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Carlo Sesicovitch, Alias "Charles Grandy"

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Carlo Sesicovitch, Alias "Charles Grandy"

Post by Karen on Sat 27 Feb 2010 - 20:59

James Cregan and Charles Becker Taken - They are Charged with Having Realized Twenty-Thousand Dollars Through a Swindling Operation in San Francisco - Followed All over the Country by Detectives Employed by a Bank.

NEWARK, N.J., May 13. - Two men, alleged to be check raisers, forgers, and swindlers generally were taken into custody here this afternoon. They are two out of a gang of four. The other two members of the gang are now under arrest in San Francisco, where the two arrested today will be taken.
The men arrested are James Cregan, thirty-five years old, and Charles Becker. The specific charge on which they were taken into custody was that they raised a check for $12 to call for $22,000 in gold. They obtained the money without the least trouble and then escaped. A.H. Holmes, a merchandise broker, whose offices were in San Francisco, Dec. 10 last, presented a check to the Nevada Bank. He had done some business through the bank and had become known to the cashier, who had no reason to suspect him of being anything but what he represented himself to be. The check he presented Dec. 10 was for $22,000. It was made to his order and drawn on the Crocker-Woolworth Bank of San Francisco, by the Bank of Woodland, Cal. Holmes explained that he turned it in to the Nevada Bank for collection, to save himself the trouble of being identified at the other bank. He was given four bags of twenty-dollar gold pieces. Each bag contained $5,000. The other $2,000 was placed to his credit.
That was the last seen of Holmes for a long time. His balance remained undisturbed in the Nevada Bank, and his business transactions ceased, and the day he drew the $20,000 his offices were closed and he departed.
In the course of time the check reached the bank on which it was drawn through the Clearing House. Inquiry developed the fact that the only check anything like the one presented had been made out for $12. Experts were placed on the case, and it was found by microscopic examination that the twelve-dollar check had been most skilfully raised from that amount to $22,000. Not only had the needful erasures been made, but the perforations had been surmounted, and all so neatly that to the naked eye, and even under an ordinary magnifying glass, there did not appear to be the slightest thing wrong with the check. The date on the check had been advanced to correspond more nearly with the date of presentation. The "lve" of twelve had been erased, and the "twe" extended so as to read "twenty thousand dollars." The drawer of the check had been careless in writing the amount, and had left sufficient space for the extra words to be put in. Then, in some way which has puzzled the experts, so neatly was it done, the perforations were filled in until they were invisible. The naked eye could detect no disturbance of the paper. New perforations were made to correspond with the altered amount called for on the face of the check. The figures were erased and changed.
The American Bankers' Association took up the case, and called in detectives to help unravel the matter. Three months ago two of the gang to whom the detectives ascribed the crime were caught in Denver, and taken to San Francisco. They were not tried, as the authorities wanted the two arrested today in this city before proceeding against any of the gang.
Patrolman Loftus, whose detail is the corner of Broad and Market Streets, this city, was on duty today a little after noon. He was accosted by a man who showed his credentials as a detective, and pointed out to Loftus two well-dressed business-like appearing men. He said they were noted criminals, and were fugitives from justice. Loftus at once arrested Cregan, while Detectives Fallon, Muenster, and Laddel took charge of Becker. Becker appeared surprised, but said nothing. Cregan protested against, and threatened trouble, but Loftus informed him he would use his club if there was anything but calm consent to accompanying him, and Cregan wilted.
Detective Fallon believes Becker is the man who was at the head of the gang. He believes he is the one who did the work on the check, and that the others were his assistants. There is a dispute as to whether he or one of the men under arrest in San Francisco was "Holmes."
The money once obtained from the bank, the swindlers had separated and gone away in pairs. There was not much difficulty in locating the two arrested in Denver, but Cregan and Becker were slippery. They were located time and again, but each time slipped away before they could be arrested. They crossed and recrossed their tracks on the flight eastward, and dodged back and forth through the country. They were frequently together, but seldom for any long period, and this was what bothered the detectives. Two weeks ago the detectives came upon the two in Philadelphia and arrested them.
They at once hired one of the best and sharpest lawyers in the city, and, although the detectives succeeded in having Cregan and Becker held for five days, the lawyer secured their release before the necessary information and papers could be brought from the Pacific coast. Twelve hundred dollars was taken from them when they were arrested in Philadelphia. As soon as they obtained their liberty they separated, and did not even wait to regain their money before shaking Philadelphia dust from their shoes.
The detectives a few days ago came across Becker in Brooklyn. They concluded it would not be long before he and Cregan would meet. They were not disappointed. Becker left Brooklyn this morning, wandered about New York for a time, and then took a train for this city. The detectives were with him. He appeared to believe he had shaken them. On reaching this city Becker went to a hotel, and Cregan soon joined him. They had a talk and then started down Broad Street toward Market. Two of the detectives were behind them, and their arrest followed.
Cregan had a one-thousand-dollar bill, twelve one-hundred-dollar bills, and some change. The one-thousand-dollar bill was neatly folded in a cardcase. The twelve hundred-dollar bills were fastened to his underclothing at the knee. He denied having any money, except the $1,000 and the change, and when the $1,200 was found coolly remarked: "There goes the boodle."
Becker had about $100 on his person. Cregan had a diamond ring in one of his pockets worth at least $400. Becker had a scarfpin, set with a sapphire and diamonds, which was valued at $225. Cregan had a gold watch and chain, and each had a gold cigar cutter.
An envelope which Cregan tried to drop contained a typewritten affidavit, which reads:
Charles Becker, one of the defendants above named, being duly sworn, deposes and says that these defendants have a just and legal defense to the plaintiff's claim of the following nature and character:
"That the defendants did not have at any time in their possession a draft for the sum of $12, dated Sept. 17, 1895, drawn by the Bank of Woodland, Cal., upon the Crocker-Woolworth Bank to the order of J.H. Dean, nor did they ever have any knowledge that such a draft was in existence; that these defendants deny that they or either of them raised the said draft from $12 to $22,000 or any other sum.
"That they have no knowledge of any transaction between the Nevada Bank and the Crocker-Woolworth Bank in reference to said alleged draft of their account with the said J.H. Dean.
"That they deny having secured $20,000 in gold upon the said draft on Dec. 20, 1895, or at any other time, and that they have not, nor has either of them, knowledge of such or similar transaction."
A short time after the arrest of the men, Edward M. Douglas, President of the German National Bank of this city, visited Police Headquarters and had a long conference with Capt. Daly. A New York firm of bankers had sent him a telegram, reading: "Have the men held at all hazards."
President Thomas W. Crooks of the Essex County National also hurried to Headquarters and had a talk with the police.
Becker and Cregan refused to talk. They sent for Michael T. Barrett and intrusted him with their defense. They were arraigned before Justice Mott this afternoon and held as fugitive from justice. A fifteen-thousand-dollar bond was asked of each. They were committed until May 20 in default of bonds.

The Gang's Swindling Operations Not Confined to This Country.

George D. Bangs, General Superintendent of Pinkerton's agency in this city, said yesterday that the principal credit for the arrest of the gang of check raisers and forgers belonged to Capt. I.W. Lees, Chief of Detectives in San Francisco. "The entire banking community of San Francisco has taken great interest in the pursuit of these criminals," Mr. Bangs said, "as these forgeries had not been confined alone to San Francisco. About two years ago they began at San Diego, in Southern California, where they committed forgery; then went to Los Angeles, then to Fresno, then to San Francisco. On this trip they secured $32,000, and on the last trip about $27,000.
"For several years prior Becker, Cregan, and associates had been swindling banks all over the United States with drafts purchased for amounts less than $100, and raising them to hundreds of dollars. It was Becker's business to alter the drafts. He was the artist who removed the writing with acids, restored the most delicate tints to the safety paper, and wrote in the new amounts, doing most of his work with a camel's hair brush. When the amount of the genuine draft or check was perforated or cut in the paper, he would fill in these perforations with paper pulp, then with hot irons press it out, and perforate or cut the new figures to agree with the amount. When an altered check or draft left his hands it was difficult to detect the alterations even with a microscope.
"James Cregan was the capitalist or backer, who put up the money for expenses and buying small checks or drafts to be altered. He also at times acted as "middle man" between Becker and the man who presented the forged paper to the banks. Charles Becker lives with his wife in East New York, and has lived there a great many years. At one time he entered the saloon business in East New York.
"Charles Becker, alias John Becker, alias Blosh, alias Bader, alias "The Dutchman," has been associated with the most noted professional forgers of the age in both hemispheres. Becker first came into notoriety as an expert forger on account of his knowledge of engraving and lithographing, which trade he learned when a young man. The first known of Becker in the forgery line in the East was about 1870, when he became connected with George Engel, alias "Dutch George," George Wade Wilkes, Ed Hall, alias "Pins," Walter Patterson, and old Ira Garsides.
"In 1872 Joseph B. Chapman, a burglar; little Joe Reilly, Adams Worth, (now in prison in Belgium,) "Sealskin Joe," Becker, and others committed the robbery of the Third National Bank, Baltimore, Md., after which crime Becker and his associates fled to Europe, where they squandered the proceeds of the burglary. There being no burglary work in sight, Becker formed this burglary gang into a forgery band, and after sufficient training and fixing up to suit their business, they, under the tutorship of Becker and Chapman, traveled all over Europe, committing forgeries in every city of importance, including London, Paris, Frankfort-on-the-Main, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, and Constantinople. They took in with them Carlos Sesicovich, a noted German forger. This band was intercepted at Smyrna, Turkey, where the members were put under arrest. Before they were arrested they had succeeded in swindling banks on the Continent out of thousands of dollars. In Constantinople they secured $20,000. This money, as fast as obtained, was sent to London to Mrs. Lydia Chapman, the wife of "Little Joe," Chapman, one of the leaders of the band, who was residing in London in fine style in a house in the East End. Chapman, as a young man, had been engaged as a bank clerk in Chicago, and therefore understood the banking business thoroughly. This enabled him to be of great assistance to Becker as his representative with the rest of the band, Becker doing all the forgery work and Chapman and the others obtaining the genuine drafts, checks, and letters of credit to be operated on, as also acting as the presenters of the forged paper. After their arrest in Smyrna they were tried before the English Consular Court, convicted in the Fall of 1873 and all sentenced to three years each in the English prison at Constantinople. Three months after their incarceration in the prison at Constantinople, Becker, Reilly, and Sesicovich made their escape.
"Chapman was left behind, his associates claimed, because he was sick and could not travel, but Chapman and his wife afterward claimed that he was purposely deserted. When "Little Joe" Chapman found that he had been deserted, he immediately sent word to his wife that his associates, who had escaped, if not recaptured, would look her up in London, and would claim their share of the money she was holding for the band. Chapman directed his wife under no circumstances to give them any part of this money until his release. Becker, Reilly, and Sesicovich evaded arrest in Turkey, made their way to London, where they found Mrs. Chapman. They took furnished rooms at her house and demanded their shares of the money in her possession. In order to induce her to produce the money, they told her that they wanted it to enable them to visit Australia, where they intended to commit extensive forgeries
Mrs. Chapman, however, acting under her husband's instructions, persistently refused to give up any part of the money until she had her husband's directions to do so. Believing the money was concealed in the house, they arranged a plan to rob her, but in order to have an opportunity to search her person and the house and get possession of the keys to parts of the house, they concluded that it was necessary to drug her. It was also known to them that Mrs. Chapman was the possessor of a very fine collection of diamonds and precious stones, and that she was a heavy drinker; so the plan was arranged to get her to drinking, and while drunk to drug her liquor. This plan was consummated on April 13, 1876, but in drugging her they gave her an overdose, and she, having some affection of the heart, the overdose killed her. Becker and his associates became alarmed and fled. It was then arranged that they should all make their way to America by different routes and meet in New York City, which they did.
On their return to America, Becker, Joe Reilly, alias Elliott, and George Wade Wilkes joined together and formed a plan to defraud the Union Trust Company of New York. A clerk in the employ of the New York Life Insurance Company, named Charles W. Pontez, was induced to loan Reilly one of the canceled checks drawn by the New York Life Insurance Company in payment of an account. This was counterfeited by Becker, and, on the information furnished by Pontez, as to the amount the New York Life could draw on their account with the Union Trust Company, Becker filled in the counterfeited check for $64,000. Reilly presented this check at the Union Trust Company and obtained the money. Becker turned State's evidence against Reilly, who was convicted and sentenced, while Pontez died in jail awaiting trial.
When Inspector Byrnes was promoted from Captain to Inspector of Detectives, one of the first arrests he made was that of Charley Becker and his father-in-law, Clement Hearing, for forging script of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company. Becker and his father-in-law were at this time carrying on a lithographing establishment in a back room in a boarding house on Broome Street. The officers found the stone from which the counterfeit script had been printed. For this crime Becker was also convicted.
"On one of his forgery trips to England with Becker, "Joe" Reilly, alias Elliott, having plenty of money, met and married Kate Castleton, the well-known variety singer, and brought her to the United States. After Reilly's conviction for the forgery on the Union Trust Company, Kate Castleton obtained a divorce from him.
"In the early part of 1881 Becker was arrested with George Engle charged with having been concerned in an attempt to flood Europe with large quantities of bogus Bank of England notes, and were for a time, confined in Ludlow Street Jail. He was arrested again on Sept. 16, 1881, with his father-in-law, Clement Hearing, charged with counterfeiting a thousand-franc note of the Bank of France. For this he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to ten years in the King's County penitentiary, where he acted as one of the bookkeepers for a contractor in the prison. While serving his time he made an attempt to escape, but this was frustrated.
"Gregan, alias Howard, alias Russe, is said to be wealthy and the owner of considerable real estate in New York and Philadelphia, the proceeds of the forgeries he has been connected with. Cregan's record, as given by the Pinkertons, shows that he was arrested in January, 1887, at Baltimore, Md., for forgery committed there on the Howard Bank, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to six years and six months' imprisonment in the Baltimore Penitentiary. While there he became acquainted with Frank L. Seaver, alias Anastatian Dean Howell, who was confined there for forgery under the name of Frank Scott, alias A.H. Dean, and Joe McCluskey, alias Little Joe, and Henry Cleary. When Cregan finished his term in Baltimore he came to New York, and became associated with Charley Becker in the forgery line. While Cregan was looking for a man to present their forged paper, he ran across his old partners in the Baltimore Penitentiary, Frank L. Seaver, and Joe McCluskey, and took them into the forgery band that he was forming. Becker, Cregan, Seaver, and McCluskey went to California in the latter part of November, 1895. Seaver took up his residence in San Francisco, while Becker and Cregan lived in Sacramento, Oakland, and other places adjoining San Francisco."

Source: The New York Times, May 14, 1896

Note: It is going to be very difficult indeed for anyone to convince the general public that "Charles Grandy" was Jack the Ripper, when he had two fingers and part of the thumb missing from his left hand. It takes two strong hands to both strangle a woman and slit her throat. Jack would have had to pull back the woman's head by the chin with one hand, and draw his knife, then slit her throat with the other hand. Without his two fingers and a portion of the thumb on his left hand, Grandy would not have the strength to pull a woman's head back with only two fingers, and likewise; he would not have the strength to hold a knife with two fingers in order to slit a woman's throat. This suspect is a non-starter and any book which postulates his candidacy will not succeed to any degree.

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