George Remus

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George Remus

George Remus went to college to be a pharmacist, receiving his license but getting bored of that career path. So, he became a successful lawyer in Chicago, learning the ins and the outs of the Volstead Act and other Prohibition-Age Acts. Some of his clients were bootleggers, which is where he saw the immense amount of wealth open to him through illegal means. Drawn by the allure of wealth, Remus moved to Cincinnati to begin a bootlegging empire. At his empire's peak, Remus owned 10 distilleries and employed 3,000 people. His empire began to crumble when he was arrested in 1924 for violating the Volstead Act. He spent two years in prison, during which his wife, Imogene, had an affair with the FBI agent who arrested him then completely cleaned out all of his assets (Remus had saved all of his money under his wife's name so he would not lose it all to the government if he was caught). She ran off with all of his wealth, leaving him with his stark bare mansion on Price Hill. Outraged, Remus chased her down to Eden Park, where he shot her at the gazebo after his driver ran her taxi off of the road. Remus threw the revolver into the bushes, where it was found some time later by a small child during an Easter egg hunt.

How His System Worked

Federal authorities began to be suspicious of Remus, but didn't want to arrest him for unknown charges. So, Agent William J. Mellin was assigned to bug Remus' hotel room, staying in a room next door. A meeting took place in Remus' room with forty-four men, including politicians, prohibition agents, and even some federal marshals. The meeting was to discuss logistics for moving illegal whiskey into illegal distribution channels. It turns out that all of these men were on Remus' pay roll, making $1000 each, or closer to $13,000 in today's economy. Mellin took this information to the federal prohibition offices, where he was told that what he found did not matter, since it could hurt some politicians so close to election day.

George Remus had his empire all planned out. Using his law connections, he found loopholes in the Volstead Act. For one, he found that alcohol was still legal for medicinal purposes. So, by still having his pharmaceutical license, he bought large sums of alcohol, supposedly to sell to drug companies legally. He then moved those cases to barns on 50 acres of land he owned on the West side of Cincinnati. Another loophole stated that people could buy liquor with a prescription from a doctor. He then set up his own drug companies to gain government withdrawl permits for pre-Prohbition bonded whiskey that was still found around Cincinnati as well as bought out distilleries to manufacture grain alcohol. As his profits grew, he obtained more distilleries, shipping illegal whiskey to 8 nearby states.


"George Remus." Immigrant Entrepreneurship. German Historical Institute, n.d. Web. 29 May 2014. Kemme, Steve. "King of the Bootleggers." Ganett, n.d. Web. 29 May 2014. PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 29 May 2014. Rolfes, Stephen. Cincinnati Landmarks. Charleston: Arcadia, 2012. Print.


The Circle

George Remus"King of the Bootleggers"

How He Was (Almost)Caught


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