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The Robinson Case

From the autobiographical notes of Captain Charles Albertson regarding the time he served in the New York City Police Department 8th Precinct.

The Robinson Case

One evening in the winter of 1880, a young woman came to me at Houston and Sullivan street and stated that three young men roomed in her mother’s rooming house in West Washington Place, occupying a double and a single bed in a large front room one flight up. The three roomers each had a trunk in that room. While cleaning the room that afternoon she went down into the basement to get some kindling wood to place in the stove in the room. While so doing she heard the front hall door open and some one go up and enter the front room. She did some dusting in the parlor. After a few minutes the door of the upstairs front room closed and some one came down stairs and out of the front hall door. She went to the front parlor window and saw Mr. Robinson, one of the roomers, go down the front steps and then immediately she went upstairs and found that Mr. Robinson’s two room mates trunks were broken open. They were intact when she left the room. Mr. Robinson’s had not been disturbed. When the two roomers returned at night one reported $200 and the other $135 stolen. The young woman also informed me that Robinson was in the habit of frequenting a dance hall in Houston Street near where we were. We visited the place, found him there, placed him under arrest and the following morning the two room mates appeared as complainants. He was held for trial and indicted for each offense and later tried in the court of General Sessions. He was convicted of stealing the $200. This occurred late Friday afternoon. The Judge called the Assistant District Attorney who had prosecuted the case and myself up and inquired if the evidence was the same in the their indictment and when informed that it was, stated that he would on Monday morning sentence him to five y ears in State Prison and hold the other indictment over him.

Court then adjourned and I went out into the corridor when I met a very gaudily dressed middle aged woman who informed me that she was Robinson’s mother and called me a lot of names that do not appear in the Bible. She also said that she had come from Boston with $1000 and $5000 more would arrive in the morning. She also said that her son would go home with her on Monday. I made no reply as she was his mother and I sympathized with her. On Monday morning Robinson was called up and the Judge suspended sentence in his case and he went home with his mother. She conducted a notorious house of prostitution in Boston where the son was reared. When the Court suspended sentence on the prisoner no comment was made or reasons given for so doing as was customary. It was an aggravated crime and the money was not recovered. I always had a very strong suspicion that the mother’s $5000 that she mentioned arrived on time.

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