United States. Congress. Senate. Special Committee.

Investigation of organized crime in interstate commerce. Hearings before a Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, United States Senate, Eighty-first Congress, second session, pursuant to S. Res. 202 .. (Volume pt. 19) online

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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Special CommitteeInvestigation of organized crime in interstate commerce. Hearings before a Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, United States Senate, Eighty-first Congress, second session, pursuant to S. Res. 202 .. (Volume pt. 19) → online text (page 1 of 24)
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S. Res. 202

(81st Congress)


S. Res. 129

(82d Congress)




JUNE 28, AUGUST 7, 1951


Printed for the use of the Special Committee To Investigate
Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce

o or





[Pursuant to S. Res. 202, 81st Cong.]

HERBERT R. O'CONOR, Maryland, Chairman
LESTER C. HUNT, Wyoming CHARLES W. TOBEY, New Hampshire


Richard Moser, Chief Counsel


Witness: Page

Baldassari, Joseph C, Scran ton, Pa., accompanied by Charles E.

Ford, attorney, Washington, D. C 142

Beynon, Richard L., Scranton (Pa.) Police Department, accompanied

by Samuel Garson 197

Birney, William P., chief of police, Reading, Pa., accompanied by

Bernard Hoffman, attorney at law, Reading, Pa 95

Brenner, Miss Anna, Reading, Pa., accompanied by Jacob Kossman,

attorney at law, Philadelphia, Pa 45

Conaboy, James G., Scranton (Pa.) Police Department 200

Fudeman, Alex, Reading, Pa., accompanied by Jacob Kossman, at-
torney at law, Philadelphia, Pa 73

Haggerty, David Francis, Scranton, Pa., accompanied by David F.

Smith, attorney at law, Washington, D. C 179

Harris, George T., superintendent, Washington office, Western Union

Telegraph Co., Washington, D. C 160

Kreitz, Ralph S., Reading Pa 23

Liever, Joseph, Pennside, Pa., accompanied bv William J. Hanley,

Hoboken, N. J 18

Mack, James, Wilkes-Barre, Pa 127

Matchette, Rev. James D., Reading, Pa 2

McEIroy, Harry E., captain and director of criminal identification

information, Pennsylvania State police, Harrisburg, Pa 135

Minker, Abraham, Reading, Pa., accompanied by Jacob Kossman,

attorney at law, Philadelphia, Pa 78

Minker, Isadore, Reading, Pa., accompanied by Jacob Kossman, at-
torney at law, Philadlephia, Pa 91

O'Malley, Carlon M., district attorney, Lackawanna County, Pa 162

Scalleat, Joseph, Hazelton, Pa .174

Sesso, Thomas, Scranton, Pa 185

Size, Patrick Joseph, Scranton, Pa., accompanied by Charles E. Ford,

attorney at law, Washington, D. C 121

Williams, Thomas A., Reading, Pa 10


Anonymous telegram received by the committee, re Jack Parisi 206

Article from the Reading Eagle, June 10, 1951, re Abraham Minker_. 116
Article from Reading Eagle, June 13, 1951, entitled " Mrs. Abraham

Minker subpenaed in crime probe" 118

Article from Reading Times, June 27, 1951, referring to Abraham
Minker as a person prominent in gambling and slot-machine opera-
tions 120

Copy of oral statement by Judge Joseph Sherbow, Baltimore Criminal
Court, re statement made before the committee concerning Sergeant

Carroll of Baltimore Police Department 88

Letter to the committee from Western Union Telegraph Co., dated

June 7, 1951, with wire service installations in the Scranton area.- 211
Letter from E. R. Shute, vice president, Western Union Telegraph
Co., to the committee, dated June 7, 1951, identifying racing wire

drops in Pennsylvania 209

List of subscribers and a sample message to Treasury balance reports.
Memorandum from committee investigators entitled "Wire service in

horse book parlors, Reading, Pa." 96

Survev of lottery activities in Lackawanna County, Pa., submitted by

D. A. O'Malley 207




United States Senate,
Special Committee To Investigate
Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce,

Washington, D. G.

The special committee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 a. m., in
room 318, Senate Office Building, Senator Herbert R. O'Conor (chair-
man) presiding.

Present: Senators O'Conor, Kefauver, and Wiley.

Also present : Richard G. Moser, chief counsel ; Downey Rice, as-
sociate counsel; John P. Campbell, Roswell P. Perkins, Wallace
Reidt, Ralph P. S. McDonnell, assistant counsel; George Martin,
Director of Public Iinformation, and James M. Hepbron, administra-
tive assistant.

The Chairman. The hearing will please come to order.

At the outset of this hearing, it may be desirable just to make the
following brief statement.

Over a period of several months this committee has conducted
hearings in a number of cities from coast to coast. With one excep-
tion those hearings were held in cities of large populations. In vari-
ous reports the committee has clearly established the ramifications of
organized crime in interstate commerce. To dispel any belief that
may exist that criminal syndicates operate only in the largest cities,
the committee has decided to inquire into conditions prevailing in the
less populous cities, for we believe that the pattern of operations is
the same, irrespective of the size of the city.

The fact that we have selected Reading as the first of the cities of
average size is not to be construed as an indication that criminal activi-
ties there are any worse than those that may be found in any of a
number of other cities of comparable size anywhere in the United

The committee is presently making preliminary surveys in some of
the other cities with the possibility of future hearings if information
now being obtained demonstrates the desirability of such hearings.
It might be well to reiterate at this point that there is a popular mis-
conception that this committee is a sort of super-police organization
and that it should step in where local law enforcement appears to have
broken down.

I might say that the committee has been deluged by requests for
investigations from almost every State in the country and has been
compelled to reject the vast majority of these because the facts indi-
cated beyond doubt that the conditions complained of are purely local



in their character and therefore a matter to be treated at the local level.

There are several factors which have prompted the committee to
make its investigation in Reading. We have information indicating
the existence of bookmaking establishments dependent on racing wire
services that come from out of the State, as well as information to
the effect that slot machines openly operate.

The committee has devoted a great deal of time in the last few
months to the subject of infiltration of legitimate business by those
known to have participated in criminal activities in recent years.
We are interested to know if instances of this kind have occurred in

The committee does not expect at this time to be able to hear all
of the witnesses presently under subpena. Those who will testify
today and those who were not required to come to Washington are
to be continued on subpena and are subject to call at any time in the
future the committee may designate.

In this connection, and I should like to say this with double em-
phasis, it can be stated that the issuance of a subpena to any person
does not necessarily imply criminal activity on the part of that person,
or association with criminals. The committee frequently issues sub-
penas for witnesses who have important information or evidence
which in itself forms a definite link in a chain of evidence bearing
upon a particular matter under investigation by this committee.


Mr. Rice. Rev. James Matchette.

The Chairman. Dr. Matchette, will you raise your right hand?
All witnesses are sworn. I am sure you have no objection to that.

In the presence of Almighty God, do you swear that the testimony
you give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the

Reverend Matchette. I do, sir.

The Chairman. Now, just make yourself comfortable and if you
would be good enough to sit up close to the microphone and speak
into it, we will appreciate very much your testimony, and we would
like very much to have the benefit of all the information you may
have in regard to conditions in and around Reading, Pa.


The Chairman. First of all, may I ask for your full name?

Reverend Matchette. James D. Matchette.

The Chairman. And you are a minister of the Gospel ?

Reverend Matchette. That is right ; of the Methodist Church.

The Chairman. And where is the church situated ?

Reverend Matchette. At Front and Windsor Streets, Reading, Pa.

The Chairman. Thank you, sir.

Now, Doctor, how long have you had that charge ?

Reverend Matchette. Just about 3 years.

The Chairman. And how long have you been a minister ?

Reverend Matchette. Since 1933.

The Chairman. Since 1933. Now, Doctor, you of course are aware
of what the committee is interested in, and we would be grateful
to you if you would give us the benefit of your information as to


conditions in Reading. Have you had occasion to inquire into them
and to observe conditions there ?

Reverend Matchette. Yes, sir; we have.

The Chairman. With respect to law enforcement and any extraor-
dinary conditions having to do with criminal law violations?

Reverend Matciiette. Yes, sir; we have.

The Chairman. Would you be kind enough to state in your own
way — that probably would be the easiest manner, without too many
interruptions from us — just what you have found, and then if you do
not mind we would like to ask you some questions.

Reverend Matchette. Very well, sir.

The Chairman. Thank you indeed, sir.

Reverend Matchette. Gambling and crime, crime which we believe
has interstate connections, are widespread in Reading and quite open.
Particularly punchboards can be found in all corner stores, cigar
stores, and ice cream parlors. In fact, when you go in the store many
times as you make a purchase they either put your change or the item
that you have purchased on punchboards. So they are littering the
counters. They are so numerous and so open that minors are tempted,
and on many occasions have used the punchboards.

Bingo is openly advertised in our local papers and openly played.
The so-called one-arm bandits, or slot machines, are in practically
every one of the clubs that we have in town. In fact, in our local
papers, occasionally it appears that these clubs are using them as a
means of revenue, and if the one-arm bandits were removed many of
the clubs would not be able to continue in business.

Senator Wiley. Have you got local ordinances or State statutes
prohibiting these?

Reverend Matchette. Yes, sir. To my knowledge, that does exist.
Yet the machines are still there in operation. Every once in a while
our district attorney will issue a statement that there shall be no slot
machines in Reading, and they make a raid on the machines. Then
in a short period of time, they are back in use again.

Senator Wiley. I suppose that is a direct reflection upon the law-
enforcement officers, the local law-enforcement officers. But as far
as the Federal Government is concerned, we have really no jurisdiction
in cases like that unless you can show that there is some interstate con-
nection. Have you any information on that that there is some inter-
state commerce involved or interstate controls by racketeers, or some-
thing of that kind?

Reverend Matchette. No, sir. I would not be able to say that I
have positive proof of that.

The Chairman. Dr. Matchette, just in line with Senator Wiley's
question, have you knowledge of the operation, openly, of bookmaking

Reverend Matchette. Yes, we do; sir.

The Chairman. And do you know whether or not those bookmaking
establishments, from any information that you have received, have
wire connections, and that information comes in to them from outside
the State?

Reverend Matchette. That we do, sir.

The Chairman. Will you just be good enough to give us the benefit
of your views on that.


Reverend Matchette. Perhaps these two things would bring in the
interstate aspect : The betting on horse racing. There are two estab-
lishments in Reading which are well known to our people, one within
a short distance of the center of the city, and one within the shadow
of the city hall itself. And one of them has the wire equipment so
that the information does come in from out of the State concerning
horse racing, and our local papers have published accounts of the
existence of these places and the addresses, so that if there have been
any people in our community who have doubted their existence, they
have even read it in the local paper.

The numbers racket, likewise, is an open thing. In downtown
Reading, and even the little 4 by 4 newsstands that are on the corners
of the street, numbers are written openly. It is impossible to go into
a barbershop and even get a haircut or a shave without somebody
coming in and playing the numbers, as well as in the local small
stores on the corner.

Senator Wiley. What is the population of your town ?

Reverend Matchette. At the present time I am uncertain, sir.

Senator Wiley. Give us an approximation.

Reverend Matchette. I think 110,000 on the last census, and yet I
am not exact on that figure. There has been a slight decrease, but it
is in that neighborhood.

Our folks have felt that this gambling is widespread and there
seems to be an organized unit behind it, and all of our religious faiths
interested in trying to have a better community in which to live held
a meeting in which the district attorney, John E. Ruth, was asked
to be present, concerning the gambling and crime in our community.

The Chairman. Doctor, I was going to ask you particularly about
this general phase, this phase of the matter, as to whether or not the
conditions were brought to the attention of the various law-enforce-
ment officials and other authorities by you and the other public-
spirited citizens, and whether they were acquainted with the facts,
and those facts were made known to them, and, if so, what, if any,
action was taken by them.

Reverend Matchette. We did call it to their attention, first of all,
to the district attorney, on May 2, 1949. And while present with us,
he did not deny the existence of gambling, the fact is that he defended
gambling. He said that it is a part of the life of the community. We
just have to accept it. It is the philosophy of life.

Many of our good citizens are involved in this, and therefore, he
said, it puts its stamp of approval on it. Then he went on to say that
he as a public elected officer of law enforcement felt that there was
nothing he could do for two reasons : First of all, he had a small staff
at his disposal, and therefore he was excluding the city of Reading,
which is part of Berks County ; and in the second place, he said that
he was elected as a prosecutor and not an investigator. He would
spend his time prosecuting, and anybody who was brought before
him would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. He felt that
his job was not that of an investigator.

Then a month later, on June 13, 1949, the mayor of Reading, John
Davis, was also invited to meet with our religious leaders and he did
so. We discussed this gambling and crime issue and he did not deny
the existence of gambling and crime in Reading, but uttered a phrase


that has gone out over the wires and been in our papers. Keading is
no worse than any other city of its size, was the usual comment that
he made. He did not feel that it was his responsibility or duty as
head of the police force to rid the city of Keading of gambling and

Again, he said it is part of the nature of our people here in Reading.
They want it. And then when we asked whether or not as head of the
police department he did not have the authority to go out and to try
to stamp out the areas where crime exists, he replied by saying that
gambling will cease to be a problem if we as ministers induce our
people to stop gambling. But as a law enforcement officer, he did
nothing at all concerning our request. He definitely said that if any-
thing is to be done, it has to be done by the ministers.

Senator Wiley. Is there any other crime, such as legalized prosti-
tution up there ?

Reverend Matchette. There has been. It has been at the present
not part of our particular study. There is a rumor that it exists, but
we have not included that in our particular study.

Senator Wiley. How about drug addicts, and marijuana and heroin
being fed to the youngsters; is there any of that up there?

Reverend Matchette. Not to my knowledge.

Senator Wiley. What I am getting at is that you say, not to your
knowledge. Do you not think that is a pretty important matter to
investigate ?

Reverend Matchette. Sir, if it does exist, it perhaps is on a very
small scale, because in talking to our physicians, at least, none of them
has stated that he knows of any wide use of drugs and many times
the physicians are in a position to know whether folks are using it

Senator Wiley. How about feeding youngsters intoxicating
drinks? You have I suppose, ordinances and State statutes making
it illegal to sell intoxicating liquors to youngsters under age.

Reverend Matchette. That is right. There are such things.

Senator Wiley. Are those enforced?

Reverend Matchette. I would have no definite evidence. We have
seen youngsters with fathers enter bars, but I personally have no
positive proof, individually.

Senator Wiley. Are there other crimes? Larceny, robbery, or
rape ? Does any of those things happen up there?

Reverend Matchette. Yes ; they do.

Senator Wiley. Is there inadequate police protection or police
surveillance ?

Reverent Matchette. Yes. Even our mayor states that our police
force is not adequate to have enough policemen on the streets, espe-
cially in the night hours. Even in the city council meeting, he has
advocated the increasing of the police force, that this might be done.
But it is not at his full-strength report even at the present time.

Senator Wiley. So far it seems to me that your testimony clearly
indicates — and I want to be sure that I understand and interpret it
correctly — that the people of Reading want to play these games. They
got iii the habit of wagering, or betting, and some of the people in
the churches feel that in view of the ordinances and the statutes, those
things should be curtailed. Have I analyzed it right ?


Eeverend Matchette. That is right.

Senator Wiley. But in view of the fact that the officials feel that
there are great public sentiments against curtailing the inclination
of the people to play these games and play the races, and so forth, they
feel they have no obligation to follow the letter of the statute ; rather
they should follow the spirit of the people ; is that it?

Reverend Matchette. That is right ; yes, sir.

Senator Wiley. Very well.

The Chairman. Doctor, is it also true that in addition to the vigi-
lance and the activities of the church groups, a number of the civic
organizations have also taken cognizance of this matter?

Reverend Matchette. Yes ; a goodly number have.

The Chairman. Is it not true that they took formal action in con-
demnation of it ?

Reverend Matchette. Yes. Many of them published their action
in the local papers, and, according to the papers, said that they were
communicating with your committee their stand upon the issue.

The Chairman. That is very true, Doctor. May I just ask you
whether or not this viewpoint is correct, and whether we get the proper
understanding from it? Of course, while there are other crimes
possibly being committed, such as prostitution and other things that
might be done clandestinely, with regard to this particular group of
activities, they more or less are being done openly ?

Reverend Matchette. That is right.

The Chairman. Am I correct in that understanding?

Reverend Matchette. Yes ; quite openly. It is quite known in the
community that these types of crimes and gambling do exist.

The Chairman. Is it a fact that the bookmaking establishments,
for example, are open and in operation daily and regularly ? Is that
pretty well known, and the places known about?

Reverend Matchette. Yes, it is. That is why our people have a
feeling of frustration. These things continue openly, and our law-
enforcement officers have given us no assurance that they would
attempt to blot it out ; and a private investigation was carried on by
a group of local citizens. They employed a former newspaperman
to see what he could uncover in the way of organized crime in our
community, and the findings of this gentleman were turned over to
Mr. McDonnell and his staff, and Mr. Bucher, when it became known
they were in Reading.

Then also when the former Kefauver committee report was pub-
lished, our group studied the report and followed through the sug-
gestion that crime is basically a local thing. And we wrote to the
district attorney, the mayor, and the chief of police of Reading. We
called to their attention that law enforcement is basically a respon-
sibility of local agencies, and that they do all in their power to rid
Reading of gambling and crime. To this date, they have not even
replied or acknowledged that they received a letter. It has been com-
pletely ignored.

Senator Wiley. If you claim that there is inability because of
the lack of sufficient police force, that is one thing; if you claim that
there is a deliberate unwillingness to comply with the statute law,
you have your remedy. You have a remedy to speak to the Governor.
The Governor under most State laws, when a showing is made of


deliberate unwillingness to comply with the law, can immediately
remove the district attorney, and then the district attorney will have
a chance to be heard.

I think the same might apply to city attorneys under the city ordi-
nances. But I think that your testimony shows that there are two
aspects to this problem : First, the police feel that they do not have
adequate facilities; secondly, I think you have indicated that the
district attorney has said that because of the spirit of the people that
want these gambling devices, he does not think that he should enforce
the law. Of course, legally that is no excuse whatever. The law is
there, and it is a mandate to him. And you have a perfect right to
feel under the laws of Pennsylvania — this is in Pennsylvania, is it

Reverend Matchette. That is right.

Senator Wiley. All right. Now, you just ask whoever is advising
you to see what complaint can be made and to whom. I know that
in my State it is common practice for the Governor to suspend the
district attorney right off the bat if he does not do what the law says
he should do. And I am sure that is true in Pennsylvania and else-

Reverend Matchette. I know our people have been very much
encouraged since the O'Conor committee has begun an investigation
of Reading, because at the moment it became publicly known that
representatives of your committee were conducting the investigation,
interest began to flame on a high pitch, counteracting the viewpoint
of the officials that the community wants it. With wholehearted
support that came forth when it was made know that Mr. McDonnell
and his staff were there and would receive information concerning
crime, they began to pour into his established office and to give this
support. People wrote telegrams and letters. There is where your
civic clubs began to take the issue, because they felt, "Here is an
opportunity to express ourselves and to show that we are in keeping
with good law and good government, rather than the crime and
racketeering that has been existing."

Senator Wiley. It is very important, sir, that right now people get
an understanding of our Government. We are a government of laws.
No man, no public official, is above the law. And if it is the law of
your State and the law of your city as set forth in the ordinances,
it is the function of the public servant to enforce that law, or that
ordinance. It is not for him to try to listen to any individual or group
of individuals as to what he should or should not do. He should
carry out the spirit and intent of that law. If it is a bad law, the
enforcement of it will bring its revocation. They might provide for

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Special CommitteeInvestigation of organized crime in interstate commerce. Hearings before a Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, United States Senate, Eighty-first Congress, second session, pursuant to S. Res. 202 .. (Volume pt. 19) → online text (page 1 of 24)