Appalachia, counterfeiting, crime, history, Logan County, Peter Dingess, Richmond, Richmond Enquirer, Virginia, West Virginia
From the Richmond Enquirer comes this bit of history about counterfeiters in present-day Logan County, WV:
LAWS CASE. At the late term of the Federal Court, Judge Caldwell presiding, holden at Staunton, on the 2d of this month, the trial of Peter Dinges came up on a charge of having passed counterfeit notes purporting to have been issues by the bank of the United States. Upon a full investigation, which lasted several days, the jury found the prisoner guilty of the offense, provided there was then in existence any law which punishes such an offense; upon this verdict the court gave judgment for the prisoner. There were several other indictments against this man for similar offenses, and demurers being filed to all of them, on the ground that the bank charter having expired, all further prosecution was at an end, and the court being of that opinion, the prisoner was discharged; but forthwith taken into custody by the State authorities.
We understand it to be a principle of criminal law, that when a statute creates an offense, and defines its punishment, and is limited in its duration, no conviction can lawfully be had after the expiration of the statue, unless such an event be officially provided for. No such provision is contained in the bank charter.
This man being one of the principal chiefs of counterfeiters, and venders of base money, it is to be, regretted that he was not brought to trial during the existence of the law against which he has offended. His example in the country in which he has resided must have been very pernicious. He possesses considerable property, is a colonel in the militia, and has been elected twice to the House of Delegates by the citizens of Logan county, where he resides.
Two of Dingess’ confederates, of equal consideration with himself, were arrested by the deputy marshals appointed for the purpose, but made their escape, and have left the country. Two others, having a separate establishment, were indicted, and held to bail, and shortly before court sat, left the State, their securities accompanying them. Four others have been sentenced for long periods, one to the penitentiary at Richmond, the others to the penitentiary in the District of Columbia.
These prosecutions have totally broken up the establishment for counterfeiting notes and bills on the Bank of the United States, and on the various Banks of Virginia, which had so long infested the Southwestern part of this State.
Much credit is due to the marshal of this district for the plans laid by him to detect these men, and the address with which he carried them into execution. In this matter he has been engaged for two years past and has accomplished much for the security of society.
Source: Richmond (VA) Enquirer, 7 June 1836