In 1949, for just a few months Maple Shade had its own gambling casino.
Maple Shade's so-called "plumbing warehouse" proved to be just what residents suspected it to be- an elaborate gambling establishment.
New Jersey state troopers from North Jersey smashed their way into the thriving gambling house early Thursday morning at Fellowship road and State Highway Route S-41, arrested 187 men, and confiscated more then $40,000 in cash.
Two revolvers and a clip of ten loaded cartdridges for a carbine were seized in the surprise swoop.
About twenty of those arrested were taken into custody when they arrived at the jampacked establishment unaware that the police had moved in.
Thirty men were questioned as suspected operators, lookouts, card dealers and dice "stick men," and 19 of them were eventually held as "principals."
All the others were given a prompt hearing before a judge in Maple Shade, and were released after depositing $25 cash bail. Most of them said they were from Camden or Philadelphia.
The raid, described by its leaders as one of the biggest ever staged in South Jersey was executed at 12:50 a.m. by eight uniformed troopers and nine plain clothesmen acting under special orders from Colonel Charles H. Schaeffel, head of the state police. Eight additional uniformed men were called in later from barracks at Columbus, Berlin, and Riverton.
Maple Shade Police and township officials were not notified of the raid until after it had taken place.
It was one of the biggest gambling raids ever staged in New Jersey. The target was a one-story cinder brick structure, resembling a garage or warehouse, nestled in a clearing surrounded by thick woods not far from intersections of Route S-41 and Fellowship road. A narrow country lane, located about 150 feet off Fellowship road, served as the entrance.
Police said that many patrons had been taken to the gambling house by "luggers" operating limosine service from Philadelphia, and from other places within a radius of about 60 miles.
The ground for the building was sold to Domenic Iacovelli at public sale by the Maple Shade Township Committee on April 26 with Thomas Vogdes, Main Street real estate agent, acting as agent for Iacovelli. On July 12, Iacovelli bought another piece of land adjoining the first parcel from the township. An investigation today revealed that the township has no record of Iacovelli's address although it is believed he resides in Camden.
It is reported that the building was erected in 17 days with workmen working 24 hours a day. Some local men worked on the erection of the building.
The raiding party was led by Capt. Arthur Keaton and Emerson Tschupp, deputy director of the New Jersey Alchoholic Beverage Control Commission.
The magnitude of the raid was such that it was more then eight hours after the troopers struck the gambling joint at 1 a.m. until the last of those seized had been booked at the Maple Shade police station.
Fourteen of those arrested were held in $5,000 bail each as principals by Municipal Judge Bowers of Cinnaminson township; four were held in bail of $1,000 each as material witnesses and one held in $2,000 bail as a material witness.
The 14 men booked as principals on charges of aiding, abetting and assisting in the operation of a gambling establishment were:
Nicholas Bocchicchio, of Clifton avenue, Westmont, identified by Keaton as a brother of Felix Bocchicchio, who is manager of heavyweight Jersey Joe Walcott.
Levi Cicero, 715 Second street, Florence.
Pasquale Beato, 2820 North Twenty-third street, Philadelphia.
Thomas Girgenti, 1208 Haddon avenue, Camden.
Henry Duncan, 600 Holmes street, Burlington.
Gardon C. Gober, Cedar lane, Florence.
Christie Scittina, 1207 Callahan street, Yeadon, Pa.
Dominick Di Mattia, 16 South Forklanding road, Maple Shade.
Joseph Putek, Fulton street, Delaware township.
Anthony Meloni, 5302 Sherwood Terrace, Pennsauken.
Manuel Gattabrio, 312 South Twenty-seventh street, Camden.
Harry Donaphy, 3901 Lawndale avenue, Philadelphia.
Frank Pollastrelli, 723 Monmouth street, Trenton.
Bail was posted for Girgenti by N. Morton Rigg, a Burlington attorney. Complaints against the suspects were signed by State Police Lt. Clinton J. Campbell, Columbus barracks.
The other 166 seized were booked as disorderly persons and were released in $25 cash bail each for a hearing August 17.
Captain Keaton, who led state troopers last Tuesday in raiding the national headquarters of a $50,000,000 lottery ring in New York, said he recognized henchmen of Mario (?) Reginelli among men seized.
After undergoing questioning in the gambling establishment for more then three hours, the patrons were transported in one of Fred Olt's buses to the Maple Shade police station. The station became so crowded it was necessary to use the auditorium of the municipal building to book the men.
The raiding party, in addition to Captain Keaton and Tschupp, included eight uninformed troopers in charge of Lt. Albert G. Varrelman, and nine in plain clothes.
They reached the place at exactly 1 a.m.
Lookouts stationed in a cupola-like arrangement in front of the building, immediately detected them and alarm buzzers were heard sounding inside the 100-foot long building.
Previous inspection of the exterior of the building, it was learned from the troopers, indicated there were only two exits, the four-foot wide door in front and another the same size at the rear.
As they pulled into the ground one trooper drove his car to the rear and blocked the door.
Others, carrying 20-pound sledge hammers, attacked the front door, later found to be lined with armor plate, but could not batter it down.
Spotlights on the troopers' cars were turned on the front of the building and revealed a window, about six by 12 inches, to one side. Working from the top of one of the cars, the troopers smashed away at this until a hole was made large enough for one of them to crawl through.
Sgt. Thomas Degaetano was then lifted through the opening and as he dropped to the floor inside, he drew his revolver and ordered everybody inside to the rear end of the room.
Degaetano was followed by Sgt. Hugo Stockburger, who, on getting inside, unlocked a door leading to the entrance hallway and then removed the steel bars barricading the front entrance and admitted the main body of raiders.
As he led his men in Capt. Keaton found the place a shambles from efforts of the operators to destroy all gambling evidence possible.
Four slot machines that had occupied a table to one side of the main room, had been carried into an office whose door also was lined with bullet-proof armor.
Three expensive dice tables, each large enough to accommodate 35 to 40 players, and a black-jack table, almost as large, were found with their felt lining partly ripped off.
None of the men in the room offered any resistance, largely Keaton said he believed, because he and the rest of the troopers came in "with guns swinging."
Keaton then divded the patrons and the staff operating the place into two groups and ordered themto opposite sides at the rear of the building.
He and other officers among the troopers began questioning the men while waiting for a squad of eight more troopers from the headquarters identification bureau at Trenton.
When these troopers arrived they took over the formal questioning. They directed each man to give his name and occupation and show identification cards. Then they fingerprinted everyone in the building.
Any of the patrons who had less then $400 cash or who was not recognized as a police character was listed as an inmate of a gambling establishment.
Most of the money confiscated was found on those listed as principals. One of these had a $13,000 bankroll. Two more had $12,000 each; another had $10,000, and a fifth man had $8,000.
Across one side of the room was a large sign that read:
"Open every day and night including Sunday."
Elaborate arrangements for handling bets on horse races included blackboards listing each race at Monmouth Park, Arlington Park, Chicago and Saratoga, N. Y., and Suffolk Downs, East Boston, Mass,
Another sign advised the minimum bet accepted was $2 and the limit paid on straight bets was 25 to 1, was 10 to 1, place, and 5 to 1. (next sentence omitted- very hard to read on copy- payoffs on "ifs and reverse")
The payoff on daily doubles, still another sign read, was 5 to 1.
The setup also included counters made of plywood, some where bets were accepted and others used in paying off winners. These counters were large enough, Keaton said, to accommodate from 20 to 30 players at a time.
The only windows in the building were about 18 inches by 10 inches, and were located almost at the top of the walls, about 12 feet high.
Ventilation was furnished by two huge electric fans which played on a continuous flow of water in a trough-like arrangement of tin and the air was forced into the room through two six foot tunnels made of plywood.
Information by den from a Maple Shade Police oldtimer,
Caption on the front reads- Phila. 7/28 Mapel Shade, N.J. - Raiders were unable (notice dents) to push through the front door with sledge hammers. Door had two steel panels sandwiched between layers of thick wood ACME
Caption on the back reads- Phila.- 7/28 Maple Shade N.J. - Some of the 156 men arrested in a Maple Shade Township Gambling house raise their hands on orders from raiding New Jersey State troopers. ACME.
30 Men were arrested January 16 by State Police and county detectives in a swoop on the Hainesport Darts and Billiards Club. All but three were released after paying fines as disorderly persons. The three were related; Angelo Marinella of Hainesport, John Marinella of Mount Holly, and his brother Ray Marinella of Burlington.
A later article states that the Hainesport club was commonly known as the Evergreens.
MOUNT HOLLY, N.J.,July 6 (AB)- Burlington County indictments against three of five Maple Shade officials charged with failure to do their duty were dropped today by County Judge Lester Drenk. The charges stemmed from a state police raid last July 28 on a gambling establishment and the arrest of 187 patrons.
Prosecutor Harold T. Parker asked that the indictments against police Sergt. Alfred C. Brooks Jr., former township committeemen John J. McElligott and Jay G. Weidman be dropped. He pointed out that they were companion indictments with those returned against Police Chief John H. Siebke and former township committee chairman Francis C. Barber. The two last-named were aquitted last Friday by a jury after an eight-day trial.
"In view of the fact that a jury aquitted the two other defendants," Mr. Parker said, "I see no point in trying these three cases." He added that the State Attorney General's office had concurred with him in recommending that the indictments be dropped.
Maple Shade is again in the limelight as a result of the gambling casino which was located at Fellowship road and State Highway Route S-41 in 1949. During the past four years, Maple Shade has been constantly in the limelight as a result of the raided casino and the subsequent investigations which are still underway.
An alleged "payoff man" from a Burligton County gambling ring, testified Monday before a grand jury at Mt. Holly, presumably directed by Attorney General Theodore D. Parsons.
George Page, of Trenton, who claims he made weekly payoffs to politians
Here is from another article-
The jurors are investigating charges that more then $4,000 a week was paid to protect gambling in Maple Shade in 1949. Page, in an affidavit published in a Florence weekly last February, said he was the "pay-off man" for a gambling syndicate which sought protection for gambling enterprises.
From the March 12, 1953 Progress-
An affidavit by George Page, which appeared in Hegyi's paper, touched off the grand jury investigation. Page described himself as a payoff man for a gambling syndicate, and said he handled $4,000 a week in protection money.
The inquiry began February, 1952.
Seventeen men- including four Burlington City police officers, two members of the New Jersey State Police and a former chirf of Burlington County detectives- will enter pleas Friday, May 1, at Mt. Holly to indictments charging them with false swearing.
The indictments were handed up Thursday, April 15, to Superior Court Judge Elmer B. Woods, of Woodbury, assignment judge to Burlington County, by the January, 1952, Burlington County Grand Jury, which also returned a blistering presentment in which they flayed"rampant" gambling activities in the county prior to the raid on the Maple Shade gambling casino, July 18, 1949.
Sixteen of the indictments were impouded by Judge Woods at the request of Deputy Attorney General Edward J. McCardell, Jr. of Trenton, who conducted the 14-month-long investigation into charges of official corruption in the county. The lone indictment released for publication last Thursday named Levi Cicero, of Florence, currently serving a one-to-three year State Prison term for possession of slot machines.
Fred Fittipaldi, 52, of Hunterdon street, Hainesport, recently released from State Prison after serving a term on a gambling charge stemming from a raid on a Mount Holly poolroom, was the first person whose name was released as being one of the persons named in the 16 sealed true bills. He was picked up Thursday night and lodged in the county jail until the last day, when he was released under $1,000 bail.
Although he was not among those indicted, George Page, 43, of 100 Jones Street, Burlington, also was picked up last Thursday night and was released late the next day in $5,000 bail as a material witness. Bail was furnished by Mrs. Ruth Sogio, of 100 Jones street, Burlington, and Mary Page, 37 ?, Philadelphia.
Charles (Doc) Fellner, 60, of 261 South Fellowship Road, Maple Shade, president of the Maple Shade Democratic Club, and a former Democratic county campaign chairman. Fellner is now and has been plumbing inspector in Maple Shade for a number of years.
James Mona, 19 South Boulevard avenue, Maple Shade, fined $5,000 as a principal in the operation of the Maple Shade gambling casino.
N. Morton Rigg, Burlington attorney.
Municipal Judge John C. Haines, of Mansfield Township.
Carl G. Schamin, Jr., 58? of 127 Sixth street, Roebling, a former member of the Florence Township Committee and chairman of the ? welfare committee.
(copy page ends)
money. He named six county officials, political leaders of both major parties.
The jury, in its presentment cleared three of those named, but did not mention the other three. It declared there was "absolutely no evidence" that any protection money had ever been paid to County Prosecutor Harold T. Parker, of Mount Holly; Clifford R. Powell, of Delanco, former GOP political leader, former commander of the New Jersey National Guard and an ex-State Senator, as well as being a principal figure in the Burlington County bridge deal, and former Democratic State Senator James M. Davis, Jr., of Mount Holly.
The others mentioned in the affidavit were Cain, Charles Fellner, Maple Shade Democratic leader, and Municipal Judge John C. Haines, of Mansfield township.
The day following revelation of Troopers Skok and Reese as being among those indicted. Col. Russell A. Smock, superintentent of the New Jersey State Police, announced their suspensions pending the outcome of the charges against them. He pointed out the action was in according with rules and regulations of the force.
Late Saturday, Mayor Anthony T Greski, of Burlington City, announced City Council had been asked to hold a special session on April 20 to determine the status of the city's four police officers. The mayor explained that he had met last Friday with the police committee and had suggested the meeting of the city's governing body. Neither he nor the police committee could suspend the policemen, he stated.
The four Burlington police officers indicted were suspended Tuesday following a meeting of the Burlington City Council Patrolmen. Peter Yingling has been named Acting Captain of the Burlington Police.
Fellner was the first to turn himself in Saturday just before the sheriff's office was closed at noon. His bail was furnished by Township Committeeman Joseph M. Connell, of 1048 North Maple avenue, Maple Shade.
Later in the day, Sheriff Parker and County Detective Chief Zeller announced that Judge Haines and Rigg had appeared and posted bonds. Mansfield Township Committeeman Roland Armstrong furnished the bail for Haines; Millard Allen, of Delanco, for Rigg.
Mona appeared at the county seat on Monday, explaining he had been out of town. He was told to report in Mount Holly, when he returned home on Sunday, he said. Bail was supplied by the Peerless Casualty Company, of Camden.
Fellner's indictment charges him on two counts. It alleges he did not tell the truth when he said he did not know Miss Pauline Sogio, of 100 Jones avenue, Burlington; that Page and Miss Sogio never visited his home; never received any money in connection with the Maple Shade casino... so that he could distribute the money to other persons.
Judge Haines' indictment included five counts. He swore falsely, according to the true bill when he testified he had not been informed prior to the raid on the Maple Shade casino on July 28, 1949; he had not been approached by Marinella in connection with the operation of the casino; had not been offered any protection money by Marinella at during time the casino was in operation; never had any conversations with Marinella concerning any protection money for any gambling activities in Burlington County; never received or was offered any money by Marinella; that Marinella never been to his home to give him money; never received any money from Page; never had any discussusion with Page concerning the receipt by Reese of any money for protection of gambling activities; never had any conversation with Page concerning Trooper Skok; never had any conversation with Page concerning a floating dice game in the county, and that he did not know Joseph "The Gent" Girgenti, of Camden, another principal fined for operating the Maple Shade casino.
Girgenti, of Camden, another principal fined for operating the Maple Shade casino.
Rigg is alleged to have to have said he never held any conversation in his office with Page and Christy concerning the Page affidavit; had not attended any dice games at premises located at Broad and Front Streets, Florence, and had never conducted in a portable building in the county.
Mona, fined as an operator of the Maple Shade casino, replied "I don't remember" when asked if he had been present at the establishment the night it was raided in July, 1949, the indictment charges.
(The article goes on and on. Here is a paragraph which mentions Maple Shade to end quoting here-)
Fittipaldi said he had been hired at the Maple Shade gambling casino by a man named "Joe," whose last name he did not know, and that he never was present when the casino was closed and the money counted.
Maple Shade, often mentioned in Jake Wetner's Camden Courier-Post column, "Life Hereabouts," had this to say early this week:
"Cecil Bowers, who already serves as municipal judge in Cinnaminson, has been appointed to that post in Maple Shade, too. But it isn't the first time that he has served as a judge in that community. One morning, back in 1949, Cecil was requested to sit as a judge in Maple Shade. He thought the job would take only an hour or so. It turned out to be the busiest day of his long career as a municipal judge. It seems that state troopers swooped down on the Maple Shade gambling casino that morning, seizing 187 patrons and principals. Each one was arraigned before Cecil. He held court for more then eight hours, not even taking time out for lunch."
Information by den from a local oldtimer,
A 1953 Progress (date unknown) has those headlines with the story of 8 indictments including 2 Maple Shade residents were dropped. (basically the witnesses against them were fairly crooked and uncooperative throughout the whole trial).