Thursday, October 20, 2011

Adirondack Arts: The Hills Are Alive…

There’s nothing quite like music in the mountains. This weekend the ever-ecclectic BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake offers up two bands with very different pedigrees that each swing to their own beat. First, on Saturday, October 22nd, local septet Crackin’ Foxy serves up three-part harmonies over a ukulele background for a vaudeville show dating back to the 20s and 40s. And on Sunday things take a jazzy turn with gifted pianist Larry Ham leading the Larry Ham trio.

Ham has been performing since the late 1980s, having started his musical journey with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and the Illinois Jacquet Big Band. Throughout his 3 decade career, Ham has played with jazz legends such as Junior Cook and Dakota Staton, and most frequently, as the leader of the trio. He was quite literally Jazz Ambassador for the State Department, bringing jazz to undeveloped countries in the early 2000s, after which he toured the US, Russia, Greece and Italy as pianist and director of the U.S. Tapdance Festival.

Ham has performed his music around the world, touring frequently, and has made appearances on NPR and the Today Show, and even performed at the White House for President Ronald Reagan. And on Sunday, October 23, 2011, Larry Ham returns to BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake, with Bill Moring on bass and Graham Hawthorne on drums, for a special concert to benefit Keene Valley Flood Relief. As he has done at several venues this past year, Ham is donating 50% of the proceeds.

An accomplished composer, in 2007, Ham released his first jazz CD with his trio, Carousel, featuring seven original compositions in addition to five standards. His first solo effort, Just Me, Just You, followed in 2008. Despite a clever swing approach, jazz purists will still enjoy Ham’s easy style and his obvious reverence for traditional jazz lines.

You can look forward to hearing the distinctive renditions of the Larry Ham trio live at BluSeed Studios Sunday at 7pm for $15 admission. Tickets for the Saturday Crackin’ Foxy show (7:30pm) are $14.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Summer’s Last Gasp: All Those Tomatoes

Each year for close to three decades, I’ve canned tomatoes. Even while living in a fifth floor walk-up in Manhattan (without air conditioning), I’d hop the subway down to the Union Square farmers’ market and load up with about 40 pounds of tomatoes and huge bunches of basil. My subway ride back to my apartment was pleasantly aromatic during those hot August days – more than can be said for my trip out to market.

I’d ‘put up’ many jars of cooked tomatoes, sauce, and puree, and this process always signaled the easing into summer’s end. The benefit of this heat-filled project has always been the bright red-orange glass jars sitting on the pantry shelves, especially during a bleak day in February, when it feels as if the summer sun ran away for good. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Glenmore Bar and Grill, Big Moose

As we traveled the six miles down Big Moose Road to the Glenmore Bar and Grill, we noticed it was populated with summer camps right down to Big Moose Lake. Perplexed by the distinct absence of people on this beautiful summer day in July, we pulled in to the mostly deserted parking lot. Given that it was early afternoon, possibly everyone was out pursuing summer pleasures on the lake or in town at Eagle Bay.

A two-story shingled structure flanked by ancient pines at the water’s edge, dormers peek out from above. With a spacious deck overlooking the lake, the Glenmore exudes history. We passed through the entrance doors to the main floor which houses the restaurant and bar, immediately encountering historic memorabilia and postings at the main entrance. Gleaming pine booths lined a sunny dining area, partially separated from the dining room and bar. Ivy wandered, taking over the room, repeated in stenciled embellishment over the windows. Sunlight streamed through picture windows, competing with rustic hues and textures for control of the lighting. At once dark and light, the hardwood floor, low pine plank ceiling, rough-sawn slab walls painted in tones of sage and brown, and simple pine booths were softly illuminated by daylight. A couple of well-worn plaid sofas faced the stone fireplace, the focal point of the center of the restaurant. A game room and pool table are available for use, but the Glenmore seems to be a venue for long stories and general banter.

The bar, with its panoramic view of the lake, seats 15 to 20 people. A handful of guests intently watched a soccer game as we introduced ourselves, and our purpose, to the bartender. Beer selection is primarily domestic, mostly from the Anheuser Busch and Matt’s brewing families. Canned beers (14 of them) include Utica Club and Genesee. Very retro. As Pam sat at the bar trying to decide what to order from the standard selection of liquors, she noticed that every one of the bar pours on the liquor bottles was not only the same color (green), but were all pointing in the same “wrong” direction. We have been to a lot of bars and have never seen either phenomenon. Not willing to let it go on observation, she mentioned to the bartender that he might have difficulties if he hired a left-handed bartender. Promising that would never happen, he smiled graciously and changed the subject, but seemed pleased that his efforts were noticed. We did take the time to inquire if the Glenmore had any specialty drinks unique to the establishment. Robert shared the ingredient list of the Flaming Glenmore, consisting of coffee, Yukon Jack, Amaretto and whipped cream.

It took some time for him to loosen up, but owner/bartender Robert Muller eventually warmed to our inquisition. He told us of a writers’ group that, for the past 36 years, meets at the Glenmore. Robert is of the opinion that some may no longer write, but continue to enjoy each other’s company, spending a weekend there every year under the auspices of the Tamarack Writers Group. (For the record, he did not use the word “auspices”.)

Kim inquired about hauntings, particularly in the death of Grace Brown in 1906. Grace and her companion, Chester Gillette, had checked in to the Glenmore the night before her demise, which she met at the hands of Gillette while rowing out on the lake. Several locations around Big Moose Lake claim to be haunted by her presence, and the television series Unsolved Mysteries aired an episode based on ghostly encounters in Big Moose in 1996. Robert also mentioned the apparition of a “creepy, tall, old dude” who occasionally makes his presence known.

The Glenmore Hotel Bar & Grill has been in business for 100 years and owned by the current owners, the Muller family, since the 1970s. When a fire of suspicious origin destroyed the original hotel in 1950, the Glenmore Hotel relocated across the street to its present location, originally home to the Big Moose Supply Company. A bar, restaurant and hotel located yards from Big Moose Lake, you can feel the history as you gaze upon the lake from the bar.

In summer months, the Glenmore is open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. and noon to 1 a.m. on weekends. Closed Monday through Thursday in the fall and spring, they are open Friday through Sunday. Surprisingly, to us at least, Robert, who likes winter best, claims that winter is the best season to visit. Winter hours at the Glenmore begin with opening for the Snodeo, occurring this year December 9-11, and end with St. Patrick’s Day. The no-nonsense menu includes pizzas, salads, burgers, sandwiches and bar munchies in the $7 to $10 range.

The hotel has 11 rooms accommodating up to 24 people. Rooms are simple, unique and comfortable with few amenities. Two full and one half bath are shared by all the guests. They have no WiFi, no cell service either, but a phone booth outside actually appeared to still be in service. History, a remote setting, simple charm, and circumspect hospitality await guests and visitors to the Glenmore Bar and Grill.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dan Crane: Leaving Bushwhacking Breadcrumbs

Solitude and isolation are two reasons for journeying into the backcountry of the Adirondacks. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of modern life to spend some time in nature has a soothing and regenerative power unmatched by the likes of books, movies or video games. Unfortunately, the remoteness can prove a challenge if for some reason a backcountry enthusiast must be located in a timely fashion.

Although rare, situations may arise that require locating an individual in the backcountry. An emergency at home, failure to return on a given date or some other reason may require initiating a search with little information to go on. Such a search may be difficult to perform within the confines of a trail system; it may require a Herculean effort in a bushwhacking situation. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Phil Brown: Wild Wolves in the Northeast

Reuben Cary shot the last wolf in the Adirondacks in 1899 … or so he thought. Afterward, he posed next to the carcass for a photo. The stuffed wolf is now on exhibit in the Adirondack Museum.

Cary’s claim to fame is no longer valid. A new study by two scientists from the New York State Museum found that at least three wild wolves have been shot in the Northeast in recent decades, including one in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: A Mystical Forest in Burke

Located in the foothills of the Adirondacks, The Ekurb Players are pulling together the last minute details for their annual Mystical Forest at Sellers Park in Burke, N.Y.

Formed in 2007, The Ekrub Players (Ekrub is Burke spelled backwards) is a not-for-profit Children’s performance group focusing on creative ways to bring families together and get children outside. The Mystical Forest event is one of the first programs the group started when it opened its doors in 2007.

Co-Founder and President Gina Strachan says, “A lot of our inspiration comes from Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods. My husband and I moved from Vermont and found out that there weren’t a lot of child-related activities in the area. We are developing other children’s programs so check out the website. My family had participated in a variety of productions in other places as well in Vermont.”

The Mystical Forest will take place at Sellers Park in Burke. Over 500 carved pumpkins will light the trails as costumed “Spirit Guides” lead groups of up to 20 people through the woods. A tour leaves every 10 minutes and every tour lasts about an hour.

“This is not a gory, horror trail,” assures Strachan. “This is a story trail. People will be led through the forest for an hour tour to various skits led by costumed volunteers. We even received the rights from J K Rowling to do a Harry Potter skit based on The Tale of the Three Brothers. Snow White, Rapunzel and Red Riding Hood are a few of the other familiar characters families can look forward to seeing.”

According to Strachan a special addition is the group The Tales from Remikreh, sword -fighting re-enactors, that have performed in Alexandria Bay for the past 16 years. She recommends that people dress for a walk in the woods and appropriately for the weather. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors and children under 5 are free.

There will be food available for purchase such as hamburgers and hotdogs, drinks as well as a sweet treat vendor. The tour schedule is as follows: Friday, October 21 from 6;30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., Saturday, October 22 from 6:30 -.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 23 from noon to 3:30 p.m. No reservations are required. If you bring a canned good to benefit the local food pantry you can save $1 on admission. There is plenty of parking available.

Sellers Park is located on Route 11 in Burke. Strachan recommends you “just follow the ghost signs along Route 11 and you won’t miss it.”

Photo: The Ekrub Players’ Mystical Forest Ghost (Courtesy Diane Chase)

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates), the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Local Program Hopes to Reduce Energy Use, Create Jobs

With the budgets of villages, towns and municipalities being slashed across the country, two (and more in future) communities in the Adirondack Park are participating in a pilot program that will identify ways they can reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint, create or retain jobs and save money. The Community Energy Efficiency Management (CEEM) project will include the Towns of Moriah and Schroon Lake, and project managers are talking with other municipalities about participating in the two-year program.

During the program the communities will inventory energy use of municipally-owned structures, transportation and residential buildings, make a plan to identify and prioritize energy saving opportunities, explore financing options, implement energy saving projects, and track energy savings. They will share their experiences with other
communities throughout the process.

Rural communities, including the 103 towns and villages within the boundary of the Adirondack Park, suffer from a host of economic development problems. ADKCAP (the Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan) developed a model to support such communities with comprehensive CEEM services to address economic needs through the “low-hanging fruit” afforded by energy efficiency incentives and programs. The CEEM
project is funded through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and co-implemented by The Wild Center in Tupper Lake and the Community Power Network of NYS, based in Olmstedville, in Essex County.

“Green is truly the road to the future,” said Cathy Moses, Town Supervisor of the Town of Schroon Lake. “Although some of the initial green changes are costly, there are several grants available if sought. The end result is saving the future for our children – it doesn’t get much better than that!”

“The Town of Moriah Town Board decided to participate in this project for possible savings of both energy and money for our constituents,” added Tom Scozzafava, Moriah’s Town Supervisor. “As we have progressed we have found that with very little up front expenditure, we can save not only energy but also dollars that will more than pay
for the changes.”

Project advisors will support project progress, provide training, celebrate and publicize successes, and help build capacity needed to realize energy saving opportunities while guiding how to take advantage of state and federal energy and carbon reduction funds. They will also help communities invite businesses, nonprofits, schools, and residents to learn more about available energy efficiency programs.

“After my mother passed away I decided to replace the 1950s furnace in her old house,” said Cathy Robarts of Moriah, who attended a CEEM outreach meeting this summer. “I paid for a new high-efficiency boiler, which cost about $1000, and got my investment back in three years including $200 of repairs on fuel lines and related needs. The majority of the savings came in the form of oil costs.” This kind of experience will be captured and shared through the project.

“We know from energy audits and conversations with town and village elected officials that energy costs are often one of the most costly items in a budget year after year,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center. “This project is designed to assist the towns and villages to take advantage of grants and other incentive opportunities to improve energy efficiency and save money over time. We know the motivation is there, we are just trying to help bridge the gap with technical information, grant writing assistance and tracking.”

“The collaboration within and between communities is very important. By identifying and prioritizing energy saving opportunities, we can creatively develop opportunities for our economic development problems. Rural Development is committed to building a foundation for stronger rural communities, ones that are equipped with tools to succeed. Programs such as CEEM are an example of how the Obama Administration is committed to creating a more prosperous rural America,” said USDA NY Rural Development State Director Jill Harvey.

Despite the need for improvements, there are currently only 20 fully certified energy auditing businesses serving the 6 million acre Park – according to NYSERDA’s website – to help the businesses, municipalities, and residents who want to reduce energy expenditures on their buildings by an average 30 percent and invest savings in other economic opportunities. In addition, there is currently a 2-year backlog of low-income homeowners in the region requesting weatherization assistance. Small municipalities such as those throughout this region often operate with part-time staff and less capacity than urbanized areas and therefore can have difficulty taking advantage of incentives that exist.

Managers reason that each community’s investment in the project will pay for itself quickly through energy savings.

It is anticipated that the project will help to create or retain the equivalent of three to five stable, well-paying “green” clean energy jobs. Every job created in the Adirondacks means a family can stay where many generations have been before them. Jobs such as local energy auditors and insulation installers cannot be outsourced. The project will also help to create demand for more such skilled and trained workers.
The Wild Center has modeled – through its “green” facilities, educational programming, and conferences – how science museums can help to disseminate environmental solutions.

For example, buildings use an estimated 30% of energy in the United States, thus increasing green building design and retrofits has huge potential for economic
savings and job development. The Wild Center is Silver LEED certified for its green buildings and educates visitors through a tour of its green design on site and on-line through its website.

The Community Power Network of New York State, Inc. addresses the energy needs of families and communities throughout New York. CPN has worked extensively to improve energy efficiency and affordability for low-income households. Improving the ability of North Country communities to access New York’s energy programs and opportunities is also a focus for this private consulting corporation.

“We believe that the Community Energy Efficiency Management pilot provides an important new program model for rural areas like ours,” said Sue Montgomery Corey, President of CPN. She noted that every rural community is different and finding strategies to make state and federal resource programs meet the needs of individual
communities is a critical part of implementing them successfully in rural areas.

ADKCAP is a partnership of The Wild Center and 30 other institutions in the region. ADKCAP works through existing organizations around the region to implement a proactive strategy to enable the Adirondacks, approximately 20% of the land area of New York State, to improve energy and cost savings within the region. To heat and power itself the region currently uses more than 46 million gallons of fuel oil and LPG, and 925 million kWh of electricity annually, draining $263 million a year from struggling economies of the region. Investing in local efficiency helps to keep that money in the region. The Adirondacks are nevertheless a model of conservation for the nation and are positioned to lead in establishing a “green” economy.

For more information visit www.adkcap.org and click on CEEM or contact Kara Page, kpage@wildcenter.org or Jennifer Monroe, jlmonroe@capital.net.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

DEC Adopts Five-Year Deer Management Plan

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that it has adopted a five-year deer management plan. The final plan, which has been revised based on public comment on a previously released draft version, is now available online.

“White-tailed deer are an important and valued natural resource for New Yorkers,” Commissioner Joe Martens said. “DEC’s new deer management plan provides strategic direction for our staff over the next five years and will help us focus our efforts where they can best meet the biological and social demands associated with deer. This plan emphasizes the importance of hunting for deer management, and we are particularly excited to create new opportunities for young deer hunters,” Martens said. “We are also cognizant of the significant ecological impacts associated with deer, and we are eager to more fully bring our knowledge of these impacts into the population management process.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Adirondack Wildlife: The Howling Coyote

It can be heard at almost anytime, but especially after sunset. On calm evenings from the late summer throughout autumn, the high-pitched yelping cry of the eastern coyote occasionally echoes across the landscape as this resourceful predator moves under the cover of darkness. While the coyote is known to make its tormented-sounding bark during any season, there are times when it is more vocal and fall is one of those periods.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, October 17, 2011

History’s Criminals: Ticonderoga’s Bernard Champagne

After impersonating Walter W. Baker, heir to the Baker chocolate fortune, and bilking his Richmond fiancée’s mother out of $15,000 in 1928 (equal to $190,000 in 2011), Ticonderoga’s Bernard Frederick Champagne was sentenced to ten years in a Virginia prison. He was paroled after serving more than six years, but the gates had hardly closed behind him when Champagne was at it again.

Shortly after his release, the US Department of Justice was tracking him across the North Country. As he had done for years in the past, Bernard managed to move quickly and stay a step ahead of his pursuers.

In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea to leave prison after conviction on charges of impersonation and then return home to pass himself off as a federal officer, but that’s exactly what Champagne did. He also left Ticonderoga for several weeks with a vehicle that didn’t belong to him, prompting the town police force to join the feds in seeking his arrest.

Initially, their search efforts covered from the Albany area to southern Quebec. It was then expanded statewide, and finally extended across the Northeast. Two weeks later, Champagne was in Elizabethtown’s Essex County jail, facing local and federal charges.

What had he done? After arriving home from the prison in Virginia, Bernard needed transportation to execute his latest scam. At the automobile dealership of Charles Moore in Ticonderoga, he tried out a large Oldsmobile and expressed an interest in purchasing it. Moore accepted his promise to return with the car and pay for it when some expected funds arrived.

Champagne then visited stores, restaurants, and bars across the region, presenting himself as a representative from Washington. Presenting his official federal credentials, including a badge, Bernard saved them money by accepting a smaller direct payment of the liquor tax, which relieved them of paying the regular rate to county alcohol officials.

When local liquor authorities made their normal rounds, they viewed the receipts left by Champagne and knew immediately that something was amiss. By that time, he had scammed businesses across the region and then vanished.

An investigation failed to locate Bernard, but certain savings accounts were discovered. No one knew for certain where the money came from, but in banks located in Burlington and Saratoga, Champagne had $56,000 ($890,000 in 2011).

He was traced as far as Maryland, and then officially listed as “whereabouts unknown.” A week later, Champagne was arrested in Hyattsville, Maryland (still driving the Oldsmobile), and was brought north to face charges.

Five months later (in October), an Essex County jury found him not guilty of stealing the car. Their reasoning was simple: he had promised to return it, and with no firm timeframe in place, he hadn’t actually reneged on that promise.

As he had done earlier in the Richmond case, Bernard presented no defense on the federal charges. He pled guilty in Albany to three counts of impersonation and was sentenced to one year and one day in the US Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

In December 1936, Champagne walked out of prison once again a free man, and immediately proved himself an incorrigible lawbreaker. Without hesitation, he returned to criminal activity, and for the next several years left few traces of his whereabouts. (It was very difficult tracking his story today through newspaper archives and public records. Gaps were unavoidable. After all, seven decades ago, the FBI chased him for seven years before achieving any success.)

Having already served two prison sentences, Champagne had proven catchable, but the third time wouldn’t be easy for his pursuers. He worked multiple scams at the same time in a particular city, but when the heat was on, he slipped away to a new location. And there’s no denying that Bernard Champagne was one slippery customer.

His exploits out West provide a fine example. After several impersonations in San Francisco, he was indicted there by a federal grand jury in May 1942. But Champagne was already long gone, posing as a secret service agent in Salt Lake City, where he found at least six more victims. He was particularly adept at securing small cash amounts, which tended to attract less attention.

To make the process profitable, he worked several targets simultaneously. They were nearly always women, and many of them were widows. In Salt Lake City, impersonating a secret service agent netted him $5,000 from six targets. As if to intentionally taunt his pursuers, in two of those cases Bernard also claimed to be a special agent with the FBI.

This especially annoyed Bureau Director J. Edgar Hoover, who was very protective of the agency’s image. He turned up the heat on Bernard, but despite the intensified effort, their quarry from the North Country remained elusive.

The charges at San Francisco were followed by several other federal indictments: in Salt Lake City, June and November 1942; Danville, Illinois, September 1942; New York City, January 1943; and Cleveland, April 1943. Complaints had also been filed against Bernard in Omaha, Nebraska; Kankakee, Illinois; Daytona Beach, Florida; and in Maine.

FBI agents described Champagne as “a prolific impersonator,” but the true extent of his success is unknown. Because so much of his fakery escaped detection, it’s unclear how many identities Bernard actually assumed. One agent said he had “at least 50 aliases,” and at one point, there were 34 names documented. It was the list of professions, however, that really impressed them.

Among his successful impersonations were: a graduate of Columbia University; a doctor employed by the US Public Health Service; a secret service agent; an FBI agent; a member of the US diplomatic corps; and the nephew of noted politician Hamilton Fish, a ruse that allowed him to pass $600 worth of bogus checks ($8,000 in 2011).

On a grander scale were his military personas: an army medical officer; aide to General Arnold, who was chief of the nation’s air forces; a member of military intelligence; a lieutenant colonel in the army (good for another $8,000 in 2011); a lieutenant commander in the US Navy; and a nephew of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was commanding the Allied forces in Europe.

At times he claimed to have lost three brothers in the Battle of the Coral Sea; that his brother-in-law was an admiral; and that his grandfather was a navy captain. Those lies, offered convincingly, gave him legitimacy in the eyes of an intended victim. It was an important factor leading up to the payoff scheme: ensuring that he could secure the release of relatives in Germany. By carefully selecting his marks (victims), Bernard achieved continued success.

An FBI memo from summer 1943 notes that Champagne’s proclivity for “victimizing women, especially widows” was featured in a radio broadcast by the legendary Walter Winchell. Hoover, passionate guardian of the FBI’s reputation, felt that publicly citing a longstanding, unsolved case made the Bureau look bad. It was his baby, and he felt the need to respond.

The same memo confirmed that increased attention was now focused on Bernard: “An identification order was issued on Champagne during the past week, and a very active fugitive investigation looking to his apprehension is in progress.”

Less than two months later, Hoover had his man. Bernard’s modus operandus was well known, and information detailing it was disseminated to scores of law enforcement agencies. Anything remotely resembling his style was looked at, and a case in Ohio proved his undoing.

In the small village of Dalton, Bernard had targeted a widow, Gladys Mohn, in a real estate scheme. Presenting himself as Allen Steven Klein, a navy surgeon, he convinced Mrs. Mohn to invest $4,312 ($55,000 in 2011) in some Florida property, land that he said the government was going to purchase for airport development. The return promised by Champagne on her investment was $22,000 ($277,000 in 2011).

A glitch developed when Mohn went to Florida with Champagne to look the site over. After several excuses “prevented” him from showing her the property, which of course didn’t exist, Bernard finally abandoned her and vanished.

Mohn’s subsequent complaint to authorities, with details on how her “partner” operated, suggested that Allen Steven Klein may well have been Bernard Frederick Champagne.

On April 10, a warrant was issued for his arrest, adding to the list of previous indictments, but also triggering an intensified FBI manhunt. And this time, Bernard’s luck finally ran out when several FBI agents from the Cleveland branch arrested him in Dalton. At his arraignment the next day in Canton, Ohio, Champagne did what he had always done in the past—pleaded guilty.

Hoover addressed the media, mentioning several of the personas Bernard had assumed, including that of FBI agent. The Director noted, “Champagne operated from coast to coast, leaving a trail of disillusioned women who gave him sums ranging up to $4000 [$50,000 in 2011].”

Though his documented crimes may have been the proverbial “tip of the iceberg,” an aura of mystery surrounded Champagne’s incarceration, much as it had his life of crime. After pleading guilty, he was held under $10,000 bond ($120,000 in 2011) at Cleveland for federal grand jury action. At that point, he seems to have vanished.

Perhaps the FBI avoided publicizing his story any further once he was captured. Champagne had defrauded hundreds of victims out of untold thousands of dollars—certainly the equivalent of millions of dollars today. To the embarrassment of lawmen, he had gotten away with most of it during the past seven years. Heavily redacted records limit our knowledge of his activities.

Despite the vast number of charges pending against Bernard in at least nine cities (for fraud and for impersonating federal officials), the Cleveland grand jury settled on a puzzling set of indictments: “Violation of the Mann Act, in transporting a waitress from Orrville [Ohio] to California via Winter Haven, Florida; violation of the Selective Service Act for not having his registration card with him; and posing as a lieutenant commander in the US Navy with intent to defraud.”

It appears that he served approximately 18 years in prison and was released in the early 1960s, returning to the North Country. Champagne passed away in 1977 at the age of 73.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


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