Robbery Gang of 4 Given Long Terms

Robbery Gang - AI Stock Photo

Camden Courier-Post – October 20, 1931

Two Figured in Wounding of Cop and Slaying of Pal

Four members of the notorious North Cramer Hill gang, two of them participants in the robbery in which one bandit was killed after wounding a city detective, were sentenced to state prison terms by Judge Samuel M. Shay yesterday.

They were among more than a score of defendants who were arraigned in special session of Criminal Court for sentence. Among the others was Robert S. Ballentyne, 32, of 130 South Thirty-second Street, shipping clerk for Congoleum-Nairn. Inc., who pleaded non vult to embezzlement of $2985 from his employers and was sentenced to one year in the state penitentiary.

The Cramer Hill robbers and the sentences they received are:

  • David Allaband, 18, of 297 Sycamore Street, pleaded non vult to carrying concealed deadly weapons and participation in five robberies, six years.
  • Gordon McCrea, 20, of 820 Beideman Avenue, pleaded non vult to seven robberies, five years.
  • Melbourne James, 24, no home, pleaded non vult to carrying concealed deadly weapons and breaking and entering, five years.
  • Frank Tiedeman, 18, of 820 Beideman Avenue, pleaded non vult to four robberies and carrying concealed deadly weapons, five years.

McCrea and James admitted taking part in the attempted robbery of the American Store at Thirty-second and Pierce Avenue when Charles Rettberg, 21, was shot to death after he seriously wounded City Detective Robert Ashenfelter. Rettberg’s, brother, Theodore, was arrested and tried for implication in the attempted burglary, but was acquitted. One more alleged member, Thomas McCrea, who was arrested in his hideout at Towanda, Pa., last week, awaits trial. James was the only one who stood trial besides the exonerated Theodore Rettberg, but he changed his plea to non vult to the weapon and entry charges, receiving a directed verdict of acquittal on the charge of attacking Ashenfelter. Allaband was given the heaviest sentence because of a criminal record. He and Tiedman took no part in the fatal “job.”

Ballentyne, who was arrested July 24, was sentenced to one year for embezzlement after his attorney made an impassioned plea for clemency stating that his client, who is married, has offered to make restitution.

James Miller, who would not reveal his address, pleaded guilty to breaking and entering the grocery store of Samuel Pearl, 1101 Cooper Street, on September 10. He was sentenced to three years.

Floyd Coates, of 3408 North Twenty-fifth street, Cleveland, was given a one-year’s sentence in state’s prison on a charge of deserting his wife, Edna, of 935 North Twentieth street, and two minor children, Robert, nine, and Floyd, Jr., six.

Tony Locantore, 20, of 314 Walnut Street, received a premature Christmas present from Judge Shay when he pleaded guilty to a charge of assaulting Jennie Balassia, 16, of 576 Walnut Street. He was sent to jail and Judge Shay instructed the sheriff to release him on December 24.

Another Christmas present was handed out to Mrs. Mary Bieliniski, of 1041 Thurman Street, who was convicted of violating the child welfare act. The complaint was made by Mrs. Louise F. Walsh, secretary of the S. P. C. C., who charged that on September 19 the woman became intoxicated and brutally beat her seven children and put them into the streets. The children range in ages from two to 14 years. When Mrs. Walsh visited the house, she said, Mrs. Bieliniski threw a lamp at her. She also will be released from the county jail on December 24.

Given Suspended Sentence

Norman Buckingham, of Oaklyn, who pleaded guilty to the charge of breaking and entering the Puroil gasoline station, Bettlewood Avenue and White Horse Pike, Oaklyn, on September 18, was given a three-year suspended sentence when he told the court he had a position in Hawaii.

The court stated that sentence would be suspended on condition that the defendant leave Camden at once and not return. Two other defendants who received prison sentences were James Lynch, of 39 North Ohio Avenue, Atlantic City, and Edward Lynch, of 39 Atlantic Avenue, Collingswood. The complaint against the pair was made by Edwin Lovell, of 1836 South Seventh Street, who charged that on July 4 the Lynches attempted to flirt with Lovell’s wife while she was walking along Morgan Boulevard. When he remonstrated with them they beat him.

They were sentenced to two months in jail and the sentence was suspended and they were placed on one year’s probation.

William Moztioz, no home, pleaded guilty to carrying concealed weapons and received a suspended sentence of one year in state’s prison and was placed on probation. The defendant was arrested on June 22 at Sixth Street and Ferry Avenue on a disorderly conduct charge and a black­jack was found in his possession.

A 72-year-old man, grandfather to 16 children, pleaded guilty to attacking a 12-year-old girl. The man is John Bayer, of 1329 Princess Avenue. He was given a one-year suspended sentence and placed on probation.

Judge Disbelieves Story

Cornelius Crimmins, of 5725 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, a window decorator, was found guilty by Judge Shay of deserting his wife, Ella, of 817 South Sixth Street. Crimmins was sentenced to one year in prison but the sentence was suspended and an order of $7 a week placed against him. Mrs. Crimmins said she had not seen her husband since May 22, 1931, and that after an absence of six months, he returned home and left next morning. The husband declared that his wife told him to leave because she had a friend and wanted to be free. Judge Shay told him that he did not believe his story.

Charles C. Small, 154 Texas Avenue, Atlantic City, was found guilty of obtaining money under false pretense. He was sentenced to six months in jail. The complaint was made by Mrs. Agnes Hamm, of 530 Cooper Street. She stated that on August 14 while she was standing at Fifth and Cooper Street watching a golf game, Small approached her and told her he was a retired lawyer and that his father had died and left him $38,000. Mrs. Hamm asked him to bring suit against a prominent physician and he said he would take the case for $25 and quoted Small as saying, “All the Camden lawyers are in a clique.”


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