Famous fraud Frederick Albert Cook dies
On this day in 1940, Frederick Albert Cook, physician, polar explorer, and infamous oil promoter, died in New Rochelle, New York. The New York native was surgeon on the Arctic Expedition of Robert Peary in 1891-92 and the Belgian Antarctic Expedition in 1897-99. He led expeditions to Mount McKinley between 1903 and 1906. His claim to the first ascent of Mount McKinley was challenged as fraudulent. He later falsely claimed to have beaten Peary to the North Pole by a year. The University of Copenhagen found that Cook's evidence did not substantiate his claims. In 1918 Cook went to work as a geologist in the Texas oilfields, and in 1922 he organized the Petroleum Producers Association at Fort Worth. After investigating widespread charges of fraud committed by the PPA, a Fort Worth grand jury indicted 400 people, including Cook, who was convicted, sentenced to fourteen years and nine months in prison, and assessed a fine of $12,000. He was paroled from Leavenworth in 1930 and pardoned by President Roosevelt in 1940 as an act of mercy for a dying man.