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TANGIER: Nylon Sid & the Jolly Roger

2 minute read

The location was the Barbary Coast, Technicolored to perfection in the midwinter sunshine; the set was a makeshift courtroom in the ancient Moorish palace that houses the U.S. consulate in torrid Tangier. On trial was Tangier’s No. 1 manufacturer of nylons and lingerie: dapper Sidney Paley, 32, a spunky ex-G.I. from New Jersey known to his intimates as Nylon Sid. The charge: plotting piracy on the high seas.

From a procession of multilingual witnesses came the story of how an 80-ton privateer (the ex-British Admiralty launch Esme) rammed the Dutch ship Combinatie one night in October and hijacked its cargo of $100,000 worth of U.S. cigarettes (TIME, Nov. 24). Masked and heavily armed, the pirates sailed their prize to a cove “somewhere in Corsica.” There, they unloaded their booty, and abandoned the Combinatie a few miles offshore, leaving its crew locked below decks.

The leader of the pirates, said the prosecution, was one Elliot Burt Forrest, 29, Bronx-born operator of a Tangier nightclub and now a fugitive from justice. But the brains behind the exploit was Nylon Sid, who was lurking in Marseille waiting to dispose of the loot when the Esme’s crew was captured. Spanish cops nabbed Nylon Sid when he skipped to Madrid; last week he faced trial before a U.S. consular court in the internationalized port of Tangier.

Nylon Sid insisted that he and Forrest had chartered the Esme to do a “salvage job” off Malta; anything else that happened was all Forrest’s doing because Nylon Sid wasn’t there. Besides, said his lawyer, “this is the season of ‘Peace on earth, good will to all men.'” U.S. Consular Judge Milton J. Helmick was unmoved; he found Nylon Sid guilty and sentenced him to three years in prison. Nylon Sid -would be allowed out on appeal, said the judge, if he would put up as bail $10,000 and his cream-colored Cadillac.

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