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On This Day in History, April 23: Front Page Criminals & A Hero

Crime took precedence on the front page of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of April 23, 1934. In Mercer, Wisconsin, John Dillinger and six companions shot their way out of an ambush and escaped, leaving two dead and four injured. In Camden, New Jersey a Campbell Soup Company woman striker threw pepper into the eyes of two policemen who were temporarily blinded.

Among other national crime news, there were some local Brooklyn incidents:

An aged widow was swindled: “Frederick J. Werner, former teacher at Montauk Junior High School, who is charged in five indictments with having swindled various persons out of approximately $200,000, pleaded guilty to one indictment before County Judge Taylor today [April 23].

“This was a first degree grand larceny indictment in connection with the swindling of Mrs. Emily S.G. Maus, an elderly widow, of 190 Rutland Place, out of $85,000, her entire fortune.

“He obtained the money by claiming she should let him look over her investments, which he never returned.

“When he appeared in court today he was far from being the debonaire, suave person he was when first arrested in December of last year [1933]. He was very nervous but nodded and said good morning to the district attorney, the court clerk and even Judge Taylor.

“First degree grand larceny calls for a mandatory sentence of from five to ten years, but the court deferred sentence until he could receive a report from the probation department.

“A lunacy commission which examined Werner recently reported him to be sane.”

Another crime story involved a bit more action, reporting that two thugs escaped from a “big police net”:

“Excitement ran high and a large crowd gathered shortly before 2 a.m. today when policemen surrounded an entire block in a futile attempt to catch two thugs who had robbed a Borden’s milk driver of $10 in the cellar of the three-story tenement at 558 3rd Ave., between 14th and 15th Sts.

“The driver, Mario Maresca, 38, of 83 First Place, said he was in the first floor hallway when a man suddenly emerged from the cellar stairway with a gun. The man ordered him to descend to the cellar. There, according to Maresca, another thug was waiting. They tied Maresca’s hands, he continued, and then tied him to a pillar. This done, they relieved him of the money and fled.”

We think of Eleanor Roosevelt as a great First Lady but it appears she was an entrepreneur as well. Not exactly a crime story but the First Lady of the times was accused of overcharging for furniture sold from “her” factory:

Washington, April 23 (AP): “The first lady of the land was kept waiting for a half hour today by a Senator who failed to keep an appointment she said he had made with her.

“The incident brought conflicting statements from Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Senator Schall, Republican, of Minnesota.

“The thing that precipitated it all was a statement issued yesterday by Senator Schall that Mrs. Roosevelt was charging five times as much for furniture made at her Hyde Park factory as was charged by other manufacturers.

“Arriving late for her press conference, due she explained, to her futile wait for the Senator, Mrs. Roosevelt said she had telephoned him at 9:25 this morning and that he had promised to come to the White House at 10:30.

“Schall told newspaper men that when Mrs. Roosevelt phoned him he told her he could not come this morning because of a Judiciary Committee meeting, but that he would like to see her later, perhaps tomorrow.

“Answering Schall’s allegations at the press conference, Mrs. Roosevelt said: ‘Be sure I’ll tell him as quickly as I can. No doubt there was a good reason why he couldn’t come. I didn’t want to say what I am now going to say without telling him first. I am not on the floor of the Senate and I don’t have Senatorial immunity.’

“She then asserted that neither she nor any of the three other women financially interested in the Hyde Park factory has ever made a cent on their investments. She further explained that the Reedsville, W. Va. subsistence homestead project, to which Schall referred incidentally, had not a furniture factory nor any connection with the Hyde Park project.”

At least amongst the crime reports was a story of the heroism of a Brooklyn man:

Washington, April 23 (AP): “The War Department announced today award of the distinguished service cross to Frederick R. Garretson of 17 Middagh St., Brooklyn, for extraordinary heroism in action at Meurcy Farm, near Villers-Sur-Fere, France, July 29, 1918.

“‘Leading his platoon against an enemy machine gun nest,’ the citation says, ‘Sergeant Garretson, Company A, 165th Infantry, 42d Division, with only four men of his platoon remaining, when he reached the guns, captured 7 prisoners and 2 machine guns. Although twice wounded he remained with his organization until its relief.’”

— Compiled by V. Parker

April 23, 2012 - 6:01am


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