Friday, December 31, 2021

Leave The Gun, Take The Cannoli: My Washington Times On Crime Column On The Making Of 'The Godfather'

 The Washington Times published my On Crime column on the making of The Godfather.  

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli” is one of many iconic lines from the “The Godfather” film.

Mark Seal (seen in the bottom photo) uses the line in the title of his book, “Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli: The Epic Story of the Making of The Godfather.” The backstory behind the near-perfect crime film is nearly as dramatic as the film itself.

I reached out to Mark Seal and asked him why he wrote the book.

“I have an almost lifelong fascination with the movie, which I first saw as a college freshman on spring break in 1972,” Mr. Seal replied.

He said that in 2009 he wrote about the making of “The Godfather” for Vanity Fair magazine, and he interviewed many of the people who helped make the movie.

“With the 50th anniversary of the film looming, I felt it was the perfect time to expand the magazine story into a book — and continue my fixation with the film — and, in the course of additional research and interviews with Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, James Caan and other members of the cast and crew, I was often surprised at what I found,” Mr. Seal explained. “I also delved into the massive trove of documentation about the movie, including Mario Puzo’s papers, now archived at Dartmouth University, and the minutes of the 1971 production meeting that Francis Coppola led with his creative team, each word recorded by a stenographer. It shows how the movie came to life.”

Why do you think most critics, as well as viewers, believe “The Godfather” is the greatest film ever made?

“Because it was filmed in New York as a period piece in the 1940s, which gives it a timeless feel, andand makes as fresh today as it was half a century ago. And because it doesn’t merely cast its Mafia characters as gangsters, but family men and women that you can’t help but care about. As ‘The Godfather’ producer Al Ruddy says in the book, ‘It may be the greatest family movie ever made.’” 

You can read the rest of the column via the below link or below:

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Families Behind The Badge: My Philadelphia Weekly Crime Beat Column On Former Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Joseph Sullivan, Cop Widow Maureen Faulkner, Cop Killer Abu-Jamal, And The Families Behind The Badge Children's Foundation

Philadelphia Weekly published my Crime Beat column on former Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Joseph Sullivan (second from the right in the above photo), cop widow Maureen Faulkner (in the center of the above photo), convicted cop killer Abu-Jamal, and the Behind the Badge Children's Foundation.

You can read the column via the below link or the below page:

 Families Behind the Badge: Families of Fallen or Critically Injured  - Philadelphia Weekly

   You can click on the above and below to enlarge.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Home is the Sailor, Home From the Sea: On This Date in 1975 I Departed Scotland and Flew Home On A U.S Navy Chartered Aircraft

As I noted in my previous post, on this day in 1975 I left the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland, ending two years of service aboard the U.S. Navy harbor tugboat USS Saugus (YTB-780). 

I had a number of interesting adventures aboard the Navy tugboat, the workhorse of the floating submarine base, as we towed submarines, ships and barges in and around Holy Loch. 

The Saugus was also ordered out into the Irish Sea, an awful and dangerous place to be in winter with gale force winds and 50-foot waves. We ventured out to the Irish Sea to rendezvous with submarines and perform operational exercises, medical evacuations and classified missions. I also traveled extensively on leave across the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. 

My enlistment would end in February of 1976, and I received orders to report to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for my final month in the Navy. I was annoyed that the Submarine Squadron kept me in Scotland over Christmas and would not fly me home until the 28th.  

I was assigned a seat on a Navy chartered commercial aircraft among a submarine crew and Navy wives and children and we flew from Prestwick Airport to Maguire Air Force Base in New Jersey. 

In a black tie and my double-breasted dress blue jacket and slacks, looking like an officer or chief (this was before the Navy changed back to the old uniform), I settled in. Once in the air, I asked the airline stewardess (this was before they were called Flight Attendants) for a Vodka on the Rocks. 

She smiled and replied that no alcohol was served on Navy chartered flights. Once again, I cursed the Submarine Squadron officer who assigned me to this flight. Had I known that no alcohol would be served, I would have carried on board my flask filled with Vodka (I drank a bit in those days). 

It was a long and uneventful flight, and as I could not sleep, I read a book that I brought along. I also sat back and thought about my past adventures in Scotland. 

We landed at Maguire Air Force Base in the early evening. As we deplaned, we were herded in a waiting room and held there for some time without an explanation. Finally, an official came in and announced that a child on our flight had turned blue. The child was now recovering, but until the cause of his illness was determined, we would be held in quarantine. 

After the long flight, we were forced to sit in the waiting room for several more hours. Finally, we were released and allowed to leave the terminal. 

The other sailors and their families were met by other family members and driven off the base. I didn’t call anyone in my family, as I wanted to surprise them. At this late hour, I discovered that the buses to Philadelphia had stopped running and there would not be another bus until early morning. Not wanting to spend the night in a deserted terminal with no bar or restaurant, I went outside and asked the sole cab driver how much it would cost to take me to South Philadelphia. He said $50. 

“Your piece of shit cab isn’t worth $50,” I replied. 

He shrugged and drove off, I went back into the terminal and thought about how I was going to get home. 

I didn’t want to call my elderly father or my older brother and ask them to drive the more than 40 miles from South Philly to the airbase. I pulled out my address book and called my good friend Buster. 

Buster’s wife answered and I asked her if Buster was home. 

“He’s gone to pick you up,” she said. 

I thanked her and said I would see her soon. 

I was confused as I had not told Buster or anyone else when I was coming home. Then it dawned on me that Buster had used my homecoming as an excuse to get out of the house. Buster, my old drinking buddy, was a character and a wild man. 

I called the Lamplighter, our old bar in South Philly and asked for Buster. He was there. 

He thought it funny that he lied to his wife about me coming home, and it turned out to be actually true. He said he would come and get me. 

I sat in a chair and read my book for about a half-hour and then went outside the terminal and smoked a cigar. Sometime later, a jeep with two Air Police sergeants pulled up. 

“Are you Paul Davis?” one of them asked. 

Yes, I replied, a bit confused. 

“There are some guys at the gate who want to pick you up,” one of the sergeants explained. “But they are so drunk, we won’t let them in.” 

They offered to drive me to the gate, and I tossed my sea bag in the jeep and sat in the back, and they raced to the gate. Outside of the gate stood Buster, along with my other South Philly friends, Stevie, Frenchie and Buddy, all quite drunk. I hesitated to get into the car, but what choice did I have? 

Buster drove precariously through the New Jersey roads, and we quickly became lost. Buster saw a bar and announced he would go in and ask directions. 

We all piled out of the car and went into the bar. I saw that the dingy and dark taproom was an outlaw biker bar, and we received some threatening looks. We were outnumbered five-to-one. But Buster and Stevie were two very tough South Philly hoodlums in their late 20s who feared no one. Frenchie and Buddy could take care of themselves, and as a former South Philly street kid and former boxer, I could also handle myself. I'd thought the odds were in our favor.  

The bikers could see that we weren’t afraid of them, and they relaxed. Two of the bikers saw that I was in uniform and came over and shook my hand and offered us all a beer. 

We drank with the bikers until 2 am when the bar closed. I passed out in the back seat, so I thankfully don’t any memory of how Buster made it home to South Philly. 

Buster dropped the other guys off at their homes and we went to his house. He broke out the booze and we continued drinking. As the morning approached, Buster’s wife cooked us breakfast and I drank several cups of coffee. 

At around 8 am, Buster drove me to my parent’s house. 

I knocked on the door and my dog, the dog I had raised from a puppy, barked furiously. 

My mother asked apprehensively who was there from behind the closed door. 

“It’s your son!” 

My dog continued barking at me as my mother opened the door and embraced me. 

I would spend the next month at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, but once the chief there discovered I lived in South Philly, he gave me a lot of time off. 

As I traveled much and drank much in bars and clubs, I didn’t save any money in Scotland, but I had 30 days leave saved and I counted on that money. 

On the day of my discharge, I asked where my check was and I was told that my leave papers were not among my orders, so I would have to wait for them to recover my documents and then they would mail a check to me. 

I was furious. I saw the chief and he said he was sorry, but there was nothing he could do. I shook his hand and walked out of the gate of the Navy Yard. 

In a sense, my dual career in government and journalism began at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, as I sold Philadelphia newspapers there to the sailors and civilian yard workers as a teenager in the 1960s. So it seemed fitting that I ended my Navy service there. 

I served two years on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War and another two years on the tugboat USS Saugus. I served on one of the largest warships in the world and then served another two years on a 100-foot tugboat. 

Even after all these years, I retain fond memories of the things I've done, the places I’ve seen, and the good friends I made in the U.S. Navy. 

You can read my previous post via the below link:

Paul Davis On Crime: Davis Departing II: On This Day in 1975 I Departed the Navy Tugboat USS Saugus

And you can read my other vignettes, short stories and humor pieces via the below link:     

Paul Davis On Crime: Sea Stories: Vignettes, Short Stories And Humor Pieces About My Time In The U.S. Navy 


Davis Departing II: On This Day in 1975 I Departed the Navy Tugboat USS Saugus

As I noted in a previous post, I departed the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) on December 19, 1971. 

Although I titled the post on my leaving the Kitty Hawk, “Davis Departing,” I was not actually piped off the aircraft carrier, as I was only a 19-year-old seaman. I was lower than whale shit, as the saying goes. 

As I noted in another post, I returned to the Navy in 1974 and received orders to the USS Saugus (YTB-780), a Navy Harbor Tugboat assigned to the floating nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland. 

Almost immediately, I regretted going back into the Navy, as the Scottish winter is wet, cold and brutal and the work on the tug was tough and sometimes dangerous. But in the two years I served on the tug, I spent most of my time off traveling all over Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, and I visited Italy, France and Spain. I also had some most interesting experiences on the tug, which I’ve recounted in previous posts. 

On December 28, 1975, I departed the USS Saugus. 

I was pissed that a Submarine Squadron 14 officer kept me in Scotland for Christmas and assigned me to a charted plane that was flying a submarine crew home on December 28th. 

I felt that I should have been issued a single ticket on a commercial flight prior to Christmas, but my request fell on deaf ears at the squadron office. As the Saugus’ supply petty officer, I had some run-ins with squadron officers, so perhaps this was payback. Or it was simply a way to save a couple of bucks by loading me on an empty seat on a chartered aircraft.   

I had already said an emotional goodbye to a Scottish girl that I was seeing, and wanting to avoid another scene, I didn’t call and tell her that I would still be in Scotland for Christmas. 

Thankfully, a good friend on the tug, Jim Roland, invited me to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with him, his wife and another couple. 

On December 28th, on a dark, rainy and cold evening, I stepped off the tugboat for the last time in my dress uniform with my sea bag over my shoulder. The tug was tied to a large barge, and I stepped up and through the three slim wires that ran around the barge like a boxer entering a ring. 

Despite the bad weather, most of the tug crew came out and gave me a nice sendoff. 

Jim Roland was a 2nd class electrician, but he taught himself how to blow a Bosun’s pipe, and he piped me off the tugboat as if I were a captain. Someone yelled out, “Davis Departing.” 

The guys saluted me, and I gave a snappy salute back. I was truly touched. 

As I walked down the barge to meet the boat that was taking me ashore, I looked in a porthole and saw two crew members sitting glumly at the galley’s table. The tug’s cook and a 1st class engineman didn’t like me, just as I didn’t like them. One might think they'd be to see me gone, but perhaps they didn't like that the other crew members were given me a grand send off. 

I mouthed a “fuck you” at them and walked off with a grin. 

My orders stated that I was to report to the Philadelphia Navy Base and receive my discharge. As I was from South Philadelphia and lived near the naval base, this suited me just fine. 

In a sense, my dual career in government and journalism began at the Philadelphia Naval Base, as I sold Philadelphia newspapers there to the sailors and civilian yard workers as a teenager in the 1960s. So it was fitting that I ended my Navy service there. 

And after all these years, I still remember fondly my being piped off the tugboat. 

Thanks, shipmates. I'll never forget you.

You can watch a video of a formal piping ashore via the below link:

Going ashore - YouTube

And you can read my earlier posts on my departing the Kitty Hawk and my service aboard the Saugus via the below links:

Paul Davis On Crime: Davis Departing: On this Day in 1971 I Left The USS Kitty Hawk

Paul Davis On Crime: Sailors Hunting Sharks In Loch Fyne

Monday, December 27, 2021

Navy SEAL 'Rogue Warrior' Richard Marcinko Dead at 81

The National Navy UDT SEAL Museum announced on their Facebook page that former Navy SEAL and author Richard Marcinko has died. He was 81: 

The Museum is very saddened to learn of the passing of Richard "Dick" Marcinko. "Demo Dick" was a retired U.S. Navy SEAL commander and Vietnam War veteran. He was the first commanding officer of SEAL Team SIX. 

In January 1967, Marcinko deployed to Vietnam with 2nd Platoon, SEAL Team TWO. On May 18, 1967, Marcinko led his men in an assault on Ilo Ilo Hon where they killed many Viet Cong and destroyed six of their sampans. This became known as the Navy's most successful SEAL operation in the Mekong Delta. Because of his strong leadership and great success, the North Vietnamese Army placed a bounty on his head, payable to anyone who could capture and kill him. Marcinko was never caught; he went on to be awarded the first of four Bronze Stars, as well as a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Silver Star. 

After returning stateside and serving as Officer-in-Charge of 8th Platoon from Dec 1967 to June 1968, Marcinko went back to Vietnam with SEAL Team TWO. During the Tet Offensive, Marcinko ordered his platoon to assist U.S. Army Special Forces at Châu Đốc. What began as an urban street battle evolved into an intense rescue mission of American nurses and a schoolteacher trapped in the city's church and hospital. 

After completing his second tour in Vietnam and following a two-year stateside staff assignment, Marcinko was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and assigned as the Naval Attache to Cambodia in 1973. He served in Cambodia for a year and a half before returning stateside to assume command of SEAL Team TWO from 1974 to 1976. 

During the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, Marcinko was one of two Navy representatives for a Joint Chiefs of Staff task force known as the Terrorist Action Team (TAT). TAT's purpose was to develop a plan to free American hostages in Iran, which ultimately culminated with Operation Eagle Claw. After this tragic operation, the Navy recognized a need for a full-time dedicated counter-terrorist team and tasked Marcinko with its design and development. 

Marcinko was selected by the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Thomas B. Hayward, as the first commanding officer of this new unit. At the time, the Navy had only two SEAL Teams. Marcinko named the unit "SEAL Team SIX" in order to fool other nations, notably the Soviet Union, into believing that the United States had at least three other SEAL Teams that they were unaware of. The creator of SEAL Team SIX, Marcinko hand-selected the Team's members from across the existing SEAL Teams and Underwater Demolition Teams, including a special counter-terrorist tactics section of SEAL Team TWO, codenamed MOB-6. SEAL Team SIX became the Navy's premier counter-terrorist and hostage rescue unit. Marcinko commanded SEAL Team SIX for three years, from August 1980 to July 1983. 

Dick Marcinko played a very unique part in SEAL history, leaving a legacy like no other. “Demo Dick” is considered the United States’ premier counterterrorism operator. We send our deepest sympathies to his family, teammates, and friends.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Yes, Virginia, Philly Does Has A Crime Crisis: My Philadelphia Weekly Crime Beat Column On Former Mayor Nutter Blasting DA Krasner

Philadelphia Weekly published my Crime Beat column on former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter blasting Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner.

You can read the column via the below link or the below pages:

 Yes, Virginia, Philly Does Have a Crime Crisis - Philadelphia Weekly

You can click on the above and below to enlarge.

Three Great Old Christmas Movies To Watch And Enjoy This Holiday Season

Every Christmas season I watch a lot of old, familiar Christmas movies on TV or from my DVD collection, as many people do. 

There are perennial favorites, such It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and A Christmas Story. 

I love these movies, but my three favorite Christmas films may not be on your list, or even on your radar. 

I love O. Henry’s short stories and I love the 1952 film, O. Henry’s Full House.    

The 1952 film offers five adaptations of O. Henry’s great short stories with Christmas themes, featuring five fine directors, fine screenwriters and a fine cast.  

The film presents some of my favorite short stories from one of my favorite writers.  

The O. Henry stories - The Clarion Call, The Gift of the Magi, The Ransom of Red ChiefThe Cop and the Anthem, and The Last Leaf - offer humor, drama, pathos and irony.   

I especially like the crime story The Clarion Call, with Dale Robinson and Richard Widmark (seen in the above photo).

You can watch the film, which features the late, great actor Charles Laughton and a young Marilyn Monroe (seen in the above photo), via the below link:

O. Henry's Full House (1952) - YouTube 

Although 1951’s A Christmas Carol is another perennial favorite, and actor Alastair Sim is nearly everyone’s favorite Scrooge, I love the 1984 film with George C. Scott as Scrooge. 

The 1984 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol offers a powerful performance by Scott, who is strong, willful and downright mean and nasty. 

If you have not seen this film, I suggest you watch it. 

You can watch the film via the below link:

A Christmas Carol George C Scott 1984 - YouTube

One may not think of a James Bond film as traditional Holiday fare, but every Christmas season I watch On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

The film, which was released in December of 1969, has a Christmas setting and takes place in the snow-covered Swiss Alps.

The film, despite not having the great Sean Connery who recently passed away, as Bond, is one the best in the series in my view.  

Considering that the new Bond, George Lazenby, had to follow Connery in the role, and that he had not acted before, I believe he delivered a better than fair portrayal of Bond.  

 He looked like Ian Fleming's Bond and he was very good in the fight and action scenes.

The film was also graced with Diana Rigg (seen in the above photo), who recently passed away, as Tracy, a strong, yet troubled woman with whom Bond has a serious, if ultimately tragic, love affair. 

Although I would have preferred a European actor to portray Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Telly Savalas was a commanding, brilliant and truly mad Blofeld. The supporting actors were also very good.

The director of this fine film was Peter Hunt, who edited the earlier Bond films. Hunt was faithful to Ian Fleming's novel, even going with the thriller's dark ending. Peter Hunt gave us a true James Bond thriller.

The film also offers a terrific soundtrack by John Barry. 

You can watch scenes from the film and listen to John Barry's instrumental We Have all the Time in the World via the below link:

 On Her Majesty's Secret Service • We Have All the Time in the World • John Barry - YouTube

You can also watch scenes and listen to John Barry's great love song sung by the late, jazz great Louie Armstrong via the below link:

Louis Armstrong - We Have All the Time in the World [007 On Her Majesty's Secret Service ] - YouTube  

Enjoy the films. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

My Crime Fiction: The Cop Who Busted Santa

As the Christmas season is here once again, I’d like to offer once again my short story, The Cop Who Busted Santa.

Some years back I wrote a short story called A Christmas Crime Story, which was about a mean, anti-Christmas cop who was later redeemed. You can read A Christmas Crime Story via the link at the bottom of the page. 

The below short story, which appeared originally in American Crime Magazine, is a prequel to A Christmas Crime Story.   

The Cop Who Busted Santa

By Paul Davis

I truly love the Christmas season. I love holiday lights, Christmas music, colorful church services, and gatherings of family and friends. I also love walking through shopping districts and watching people buying presents and celebrating the joyous holiday, despite the cold weather.

While walking along East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia this Christmas season, I came across John Snyder, a retired Philadelphia police officer. His large, pan-shaped head was now nearly bald, and his stocky frame held a few more pounds since I last saw him some years ago. He still displayed his gruff demeanor, but there was also a shy smile on his face. 

John Snyder was not known for his smile.

Back in the 1990s I had written several stories about Sergeant Snyder in my crime column in the local newspaper. Most of them were unflattering, but he never complained, and he still greeted me, albeit reluctantly, when I saw him at the 3rd police district in South Philly or at cop bars.

About that time Sergeant John Snyder became famous as “The Cop Who Busted Santa.” 

On Christmas Eve of that year, while patrolling the 3rd district in South Philadelphia, Snyder pulled over a driver who had performed what is known locally as “the South Philly Roll,” which is a deliberate failure to fully stop at a stop sign or traffic light. 

Walking up to the driver’s car window, Snyder was not amused by the driver, who was dressed as Santa Claus with a huge false white beard. He greeted Snyder with a hearty, but somewhat slurred, “Ho, Ho, Ho. Merry Christmas.”

“You ran that stop sign back there,” Snyder said in his low, gruff voice that more than one cop called his “bark.” 

George Jankowski, the man dressed as Santa, laughed loudly and his huge belly, which was his own and not costume stuffing, shook in the front car seat. 

“Oh, really,” Jankowski replied. “Sorry about that officer, but I’m on my way to an orphanage, here in my modern-day sleigh, to deliver toys for the poor, little orphans.”

“It’s sergeant, not officer, and there’s no excuse for running a stop sign,” Snyder declared. “Have you been drinking? Get out of the car.”

Jankowski cursed and struggled to get out of the car. 

“I’ve had a few, yeah, you know, it’s Christmas Eve.”

Snyder grabbed Jankowski and twirled him around and placed the man’s white gloves on the patrol car. He kicked his legs apart.

As a good number of people were out on the street that night, coming in and out of stores, bars and restaurants, a crowd gathered quickly and watched Snyder manhandle and search the man dressed as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

The crowd was aghast. One bystander full of holiday spirit – both faith-based and liquid – called out to Snyder, “Hey Officer Grinch! Leave Santa alone.”

Others began to complain as well, and several children began to cry. One man walked out into the street towards Snyder to reason with him. 

“Back off!” Snyder commanded. “Or I’ll place you under arrest too. I’ll arrest all of you people,” he barked to the crowd.

Snyder handcuffed Jankowski and squeezed the big man into the backseat of his patrol car. As Snyder drove off, he heard one bystander say sarcastically, "And a Merry, Merry Christmas to you too." 

If this event had happened these days, several people would have recorded the arrest on their cell phone and uploaded the video to the Internet. And the video would have gone viral, as they say, with millions of people viewing it.

As it were, several outraged people contacted the police and complained, and more than one witness contacted the press. The 6 o’clock TV news stations all ran the story with on-air interviews with the angry witnesses to the arrest. 

The daily newspapers followed up with the story on the front page and the story of the arrest of Santa on Christmas Eve appeared in newspapers and on TV and radio across the country on Christmas Day. The national press mocked Philadelphia and they all brought up an earlier story of Philadelphia sports fans who pelted Santa Claus with snowballs at a ball field. 

“So much for Philadelphia being the “City of Brotherly Love,” one national TV newscaster commented dryly. 

The TV 6 o’clock news reports on the arrests prompted a series of phone calls from the mayor, the police commissioner, a deputy police commissioner, a chief inspector, an inspector, and finally the 3rd district’s captain. 

The captain drove to the station from his home and released Jankowski, who was being held over for arraignment. The captain, along with the lieutenant, chewed out Snyder, but the sergeant held his ground and defended his actions. 

The captain reminded Snyder of his actions on the previous Christmas Eve. 

“You locked up a bunch of kids for just being merry, remember? And you locked up those newlywed tourists who only wanted you to take their picture,” the captain said. “What are you, a one-man Christmas joy-killer?”

Later that evening, Jankowski went on TV and told his story. He complained of police abuse and false arrest and said he was going to sue the city. He also said that while in police custody, he had to call his son and tell him to go and pick up the car, which had been towed on Snyder's orders, as the car had the presents for the orphaned children. 

Jankowski, dressed again as Santa, delivered the toys to the Catholic Orphanage on Christmas Day. He was accompanied by reporters and the story was carried widely across the nation as a positive story on Christmas.    

The day after Christmas Jack Ferrari, a 3rd district cop that I had gone out on a ride-along with and wrote about in my column, called and invited me to meet him at the Penrose, a South Philly diner.

He was on his lunch break with his partner in a booth and I slid in and joined them. 

Ferrari slipped me a piece of paper that had Jankowski’s name and phone number on it. The note also had Snyder’s phone number on it. I placed the note in my jacket pocket. 

Ferrari’s partner, an officer named Bill Hanson, said Snyder was a son of a bitch - but don't use my name, he added.  

“He’s a cheap and miserable bastard,” Hanson continued. “No wonder his wife kicked him out and even his kids won’t speak to him. And he wears boxing gloves at the bar.”


“He wears boxing gloves just so he can’t reach into his pocket and take out money to buy a guy a drink,” Hanson said. “OK, not really, but I’ve never seen him buy anyone a drink.”  

Ferrari noted, to be fair, that Snyder also never took a drink when other people were buying. He simply stood alone at the bar and nursed a beer or two.  

“Snyder is a tough sergeant, but when there is a shooting or altercation involving his officers, Snyder dives right in,” Ferrari said. “He also makes sure that higher-ups never mess with his guys. He took the heat for us many times,” Ferrari said.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Hanson agreed. 

I left the diner and called Jankowski. He was still full of rage and he bent my ear over the phone for an hour. I also called Snyder to get his side, but he refused to talk about the incident.  

“No comment,” he barked over the phone.

I felt bad for Snyder, as he was one of those sad people who only felt sorrow and bitterness on Christmas. I hoped that he would someday discover true happiness, especially at Christmas. 

I published my “The Cop Who Busted Santa” column in the local paper later that week.

This incident was unfortunate, but it led to some positive actions. The Catholic orphanage received a lot of publicity and donations poured in. Jankowski sued the City of Philadelphia and received a substantial settlement, which he used to establish a Christmas charity fund.  

The incident also united a good number of people in their critical response to the well-publicized arrest of Santa. 

And, lo and behold, they also began to speak to each other and to their children of the true meaning of Christmas; joy, love, charity, and the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. 

And yes, I got a column out of it.

© Paul Davis 2018. 

You can read A Christmas Crime Story via the below link: 

Late, Great George C. Scott Is A Powerful Scrooge In 'A Christmas Carol'

 The late, great actor George C. Scott (seen in the above photo) is best known for his powerful performance as General Patton, but I believe he gave an equally powerful performance as Scrooge in the fine 1984 TV adaptation of Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol.  

This film is one of a half-dozen holiday films I try to watch each Christmas season.

You can watch the full film via the below link:

A Christmas Carol 1984 Full Film - Bing video 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

FBI: Decades After Thefts, Stolen Artifacts Recovered and Returned to Philadelphia-Area Museums

The FBI Philadelphia Office’s Public Affairs Specialist Carrie Adamowski offers the below piece: 

A number of artifacts stolen during the 1960s and 1970s have been recovered and returned to the owning museums, announced Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division; Jennifer Williams, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; and Kevin Steele, Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) District Attorney.

The FBI’s Art Crime Team and its law enforcement partners repatriated 15 items—historic firearms from the 18th and 19th centuries and a silver concho belt—to the American Swedish Historical Museum, Hershey Story Museum, Landis Valley Museum, Mercer Museum, Museum of the American Revolution, and York County History Center, at a ceremony held at the Museum of the American Revolution this morning.

FBI art crime agents and detectives from the Upper Merion Township Police Department recovered the artifacts as part of an investigation into the 1971 theft and 2018 sale of a rare surviving 1775 rifle made by Pennsylvania master gunsmith Christian Oerter.

Thomas Gavin, of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, who pleaded guilty in July to selling the Oerter rifle, had admitted to stealing it and these additional artifacts. Gavin was sentenced last month for disposing of the stolen rifle.

“In law enforcement, as in any profession, there are good days and bad days. Today, standing here along with our partners, is one of those good days,” said Special Agent in Charge Maguire. “The absence of the items from these museums represented not just a physical or financial loss, but a loss to every visitor, every student, and every researcher who didn’t get to see the items over the years and missed out on important pieces of our nation’s heritage. The absence of these items was, for so long, a loss to the historical record. The FBI is honored to have helped correct that loss and return these artifacts to the institutions from which they were stolen so long ago.”

“Today’s event at the Museum of the American Revolution was incredibly exciting and inspirational to me, as an American history enthusiast, a prosecutor working in historic Philadelphia for most of my career, and a proud member of a military family,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “This collection of artifacts being repatriated to museums across our District is worthy of celebration, something we rarely get to do in my line of work. And I want to acknowledge and thank the purchasers of these items who waived ownership so that they could be returned: you are true patriots.”

“It took more than 50 years but now these significant pieces of American history are going back to their home museums where they can be seen and enjoyed by all Americans,” said District Attorney Steele. “It’s thanks to the tireless efforts of two Upper Merion Township Police detectives, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office that these firearms have been recovered and are now safe. I am so proud of their work.”

Maguire and Williams thanked the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and Upper Merion Township Police Department for their assistance with the investigation. They also credited Assistant United States Attorney K.T. Newton for her efforts in this matter and thanked the staff of the Museum of the American Revolution for their assistance, as well.