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Rensselaer County Bank Robbery 2018-02-20T16:07:08+00:00

FBI photo of the Bank looking back toward Rensselaer.

Rensselaer County Bank Robbery
May 29, 1933

Due to the failed Morris “Mush” Trachneir kidnapping  it is thought the kidnappers robbed the Rensselaer County Bank and Trust Company on May 29, 1933 to finance the O’Connell kidnapping. It’s presume they were after the railroad payroll deposit.

Fearing they would be easily recognized John Oley and Manny Strewl “subbed out” the actual robbery to Leonard “Big Charlie” Scarnici and his cronies. A fatal mistake from both sides of the law.

Charlie Scarnici was a top killer for the Dutch Schultz mob with an estimated fifty bodies to his name. Since he was a lieutenant in the Dutch Schultz mob, his association with the bank robbery, and with Oley and Strewl plus the kidnapping, this  led police to believe Dutch Schultz was involved with the kidnappers. Being accused of something “HE DIDN”T DO” and taking unwanted heat from the police, the bank robbers,  Tony Reino and Charles Shori were acquitted at the trial in Troy, New York and transferred to jail in New York City awaiting trial on other bank robbery charges. They were bailed out of jail by a Dutch Schultz lawyer and found assassinated several days later.

Bank Robbers

  • Tony Reino (on the left) Found Assassinated in 1934
  • Leonard “Big Charlie” Scarnici Executed 1935 in Sing Sing
  • Charles Shori (alias Herzog and Fred Plentl) Found assassinated in 1934.
  • Phil Zeigler
  • Max Parkin and Marcel Poffo (not shown).

1928 Nash sedan getaway car in front of 148 Morton Avenue garage.

The back of the Nash at shows the bullet holes (rear fender, the back and shattered window).

On the left is the back seat of the Nashand shows a bullet hole in the pleted seat back.

This photo confirms the hole and shows the bullett went from the INSIDE to the OUTSIDE.

Bank Robbery Details (May 29, 1933)

The rail road representative, William Card, had done some wife errands and had made the deposit in a branch bank. He was only stopping by the main branch to advise them the deposit had already been made.

A flower lady (Edna Jamell) set up shop of the steps of the bank on the day and time of the robbery. What happened to her is unknown.
The bank had installed a silent alarm weeks earlier, unknown to the robbers. There had been numerous false alarms at the police station one mile away that Detective Stevens and Patrolman Rabe did not think they were investigation a real robbery.

The bank robbery netted the robbers $2,000 which had to be split between the five actual robbers plus the “finger man” Manny Strewl and John Oley (they provided logistical support and did not take part in the actual robbery).

Robbers: Max Parkin (NYPD#B73978), Marcel Poffo also known as “Big Joe” (NYPD#B73977) Leonard “Big Charlie” Scarnici, Tony Reino and Charlie Shori nick named “Little Charlie.”

The bodies of Max Parkin and Marcel Poffo were found ten days after the robbery on Purchase Street, in Harrison New York. Officer Arthur Olsen badge #20 filed the report. Poffo had $860 and Parkin had $221 dollars in their pockets. Excerpts from the medical examiner report stated:

Max Parkin. One bullet entered from the back of the right ear and exited over the right eye. One bullet entered the back of neck and exited above the right eye. One bullet from the back entered the stomach. One bullet entered the left nipple. One bullet entered the right hand and made exit on the palm. He was about twenty years old.

Marcel Poffo received shots in the head and abdomen both which were fatal shock and hemorrhage. His widow wanted nothing to do with him and his friends had to chip in for his burial.

The following Bank Tellers identified Max Poffo who forced them back against the wall waving a machine gun at them.

  • Herbert Buchans – Head Teller
  • Glades Ivceson
  • Mary Kirsch
  • Agnes Babcock
  • Austin Riley

The machine gun was never fired during the robbery.
Scarnici jumped in behind the teller cages and left a palm print on the counter.

Both Mr. Buchans and clerk Nicholas Walters claimed the stepped on the floor alarm

Detective James Stevens (72 years old) was wounded in the head and was killed. Officer Rabe was wounded in the leg.
Two bullets were recovered by police when the 1928 Nash getaway car was found at 148 Morton Avenue, Albany (a garage). It was determined one bullet came from Detective Stevens revolver. Forensic Expert Sergeant Butts determined the bullet had shattered the rear window and had blood on it which showed some one in the back seat had been wounded.
The bank robbery netted the robbers $2,000

The Big Con

Knowing his history and the death of officer Stevens during the bank robbery, the city of Rensselaer refused to grant Scarnici bail. Rensselaer County District Attorney Henry Clinton knew that witnesses against Scarnici usually never showed up for trial or would testify against him. He then granted Scarnici immunity on kidnapping and bank robbery charges which at the time only carried jail time. In return Scarnici told what he knew about the O’Connell kidnapping.  After they had their information the District Attorney then charged Scarnici with the murder of Detective Stevens who was shot and killed during the robbery. A crime that carried the death penalty.

Police records state that Tony Reino was the guard at the banks front door during the robbery and admitted he “thought” he had killed the Detective. However in early 1934 he was assassinated, leaving Scarnici the last of the bank robbers who was alive. He was executed in Sing Sing prison in 1935 for the murder of Officer Stevens.