. Lipske's history of previous law license suspensions in both Minnesota and Wisconsin for lying, misrepresentation, keeping money and fees he was not untitled to and just general lack of diligence and competence in his work. Soon after Lipske's law license was reinstated, he ran for and was elected District Attorney for Iron County. Don Miller's case was his first big jury trial as Prosecutor after he was elected.
Iron County Circuit Court Judge Patrick J. Madden
We are currently collecting and compiling information and even more evidence for this section. Please bookmark this page and check back soon. In the meantime, we have 52 documents relating to Judge Patrick Madden so far on this website. Read about Judge Madden's part in the case of Don Miller and how he should have never had anything to do with this in his case due to his "conflicts of interest" and the fact he had a personal relationship with the alleged victim in this case. Patrick Madden was appointed Iron County District Attorney in 1985. When Judge Raineri was removed from the bench by the Wisconsin Supreme Court as a disciplinary measure and sent to prison on unrelated federal convictions, Judge John Varda was brought in to replace Raineri. Varda was nearing 70 years old and under Wisconsin law, Judge's must step down from the bench as a full-time Judge so, 9 months after being appointed DA, Patrick Madden was then appointed Iron County Circuit Court Judge.
|Hurley is still famous for its strip bars and has|
repeatedly been voted #1 for Nightlife in SnoGoer Magazine
#4 Hurley, Wisconsin
The question of which city has the most strip clubs per capita has been hotly contested. Portland, Oregon, sometimes referred to as “Pornland,” claims the title, and there’s even a documentary in the works about it, but no official study has been done on the subject. Get on that, America! There was a recent brouhaha about tiny Eugene, Oregon taking the title, but that appears to have been debunked. I’d like to bring your attention to a Hurley, a small logging town with 1,547 residents (according to 2010 estimates), that also has quite a few strip clubs, six to be exact, which means there’s one strip club for every 238 residents. Not only that, Hurley was one of the few places to reject alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, and was known to entertain some of Chicago’s notorious mobsters, like Al Capone, John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson. Actual details of what kind of entertainment Hurley provided are curiously absent from its tourism site, but if Al Capone’s crazy case of syphilis means anything, we can probably safely assume these guys were up to no good. For that, Hurley gets a solid nod of salacious approval.