BANK ROBBERS GET LIMIT SENTENCE WITHIN FEW HOURS AFTER CAPTURE AT MILLTOWN
Prosecutor Stricker Order Speedy Disposal of Case as Warning–Plead Guilty and Sent to State Prison -Other Charges Pending.
A new record was set for “Jersey Justice” yesterday afternoon when Frank “Sailor” Voorhees of this city and Walter Watson of Melrose, Mass. captured only fifteen hours earlier by a Milltown posse in an attempt to rob the First National Bank there were arraigned before Judge Pete F. Daly in the county court her and sentenced to serve from four years and eight months to seven years each in State Prison.
Following their arrest yesterday morning the men got in touch with Frank P. Coan of South Amboy their counsel, and after a conference with him they decided to plead guilty at once to the bank robbery charge Allegations were prepared by the Prosecutor’s office and were signed by the men.
A special call was sent to Assistant Prosecutor John A. Coan, who came here at once from South Amboy and at four o’clock yesterday afternoon Judge Daly held a special session of the county court, and the men were arraigned. Both men pleaded guilty, and the Assistant Prosecutor at once moved for sentence.
Counsel for the men. a brother of the Assistant Prosecutor, made a plea for mercy on their behalf. He admitted that both had previous records, but said that Voorhees had served a term In State prison before the war for assault and battery and on his release had at once enlisted voluntarily and had served with the fourth division in France.
Watson, he said, had served in the navy, and had been stationed off the French coast for over a year.
Driven from New Brunswick
Mr. Coan declared that Voorhees tried to go straight after his charge from the army and had earned a position at Camp Raritan. When some thefts occurrednear him, however, said his counsel, attempts were made to place the blame on him and things were made so comfortable for him that he went to New York.
Voorhees was unable to get work there, Mr. Coan said, and he fell into bad company, which resulted in his undoing, and the same was the case with Watson, who was serving a term at New Bedford, Mass., with Voorhees last July when they broke together.
Mr. Coan urged clemency in view of the fact that the men had pleaded guilty, without putting the county to the expense of a trial.
Disgrace to Uniform
There are certain crimes, caused sudden temptation, in which a previous war record can be considered in extenuation of the offense,” said Judge Daly. “But in a deliberate crime like this, it simply adds another crime to their account, that disgracing the uniform. There are too many men now who think that because they served during the war they are entitled to live without working, and they are a disgrace to the great majority of our glorious American boys who served.”
He said that the court always takes into consideration the fact that a man pleads guilty and does not add perjury to his other crime, but that Voorhees had been given every chance before he was sent to State prison the first time.
“I will not impose a fine as well as imprisonment on these men, in view of their having pleaded guilty, but I can see no reason why I should not impose the limit sentence permitted by statute. The sentence of the law in each case is that they be confined at hard labor in the State Prison for a term not exceeding seven years and not less than four years and eight months.”
Mast Face Other Charges
This sentence by no means disposes of the cases, however. There are eight other indictments pending against Voorhees, and a detainer will be placed against him at Trenton Ind when his term expires he will be brought back here to face trial on the other charges.
He is also wanted in a number of other cities, and authorities there have been notified. Chief of Police Kiely, of Plainfield, was present in Court when the men were arraigned yesterday and stated that both are wanted in his city.
Prosecutor Joseph E. Stricke complimented the posse of Milltown citizens on their fine work in capturing the two men in the attempted bank robbery. He said they had rendered a real service to the county and to the State.
The quick disposal of the cases was arranged by him, he said, as a warning to burglars and other criminals in these troublous times that they will get short shift in Middlesex county, and he made it clear that the sentences Imposed yesterday are by no means the finish of the service
He declared that if the men had not pleaded guilty he had planned to call a special session of the grant Jury today to indict them and to put the men on trial on Monday or Tuesday.
Voorhees and Watson were returned to the county jail at once and are being carefully watched, as the authorities are taking no chances on losing them. They will have to be held here until Friday and then will be taken at once to Trenton.
Voorhees denied in conversation with attendants at the county jail that he had anything to do with the robberies that are charged against him here and said that the Milltown robbery was the only local affair with which he had been connected. It was stated, however, that he had admitted a robbery in Boston.
He expressed himself as being well satisfied with his sentence and said that he intended to serve all the time against him and then try to live straight.
The two men who were with Voorhees and Watson in the Milltown affair are still at large, but the detectives are working on this part of the case. Voorhees continued his denial that a woman had been in the party. The allegations signed by the men charged breaking and entering the bank building and stealing $1,000 in bonds. Bank officials said today that nothing had been stolen from the bank but that some bonds might have been taken from privately owned safe deposit boxes but that $1,000 would fully cover the loss.
“Sailor” Voorhees seemed quite peeved at being caught in a small town and said to an officer: “It beats the devil, we’ve pulled this stuff in all large cities and now we get grabbed in a jerk water town.” Night Watchman Herman Willenbrock of the Michelin plant, deserves considerable praise for his work.