Camden Courier-Post – August 16, 1933
Turmoil Caused as Judge Acts to End Vandalism in County
A court room crowded to the doors was thrown into a turmoil of excitement yesterday when five women became hysterical upon hearing Judge Samuel M. Shay impose prison terms on three men who pleaded guilty to vandalism in special session of criminal court.
Completely losing control of themselves, the women threw their pocketbooks, hats and gloves across the court room. Screaming at the top of their lungs, they were joined in the bedlam by small children they had brought to court with them.
All five women fainted and were carried from the court room by attendants. When they were revived they continued the disturbance In anterooms and corridors. The names of the women were not obtained by officials.
The jail sentences were meted out by Judge Shay as the opening shot in his campaign to stamp out vandalism in Camden county. The three men and their sentences are Elmer Baxendale, 32, of 1647 Forty-ninth Street, Pennsauken, two to three years in state prison; Thomas Henry, 32, of 1211 Bergen Avenue, 18 months, and John Schwab, 31, of 1739 Lexington Avenue, Pennsauken, 18 months.
Judge Shay sounded a warning that he will show no mercy to convicted vandals, who may, in the future, expect a sentence of 10 years.
The jurist was angered when information that one of the three defendants had pleaded not guilty, instead of guilty, as the judge had understood, and ordered him to trial immediately with the promise of 10 years if found guilty. After a conference with, counsel, the defendant, Schwab, let the guilty plea stand.
Prosecutor Clifford A. Baldwin told the court Baxendale had admitted the theft of plumbing and other fixtures from 13 houses in the vicinity of Forty-fourth street and Pleasant avenue, Pennsauken, and Forty-ninth street and Westfield Avenue, Pennsauken. Henry admitted to 10 robberies and Schwab to two, he added.
"The kind of stuff you fellows have been doing strikes at the very foundation of organized government," said the court: "We can lock our automobiles and jewelry, but owners of unoccupied houses are at the mercy of men like you. I am not going to tolerate it."
He then pronounced sentence and the women, rising in their seats, began screaming. When some semblance of order was restored, C. Lawrence Gregorio, an attorney, addressed Judge Shay, saying:
"You must have misunderstood my client, Schwab, he pleaded not guilty."
"All right," said the court, making no effort to hide its anger at the whole procedure, "if he does, we’ll put him on trial now, right this minute. Prosecutor, go ahead and proceed with your case.
"But I’m going to tell you this, Mr. Gregorio. If your client is found guilty, I’m going to sentence him to ten years in the state prison. Go ahead and put him on trial." Gregorio, after conferring with Schwab, said the prisoner was satisfied to let the original sentence stand and he would plead guilty.
"You can broadcast to the city and county," the court then said, "that I have a way to break up this vandalism. I’m going to sentence convicted vandals to 10 years."