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The original Wichita Wise Guy

As I mentioned in a previous post, I usually keep a camera with me, you know, just in case an ex-con former mayoral candidate-turned-author may show up.

Actually, I wasn’t expecting precisely that when I went to my former father-in-law’s funeral, but you never know.

Charlie Anderson died last weekend surrounded by family at his Cheney home. Charlie was a well-liked and well-respected defense attorney. He served as federal public defender from 1982 until he retired in1994.

One of his regular clients in the early years was the legendary George Poulos, the self-proclaimed “Wichita Wise Guy.”

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I met George, 85, several times over the years and while never feeling particularly intimidated around him, I would get a sense of the reason for his legendary status.

In an April, 2000 Wichita Eagle article about his “George, You Rascal, You,” book signing, Bud Norman mentions Poulos’s “…1980 conviction on charges of arson and conspiracy to commit arson. That led to a 25-year sentence when he declined a plea bargain rather than inform on his associates and was declared a “special dangerous offender” under the Habitual Criminal Act.”

” ‘My main business was staying out of trouble, but that wasn’t going too good,” Poulos said, with a gravely growl that actors might want to study before taking on a tough-guy role. “My business was fast women and slow horses, a little bit of gambling, but I’m not that kind of guy now’.”

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And this excerpt from a 1967 United States Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit transcript shows the guy meant business 42 years ago:

“…Lieutenant William Overman of the Wichita Police Department testified that Sperry told him that George Poulos furnished him with a Cadillac automobile and sent him to Oklahoma to collect a gambling debt; that Poulos told him to go down and “rough up” Goodson and collect the debt…”

A 2002 AP article had this headline and lead:

“Felon plans Wichita mayoral campaign”

“Wichita — If it’s experience that counts at City Hall, felon turned-author-turned-politician George Poulos offers something no one else can in the race for mayor.

“People are going to have to get up awful early in the morning to get scams past me,” Poulos, 78, said, because he already knows them all….”

While chatting with George after the service I told him I had wondered if he might be at Charlie’s funeral.

“You couldn’t keep me away,” he said. “Charlie was a good friend and he kept me from going to jail a few times.”

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