Camden Courier-Post – March 18, 1936
Carr and Koerner Will Be Questioned in Holdup Case
Caution is urged by Justice Lloyd
Detective Stanley Wirtz, suspended by Police Chief Arthur Colsey yesterday pending investigation into charges that he supplied the guns and an automobile for a holdup, has been ordered to appear today before Commissioner Mary W. Kobus, director of public safety.
Wirtz, who has been in charge of the city accident bureau, will be asked to “give his side of the story,” Commissioner Kobus said.
Later the public safety head will question City Detective Clifford Carr and Police Sergeant Gus Koerner in connection with the capture of an alleged, bandit last Friday night, in an attempted holdup of the Eavenson & Levering Company payroll clerk.
Doran Accuses Wirtz
County Detective Chief Lawrence T. Doran yesterday charged that Wirtz had supplied the guns and automobile to be used in the holdup and then posted Carr and Koerner inside the plant to capture the bandits.
Wirtz, Doran said, admitted the charges in a statement given in the office of Prosecutor Samuel P. Orlando.
No motive for the detective’s action were revealed by Doran.
Following the questioning of Wirtz and Sergeant Koerner at the prosecutor’s office, both men visited the office of Justice Frank T. Lloyd late yesterday.
Justice Lloyd said later he had conferred with Commissioner Kobus in regard to the case.
“I advised the commissioner,” Justice Lloyd said, “to go cautiously with the investigation and gather the facts before taking any action. It is a common thing for officers to lay traps for men who are prone to commit crime, although they have no business to encourage crime. I think it is bad policy to suspend any policeman before the facts of the case have been heard.”
The charges against Wirtz came after an investigation was ordered into a statement made by Walter Lewandowski, 24 of 924 Atlantic Avenue, who was captured when he attempted to hold up a clerk at the wool scouring company, Ferry Avenue and Jackson Street. Lewandoski claimed he had “been framed” and named Joseph Powell, a police stool pigeon, as the one who planned the holdup and then informed Wirtz of the plans.
Powell has been a police informer for some time, according to Chief Colsey. The latter said he had taken Powell into custody for questioning and had released him in his own recognizance. Chief Colsey admitted Powell had given police the tip resulting in Lewandowski’s arrest.
When Lewandowski was nabbed, his gun was loaded with blank cartridges. This gun, according to Chief Doran, was given by Wirtz to Powell, who in turn gave it to Lewandowski. Another youth, Leonard Rogalski, 20, of 1219 South Tenth Street, was supposed to take part in the ho1dup, but “got cold feet and ran away” police were told by Lewandoski.
Doran’s statement follows:
“Stanley Wirtz, Camden city detective, supplied the gun and the automobile used in the attempted holdup of the Eavenson & Levering Company payroll office Friday night. Statements were given us by three suspects all tally.
“Walter Lewandoski worked at the Eavenson & Levering plant, but was laid off there February 28. On March 3 he had money coming to him and he returned to the plant. Joseph Powell accompanied him. Powell talked to Lewandoski then of the payroll, and suggested the holdup. Powell then got in touch with Stanley Wirtz, and told him that Lewandoski was going to stick up the payroll March 4.
“Wirtz on that night loaned Powell a car but someone got cold feet, and the holdup was not attempted. The following week, on March 13, last Friday, Wirtz took a car to Powell’s home and there turned over to him two guns and the automobile. Wirtz then had detectives posted at the scene to arrest the bandits when they made the holdup attempt.
“Powell met Lewandowski and Rogalski and drove them to the plant. There Powell turned over to his two companions the two guns that had been given him by, Wirtz. Rogalski got cold feet and refused to go through with the holdup. Powell then went into the plant with Lewandowski. After Lewandowski went in the door, Powell ran from the building.
“Sergeant Gus Koerner and Detective Clifford Carr, hiding in the office arrested Lewandowski. Powell knew where these officers were hiding.
“Wirtz was outside the building. He did not catch Powell.”
Chief Doran said that no one implicates Koerner or Carr in any way in the statements received.
“I was doing police work. I was brought into this case on a tip that a holdup was going to be staged and I had no knowledge ofthe guns or the car. I didn’t know what it was all about but merely was there to perform my duties as a policeman.
Wirtz is 37 and lives at 1197 Thurman Street. He was one of the first of the new policemen to be appointed to the department in 1924 after Civil Service was put into effect following the adoption of Commission government in 1924. He is a veteran of the World War and got a special rating for that reason when he took the Civil Service examination. In 1931 Wirtz was appointed as an accident investigator in the detective bureau and has served in that capacity ever since. He has a good reputation as a policeman and has never been in trouble before.
About four years ago Wirtz figured in an automobile accident that caused serious injury to one of his legs.
Rogalski was not arrested until County Detectives James Wren and Casmier Wojtkowiak took him in Monday night. The same detectives arrested Powell. Both suspects were charged with attempted holdup and robbery and committed to the county jail.
Lewandowski also is in county jail, committed without bail by police Judge Lewis Liberman Saturday.