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One Move and I'll Kill You

By Donald Richards

Main Story

Heavy clouds presaging rain scudded acreoss the sky as a black Ford V8 sedan backed into a parking space in front of the St. Albans branch of the Bank of Manhattan Company on Linden Boulevard in Queens County, New York City. It was 12:50 o’clock, Friday afternoon, September 6, and and few people were on the street.

Inside the bank a skeleton staff was experiencing the usual pre-noon lull. Teller Charles Honecker was making a deposit entry for Benjamin Downing, the only customer. Manager Charles P. Lowerre was speaking on the telephone, and Helen Van Dyck, attractive 22-year-old clerk, sat checking a column of figures at her desk behind a frosted pane of glass in an “L” shaped corner. The only other person in the building was Mrs. Erica Frank, a bookkeeper, who was eating a sandwich in the basement employees’ room. The remainder of the staff was out to lunch.


Three men stepped out of the sedan, the driver remaining behind the wheel. Bent forward as if bucking a squall, the trio darted into the bank lobby, where they straightened. Handkerchiefs were knotted over their faces. One carried a Thompson sub-machine gun, another an automatic shotgun. The third gripped a revolver in each hand. Thus they pushed through the inner door.

“Get ’em up everybody. One move, and I’ll kill you,” the man with the tommy-gun called out. I’ll shoot anybody who touches the alarm button.”

Lowerre turned in his chair as the ominous words rang out. The man with the machine gun guarded the entrance. The other two fanned out, the bandit with the two revolvers covering Downing and Honecker, whil his companion hurdled a low railing and approached the manager. The gunman had a white cotton pillowcase draped over an arm.

For a wild second Lowerre hoped it might be a crude practical joke played by the collectors from an armored truck service who were due in 20 minutes to pick up the morning deposits. The thought died instantly as he realized the armed men were wearing dark clothes and fedora hats instead of regulation uniforms.

Before Lowerre could shout a call for help to the person at the other end of the wire, the shotgun bandit snatched the receiver from his hand and hung it up.

Prodded by the weapons of the robbers, Lowerre, Honecker and Downing were herded into the back out of sight, and forced to lie down on the floor near the vault.

The purpose of the pillowcase soon became evident. It served as a substitute sack. The bandits went from cage to cage, scooping money into it.

As a half-dozen patrol cars raced out of Queens Police Headquarters in Jamaica, five miles away, the robbers completed their task.

“Don’t move for five minutes,” the leader warned. To emphasize this command, the man with the shotgun fired twice into the floor. The blasts ripped through the tiling and some of the buckshot peppered Mrs. Frank, who was still in the basement eating her sandwich, unaware of the marauders overhead. The entire action from the time the robbers entered until they left took less than five minutes!

A pedestrian heard the shots and looked up as the three masked men jumped into the black sedan. He jotted down the license plate number as the car shot away from the curb at high speed and headed west on Linden Boulevard.

Although police arrived hard on the heels of the escaping bandits, they were unable to pick up the trail. The long-threatening rainstorm broke shortly after the stickup, and pedestrians had been too busy seeking shelter to notice the black machine. 


Lowerre was yanked to his feet and brought to the safe. Only the massive outer doors were open.  He was ordered to unlock the inner compartments of the vault.

“C’mon, hurry up,” the leader rasped. “I know you’re the manager and the only one who can do it.”

The two-gun man shoved the manager back to the floor after he had opened the doors. He placed one of his revolvers on the ledge as he lifted out the boxes stuffed with paper currency and two canvas sacks containing wrapped coins.

Meanwhile, Miss Van Dyck sat huddled at her desk, hardly daring to breath. When she realized that the robbers were unaware of her presence, she slid to the floor out of sight. A telephone was on a desk 20 feet away. With her heart beating like a trip-ammer, she inched her way on all fours toward the instrument. 

Once she bumped into a wastepaper basket and halted, trembling, as she heard the bandit with the machine gun move in her direction. He returned to his post near the door after taking only several steps.

Finally, she reached her destination. A shock of disappointment swept through her. The phone was on a stack of papers high up on the desk. She would have to stand to reach it. Half crouching, she clutched it to her breast and sank back to the floor. She waited, panting. In was finis if one of the bandits noticed her. But the only sound she heard was that of the robbers methodically stacking money bags into the pillowcases. Miss Van Dyck dialed the operator, each click on the dial sounding in her anxious ears like the report of a canon.

“Notify police! The bank’s being robbed!” she whispered to a startled operator.

Detective Captain Henry Flattery was in the first car that converged on the scene. He personally sent out a radio alarm giving a description of the car and the license plate number, and ordered an eight-state teletype alarm.

On  the ledge in the vault, detectives found the revolver left behind by the two-gun bandit. Flattery started as he stared down at the weapon. It was a regulation police service revolver. That, and a description of the getaway machine were the only clues.

The witnesses were unable to describe the robbers. They had not seen their faces.

“How about the way they talked or walked? Any scars or birthmarks? Any great difference in height among them?” the captain demanded.

The witness shrugged. Everything had happened too quickly. Besides, they had been lying on the floor face down most of the time.

A hasty audit revealed that the bandits had escaped with $10,000 but had missed the real prize, an additional $50,000 which had been in a special compartment in the vault for the armored truck collectors. The quick thinking bank manager did not unlock that compartment.


ILL Gotten booty

the getaway car

Emptied of thousands of dollars in ill-gotten booty, the boxes from the vault can be seen on the floorboard.

Part of the loot had been in four tin boxes while the canvas bags bags contained $3500 in rolled dimes and quarters, the coin wrappers marked “Bank of Manhattan Co.” The serial number on the service revolver was checked at headquarters. The gun had been stolen the previous summer from the home of a patrolman while the officer and his family were away on vacation.

A clerk at the Motor Vehicle Bureau flipped a card as Detective Edward Masterson read the license plate number. “The car is registered for a William Bishop who lives in Jamaica,” he said. “Hold on!” he exclaimed. “The car was reported stolen last August.”

“So Bishop lives in Jamaica,” Flattery commented slowly, when Masterson reported to him. “He probably is acquainted with this section. Check on him.”

The news of the first daring daylight bank robbery in New York City in years brought Police Commissioner Lewis J. Valentine and District Attorney Charles P. Sullivan racing to the bank. The late editions of the evening papers carried streamer headlines about the crime.

:”What about the cop in the police booth a block away?” Sulivan demanded. “Why didn’t he spring into action when he heard the shots? He could have commandeered a car and chased them.”

“He wasn’t there,” was the rueful answer. “This job was timed to a split-second. The officer in the booth leaves there at 12:50 every day to relieve another man for lunch. The robbers evidently waited until he left. At 12:57 another officer would have arrived to ring in from a signal box right here on the bank corner. The bandits had no more than six minutes in which to work.  They did it in just under five.”

“They must have cased this place for some time,” Commissioner Valentine observed. 


“They knew details,” Flattery agreed. “They knew Lowerre was the only one who had the keys to the inner vault. It required groundwork and organization.” He turned to the bank manager. “I want a complete list of all your employees here for the past two years.”

“Wait a minute,” the bank manager protested. “I can vouch for everyone employed here. We haven’t had any changes in several years.”

“Somebody had to finger this place for the mob,” the captain retorted.

Experts from the Technical Research Bureau combed through the bank building without any results. 

“With every cop in the city on the lookout for the car, they couldn’t have gotten far,” Flattery remarked. “That means they had some place to hole up the auto. They may even be hiding out there. It’s probably not too far away, either.”

“It doesn’t help,” Sullivan pointed out. “This entire area is built up solid with thousands of homes.”

“Any chance of tracing them through the stolen money?” Asked Flattery.

“We don’t keep a record of the serial numbers of bills left by depositors unless the bill is unusually large,” replied Lowerre.

Throughout the night, patrol cars kept up a ceaseless search for the black sedan. Squads of detectives checked public garages, parking lots, filling stations and repair shops without result.

“It’s hidden away in some private garage,” the captain concluded dourly.

Then as if to confound Flattery, the missing car was located in Jamaica the following morning by a motorcycle patrolman touring the quiet residential area.

A Made Match

Detectives struck gold with book matches found in the rear upholstery  of the getaway car.

Flattery and Detective Gordon Hill, who had been assigned to the case, sped to the machine. On the back seat were the tin boxes and the canvas sacks stolen from the bank, but they were empty. A pair of cheap brown cotton work gloves was on the floor. Fingerprint men dusted every inch of the machine. The metal boxes, the door handles, the windows, the steering wheel and the gear shift handle all had been wiped clean. “Vacuum the interior. Maybe will get a lead of of the dust,” Flattery directed.

The background of the bank personnel was studied. Several resided within a mile or two from where the getaway machine had been abandoned, but they lived quiet, simple  lives, and, most important, entirely within their means.

The experts who had cleaned the interior of the sedan turned over several empty bookmatch covers which they found slipped under the upholstery. A microscopic examination of the dust failed to yield a clue.”It’s good city dirt,” the technician reported.

Captain Flattery examined the bookmatch covers. Nothing had been writeen on them. He paused as he examined one. A picture of a pair of dice was on each half. One pair showed seven and the other eleven. Printed above the cubes was “Seven-Eleven.” He delved into his pockets and pulled out his matches. None of his covers matched this one.


He passed it over to Detective Hill. “Make anything out of it?” Hill also emptied his pockets without finding a matching cover.

“Looks as though it’s printed especially for a restaurant or club.”

The two officers exchanged glances. A moment later they were thumbing through telephone directories.

“There’s a Seven-Eleven night club on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan,” Flattery read.

William Bishop, owner of the stolen car used by the thugs was questioned about the club. He said he had never been there.

The officers conferred with District Attorney Sullivan. “Of course the bookmatches could have slipped out of somebody’s pockets months ago,” Flattery reasoned, “but on the other hand, most criminals like to play big shot and toss money arount in night spots. I think we’ll go cabareting tonight and see if any big spenders are around. A waiter might have overheard something that would give us a lead.”

But the hopes of the officers were quickly dashed. The cabaret had been closed for several weeks, and was to re-open soon under new management.

If we could locate some of the help, we still might learn something,” Hill suggested. He contacted the renting agent for the building.


Anthony LaPreta, top, taken in wanted coupe, denied Joseph Pope was the gang’s fingerman.

Notorious gunman sought in New Jersey, Pete Calavecchia wilted when he was cornered by cops.

Detective Captain Henry Flattery (right) arrived at the scene of the crime on the heels of the fleeing bandits.

The only one I knew there was Joe Pope, the manager,” the agent told him.

“Any idea where I can find him?”

“Yes, he signed the lease.” The agent searched through his files. “That’s right, his correct name is Joe LaPreta, but he uses the other one for business. He lives in Jamaica.”

The following morning the public utility companies seeming became worried about the condition of the meters in the vicinity of LaPreta’s home. A crew of testers swarmed into the neighborhood. The workmen were strangely garrulous and somehow conversations veered toward the occupants of the corner house. The housewives cheerfully gossiped without realizing they were talking to detectives.

The information uncovered was scant. LaPreta lived there quietly with his family. Because of the hours he had to keep while working, his neighbors seldom saw him.

Hill visited LaPreta’s home, but beyond being adm”itted to the cellar where the gas meter was housed, saw nothing. He then went to the first house on the opposite side of the street around the corner. A stocky, bright-eyed man stared curiously at him.

“What’s the idea? he suddenly asked. “You’re no meter tester.”

The detectives hand slipped underneath his overalls to his service revolver. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he answered.

“You’re Detective Hill,” the other replied. “I’ve seen you in court.”

Hill said nothing, but watched the speaker warily.

“I’m a cop, too,” the other explained. “I’m Patrolman Arthur Greenwald, assign to a Manhattan Precinct. I’ve been home on sick leave for three weeks, getting over the grippe.”

With a sigh of relief, Hill explained.

Greenwald’s eyes gleamed. “There was a black Ford sedan parked across the street two Fridays i a row. I noticed it because there was something about the four men I didn’t like. They got out and went around the corner,” the patrolman said.

“Know which house they went into?”

“I couldn’t see, but the car was parked on the side of LaPreta’s house.”

“It looks like we’re on the right track,” Captain Flattery exclaimed later after questioning Greenwald.  I’m assigning you to assist Hill. You can get around and talk to the neighbors without arousing suspicion. See if LaPreta’s been flashing any money or if he paid off any debts since the bank stickup.”

Greewald found that LaPreta had relatives living two blocks away. A 24-hour watch was kept over both houses. Each visitor to both was trailed.

LaPreta was kept under constant surveillance, but as days passed withoug his making any suspicious moves, the officers realized they had reached a deadend. LaPreta rose late and usually spent the evenings visiting various cabarets where he would gossip with the managers and he would urge them to keep their eyes open for a possible job for him.

“If he’s involved, he’s too foxy,” Flattery declared. “We’ll have to crash both places and see if we can uncover anything.”

On September 18, 12 days after the robbery, LaPreta arrived home at five a.m. A watching patrolman flashed headquarters. A half hour later two raiding parties left the station house. At the same moment, one group led by Captain Flattery and Detective Hill entered the home of LaPreta, while the other, headed by Lieutenant Raymond Honan, crashed the house owned by the relatives.

LaPreta had just gone to bed when Flattery and Hill entered.

“What’s the idea?” he protested.

“Get in that chair and stay there,” he was directed. A husky sleuth was detailed to watch him while the raiders searched the house. They found nothing incriminating.

Lieutenant Honan’s party found LaPreta’s niece and nephew in the house. Both were in their ‘teens. The search went on for hours, but no clues were uncovered. Honan ordered the ashes in the furnace sifted without any result. Suddenly his eyes narrowed.

“It hadn’t been cold enough yet for a furnace fire,” he remarked. He thrust his hand up in the flue and pulled out several charred pieces of paper. They were coin wrappers! “Bank of Manhattan Co.” was stamped on them! 

The niece and nephew were questioned. They recalled that on the day of the bank robbery, their uncle had brought four men to the basement of their home. The men had remained there eating and talking until nine o’clock that night, and then had gone. That was all they knew.  

LaPreta was rushed to headquarters. He denied any knowledge of the bank robbery. The witnesses were brought in, but none could identify him.

“What’re all these questions about, anyway?” he asked. “What did I do, kill somebody?”

Hill retorted, “It’s too bad one of your pals carried around souvenir matches when he pulled the bank job.” The detective flung the matchbook on the desk.

“Who were the four men you brought into your nephew’s home?” 

LaPreta looked up startled. “Say, wait a minute. Did they do something? They used to hang out around the club. When the place closed they asked me for my address. About a month ago they came out to see me. They told me they were behind payments on their car and wanted to hide it from the finance company, so I let them use my garage. I read about the bank robbery, but I never thought they did it. I was at my dentist at the time of the robbery.”

LaPreta’s alibi checked. He had been at his dentist from 12:30 until one o’clock that day.

“So what?” District Attorney Sullivan pointed out. “He wasn’t one of the four bandits, but he still could be the fingerman.”

LaPreta said that he did not know the last names of the four men. “You know how it is in a place like that. You call everybody by their first name. I just knew them as Phil, Jimmy, Marty and Mimi.”

Disbelief showed on the faces of the officers. 

“You’ve got to believe me,” he pleaded. “Look,” he said “they usually hang out on the corner of 48th Street and Seventh Avenue. I’ll go over there with you and see if I can spot them. I’ll point them out.”

For several hours the sleuths lounged on the corner with LaPreta. 

For several hours the sleuths lounged on the corner with LaPreta. He shook his head each time somebody nodded or spoke to him. “Not the ones,” he chanted.

LaPreta was taken to the rogues’ gallery where he searched through a group of pictures. “Here’s Phil!” he suddenly shouted. It was a photo of Charles Buccheri, an ex-convict. This was the only picture he was able to select.

He was brought back for further questioning, but clung to his original story. “They played me for a sucker,” he moaned.

Flattery conferred with Sullivan. “Turn him loose,” the prosecutor directed. 

Flattery was startled. “Don’t tell me you fell for his story?”

“We want him to think so. As matters stand now, I couldn’t convict him of anything. Keep shadowing him, so if he tries to get away your men can nab him. So far he’s our only hope leading to the others. We’ll know how much of a song and dance he’s been giving us after we find Buccheri.”

The detectives learned that Buccheri was living at a hotel at Broadway and 28th Street, but the manager there said no one by that name was registered. He was shown the police photo.

“That’s Charles Malone,” he exclaimed. “He moved out September 8. Norma Thomas, a chorus girl, was a friend of his. She used to visit him, if that’s any help.”

Hill contacted Detective Hyman Levine, famous Broadway sleuth. Two days later Levine telephone. “Norma left town, and so did he. I couldn’t find out where she went, but I can give you the address of her girlfriend, Sue.”

Posing as a slightly tipsy business man from the west, Hill went to Sue’s suite in a midtown hotel. “Norma told me if I couldn’t locate her that you would know her address.”

Sue, a petite brunette, smiled sweetly. “I’m sorry to disappoint you, mister, but Norma is out of town.” She arched her eyebrows coyly. “Perhaps I can help you. I’m Norma’s best friend.”

Hill shook his head doggedly. “Nope, got to find Norma. Where is she? I’ll go there.”

“Have a pleasant trip, mister,” Sue snapped back. “The last I heard, she was heading for Dallas, Texas.” She slammed the door in the detective’s face.

From the Motor Vehicle Bureau, Hill learned that Buccheri had purchased a used car for $600 on September 7, the day after the bank robbery. A description of the car and the wanted man was wired to Dallas police. Buccheri had listed his parent’s home in Corona as his address on his ownership card.  

After Cowboy Pete’s arrest, the police raided his Second Avenue hideout to find amazing arsenal: a .45 calibre machine gun, a sawed off shotgun, a Winchester rifle, a 12 gauge automatic shotgun, four .45 Colt automatics, and 27 other revolvers in addition to large stores of ammunition, cartridge clips, blackjacks and burglars’ tools.

The Post Office Department was requested to send tracings of all mail delivered to the Corona address to Hill who had obtained a photostat of Buccheris license application for a sample of his handwriting.

The other sleuths joshed Hill as he spent hours comparing the tracings with the sample. “I’ll have the last laugh yet,” Hill replied. “Buccheri always draws a circle instead of dotting his “I’s.”

Neighbors of LaPreta’s nephew were canvassed to see if they had noticed the four men entering or leaving the house. 

“I don’t know about four men,” the woman next door wrathfully replied, “but they had somebody visiting them several weeks ago who should have gotten a ticket. Their car was parked across my driveway for hours so I couldn’t get my auto out. If that happens again I’m going to call the police.”

“Was it a black Ford sedan?”

“No, it was a coupe. I wrote down the license number, 1 C 7054. I didn’t see who got out of it or who drove it away.”

The license was checked as a routine matter. It was listed under the name of Mary Paschal, of 103 Sullivan Street on the East Side. Interest centered on the car when no one by that name was found at the Sullivan Street address. 

A confidential alarm to pick up the occupants of the car was sent out on September 24. Three days later a radio car forced the coupe to the curb and the occupants, a man and a woman, were rushed to Jamaica headquarters. 

Captain Flattery’s eyes widened as he read the name on the man’s license. He was Anthony LaPreta.

“Any relation to Josephy LaPreta of Jamaica?” inquired the captain.

“Never heard of him.”

Joseph LaPreta was brought in. He glanced at the other man. “I don’t know him,” he replied.

“You’re not fooling us,” Flattery bluffed. “How do you think we got the lead on Anthony? Somebody saw him when we went into your nephew’s house and picked his picture out of the gallery. 

The two LaPretas held a rapid-fire conversation in Italian. “I guess you’ve got me,” Anthony finally said. An ex-convict with a record of eight arrests, he admitted that he was the two-gun bandit in the bank robbery, but cleared his cousin, Joseph, the former night club manager. “Joe Pope didn’t know anything about it.” He refused to name his companions beyond admitting that one of them was Buccheri.

“I don’t understand why both of these men put the finger on Buccheri and yet refuse to name the others,” Flattery commented.

The woman in the car with Anthony LaPreta was his wife, Rose. She was released and followed by Hill. She hurried to the home of her parents.

An hour later Hill’s voice rang with excitement as he telephoned the captain. “Her maiden name was Colavecchio. Cowboy Pete is her brother!”

Cowboy Pete Colavecchio was a well known gangster. He was wanted by the Lindhurst, N.J. Police for the stickup of a bank there on January 25 of that year! Agents of the F.B.I. had been seeking him for months. 

“Looks like we’re beginning to get a line on our men,” Flattery remarked. “They probably were Anthony LaPreta, Buccheri, Cowboy Pete and a fourth man unidentified as yet, with Joseph LaPreta as the fingerman.”

Word was received from Dallas police that Buccheri had left that city and was heading for California. A wire to the road police there showed they were on the right trail. The car had entered the state.  


A week later Detective Hill sat upright as he studied the tracing of a letter received at the Buccheri home in Corona.  The letter “I” on the envelope had a circle instead of a dot! The return address was listed as Johnson Street, Los Angeles. Hill wired the chief of police. Once more it was too late. Buccheri had left without a forwarding address. He must have suspected that police knew the license number of his car because he sold the car. 

Meanwhile Norma returned to New York. A watch was kept over her mail too. On November 29 she received a letter with the tell tale circle. The sender was listed as Frank Medeo of Nesquehoing, Pa. Hill and Greenwald left immediately for hte small hamlet in the coal mining area. 

Accompanied by Sergeant Ray Simmons of the State Police and Sheriff Geoge Morgan of Carbon County, they picked up Frank Medeo. He denied that he was Buccheri and said he was in the slot machine business. In his pocket Hill found an address book. Listed in it was the name Joe Pope, with Joe LaPreta’s telephone number. 

Hill pointed to the name in the book. “We’ve got both LaPretas,” he told the snarling prisoner.  “Both have put you on the spot.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the prisoner replied.

Hill pulled out the picture Joe LaPreta had identified. On the back of it the former night club manager had written, “This is the man I knew as Phil. “

“Recognize the writing?” the detective asked.  

A string of oaths poured from the prisoner’s lips.

“Joe claims he’s innocent,” Hill taunted.

“The double-crossing rat,” the other rasped. “He’s not going to get away with it. I was the driver of the car, but Joe was in on it too. He’s the one who told us about the setup. He said it would be a pipe.  The same night he told us about it, we went out and stole the sedan and hid it at his house. He went with us every time we cased the job. We gave him $1,000 in dimes for his cut. He wanted more but I wouldn’t stand for it. 

Elated, Hill and Greenwald rushed the prisoner back to New York. Joseph LaPreta was picked up and arrested for complicity in the crime. Buccheri also refused to name the other two accomplices. He said he had a .45 revolver hidden under his coat as he waited at the wheel of the getaway car.

In December, 1935, three months after the bank robbery, the two LaPretas and Buccheri were place on trial. All pleaded guilty and Anthony LaPreta was sentenced to from 12 to 25 years, his cousin Joe, from four to eight and Buccheri from seven and one half to 15 years. 

The search for the missing Colavecchio went on. The identity of the fourth gunman was a mystery. Word seeped from the underworld that Cowboy Pete had boasted he never would be taken alive. 

At 2:30 A.m. December 29, 1936, two patrolmen were in a prowl car when they saw an auto slow down at 53rd Street and Broadway. Two men leaned out of the car, flirting with two girls walking along the street. 

The patrolmen swung in front of the auto before the occupants knew what was happening, and ordered the pair out into the street. The driver sullenly handed over his license. Suddenly he grabbed a traffic stanchion, tipped it over in front of the two officers and broke away. His companion also ran. The officers were able to capture the latter, but the first man escaped. 

The wallet contained his fingerprints. They were checked with those on file. The fugitive was the long-sought Cowboy Pete Colavecchio. 

The captured man was identified as Anthony Cutro, another ex-convict. Hill was notified and he questioned the prisoner. Cutro denied any knowledge of the St. Alban’s bank robbery. 

“The LaPretas named you in their confession,” Hill told the prisoner. “You might as well own up. We’re going to bring them down for your trial anyway.”

In the face of incriminating evidence, District Attorney Charles P. Sullivan, above, released Joseph LaPreta. He had good reason. 

His cross-country flight from the relentless pursuit of the police was futile for Charles Buccheri.

Discarded bookmatches led the detectives to the Seven-Eleven Club run by Joe Pope. 

“I never did trust them,” Cutro said, falling for the trap.  He was questioned about Cowboy Pete and told a curious story. “I don’t know where Cowboy Pete lives,” Cutro related. “Whenever we went out together I always had to stand in the middle of the road until he went down the subway stairs. He told me he would kill me if I ever followed him.”

The prisoner also said that Colavecchio always supplied the guns for all the stickups that he was in and he would also rent out guns to other mobs. 

On February 15, 1937, Cutro also pleaded guilty to the St. Alban’s bank robbery and was sentenced to from seven and one-half to 15 years. 

For another year, G-men and Hill tailed Cowboy Pete’s relatives. One night Hill saw one of his kin speak to a taxi driver. Agents from the F.B.I questioned the hackman. He admitted that he occasionally drove Cowboy Pete to the vicinity of 29th Street and Second Avenue.

On the night of February 2, 1938, the long search ended. Although armed with two guns, the hoodlum who had boasted he never would be taken alive, made no effort to go for his weapons. Instead he trembled and cried. 

In his hideout at 479 Second Avenue, police found an amazing arsenal that included a .45 calibre machine gun, a sawed off shotgun, a Winchester rifle, a 12 gauge automatic shotgun, four .45 Colt automatics, and 27 other revolvers in addition to large stores of ammunition, cartridge clips, blackjacks and burglars’ tools. Because he had been captured by the G-men, he was tried on a Federal charge. This was possible since the St. Albans bank is a member of the Federal Reserve System. He was found guilty and [page ripped. text missing]… have to stand trial in Queens for the bank robbery, and in Manhattan for the arsenal charge. The other bank bandits, conversely, have to face the Federal charges when they are released from their sentence.

Detective Hill and Captain Flattery were commended by Commissioner Valentine for excellent police work in breaking the case, the only clue being a discarded matchbook cover. 


A Brazen Mid-Day Armed Robbery

A Nod to Dillinger

Dillinger and gang used the same bold approach in the deadly Merchants National Bank robbery in South Bend, Indiana.