I have always believed that the initial step in addressing a deep and difficult issue – especially one that is controversial – is recognition: we must first understand that something matters; that it is real; that it affects people’s lives. Without recognition, without an embrace of the importance of an issue, we risk what will likely be at best a display of sturm und drang when we try to talk about it, signifying nothing but ego and personality. Yet despite the sometimes perfunctory dismalness of on-line comments, I am convinced by the experience of writing these columns that the issue of diversity in the park is headed for a substantive future, not just shouting and rhetoric. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘crime and justice’
Two weeks ago I posted my initial interview with noted travel writer and blogger Carol Cain. That column set a record for comments here at the Almanack. My own reaction to those comments taken as a whole is that they persuasively demonstrate the need for this conversation (fortunately the off-line discussions that have been spurred by this issue are leading to some productive initiatives… more on that in the future).
Subsequent to my first interview with Carol I asked her a series of of follow-up questions. I share her answers today. These questions were formulated previous to the posting of the first interview, thus not influenced by the tone and content of the comments. However her answers, written after the comments, speak powerfully for themselves.
Champagne said Angela Ball filed a notice of the defense strategy last week. As a result, each side will hire a psychiatrist to examine the defendant. If the prosecution expert concludes that Ball was sane at the time of the killing, Champagne said, the case could go to trial as early as this fall.
If both experts agree that she was legally insane, Ball will be committed to a psychiatric institution for at least a year, Champagne said. Thereafter, her fitness for release would be reviewed every two years.
Over a hundred years ago, Lowville and Watertown papers held readers’ attention with headlines such as “A Woman Murdered”, “Struck in the Head”, “Murderer Caught”, and “Fulton Chain Murder”. The murderer escaped from the scene, was caught by authorities and later jailed at Auburn State Prison. No, this murder did not occur at Big Moose Lake and the evidence did not point to Chester Gillette. And while this murder caused much excitement and newsprint, a movie never resulted.
On September 21, 1899, at about 10 in the evening, Horace Norton struck Nellie Widrick, supposedly his wife, with an axe on the Moose River Lock and Dam building’s porch and subsequently fled from the scene. What follows is their story. » Continue Reading.
February 2nd is going to be more than just the Broncos trying to best the Seahawks in the XLVIII Super Bowl, when the Champlain Valley Film Society (CVFS) brings Captain Richard Phillips to introduce the 2014 Oscar nominated film named in his honor, based on the harrowing experience of his capture and attempted ransom at the hands of Somali pirates.
It is easy for my family to get caught up in the animated version of pirates or the swash-buckling Johnny Depp characterization without realizing that real pirates do exist and there is nothing romantic and comedic about it. I remember reading the news stories when Phillips sacrificed himself to save his crew in the 2009 hijacking. Now is an opportunity to meet a true survivor. » Continue Reading.
Last week I wrote a column about my personal experiences on the South Side of Chicago. My purpose was to frame the issues in terms of sequestration: when a region or area is overwhelmingly of one socioeconomic or racial class, it gets cordoned off – literally and figuratively. Other classes know little about it in experience and understanding. Stereotypes predominate. Economic and cultural gaps persist, even widen.
This is a two-way street. An obvious example is the gap in understanding between people who have lived all their lives in hyper-urban areas – say East 55th Street in Cleveland – and people who have lived exclusively in very rural areas – say farm country near the Ohio River. When the only experience of another way of life is popular media, the lack of understanding can be fractious indeed; witness the current divisions in American politics. » Continue Reading.
Last week I began a series arguing that racial and socioeconomic diversity is the number one issue facing the Adirondacks. My multi-part argument is sustained in part by overwhelming demographics that I will be presenting soon. But there is a deeper moral and cultural dynamic to my argument far more important than statistics. I need to get to it first or the rest of the argument will suffer a lack of meaning. As always, I’ll try to accomplish that with a story. » Continue Reading.
About a month ago I crafted a little poll for readers to take. The purpose of the poll was to test a hunch: that of all the issues affecting the future of the Adirondack region, the one I happen to think is most important goes all but unrecognized. So I wrote descriptions of the ten issues I had selected, trying not to tip my hand or show bias, and released the poll. The results, while interesting in their own rite, validated my hunch even more than I had expected.
Here is your ranking, the aggregate of more than 150 responses (some of you may notice that the results are different than published by me three weeks ago – additional responses broke the three-way tie for third place) :
For decades one of the nation’s most wanted bank robbers, Albany Jim Brady, was now old, ill, and housed in the Westchester County Almshouse. Newspapermen came to interview him, asking about what were literally his old partners in crime. Animated by the subject, he told with obvious delight the story of a co-conspirator who once attempted a double-cross. The man was Julius Doherty, one of a gang of thieves Brady worked with in the Southwest.
With a large bag of stolen money, they were returning to New York when Julius proposed the robbery of a jewelry store in Washington. Easy pickings, he promised, and just too good an opportunity to pass up. Brady was hesitant, not wanting to push their luck after a successful run, but he finally agreed to look the place over. They left the bag of money in a secure location at the train station.
Said Brady, “I strolled into the jewelry store, bought a diamond ring and a watch, and took a good look at the whole thing. I saw that the jeweler’s son kept a clothing store around the corner and that the two buildings met at the rear.” » Continue Reading.
In late 1888, having served a full term of 11 years, Albany Jim Brady was finally released from prison. He quickly hooked up with Sophie Lyons, who had recently left Ned after more than 20 years of marriage. Together Brady and Lyons traveled to Europe, where they were virtually anonymous. Putting their remarkable acting skills to work, they earned a small fortune from various scams, including a Paris heist of $200,000 in diamonds (equal to about $5 million in 2013).
Returning to America in 1889, they visited the Detroit International Exposition & Fair and went right to work. Almost immediately, Jim was arrested, this time using the alias George Woods. After obtaining his release on a claim of habeas corpus (insufficient cause for detention), Jim was again arrested on a charge of “suspicion.” The judge ordered his release and threatened to jail the policeman if he persisted in arresting Brady—which gave a prolific criminal carte blanche to work the city for a nice profit. » Continue Reading.
After his third prison escape in 14 months, Albany Jim Brady worked extra hard at avoiding lawmen. But he also stayed busy and was a suspect in several additional crimes: the robbery of New York City’s Metropolis Bank in early 1877; a heist of the bank in Keeseville, New York, a short time later; and hitting the Sixth National Bank in April of that year, a job that again smacked of Brady’s boldness: drilling upward into an office, accessing the vaults, and completing the theft during daylight hours.
Perhaps it was such nervy and audacious robberies, year after year, that inevitably led to foolhardiness. Or maybe it was just an average situation that escalated out of control, step by step. Whatever the case, Jim Brady’s life took a sudden turn on an early August afternoon in 1877. The site was Ward’s Furnishing Store on Broadway, where he purchased socks, handkerchiefs, and other items for about $25 and shoplifted a number of the same items. » Continue Reading.
The owner of Hudson River Rafting Company has been fined $25,000 for sending customers on whitewater trips without a licensed guide—violating a court order just a few days after reopening his business following earlier legal troubles.
Supreme Court Justice Richard Giardino found Pat Cunningham, owner of the North Creek business, guilty of contempt of court, in a decision dated December 3.
Hudson River Rafting sent customers on trips with an unlicensed guide at least five times in July and August. In each instance, the guide put in the river at railroad tracks near the hamlet of North River. The rapids there are not as big as in the Hudson Gorge, but the first part of the trip takes place on a stretch of river where state law requires companies to provide licensed guides.
As noted in Part 1, Albany Jim Brady’s good looks and suave demeanor aided him on crime trips to outside areas, like Canada. To operate in more familiar haunts, like New York City, he became a master of disguise and used many an alias. Still, as skilled and shrewd as Brady was, his daring exploits are what often got him into trouble.
During a long career, he displayed an affinity for diamonds, and shortly after the Kensington Bank job, it was a foiled jewelry heist that landed him in the clutches of the law. For a month, Brady was held in The Tombs, Manhattan’s infamous jail. Then, in spring 1871, he was sentenced to five years in state prison. And off he went to the penitentiary at Sing Sing, later being transferred to Auburn in central New York. » Continue Reading.
This is not a story about Diamond Jim Brady (1856‒1917), who, during America’s Gilded Age, was a flamboyant, legendary businessman and philanthropist with an appetite for diamonds and other jewels. It is instead about Big Jim Brady, who, during America’s Gilded Age, was known for his own type of philanthropy, had an affinity for jewels, and was a legendary figure—as the handsomest and coolest of crooks.
Big Jim is a tough subject to tackle. From a young age, he was cool, slick, and secretive about his activities, leaving an intermittent and very difficult path to trace. Adding to the challenge—4 different ages applied to him spanning 24 years, 4 birth sites, and 4 aliases, besides the many identities he briefly “borrowed” from others. And just for good measure, top it off with three other well-known Jim Bradys from the same era.
Thomas Byrnes, one of the greatest police detectives in American history, wrote that Brady was a native of Troy, New York. He did have close friends and criminal consorts in that area, and family as well. One of his nicknames was “Albany Jim,” leading many to believe he was from Albany. Others placed his birth at Fairfield in northern Vermont. At any rate, he frequently spent time in the North Country. » Continue Reading.
The approach of Halloween together with recent news that the last scheduled criminal case stemming from the arrests of hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protestors had been dismissed, has swung the spotlight of history back on New York’s anti-mask law.
It was one of the first tools used by New York City police to break up the Occupy Wall Street protest when it began in September, two years ago. Within days of donning Guy Fawkes masks, demonstrators were charged by police for violating the anti-mask law, section 240.35(4) of the New York Penal Law. Its origins go back to a statute passed in 1845 to suppress armed uprisings by tenant farmers in the Hudson Valley who were using disguises to attack law enforcement officers. » Continue Reading.
In January 2010, the Weekly Adirondack reported that the St. Regis Mohawk nation agreed to be a “consulting party” for the East Side Pumping Station project, a station to be built along the Moose River behind the American Legion building in Old Forge. The tribe was contacted because a member was buried in the proximity, on the opposite side of the river, about one hundred eighty years earlier. That person, Peter Waters (a.k.a. Drid), was shot fatally by Nathaniel Foster, Jr. on September 17, 1833 at a location known alternately as Murderer’s Point or Indian Point, where the channel from Old Forge meets First Lake.
Less than twenty years (1850) afterwards, the events preceding the shooting and its aftermath were described in great detail, including trial testimony, by Jeptha Simms in Trappers of New York, which remains the primary source for that part of John Brown’s Tract history today. While the events surrounding the shooting have become a part of history and folklore, influenced by changing attitudes about Foster and toward Native Americans, another parallel story can be told about the graves of these two men. The remains of the two men who were opposing forces when alive, shared unsettled treatment after their burial. » Continue Reading.
Lawrence P. Gooley, Adirondack historian and true-crime author from the Plattsburgh area who writes regularly for Adirondack Almanack, will appear on the Investigation Discovery channel at midnight tonight (Halloween) in a special titled “Bloody Marys.” The show, featuring four murderers named Mary, was produced by NBC Peacock Productions of the company’s news vision.
Gooley’s onscreen narration relates the story of Mary Farmer of Brownville, a Watertown suburb. In a plot to steal her neighbor’s property in 1908, Farmer butchered Sarah Brennan and stored her body in a trunk. Both Mary and her husband James were convicted of murder and sentenced to death, with Mary becoming only the second woman in New York State to die in the electric chair. James was spared death by Mary’s last-minute confession. » Continue Reading.
Joe Hackett has spent time in prison. Yes, the well known local guide, columnist, and scout for Seventh Avenue has spent years in jail, not as a inmate, but as a recreation coordinator at Camp Gabriels, a former New York State Minimum Security prison shuttered a few years ago by the state.
Once a tuberculosis sanatorium, the 92-acre facility was sold to the state in 1982, which operated it as a 336 bed-prison until 2009. There many of the prisoners worked on forestry and community service-related, projects, yet not-withstanding, it was prison far, far from home and family for the men housed there. For them the “Dacks” was a cold, hostile and distant place.
The prison was built, as were most in the North Country, as an outcome of the ‘War of Drugs’ and in particular Rockefeller Drugs laws that resulted in mass incarceration and a resultant building boom here because most urban and suburban voters did not want prisons located in ‘their back yards.’ Under the leadership of the late Senator Ron Stafford, such projects were welcomed for the many solid salaries they offered and, as a result, New York Corrections is the largest employer in the North Country.
Cannabis and its defining role in the culture wars and the ‘war on drugs’ declared by former New York State Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller forty years ago will be fully explored by award-winning investigative journalist Martin A. Lee in two separate events in the North Country on September 26-27. Lee will also be speaking in Albany on September 28.
All three events are sponsored by the freedom education and human rights project, John Brown Lives!, as part of “The Correction,” the organization’s latest initiative that uses history as a tool to engage communities in examining the past and addressing critical issues of our time. The focus of The Correction is the impacts of the 40-year
“I want, as game protectors, men of courage, resolution and hardihood who can handle the rifle, axe and paddle; who can camp out in summer or winter; who can go on snowshoes, if necessary; who can go through the woods by day or by night without regard to trails,” New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt said in 1899.
This fall, those who think they meet that description will have a chance to apply to the storied ranks of New York State Environmental Conservation Officers (ECO) or Forest Rangers. The state will hold civil service exams for those positions on November 16, 2013. Applications are being accepted until October 2. » Continue Reading.