Character Bios2018-09-27T18:54:19+00:00

HAROLD “RED” CROWLEY – (1901-1970) – LEAVENWORTH #52393

Description: 5’8 inches tall and weighed 165 pounds with bushy red hair. Had a three inch scare across his Adam’s apple and a tattoo “Katy” above a cross on his left arm

He began his criminal career in 1917 when arrested for juvenile delinquency

A lesser member of the gang was on parole when arrested for kidnapping. He was given 28 years at Leavenworth (#52393). In 1937, along with John Oley and Percy Geary, he escaped from Onondaga County Penitentiary and was captured three days later. He offered to talk for a reduced sentence. In 1957 he was transferred from Federal Prison to the New York State prison system to serve time for various state crimes.

He passed away in Queens, New York in October 1970.

Sentenced to Sing Sing Prison in 1923 (#B-74713) for assault with a gun, and later in March 1926 (#78360) for grand larceny. Arrested again in 1930 (NYPD #B-51801) and 1936 for burglary, robbery and assault.

He later married his common law wife, Alice “Beebie” Soucie.

In 1938 his sister (Mrs. Mable Conrad) stated she was sure he could not be to be rehabilitate himself and she “…hopes he is never let out again.” In 1957 it was reported he never received a visitor but corresponded with his sister until she passed away in 1946.


John Bradt ran a speakeasy on the “Boulevard” which is North of today’s Henry Johnson Boulevard in Albany. Two Albany cops were drunk and told him that the police were going to pin the kinapping on Oley. Just like the book, Bradt told Strewl. Strewl gave him the bad news that he had been chosen as the go between. Bradt was a “suspect” in the attempted murder of Joey Green, who had been shot five times yet survived. Strewl was also a suspect.


After his arrest the papers called him “Two Gun Burke”. At the time he was recovering from a mangled leg caused by a truck hijacking. This made him relatively useless to the mob. Partially deaf and limping he was still a good body guard for John O’Connell. He eventually turned state’s evidence for a reduced sentence. In 1937, shortly after entering Lewisburg Prison, he died of a coronary occlusion.

Francis Leo Oley – (1907 – 1937)

Description: 5’9 inches tall, weighed 150 pounds and spoke with an Irish brogue. Brown hair, hazel    eyes and a mole on his lower left lip. Liked to chew gum.

No criminal record prior to the kidnapping. Worked for the Knickerbocker Press as a child. After the kidnapping he hid out in New York City (along with his brother John and Percy Geary) and worked as a painter. He participated in the Rubel Ice Company Armored car robbery in August 1935. He fled to Denver and worked as a painter under an assumed name.

In 1937 acting on a tip, Denver police questioned him at his home. Unsure of his true identity, a police man remarked, “Get your stuff. You’re coming with us.” His five year old daughter remarked,” Oh mother, does that include the photo’s under the mattress?” The photos were vacation pictures of New York City and had the return address for John Oley who was living under the assumed name of Burns. In a joint FBI and police raid John Oley, Percy Geary and Harold Crowley were later arrested.

It is believed after learning that other mob members received 77 years in prison he could not face the prospect of life behind bars. In the Utica jail in April 1937 he cleared out his cell block by claiming he had Tuberculosis and hung him elf with a bed sheet, leaving behind his wife and child.

Mrs. Genevieve Oley, wife of Francis. Five foot six with very dark brown hair and slender build.  Photo of his daughter (Patricia Oley Brophy, of Troy New York) is unavailable and in 2017 she refused to be interviewed.

Charles Harrigan – (1900-1988) – Alcatraz #255

Harrigan (alias John McCarthy) was a Lieutenant in the Dutch Schultz mob. Later he became co-leader of the Waxy Gordon mob with Thomas Dugan after Waxy departed the scene. Also called “The West side Mob” they operated in western New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey.

Description: He was 5’10, with a crown of brown hair,  gray eyes and weighed 145 pounds. Had thirteen bullet holes in his body from a machine gun. Blind in one eye due to a gun fight but claimed it was from a knife fight. Had a cross scare on the back of his neck and a scare on his right cheek.

Hi wife was Jean Kelly, two daughters (Evelyn and Ann) and one son (Charles).

It is believed that because Leonard “Big Charlie” Scarnici was so hot after the Rensselaer County bank robbery, in which a detective was killed, that John Oley and Manny Strewl asked Harrigan/Waxy Gordon mob to assist in the O’Connell kidnapping for a half split of the ransom.

First arrested in 1916 for juvenile delinquency.  Later he spent five years in Sing-Sing prison (October 1918). He moved on to robbery, assault, hijacker, rum-runner and various gun charges. He was moved from The Atlanta Penitentiary in 1935 to Alcatraz, and in 1948 to Leavenworth.

His record noted  him as “the worst of the worst.”

After participating in the O’Connell kidnapping of 1933 his gang committed the Falls River Mail truck robbery on 23 January 1935 netting approximately $129,000, at Falls River, Massachusetts. It was noted they used the same Ford “Rail Truck” truck for the robbery as was used in the O’Connell kidnapping.

He was given 25 years for the mail truck robbery and an additional 77 years for the kidnapping.

Given an old age parole in 1959 to Astoria, Long Island and died on 20 April 1988. Shortly before his death with all his friends gone people heard him mumble, “it wasn’t worth it.”

Harrigan & wife Jean approximately 1977 (photo donated by granddaughter Terri)

Side note: His granddaughter (Terri) remarked in 2017 that his side of the family were mobsters while grandmother’s side were Texas Rangers.

John Joseph Oley – (1901-1959) – Alcatraz #455

A partner since grade school with Morris “Manny” Strewl, who was head of the Albany mob.

Description: 5′ 10, weighing 164 pounds, brown hair, eyes and medium sanguine complexion. Wife was Agnes.

Both Oley and Strewl were involved in theft (including bank robbery) , bootlegging, and impersonating government officers. Fearing they would be recognized, they provide logistical support for the robbery for the  May 29, 1933 of the Rensselaer County Bank. The actual leader of the bank robbers was Leonard “Big Charlie” Scarnici, a known lieutenant of the notorious Dutch Schultz.

Oley’s first known arrest was March 28, 1922 and received at the Albany County, NY, (F-14679). Penitentiary for third degree burglary.

Alias John Walsh #15327 and received at the U.S. Penitentiary  on January 26, 1923 in Atlanta Georgia, for larceny from an interstate shipment (mail truck).

Alias John Kinstler arrested (#407) arrest for assault with intent to kill. Tried an acquitted.

Alias John Blake #29441, received at the US Penitentiary, Atlanta for impersonating an United States officer.

Records indicate he was vicious and had many gun battles with police.

He participated in the 1934 armored car robbery knows as the Rubel Ice Company robbery where $429,000 in cash was stolen.

Convicted of the 1933 kidnapping of John O’Connell, junior he was sentenced in 1937 to seventy-seven years in prison. John Oley, Percy “Angle Face” Geary and Harold “Red Crowley) escaped from prison in Syracuse NY during the trial proceedings but were recaptured three days later.

Oley was transferred to the US. Penitentiary as Alcatraz was closed down, and was medically paroled in 1959 due to terminal illness (cancer). He died on March 19, 1960 and is buried in Ballston Spa, New York. Having no children he was survived by his wife, who was at his side when he died.

This was taken from a wanted poster of the FBI. A legal question at the time was could a wife be held for aiding an abetting a criminal if she was helping her husband? No record was found of any imprisonment and presumed the charges were dropped,

John Patrick McGlone “Sonny” – (1903 – 1982) – Alcatraz #252

Along with the other Waxy Gordon mob he was arrested for the 1935 Fall River mail truck robbery.

Description: 5’8 and weighed 155 pounds with black eyes and dark brown hair. Had some training as an electrician. He never married and lived with his mother most of the time. He maintained contact with his mother and sister during his time in prison but they never visited him.

He was known as a “hot head” and excitable. He was a killer but no one would testify against him. It was reported in 1930 he killed a person in front of fourteen witnesses including two cops but no one would testify against him.

His arrest record begins in 1922 when arrested for disorderly conduct. He went onto burglary, assault, rape and often a murder suspect. In 1935 he was transferred from the Atlanta Penitentiary to Alcatraz.

McGlone mellowed over the years and became a competent medical attendant in the Alcatraz infirmary. It was noted, “… he reached a stage of reflective maturity and shaken by the suicide of his associate. He stood by and counted as his fellows passed by.”

McGlone was paroled to New York City in 1960 and died in December 1982 in Westchester, New York.

Morris “Manny” Strewl alias Stroll – (XXXX-1998)

Credited with being the ring leader of the O’Connell kidnapping ring was a close partner of grade school friend John Oley. Newspaper credited him and John Oley for providing logistical support for the gang that robbed the Rensselaer County Bank in May 1933.

First known arrest was January 1923 and sent to Atlanta Federal Penitentiary(#15329) . In April 1929 he was sentenced to a year in Atlanta (#29443) for impersonating a US Officer (along with John Oley they attempted to rob a mail truck).

He was paroled in 1958 and for a time worked the docks in New Jersey. In the 1970’s he returned to Albany, New York and married Ethel Miller. He passed away in 1998 never speaking to reporters about the kidnapping.

Percy “Angel Face” Geary – (1901-1959) – Alcatraz #456

Description: 5′ 9 medium build with chestnut colored hair. Gray eyes, medium complexion and weighs 134 pounds (according to a 1930′ wanted poster)

Alias John Nolan and Jack Edwards

Initially imprisoned in Leavenworth (#52392-L) and later transferred to Alcatraz.

First arrested in 1916 New York City at the age of sixteen for burglary. Spent most of his years in and out of prison for burglary, extortion and related gun charges.

Along with the two Oley brothers, he participated in the August 1934 Rubel Armored car robbery which netted the criminals $429,000 in cash. A record haul that lasted until the 1950’s.

After being captured and convicted for the O’Connell kidnapping in 1937, along with John Oley and Harold “Red” Crowley they escaped from the Syracuse jail for three days before being recaptured.

He received a 77 year sentence and $10,000 fine for the kidnapping. In 1959 he was given an old age parole. However it’s believed since he had spent most of his life behind bars, and always being told what to do that he could not face life on the outside. He pleaded with Alcatraz officials to keep him locked up. Being denied his request Geary committed suicide by throwing himself under the prison laundry truck. He left behind a wife (named Josephine) and child.
Mrs. Josephine Geary. She was a heavy set but beautiful women. Believed to have purchased the print set, with daughter in tow, that made several ransom notes.

Thomas J. Dugan – (1902-1946) – Alcatraz #256

Co-leader with Charles Harrigan of the Waxy Gordon mob also known as the “West Side” mob because they worked the west side of New York City. Both were lieutenants in the Dutch Schultz mob of New York City

Description: 5’11 inches tall weighing 165 pounds. A “V” shaped scare in the middle of his lip and dagger tattoo  between his thumb and index finger. Attended Paulist Fathers’ Parochial School but left after completing the seventh grade. At the time he was married but had no children.

Along with other mob members (Carl Rettich, Andino Merola, Joseph Fisher, Charles Harrigan, John McGlone and Herbert Hornstein), in January 1935 he participated in the Falls River Massachusetts Mail truck robbery. Both Dugan and Harrigan were known  to be able to “handle machine guns.”

His first arrest was in 1914 for stealing coal and used the alias John Moran. He was sentenced to seventeen months in Brooklyn Truant School. He was in constant conflict with the law and spent time in Sing Sing (1923 and 1926) Clinton Prison (1923) and Great Meadows Prison (1923).

Arrested for the mail truck robbery (above) and linked to the O’Connell kidnapping received a 77 year prison sentence. He died from Rheumatic Valvular disease (heart disease) in 1946 and is buried in the Alcatraz cemetery.