Richard Lee is a wealthy industrialist who went bankrupt and his estate was foreclosed after defaulting on his loans. His financial troubles began after his son accidentally killed his opponent in a fencing match. To help avoid an involuntary manslaughter charge and keep his son out of jail, Lee agreed to an exorbitant bribe by county Sheriff Wendell (who, in turn, paid off Mayor Plante , judges, attorneys and others). Paying off fthe bribe started a subsequent string of financial entanglements, including an audit, that ultimately lead to his bankruptcy.