Actually, I'm never asked that. There had been no hue and cry when I wrote "The Dastardly Mr. Anglin" in 2000. He just sounded like an interesting young media baron readers ought to know, someone who "since 1990, when he was 19, . . . has published a string of partisan neighborhood weeklies on the southeast side of Chicago and the adjacent towns in Indiana." To suggest the flavor of the man, I reminded readers of recent headlines:
The big downtown dailies told the story of how he allegedly was surprised outside his Homewood office by a familiar face from the neighborhood who opened fire as Anglin dove for cover behind a car. The getaway car was traced to the office of former alderman Edward Vrdolyak, and police arrested 66-year-old Joseph Sallas, who had spent seven years in a Florida prison after being convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in 1984 and is the godfather of several of Vrdolyak's children.
I sprinkled my column with examples of Anglin's wit and wisdom, as expressed in a recurrent feature of his newspapers, Anglin's Angles:
"The pleasure that I have is that I can write about these fools"—1993.
"I think every parent who has kids who also have kids should take and beat the living crap out of them one night, I dont care if they are 45 years old and your 70, then turn around and tell them to beat the living crap out of their kids because 90% of them need it"—1996.
"I want to use 12 ounce gloves instead of 16 so when I break your jaw and your mouth is wired I can feel the bones breaking"—1996.
Then there were his robust views on editorial independence, as expressed in a banner headline across his South Chicago Herald in 1997. It announced, "This Weeks Editorial Page is Sponsored By: William Chevrolet/GEO."
In 2010, when Anglin was convicted of fleecing investors of some $10 million in a Ponzi scheme and sentenced to 15 years in prison, I argued that "legendary Chicago newspaper publisher" didn't overstate Anglin's career. I recalled his "running for political office as a Republican in 1994 and as a Democrat in 1996" and the alleged attempt on his life. In the end, Sallas was acquitted on the grounds that the tale Anglin told strained belief. For one thing, Sallas "had a reputation for not missing anyone he wanted to hit." For another, "Anglin's history of bad-check convictions didn't help his credibility."
My e-mail Friday morning brought fresh word of Anglin from a former editor at Anglin's Hegewisch News. The editor, Scott Buckner, reminisced, "He chewed tobacco and his shoes always smelled like old sweat and potato chips."
This editor linked me to Anglin's page on a website I hadn't heard of before, writeaprisoner.com. "Inmates have been turning to us in the tens of thousands since the year 2000 to find friendship and moral support outside of prison walls," says the site.
"Hello . . . my name is Lee," begins Anglin's somewhat dated entry. "I'm 41 years old and a divorced father of two boys, ages 15 and 10. I am from Chicago and currently in Minnesota at a federal facility for money laundering. I currently have just over 4 years left (as of March 2012). My case is under direct appeal and based on the current issues I should be able to reduce my time and be exiting within a year or so." He goes on:
I am considered the jailhouse attorney and spend a majority of my day assisting other inmates. I work out twice a day, one doing cardio, running and plyometrics, the other I lift weights. I also enjoy outside activities.
A large amount of my time is spent writing, everything from opinions, to non-fiction stories and I also enjoy writing fantasy stories. I am an avid news junkie and usually only watch football and UFC on TV. I am a very open minded and liberal person, more so than most. I can speak and read Italian. I am a businessman who spends a majority of his time between Chicago and New York, I enjoy outdoors, city life, and traveling, I am well educated and very romantic and affectionate of others. I love children and am an overgrown one myself at times. I am looking for friendship and promise I am not looking for any assistance financially or legally.
I am again open minded and willing to communicate and be friends with anyone from any area in the world. Hope to hear from you!
Anglin remains an inmate at Sandstone, a low-security prison in Minnesota. The Bureau of Prisons lists a projected release date of 2019.