Arrest of Francis 'Two Gun' Crowley

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Every other day, every other day of the week is fine. Yeah.

Just as they did every Monday, Monday at about 5:00pm Sam Adelman, Joseph Velsor and Abraham Stern left the Jefferson Bank at Clinton and East Houston to transport money to the main bank at Canal and Forsythe.

Every Monday, Monday it was the same routine take First Street to the Second Avenue El and ride it down to Canal St and this particular Monday, Monday one hundred and two years ago today, the three bank employees – Adelman and Stern messengers and Velsor a bookkeeper- were carrying $43,000, a cool million in today’s dollars. Adelman carried the lions share in large valise. Oh, and they were unarmed.

You could set your watch by the Adelman trio's weekly trip and Casimo Riccobono and two others did so and were waiting in ambush. As the trio of bank employees passed 83 First Street. Riccobono and his confederates attacked. First they threw pepper into eyes of the messengers and then Riccobono and an accomplice started to beat Adelman with black jacks. The third bandit fought with Stern and Velsor while his companions worked on their buddy who, though blind and beaten, refused to give up his bag.

The street was crowded with rush hour traffic but nobody intervened until a young woman ran out of her building and began to wrestle with Riccobono. Getting desperate one of the bandits pulled out a knife and began sawing through Adelman’s wrist but he still held on to the bag. Meanwhile Riccobono, pulled out a clasp knife, opened it with his teeth, while fighting with the girl and started to stab Adelman.

At this point men who had been watching jumped in and started to fight the marauders causing them to flee without any coin.

Riccobono headed to First Avenue and went up an turned onto Second Street. A cop who was on the corner of Third saw him, his clothes covered in Adelman’s blood, and a group of boys following him. The officer approached him and asked what the trouble was.

Riccobono told the officer he had been in a fight and wanted to go home. The patrol turned him around and said he wanted to investigate the fight. Then one of the boys said, “He just killed three men over in First Street.”

Riccobono was returned to the scene of the crime and identified as one of the bandits. His confederates escaped. The boy was wrong however, nobody had been killed. Adelman and his partners were all treated for their wounds and lived to transport large sums of money without protection another day.

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