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George Sargent


Anthony Labrizetta and George Sargent, both of Akron, Ohio, were tried together in 1935 for the robbery of a mail truck in Warren, Ohio, on April 24, 1935. They were convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Both men were pardoned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt two years later based on evidence that the crime was actually committed by Alvin “Creepy Face” Karpis and his gang.
 
At approximately 2:32 p.m. on April 24, 1935, Burl Villers, custodian of the mails and truck driver for the Post Office Department of Warren, Ohio, left the Erie Station in a United States mail truck. Among other packages, the mail cargo was comprised of a sack containing $72,000 in cash and $53,000 in government bonds. The cash was part of the payroll of the Republic Steel Corporation.
 
Shortly after leaving the station, a grey sedan stopped in front of the truck, forcing Villers to stop the mail truck. A man, identified by Villers in court as Labrizetta, jumped from the right side of the car and came toward the mail truck with a gun. Villers drew his gun, but did not fire, and dropped his gun in the street as the bandit jumped into the truck. At the same time, another man, who Villers identified as George Sargent, jumped into the other side of the truck. One of the men grabbed Villers by the neck and the other man thrust a gun into his side. Villers yelled for help, and the second bandit told him to keep quiet and ordered him to drive on and follow the gray car. These acts were witnessed by Francis Dellessandro and Mary Popp. Dellessandro was getting into his car on the east side of the street during this time, and Popp was sitting in the car.
 
The robbers directed Villers to drive the mail truck down a road and into a garage. In the garage, a third man appeared with a machine gun in his hands and directed Villers to get the registered mail out of the truck. After the registered mail was thrown out, Villers was ordered into the truck and one of the bandits locked it. The three bandits then drove away. Villers escaped from the truck and called the police.
 
On April 26, 1935, post office inspectors arrested Labrizetta and Sargent, both of whom were in their thirties. One month later, on September 26, 1935, they were tried before a jury. During the trial, the defense called numerous witnesses, including Michael Finelly, a lawyer from Akron, Ohio, who testified that Labrizetta and Sargent were in his office in Akron at the time of the robbery. The prosecution’s key witness was Villers, who testified that Labrizetta and Sargent were the two men who robbed the mail truck. The prosecution also called Popp and Dellessandro as witnesses. Each man identified Labrizetta and Sargent as the bandits on the truck.
 
On September 27, 1935, after deliberating for only 20 minutes, the jury found Labrizetta and Sargent guilty. They were sentenced to 25 years in prison. United States Attorney Emerich B. Freed told the press: “Because of their past records, these men should be put away where there will be no chance of their getting out for a long time. Sargent has been in the slot machine racket for years. Labrizetta was his bodyguard.” The men sought to appeal their convictions but were unsuccessful in obtaining new trials.
 
Six months after the Warren robbery, in November 1935, five men robbed an Erie railroad mail train near Garrettsville, Ohio, of $34,000 in currency and $11,650 in bonds. On May 1, 1936, Alvin Karpis was arrested in New Orleans, Louisiana and admitted to involvement in the Garrettsville train robbery, but did not admit involvement in the Warren, Ohio mail truck robbery.
 
On April 6, 1937, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the guilty verdict issued by the jury in the case of Labrizetta and Sargent. In June and July of that year, Attorney General Homer Cummings and Daniel M. Lyons, a federal pardon attorney, were presented with the Labrizetta and Sargent case and new evidence arising from the capture of Karpis. After a long review, they determined that Karpis and his associates had robbed the Warren mail truck in 1935. Attorney General Cummings asked President Roosevelt to pardon Labrizetta and Sargent. On July 19, 1937, President Roosevelt pardoned both men and two days later they were released from prison.
 
– Rachel Rosati Warner
State:OH - Federal
County:
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:1935
Convicted:1935
Exonerated:1937
Sentence:25 years
Race:Don't Know
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:37
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID