Thomas J. Cuddy

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Thomas Jefferson [1] Cuddy, known as T.J. Cuddy, nicknamed Tom, [2] (died 1901) was a 19th-century police chief in Los Angeles, California, until bribery forced resignation, and member of the Los Angeles Common Council, the city's governing body. He served a six-month jail term for contempt of court.



Cuddy began his career with the city as an assistant Zanjero of Los Angeles, working on the Los Angeles water system. [2]

Police chief

He served two terms as police chief, from July 1, 1883 to January 1, 1885, and from January 23, 1888 to September 4, 1888.

One of the cases for which he was noted during his first term was the killing of Henry Amadon by John Foster, the lover of Mrs. Amadon, in 1883, for which Foster and Mrs. Amadon were sent to San Quentin Prison. [3] [4]

In March 1888 a petition was brought to the Police Commission from the Girls' Home and from the Boys' and Girls' Aid Society asking that Mrs. H.A. Watson, the jail matron, be appointed as a special police officer "so that she might receive compensation for her services." Mayor Workman said he favored the idea, but Cuddy called it a "waste of money" and opined that establishing a reform school would be a good idea but "such an institution as Mrs. Watson represented did no permanent good, but kept the boys a short time and turned them out brighter criminals than before." [5]

Cuddy was a member of the Los Angeles Common Council when he was chosen for the second time to be police chief by the council on the fifth ballot, eight votes for Cuddy and seven votes for Police Captain Darcy. [6] Of this episode, the Oakland Tribune said:

During the preliminary proceedings in the Council there was always a strong hoodlum gallery which uproariously applauded every move of the Cuddy partisans. Their demonstrations of joy at his final success capped the climax. . . . The gallery opinion of the election of Chief Cuddy may be taken as a fair indication of the views of the criminal element on the matter. [7]


During Cuddy's second term he was implicated in the bribery of police officers by gambling interests in Chinatown when a commission appointed by Mayor William H. Workman heard testimony that he and others had received money "as insurance against police raids on the gambling houses." [8] The committee, composed of Councilmen J.H. Book, Hiram Sinsabaugh and Matthew Teed, excoriated Cuddy in its report and unanimously urged that "the office of Chief of Police be declared vacant." [9]

On September 24, 1888, the Common Council took up the report, and during the debate Cuddy

became greatly excited. An effort was made to quiet him, but to no purpose. He was there loaded, and proposed to express his opinions. His remarks were ill-tempered. . . . with a wave of his hand [he] declared he was weary of the gang, and would have nothing more to do with them, and tendered his resignation as Chief of Police.

It was accepted unanimously. [10]

In a ceremony at the police station the next day, Mayor Workman took over command and assigned operations to Police Captain L.G. Loomis. In the afternoon, Cuddy was presented with a horse and buggy "by his personal friends on the force." [11]

Common Council

Cuddy, a Democrat, [1] was elected to represent the 2nd Ward on the Los Angeles Common Council on December 5, 1887, for a term lasting to December 1888, but he resigned on January 17, 1888, effective January 23, after the council voted him in as police chief. [6] [12]

Cuddy, who by February 1889 was operating a saloon, was sentenced to six months in jail by U.S. U.S. Circuit Judge E.M. Ross, who found him guilty of contempt of court for having spoken to a juror about a tax case pending in Ross's court; Cuddy had asked that the juror favor the defendant. [13] [1] Cuddy lost two appeals to higher courts, and he served the full term, until August 12, 1889. [14] [15]

In December 1889 a jury found Cuddy guilty of embracery, an attempt to influence a judge or jury by corrupt means, and he was fined $750. [16] Cuddy was also put on trial in federal court on a charge of perjury in connection with the same case, but he was declared innocent when the trial judge directed the jury to do so. [17]

Cuddy was arrested in December 1895 and charged with being drunk and disturbing the peace when he engaged in an altercation with a police officer at First and Main Streets. A judge found him innocent of being drunk but fined him $5 on the other charge. [18] [19]

Whittier State School

In 1895–96 rumors were printed that Cuddy was under consideration to be appointed superintendent of the Whittier State School for delinquent children, to succeed John Coffin. [20] [21]


Cuddy went from Los Angeles to Mexico City and then to El Oro within the State of Mexico, where he managed a mine. He suffered from Bright's Disease, his death in El Oro was reported on October 4, 1901. [22]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 "T.J. Cuddy: Sentenced to Six Months in the County Jail," Los Angeles Times, February 14, 1889, page 1
  2. 1 2 "The Chief of Police," Los Angeles Daily Herald, September 1, 1887, page 12
  3. "Mrs. Amadon Free: After Five Years at San Quentin," Los Angeles Daily Herald, July 2, 1887, image 7
  4. The Oakland Tribune reported that during this term Cuddy was tried on a charge of receiving a bribe, but there is no confirmation of this statement in the Los Angeles Times or Los Angeles Daily Herald of that era.
  5. "Police Commissioners: Mother Watson Wants to Be a Policeman," Los Angeles Times, March 30, 1888, page 2
  6. 1 2 "The Council: Thomas J. Cuddy Elected Chief of Police," Los Angeles Daily Herald, January 17, 1888, image 2
  7. Oakland Tribune, quoted in "Cuddy and Cooney: What Oakland Thinks of Los Angeles Municipal Politics," Los Angeles Times, January 25, 1888, page 3
  8. Michael J. Keane, "The Workman Vice Investigations: A Case Study for the Anti-Chinese Movement of the Late Nineteenth Century" Archived September 19, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  9. "Chief Cuddy: Report of the Investigating Committee," Los Angeles Times, August 28, 1888, page 1
  10. "Cuddy Goes: A Red-Hot Session of the Council Yesterday," Los Angeles Times, September 25, 1888, page 6
  11. "Down and Out: Chief of Police Cuddy Retires," Los Angeles Times, September 26, 1888, page 3
  12. Chronological Record of Los Angeles City Officials,1850-1938, compiled under direction of Municipal Reference Library, City Hall, Los Angeles (March 1938, reprinted 1966). "Prepared ... as a report on Project No. SA 3123-5703-6077-8121-9900 conducted under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration."
  13. "The Fresno Case: It Opens With a Sensational Development," Los Angeles Times, February 13, 1889, page 6
  14. "The Cuddy Case: It Is Argued Before Justice Field," Los Angeles Times, August 11, 1889, page 2
  15. "The Last Resort: Justice Field Decides the Cuddy Case," Los Angeles Times, August 13, 1889, page 3
  16. "Courts; Argument in the Celebrated Garrett Case," Los Angeles Times, December 12, 1889, page 2
  17. "The Courts: T.J. Cuddy Acquitted of the Charge of Perjury," Los Angeles Times, October 28, 1890, page 2
  18. "The Police Court: Fines and Penalties Imposed," Los Angeles Times, December 5, 1895, page 9
  19. "He Was Not Drunk," Los Angeles Times, December 10, 1895, page 12
  20. Los Angeles Times, December 31, 1895, page 6
  21. "The State School: True Inwardness of the Pending Investigations," Los Angeles Times, July 19, 1896, page 10
  22. "Thomas J. Cuddy Dead," Los Angeles Times, October 4, 1901, page A-4

Police appointments
Preceded by
Henry King
Chief of LAPD
Succeeded by
Edward McCarthy
Preceded by
P.M. Darcy
Chief of LAPD
Succeeded by
L.G. Loomis