“Say it ain’t so, Joe.” On this date in 1919, the Chicago White Sox lost game eight of the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, 10-5. This gave the series to the Reds, five games to three. Of course, losing a baseball game isn’t a crime. Unless the game was fixed. And this one was, reportedly by NY gangster Arnold Rothstein. Eight of the Chicago White Sox players – dubbed the Black Sox – were banned for life from baseball.
On this date in 2004, domestic diva Martha Stewart reported to the Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, WV where she became inmate number 55170-054. Alderson, also known as “Camp Cupcake,” had previously been home to jazz great Billie Holiday, World War II propaganda queens Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose, and would-be presidential assassins Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Sara Jane Moore.
Stewart, who had been convicted of four counts of obstruction, was paroled on March 4, 2005, an event she would doubtless describe as “a good thing!”
In a comment on my recent post about the 1997 Loomis Fargo heist, Bob G. commented that the story would make a good movie. As it turns out, he’s not the only one who thinks so. Relativity Media has made a movie titled Masterminds that portrays a fictionalized version of the incident. It stars Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, and Jason Sudeikis. Unfortunately, its release has been delayed by a bankruptcy, but it may be out sometime in the near future. Here’s the trailer. Looks like it might be pretty funny.
On this date in 1866, the Reno brothers committed the first peacetime train robbery. The Renos, a family of ne’er do wells, started their criminal careers as bounty jumpers (Army enlistees who collected the sign on bonus, then took off, only to enlist again elsewhere under another name and repeat the process) during the Civil War.
After the war, they searched for new ways to make money. On October 6, 1866, brothers John and Simeon Reno, and associate Frank Sparkes, boarded the east-bound Ohio & Mississippi train at the Seymour, IN depot. While the train was in motion, they stormed the express car and held the messenger at gunpoint. They broke open one of the safes and stole a large sum of cash from it. They pushed a larger safe off the moving train for other gang members to retrieve. Then they pulled the emergency stop cord and fled the train. The gang wound up abandoning the second safe when they were unable to get it open.
The Renos went on to commit several more robberies before most were captured by the law (and the Pinkerton Detective Agency). Most of the gang, including Simeon Reno and Frank Sparkes, died at the hands of vigilantes in three separate lynchings in Indiana. John Reno was tried and convicted. He was sent to prison in 1868, and was paroled in 1878.
On this date in 1892, members of the Dalton gang — Bob, Emmet and Grat Dalton, Dick Broadwell, and Bill Power — rode into the town of Coffeyville, KS. Their mission: a spectacular double bank robbery. It was a great plan, but for two serious miscalculations. The first being that Coffeyville was the hometown of the Dalton boys. In spite of attempts to disguise themselves, they were recognized when they entered the banks. The second miscalculation involved the tolerance of the local population for bank robbery (they had none), and the lengths they would go to in thwarting would-be bank robbers. Said lengths involved guns, lots of guns.
The townsfolk armed themselves and confronted the Daltons as the gang emerged from the banks. After a fierce gun battle, four of the townspeople lay dead. As for the gang, four of the five were killed, leaving a wounded Emmet as the lone survivor. After being tried and convicted, Emmet Dalton was sentenced to life in prison. His sentence was commuted in 1907. He moved to California, where he wrote a book and even acted in a few Hollywood movies. He died in 1937 at the age of 66.
On this date in 1997, $17.3 million was stolen from the Loomis Fargo armored car company office in Charlotte, NC. At the time, it was the third largest cash robbery in US history.
The heist began just after 6 PM. After sending home a new employee he was supposed to be training, driver and vault supervisor David Ghantt loaded the cash into a company van and left the facility. He met up with former Loomis employee Kelly Campbell, her friend Steve Chambers, and several other accomplices. The money was transferred to other vehicles and the van was left behind.
The plan was for Ghantt to take $50 thousand in cash, then head to Mexico. Chambers would eventually wire him more money. But Chambers had other plans.
Kelly Campbell, at Chambers’s urging, manipulated Ghantt into carrying out the robbery. She had convinced Ghantt that she was in love with him. As the plan for the heist developed, she introduced him to Chambers, who she said could help in the heist. Once the theft was complete and Ghantt was in Mexico, Chambers planned to hire someone to kill him.
The morning after the theft, Loomis Fargo employees were unable to gain entry to the vault. It soon became apparent that they had been the victim of a theft. They called the police, who called the FBI. The van was soon found
Ghantt, who was the only employee who was not accounted for after the theft, emerged as an early suspect. The FBI quickly made the connection between Ghantt and Campbell and began surveillance of Campbell.
Two days later, the van was found with $3.3 million inside. The thieves had underestimated how much room the money would require (about $11 million was in $20 bills).
The FBI received a tip about Chambers, but could not connect him to Campbell or Ghantt. Their suspicions were confirmed when Chambers and his wife went on a spending spree. Mrs. Chambers even asked a local bank teller how large a deposit she could make before the bank was required to report it to the government.
The FBI eventually built cases on their suspects, but were missing one piece of the puzzle: the location of David Ghantt. That piece eventually fell into place when they traced a phone call Gantt made to Chambers asking for more money. Agent traveled to Mexico where, with the help of Mexican police, they arrested Ghantt.
The total number arrests came to eight: Ghantt, Steve Chambers and his wife, Kelly Campbell, and four friends and relatives (including Chambers’s lawyer). Steve Chambers was the only member of the gang not to plead guilty. He was convicted at trial and was sentenced to eleven years in prison, longer than any of his accomplices. He was released from prison on November 2006. According to the FBI, over 95% of the money was recovered.