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“Three Men Are Arrested,” Toronto Globe. November 6, 1918. Page 09.

Face Charges in Connection With Express Car Robbery

UNION BANK CASE, TOO

With the arrest of three men yesterday, the police say they have apprehended the persons implacted in the Canadian Express daylight train robbery, when $20,000 in money was stolen on October 23 last on a Grand Trunk train en route from Toronto to Buffalo, the express messengers in charge of the car being ‘held up’ by a bandit between the Union Station and Sunnyside. John Lett, alleged to be the man who robbed the messengers, is also charged with robbing the Church street branch of the Union Bank of Canada on May 2, and obtaining the sum of $1,200. His brother, Walter Lett, was arrested at a downtown hotel, and is held on a charge of conspiracy, and of receiving stolen goods. Early yesterday afternoon Gordon Dougall, 97 Spencer avenue, a clerk in the Grand Trunk ticket office at the Union Station, was also arrested on a charge of conspiracy.

Inspector John Miller of the Provincial Police, Detectives Mitchell, McConnell and Nichols, spent all Monday night searching for John Lett and his brother. Walter was arrested early Tuesday morning, but it was nearly 7 o’clock in the morning when they caught John Lett, who was wearing the uniform of a C Captain in the Canadian army, and had a revolver in his pocket. He made no resistance.

Three Charges of Robbery
Three charges of robbery, with violence, will face John Lett when he appears in Police Court this morning. He will be charged with holding up the two express messengers, George Williamson and William Wilson, and with stealing a motor car from Mr. H. S. Fergus in High Park, under threat of shooting, and with robbing the Union Bank of $1,200. The fourth charge against the prisoner is conspiracy. It is alleged by the police that Dougall, a chief clerk with the Grand Trunk for eight years, conspired with the two Letts to commit the train robbery.

Dougall was to have received a share of the money, the police state, but, owning to John Lett having to make a hurried exit from the city to avoid arrest, did not get his quota.

John Lett, according to the inspector, did the work of holding up the messengers alone, and hid the stolen money. It is charged that he handed over $1,000 to his brother, and, after leaving over $7,00 in a house in Parkdale, buried $9,000 in the residential section of High Park. After getting rid of the money, it is alleged John Lett commandeered Mr. Fergus’ car in High Park, at the point of a revolver, and drove to Midhurst, where the car was abandoned. From Midhurst Lett purchased a ticket to North Bay, and after riding on the line as far as McTier, got off and doubled back to a nearby town. Here he is said by the police to have put on the military uniform of his brother, Walter. He had been out of Toronto until Monday night. The police learned of his coming to the city, and a close lookout was kept for him. Walter Lett was an officer in the army, and went overseas with the 122nd battalion.

$3,100 is Recovered.
Three thousand one hundred dollars was recovered by the detectives yesterday after the arrests. One hundred dollars was found on the top of a boiler of a Methodist church in the west end of the city. Detectives spent yesterday afternoon searching for the remaining amount that was hidden in the High Park district. The police say that they are unable to find the exact spot where the money was placed, and are doubtful that it will ever be found by them. The bills were in small denominations, and it is feared that they have already been found.

John and Walter Lett are the sons of a Barrie family. Recently Walter has been conducting a small fruit farm near Jordan. They are both six feet in height. John is 32 years of age, and Walter 30. Dougall is also a tall, heavy-set man of 28 years of age. Frank Denton, K.C., has been retained to appear on behalf of John and Walter Lett.

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“Gets 2 Years For Holdup Of Taximan,” The Globe and Mail. October 25, 1938. Page 03.

Sentence for Robbery With Violence Runs Concurrently With 10-Year Term Already Imposed

One Man Still Sought

Sudbury, Oct. 24 (Special). – With five police officers present in the courtroom, Maurice Fisette, 27, one of the trio who on Oct. 2, held up and robbed Tom Campbell, Sudbury taxi driver, pleaded guilty to the theft of a car and robbery with violence. He was sentenced to two years in Portsmouth penitentiary on each charge, the sentences to run concurrently.

Fisette accepted his sentence, without giving any clue as the identity of the third man who is still at liberty. Harold Olsen, a member of the trio, was struck by a police bullet which glanced off a rock, as police attempted to apprehend the men about 100 miles west of Sudbury. Olsen died in the Red Cross Hospital at Blind River the following day. At the inquest which followed Constable J. Brown, who fired the fatal bullet, was absol;ved of all blame in connection with the bandit’s death.

Before sentence was pased FIsette asked ‘for a chance to go straight.’ He told Magistrate J. S. McKessock he already had a ten-year sentence to serve and pleaded for leniency ‘to give me time to get out and go straight.’ Magistrate McKessock expressed the opinion in passing sentence Fisette had ‘already wasted your opportunities.’

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“Prison Terms Are Meted Out,” Hamilton Spectator. October 8, 1938. Page 01.

Three Years For Costello, Two For MacAvella Imposed By Court

A
total of six years in prison terms was imposed on three men who
appeared before three men who appeared before Judge Ernest F. Lazier in
county criminal court Friday afternoon.

Frank Costello, aged 21,
one of a family of seven children, was sentenced to three years in
Kingston penitentiary when he pleaded guilty to four charges of theft of
automobiles.

Douglas MacAvella was sentenced to two years in
Kingston penitentiary when he was convicted of the theft if six auto
batteries from the Super-Lastic Sales corporation. He was acquitted of
the theft of an automobile.

Albert Peddie was given a one-year
term sentence for theft imposed in magistrate’s court, when Judge Lazler
convicted him of breaking into the garage of Robert McKee, Cannon street
and Sanford avenue, and the theft of electric drills and other tools
from it.

Appearing for Costello, Joseph D. Sullivan said he had a
‘heart to heart’ talk with him at the jail, but could only account for
his misdemeanours by his disposition toward recklessness.

‘I agree
with Mr. Sullivan that a reformatory term would have no effect in
redeeming him’ said George W. Ballard, K.C., crown attorney, handing
Costello’s record card to the judge.

Detective Albert Speakman
testified as to auto thefts in August and September when cars were stolen
belonging to James Ray, Grimsby Beach; Hertbert Ticker, Toronto; Harold
Jaggard, Cathcart street, and R. A. Bergdorf, York street.

Car Smashed
Mr. Tucker’s car was found near Dunnville badly smashed, Detective Speakman told the court.

Called
by the crown to testify in the MacAvella case, two young women and a
young man who were playing tennis on the courts of the First United
church, said they saw the accused carry batteries and place them in a
car on August 26. Judge Lazier found there was insufficient evidence to
justify his conviction for auto theft.

MacAvella denied theft of
the batteries, and added he had obligingly thrown back two tennis balls to
the young people who had testified against him.

In Peddie’s case,
Detective Speakman told of stopping the accused in his car, finding a
wrecking bar, hacksaw, tools and a large pair of snips. Robert McKee,
proprietor of a garage which was broken into, identified some of the
tools by his initials on them.

MacAvella and Peddie were without
counsel. Both had records. The convicted trio were led from the court
room, their hands manacled together.

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“Escaped from Burwash; Sent To Kingston,” Ottawa Standard. October 8, 1918.

Two Young Men Start Early on Downward Career.

Sentences of two years in Kingston penitentiary were meted out to two young men, Joseph Claro and Norman G. Williams, who pleaded guilty in Tuesday’s police court to escaping from Burwash Industrial Farm. The two seemed thoroughly repentant for their action, but the court thought that their chances for parole would be better at Kingston than at the institution they had just left.

Young in Crime
Norman Williams is but 20 years of age. He was sentenced at Toronto to serve a term for the theft of an automobile. On the 24th of September he escaped from custody and when caught was taken back with just a warning. On October 4th, he escaped again in company of Joseph Claro, alias Joseph Cleroux. This man has a bad record, with a previous term at the penitentiary, time in local jails and a reform school, and a lengthy sentence at Burwash ahead before his elopment. He and Williams escaped from the Industrial Farm, made their way along the rail line, evading the guards searching for them, and absconding with a motor car in Copper Cliff….
[damage in original]
….consecutively with the sentences they were serving.

‘Notwithstanding your youthfulness you are dangerous characters to be at large, and if I send you to Kingston Penitentiary I think they will be able to help you there,’ Magistrate Askwith declared.

Their recapture Tuesday afternoon was effected by Inspector Joliet and his squad after an exciting chase through New Edinburgh. Shots were fired by the detectives.

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“Joy Riders Sentenced,” Toronto Globe. September 5, 1918. Page 07.

Stiff sentences were meted out in the Police Court yesterday morning to two young men who went for a joy ride in an automobile they found conveniently on the street. Joseph Murphy, who had a previous record, was sentenced to two years in the penitentiary, while Ernest Young was sent to the Ontario Reformatory for one year.

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“Two Men Are Sent to Jail; Stole Auto and Gasoline,” Toronto Globe. July 12, 1933. Page 03.

(Canadian Press Despatch.)
North Bay, July 11. – Found guilty of possessing a stolen automobile and stealing gasoline, Kenneth Hollywood, London, and John Beresford, were sentenced to two years less one day at Burwash Industrial Farm on the first count, and one month in the district jail on the second count.

The two were arrested at Hunstville yesterday after being chased from Sudbury, where they took the car several miles south. Passing through North Bay they stopped for gas, but as soon as the tank was filled sped away without paying.

Both men had previous criminal records.

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“Wild Chase Catches 3 Mimico Fugitives,” Toronto Telegram. June 30, 1934. Page 01 & 2.

Two Men Still at Large Suspected of Burglary And Hold-up at Elmira

Trail of Depredations Marks Flight of Prisoners – Guns Wielded at Filling Station

With three of the five in custody, provincial and county police of all Western Ontario are combining in the man hunt for the remaining fugitives from Mimico Reformatory, with the search now centred around Upper Wellington and Bruce Counties.

The five escaped from the Ontario Brick and Tile Plant late yesterday afternoon by a unique ruse. It is believed that four of them hid in a dump cart, under a load of tin cans, light refuse and other rubbish while the fifth prisoner drove the dump cart safely past the picket lines and out of the reformatory grounds. When safely away from the plant they abandoned the cart, stole a car in Islington and drove west.

Depredations of the five young gangsters since their escape are said to include one armed hold-up, one burglary, at least three car thefts and an attempt to wreck a police car.

EVENTFUL CHASE
The chase has led from Islington to Guelph then Galt, where one was caught, back on the road to Guelph, two more of the fugitives being caught on foot midway between the two cities, and through Kitchener to Elmira and Alma, where the two remaining at liberty were last seen heading toward Drayton.

Caught in the police net are: Lawrence Burns, 21, of Windsor, Bill Tracy an Bill Taras. Still at large are Frank Gedura, 27, and Alfred Ertle, aged 28.

The two men still at large are believe by police to be the pair who committed a burglary and an armed hold-up in the Elmira district early this morning, getting cash, gasoline, a revolver, cigarettes and chocolate bars.

Mr. and Mrs. John Meyers, operators of a service station three miles above Elmira, were wakened by two men at 3.10 this morning, asked for gasoline, and were then held up by the pair, both of whom had revolvers. The proprietor was forced to fill the bandit car with seven gallons of gasoline by one of the men, while the other snipped the telephone wires, stole $6 in cash and filled his pockets with candy and cigarettes.

REVOLVER STOLEN.
‘Don’t you call anyone, or we’ll come back and get you,’ the bandits told the couple as they disappeared northward toward Drayton in their stolen car, which, a police check showed, displayed different license markers from those stolen with the car.

Before the hold-up near Alma, the hatchery owned by Albert Seiling, in Elmira, had been broken into, via a rear window, and $7 stolen after the men smashed into a desk. A revolver and some other small articles were also taken.

One capture was made at Galt, after police had chased the fugitives at 75 miles per hour across the city until they wrecked the car on Joseph Street, narrowly escaping with their lives in snapping off a telegraph pole.

The two men caught outside Galt were on foot, travelling along the C.P.R. tracks southwest of the city, when seen and apprehended by  a party of Galt, Guelph County and Provincial police. They gave their names as Bill Tracy and Bill Terrance.

STOLE CAR AT ISLINGTON
From the story of the flight as told to Galt police by Lawrence Burns, 21, of Windsor, the first recaptured, all the party of five stayed together on foot until they sole a car at Islington. They traveled to Guelph, where they abandoned the Islington car in favor of a roadster.

The Guelph car was reported stolen at 11.55pm and Galt police were on the look-out. Sergt. Frank Cronin and P.C. Joe Byrne sighted the fugitives going past Galt and chased them into the city. Both fugitive and police cars traversed the city at a 75-mile per hour pace until the roadster slewed over the curb, smashed a pole and was wrecked in a vacant lot. The police caught Burns, but the other four men got away over the coal pile in Sutton’s coal yard nearby.

The smash in Galt was caused when the fugitives tried to swing their stolen auto in the side of the police car as the police pulled alongside, the driver of the police car avoiding the smash and letting the stolen car leap the curb when its driver was unable to stop.

Two of the four who fled from the wrecked car stole another auto, belonging to Oliver Chudney, of Hespeler, and made their further escape in it.

DRIVER WAS ‘TRUSTY’
The escape from the reformatory was spectacular in its simplicity.

Lawrence Burns, a trusty, acted as driver of the wagon. Hailing from Windsor, Burns was serving a sentence of three months definite and six months indefinite and was due to come before the parole board in July. Alfred Ertell, of Brantford, William Taras, of Thoroldd, Frank Gedurza, of Windsor, and William Tracey, of Peterboro, were stated to have ridden out of the grounds with him.

Provincial police, aided by local police, scoured the roads, highways and immediate countryside as the escape was discovered at the usual check-up at the close of the day. Despite a wide search no trace of the men was found. They were attired in the regulation reformatory clothes of blue overalls and shirts.

Authorities at the institution believe that the escape followed a pre-arranged plan occuring shiortly before five o’clock. The dump is located about a half mile from the reformatory and it is usual for trusties to drive the garage wagon to the dump and return without a guard accompanying them.

DONE SMOOTHLY
‘It was all done very smoothly,’ declared Superintendent J. R. Elliott.

‘It was Burns’ last load of the day, and he was driving the team. He just drove through the picket lines as usual towards the dump with the other men under the garbage and when they were out of sight they abandoned the wagon and were seen running across a field.’

The wagon was found abandoned near the dump with every indication that the men had scrambled out from underneath the garbage hurriedly. The fugitives range in age from 19 to 26 years.

Ertell had a sentence of 40 months standing against him due to an escape from Burwash. He is 26 years of age, 5 feet 7 inches tall, about 143 pounds in weight and has reddish hair and brown eyes.

Three others, Caras, Gedurza, and Tracey had previously escaped from the brickyard and were serving various sentences. It is believed the men would try to head for the border and police along the route have been notified to keep a close watch for the fugitives.

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