11 September 2013

Max Liebross: Black-ish Sheep

I wasn't surprised when I learned that Max Liebross had been indicted for Grand Larceny. After all, he'd been the family black sheep for quite some time. He'd left his wife and children, been a persona non grata among his siblings and wound up buried, away from the rest of the family, in a grave charitably paid for by the Hebrew Free Burial Society. In fact, I'd been looking for just such a case, figuring that there had to be more to his story.

I found the following piece in The Standard Union, Brooklyn, New York, 7 January 1910.

The Standard Union (Brooklyn, New York), 7 January 1910, page 1, Column 5; digital image, Old Fulton, New York Postcards (http://www.fultonhistory.com : accessed 19 March 2013).

Paul Gebauer, Who Admitted to

Police He Killed Wife,
Pleads Not Guilty.
Arson and Blackmail is Charge
Against Silver.
  The Grand Jury, in making its weekly return to County Judge Fawcett, to-day submitted to the court about forty indictments, the majority of which charged minor offenses. Those prisoners who pleaded guilty to the accusations were remanded until Monday for sentence, while the others were held for trial. Two cases attracted more attention than the rest, mainly that of Paul Gebauer, who was indicted for murder, and Jacob Silver, against whom the Grand Jury found indictments of arson in the second degree and blackmail.
Max Liebross, thank goodness, was associated with one of the "minor offenses." He appears several paragraphs down in the article.
Pleas of not guilty were entered by the following prisoners: Michael Stella, assault; Henrietta Fason, assault; James Howard, selling cocaine; Lario Bombardt, assault; Charles Gregory, grand larceny; Max Hyman, burglary; Giovanni Perrino, burglary; William J. Sweeney and Michael F. Toomer, grand larceny; Max Liebross, grand larceny; Carl Hayes, grand larceny; Frank Tony, assault; Barney Lutsten, grand larceny; victor Golden, grand larceny, and Richard Moffatt, grand larceny.
My handy CD-version of Black's Law Dictionary includes the edition from 1910. [1]
Larceny. In criminal law. The wrong or fraudulent taking and carrying away by one person of the mere personal goods of another from any place, with felonious intent to convert them to his (the taker's) use, and make them his property, without the consent of the owner... [page 697]
They further discuss Grand larceny as a statutory offense in a few states. They identify the essential element in determining elevation to "Grand" as the value of the goods stolen, which, in 1910, varied from $7 in Vermont to $50 in California.

In 2013, Article 155 of the New York Penal Code indicates that Grand larceny in the fourth degree (the lowest level) involves taking another's property valued in excess of $1,000. I do not know the threshold for Grand larceny in 1910 New York. 

I emailed the New York City Municipal Archives to ask whether they had Max's case file. I wanted to know the disposition of the case. Was he found guilty? Did he go to jail? They answered back quickly that it would take a few days to find the file. Within a couple of weeks, they'd sent me the case file via snail mail. 

Turns out the case was not as bad as I'd feared nor as interesting as I'd hoped.[2]

The Grand Jury found that on 6 November 1909, Max Liebross had provided a worthless check with the purported value of $75 to August J. Milkin (or, possibly, Milknen or, as in his deposition, Milkun). Milkin accused Max of knowing that the check was worthless when he offered it. Max was indicted on Grand Larceny, Second Degree.[3]

In 23 December 1909, Max was brought before the City Magistrates' Court. The following day, his father, Louis Liebross, provided $1,000 bail.

In the above document, both Max and Louis are identified as tailors. Louis says he is worth $20,000 and offers his home at 171 Melrose Street, Brooklyn, valued at $8,300, as collateral for the bail. He has a mortgage of $4,300 on the property.

Max was tried on 22 January 1911 and found guilty. Based on his record of no previous convictions, he received a suspended sentence on 26 June 1911 for passing a bad check.

I was curious about August J. Milknen/Milkin/Milkun. What was his name and what type of business did he own? In his deposition for the case, August Milkun is identified as a 45 year-old tailor living at 38 Union Avenue, Brooklyn. 

His name (outside of the court records) is fairly consistently listed as Milkun. In the 1910 U.S. Census he, his wife Adeline (whom he married in 1890), and his daughters are identified at 38 Union Avenue.[4] He is a tailor and immigrant from Russia. Possibly a German speaker. In the 1900 U.S. Census he is listed as being from Poland Russia.[5]

His Hamburg manifest (I have not located his Ellis Island manifest) indicates that August Milkuhn departed Hamburg on 9 May 1885. He had resided in Nemonzen, Russia.[6] Checking with the JewishGen Communities Database, I believe this would be Nemencine, Lithuania, at one point in the Vilnius Gubernia of the Russian Empire. The German name for the town was Nementschine. He naturalized in 1893.[7]

A 1906 city directory lists August J. Milkun with a business location, separate from his home, at 452 Rodney, Brooklyn.[8] I do not know his business location when Max gave him the bad check. Considering that Max and Louis were also tailors at the time, and considering the relatively large sum involved, I wonder if the check wasn't part of a business to business dealing. The records do not elucidate on this issue.

August lived until 20 January 1917. As reported on Find A Grave.com, he is buried in Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery, Middle Village, Queens County, New York.

1. Black, Henry Campbell, M.A., A Law Dictionary Containing Definitions of the Terms and Phrases of American and English Jurisprudence, Ancient and Modern..., Second Edition (St. Paul, 1910); digital edition on Compact Disc, Archive CD Books, USA.
2. Kings County, New York, New York City Magistrates' Court, Second Division, Court File No. 13, 458/36-280, The People vs. Max Liebross, Filed 7 January 1910, New York City Municipal Archives, New York. 
3. Today Grand Larceny, Second degree in New York State would involve property valued at $50,000.
4. 1910 U.S. Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, Enumeration District 294, sheet 13A, dwelling 16, family 59, August J. Milkun; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 September 2013).
5. 1900 U.S. Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, Enumeration District 326, sheet 13B, family 309, August Milkun; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 September 2013).
6. "Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 11 September 2013), manifest, Sprite, Hamburg to Hull, departing 9 May 1885, August Milkuhn, citing Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Volume 373-7 I, VIII B 1, Band 061, page 478; Microfilm number S-13145.
7. Kings County Court, Brooklyn, New York; Petition for Naturalization, digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 September 2013), August J. Milkun, 5 October 1893. Citing Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Record Group 85. National Archives at New York City, New York.
8. Trow Business Directory of the Borough of Brooklyn, City of New York, 1906 (Brooklyn, New York: Trow Publishing Company, 1906), page 746, entry for August J. Milkun; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 September 2013).

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