On December 30, 1898, the sheriff lit out for Montana to bring a man who had broken out of the Kootenai County jail the previous summer back to face justice. Then, crickets. By January 7, 1899 county commissioners were beginning to get suspicious. Particularly since a new sheriff had been elected.
It was part of the duty of the sheriff to collect the money for saloon licenses in the county. Pease had done so in 1897, turning over $10,275 to the county treasurer. In 1898 he’d turned in just $7,300. That seemed a little short, since about ten new saloons had popped up.
Pease lived at the jail, so the commissioners had someone examine his quarters. All of the sheriff’s personal effects were gone. Mail for the sheriff was also piling up at the post office. The new sheriff was set to take office the following Monday. That’s when officials would open the office safe. Perhaps all would be right when they found a small pile of money inside along with receipt books.
Cynics (you know who you are) would expect the officials found the safe empty when Monday came around. Not so. The office keys were inside, along with a two-cent stamp. The departing sheriff had made off with somewhere between $4,000 and $5,000. To put that in perspective, in today’s dollars that would be the equivalent of about $150,000. The stamp would probably cost 55 cents, so, a bargain.