It's been more than 80 years since the nation's most notorious criminals blighted Saint Paul.
In order to understand what drew these troublemakers to the Capital City, one needs to take a closer look at the political climate of Saint Paul during the late 1920s and early 1930s—starting with a particularly corrupt deal enacted at the turn of the century called the O'Connor Layover Agreement.
In 1900, Saint Paul Detective John O'Connor was promoted to the city's Chief of Police. In an era wrought with illicit activities of smuggling, gambling and racketeering, O'Connor devised a plan to keep crime out of Saint Paul—by harboring criminals within it. The Layover Agreement was an unofficial contract between criminals and O'Connor which stated that gangsters were allowed to take refuge within the city limits under three conditions: 1) they must register or "check in" with police upon arrival at downtown's Hotel Savoy; 2) they must agree to pay bribes to the police and city officials; 3) they must commit no major crimes within the city. While incredibly corrupt, the agreement was largely successful in preventing crime in Saint Paul for the entirety of O'Connor's tenure as Chief of Police.
When O'Connor retired from the force in 1920, things started to get out of hand. At the peak of Prohibition (which began in 1919), it only made sense that the gangster haven of Saint Paul became a center for bootlegging operations and, subsequently, other criminal activities. As Prohibition lost steam in the late 1920s, bootleggers shifted to other illegal means of turning a profit (i.e., bank robbing and kidnapping).