The St. Albans Bank Heist

The St. Albans Bank Heist

Cops and Robbers

St. Albans Bank Heist
Captain's Blog

– Case Description

As the rain began to fall on an early autumn day in Queens, people on their lunch break opened umbrellas and ducked into doorways.  Three men stepped out of a car and took cover in the St. Albans branch of the Manhattan Bank. Once inside, it was clear that the men weren’t there just to get out of the rain.  Brandishing weapons with movements that meant business, the bandits proceeded to steal cash from the tellers and ordered the bank manager to the vault. 

They weren’t aware of the young clerk cowered in the back, surreptitiously reaching for the phone to call the police. The police arrived within five minutes but the bandits had already executed their plan and made off with thousands of dollars in cash. 

The case led to “Cowboy Pete’s” cache: 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.

Crime Summary

The well-planned crime netted at least $7900 for the gang.  Nearly half of the loot was in rolled coins, which was used to pay an accomplice $1000 in dimes.

Charred coin wrappers in a chimney flue and a matchbook in the backseat of the getaway vehicle provided a trail of clues in the case.  Detectives were led across county lines to Manhattan, and over state lines from Pennsylvania, Dallas, Los Angeles and back.  Ultimately,  it was the leader’s penmanship that brought the case together.  By dotting his “i’s” with circles instead of dots,  he helped detectives make the necessary connections to the crime.

The bandits were captured within weeks of the robbery.  They all pled guilty at the trial and were each sentenced to varying prison terms of up to 25 years.

“Cowboy Pete” Colavecchio, a fugitive and gunman with an impressive arsenal was arrested in Manhattan two years later.

 

Final Result

Detective Gordon Hill and Captain Henry Flattery were commended by Commissioner Valentine for excellent police work in breaking the case.

Dollars Stolen

Bandits

Fences

Let’s Work Together

3 Boys Steal Police Pistol and Kill a Man

3 Boys Steal Police Pistol and Kill a Man

3 Boys Steal Gun, Kill Man

Lifted a Revolver from a Police Station

June, 1935

 

Captain's Blog

– Case Description

On a Saturday afternoon in June, three young boys took their shoe shine business to the local police station. It was a cop’s duty to have shiny shoes, and the hungry boys were looking to make money. What they found instead was an opportunity for trouble.

Two brothers, 11 and 13, along with their 13 year-old friend had weaseled their way in the Jamaica station when they stole a loaded police revolver from an officer’s coat. They used the gun in a failed holdup, and later that night, a murder.

The Crime

The boys used the pistol 3 times after they stole it from the police station. They brandished it once in a failed holdup, fired it once on a dare, and ultimately used it to shoot a man point blank when he refused to wake up from his drunken slumber. Twelve-year-old Frank shot William Walsh in the head and the boys left him for dead.  Walsh was found by a city worker the next morning, alive, but only hours from death.

The Punishment

While the victim’s widow wanted the boys to “go to the chair,” charges of murder against Frank Damato, 13 years old; Julius, 11, his brother and Lisbon Lawrence, 13, were dismissed after the grand jury refused to indict them.  The case was referred to the Queens Children’s Court.

Frank and his brother Julius were ordered to the New York Catholic Protectory in Westchester County,

Libson was sent to the New York State Training School at Warick.

Let’s Work Together

Former ADA Robbed in Office

Former ADA Robbed in Office

New York Times February 5, 1936

Ex-Queens Prosecutor, Bound and Office Looted
Captain's Blog

Five armed men held up Charles Froessel, former First Assistant District Attorney of Queens County, in his law office on the seventh floor of a building at 161-19 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica, and after binding him and a watchman in the basement, they methodically ransacked four offices in the building.

I was called to the District Attorney’s Office. I wasn’t surprised. I knew just what he had to say; that Charles Froessel’s name as a robbery victim had made headlines and alerted the public; that three more robberies inside of two weeks had made the police department look foolish; that he wanted action.

Captain Henry Flattery

Charles W. Froessel

While an assistant district attorney, Charles Froessel tried several capital murder cases. The most famous was that of Ruth Snyder, a Queens housewife, and her lover, Judd Gray, who were accused, convicted and executed in Sing Sing Prison for the murder of Mrs. Snyder’s husband, Albert, in a scheme to collect on his life insurance.

Froessel was elected to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, in 1949. In his final year on the bench, he voted with the majority in the court’s decision to clear the way for construction of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Related Stories

FRONT PAGE DETECTIVE

October 1955

Brooklyn Eagle

February 28, 1936 

New York Times

February 28, 1936 

NEW YORK TIMES

March 10, 1936

NEW YORK TIMES

June 30, 1936

NEW YORK TIMES

December 1, 1936

NEW YORK TIMES

December 20, 1939

NEW YORK TIMES

December 21, 1939

NEW YORK TIMES

March 5, 1940

NEW YORK TIMES

March 7, 1940

NEW YORK TIMES

March 13, 1940