E. Nugent Dodds (1931-1933)
Early History: Edward Nugent Dodds was born in Mount Pleasant, Michigan on June 17, 1887. His father, Francis H. Dodds, was a U.S. Representative from Michigan from 1909 to 1913. Mr. Dodds simultaneously served as his father’s secretary on Capitol Hill and studied law at Georgetown University Law School from 1909 to 1910, but completed his law studies in 1913 at the University of Michigan. He served as a prosecuting officer in Michigan from 1914 to 1916, and then spent the next 12 years in general law practice in Michigan.
Between 1925 and 1931, Mr. Dodds served as a special assistant in the Department. He was well known for his investigations of mail fraud and violations of national banking laws. He prosecuted the fraud cases against Kansas City Joint Stock and Land Bank and the F.H. Smith mortgage company in Washington, D.C. In the latter case, four defendants were convicted of conspiracy to embezzle approximately $1.3 million and of destroying company records. These two cases were reported to have spurred the Department’s later crackdown on securities fraud. Mr. Dodds also briefly served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee in 1926.
Tenure: President Herbert Hoover nominated Mr. Dodds to serve as the Assistant Attorney General in January 1931. Six months later, the Department announced a campaign against financial fraud with Mr. Dodds as the “directing genius,” as reported by the Washington Post. The article went on to describe him as having “hair that is almost white despite that he is only 44 years old and seems young and has not cultivated an air of force and importance.”
Later Career: After leaving the Department in 1933, Mr. Dodds entered into private practice with another former Department attorney, Neil Burkinshaw. In 1935, they were successful in petitioning President Franklin D. Roosevelt to commute a death sentence to life imprisonment for the notorious Charles Harris, who had been convicted of the gang killing of Milton (Milsie) Henry. They also represented Bruno Hauptmann, the convicted kidnapper in the Lindbergh baby case, but were unsuccessful in obtaining a stay of execution for him. Mr. Dodds died of a heart attack in Washington in 1959.
This material is based on the review of a variety of historical sources and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. If you have any corrections or additional information about this individual or about the history of the Criminal Division, please contact the Division.