Two Seized in Extortion Plot

Camden Courier-Post – October 29, 1935

Jobless Man, Girl Quizzed in Attempt to Obtain $5,000

Painter Nabbed as He Keeps Date to Meet Intended Victim, G-Men Say

Case Linked to Holdup of Bank in Pennsgrove


An unemployed Camden painter and his reputed sweetheart were taken in custody early today for questioning in the attempted extortion of a Carney’s Point store keeper. The couple, according to Department of Justice agents and state police, had demanded $5000 from the intended victim under threat of death.

Held for questioning are Vincent Farao, 41, of 208 Stevens Street, and Miss May Collins, 23, of 235 Stevens Street.

The intended victim, according to police, was Anthony Travagline, 39, owner of a Carneys Point store, and operator of a food concession at the duPont de Nemours plant in Pennsgrove.

Farao, it was disclosed, was arrested by State Trooper T. L. Smith, when he kept an appointment at 11 p. m., to meet Travagline at the foot of Pine street and claim the money demanded. The woman was arrested a block away.

Concealed at a number of points bordering on the rendezvous were Department of Justice agents, with T. J. Donahue, of the Trenton office, in charge, together with Sergeant of State Police Detectives Louis J. Bornemann, and Camden City Detective Clifford Carr.

Bank Holdup Mentioned

Farao and the Collins woman were rushed to police headquarters, where the Federal agents and state police immediately began questioning them.

Travagline, it was said, received a letter October 19, in which the writer demanded $5000 under threat of death and in which the writer said he knew the Carney’s Point man received $15,000 of the loot taken in the Pennsgrove bank holdup in February, 1934.

A second letter was received Oct. 25, giving instructions for the payment of the money demanded. It was said both letters were written by the Collins woman.

Travagline, it was said, was to meet the writer at the foot of Pine street at 11 o’clock last night. He was to have a handkerchief tied around his left wrist. The writer of the letter would have a handkerchief similarly tied.

Travagline turned the letters over to state police, who in turn, called in the Federal agents. The storekeeper was advised to meet the writer in the hope he could be apprehended.

A dummy package, supposed to contain the money, was prepared and Travagline, accompanied by the agents, state troopers and detectives, went to the designated meeting place about 10 o’clock. Travagline, it was said, feared to go through with the plans made and Trooper Smith was substituted in his place.

A few minutes after 11 o’clock, as Smith stood near the river bank, a man approached him, later identified as Farao.

Cops Disarm Man

“You wanted to see me?” the trooper asked.

“You ain’t Travagline,” Smith said Farao replied.

The trooper lunged at Farao, he said, and as he did so, Farao attempted to draw a gun. Smith overpowered him, however, as the federal agents and detectives swarmed out of their various hiding places.

Other agents, in the meantime, had found the Collins woman standing at an intersection about a block away.

Arriving at police headquarters, the agents refused to permit newspapermen to question either themselves or the two suspects as well as forbidding Travagline to talk. The storekeeper was taken to an inner office, outside of which an agent stood guard.

It could not be determined immediately what formal charges were to be placed against Farao or the woman.

It was learned that Farao was employed in the paint shop of a Camden shipbuilding concern but that he had not worked the last five years. Most of that time, it was said, he had been receiving emergency relief aid.

Police said Farao was married and has two children.


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