Tom Pendergast

Tom Pendergast is Indicted: April 7, 1939

Tom Pendergast was indicted for tax evasion on this date in 1939.

Pendergast was a political boss who wielded immense power and influence in Kansas City, Missouri, during the early 20th century. He was the head of the Pendergast machine, a political organization that controlled local elections and held sway over the city’s politics, economy, and social life. Pendergast’s organization was known for its patronage system, where loyalty and support were rewarded with jobs, contracts, and other favors.

Pendergast’s rise to power began in the 1920s, and by the 1930s, he had become one of the most powerful political figures in the state of Missouri. His machine was involved in various illegal activities, including voter fraud, bribery, and corruption. Pendergast’s influence extended beyond politics; he had connections with organized crime and was involved in the illegal liquor trade during Prohibition.

The circumstances leading to Pendergast’s indictment in 1939 were a culmination of years of corruption and criminal activities. The federal government, under the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, had begun to crack down on political corruption nationwide. In Kansas City, a federal investigation was launched into the activities of the Pendergast machine. The investigation uncovered evidence of widespread corruption, tax evasion, and other illegal activities.

On April 7, 1939, Tom Pendergast was indicted on charges of income tax evasion. He was accused of failing to report substantial amounts of income derived from his corrupt political activities. The indictment was a significant blow to Pendergast’s power and marked the beginning of the end of his political machine. He eventually pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. Pendergast’s indictment and subsequent imprisonment led to the dismantling of his political machine and the end of his control over Kansas City politics. Pendergast died in 1945.