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December 2005

ASK THE SMART GUY: Monthly column by Dennis Latham.


My neighbor, Herman Baker, yelled the question of the month over to my apartment after his laptop internet connection failed while in the shower.

Question of the Month: What was the most deadly crime organization to ever operate in the United States?

Based on criminal activity, it would have to be the little known Clown Cartel, also called the Clown Posse by the FBI. Led by Jacko “JC” Bolam, this well organized group of birthday party clowns terrorized the clown industry in Ohio and Indiana. From 1983 to 1986, not a private party, balloon animal, magic trick, juggling act, restaurant and mall appearance, or seltzer bottle was sold or used without the Clown Cartel being paid protection. No birthday party clown dared operate within Ohio or Indiana without paying the fee. Those who failed to pay disappeared or were executed. The FBI estimates that Bolam and his men murdered over 763 birthday party clowns from 1983 to 1986. No other criminal organization has topped this deadly record.

“These clowns were ruthless in their pursuit to dominate all birthday clown performers,” an FBI spokesman said. “Compared to the Clown Cartel, the Mafia was a Brownie Scout Troop.”

On February 14, 1984, Charles Wiggins, known as Pokey the Clown, was found burned along with 29 other clowns in a field in Batavia, Ohio. All 30 clowns had been stuffed into the same Volkswagen Bug. George Kliener witnessed what became known as the Valentine Day Clown Massacre.

“I was drunk in this field on the way home, and I saw all these clowns. I thought it was DTs until these tough-looking clowns pulled guns and herded all them other clowns into one tiny VW bug. I still don’t know how they did it. Then they set it on fire. None of them got out, and the smell was awful, but it was cool watching the party poppers go off.”

Kliener failed to identify anyone in a police lineup because, “them clowns all kinda got the same noses.”

The end came late in 1986 when the Clown Cartel strangled several Ronald MacDonalds with balloons and left them in dumpsters. Though never charged with the murders, the four pictured below were sent to prison under RICO in 1987 and the Clown Cartel ceased to exist. They were granted parole earlier this year, and face additional prison time if caught working as party clowns. Based on the picture below, the Cartel may soon fall back to their old ways.

On February 14, 1984, Charles Wiggins, known as Pokey the Clown, was found burned along with 29 other clowns in a field in Batavia, Ohio. All 30 clowns had been stuffed into the same Volkswagen Bug.  George Kliener witnessed what became known as the Valentine Day Clown Massacre.

“I was drunk in this field on the way home, and I saw all these clowns. I thought it was DTs until these tough-looking clowns pulled guns and herded all them other clowns into one tiny VW bug. I still don’t know how they did it. Then they set it on fire. None of them got out, and the smell was awful, but it was cool watching the party poppers go off.”

Kliener failed to identify anyone in a police lineup because, “them clowns all kinda got the same noses.”

The infamous Clown Cartel 2005 from left to right:

Clown Cartel 2005 from left to right

David “Fingers the Juggler” Riehle/Enforcer
Dennis “Froggie the Clown” Marino/Enforcer
Jacko “JC the Boss” Bolam holding framed parole papers
Robert “Seltzer Man” Rose/Enforcer


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