May 3, 1957
Thomas Alfred Gates, 33, a chef at a Santa Monica restaurant, approached The
Times with a story. Gates, who was charged with grand theft, said that during a
recess in his preliminary hearing, Detective Curtis Frank, 45, offered to get
his case reduced to a misdemeanor for $150.
The Times and district attorney’s investigators gave Gates marked money and a
wireless microphone. A Times photographer using a telephoto lens took pictures
of the transaction as Gates handed Frank an envelope containing $80 in money
marked with fluorescent powder.
Santa Monica Police Chief Otto Faulkner fired Frank, but told the detective he
could ask to be reinstated if he was found not guilty.
Dist. Atty.’s Lt. Howard Hooper testified that when he took Frank to the rear of
the restaurant to be searched, a packet of money fell to the ground next to
Frank’s feet. Times reporter Clarence Mortenson testified that Frank asked
"for a break" during his arrest. Frank, meanwhile, said that he had been framed.
During the trial, Douglas Huff came forward to testify that when he was arrested
for attempted burglary, Frank offered to reduce charges against him for $150.
Huff said he refused to pay the money and was sentenced. Jurors also heard a
recording of a conversation between Gates and Frank, a conversation that Frank
said never occurred.
The Times said an "all-woman jury" found Santa Monica Police Detective Curtis
Frank not guilty despite the testimony, photographs, recording and presence of
fluorescent powder from the marked money. Unfortunately, we don’t know the
details because the story got bumped off Page 1 for the microfilmed edition, so
all that remains is a photo caption of Frank, his wife and his attorney in the
hallway of the courthouse.
And as of 1965, according to The Times, Frank was still with the Santa Monica
Police Department. According to the Social Security Death Index, a man named
Curtis Frank, born Jan. 10, 1912, and issued a Social Security card in
California, died in Henderson, Nev., on Dec. 4, 1995.