Samuel Koller (1862-1926), aka Young Julius, Julius Klein, Sheeny Julius, Samuel Frank, Julius Heyman, Little Sam — Pickpocket, Shoplifter, Fence, Swindler
From Byrnes’s text:
DESCRIPTION. Twenty-four years old in 1886. Born in Germany. Single. Furrier by trade. Slim build. Height, 5 feet 7 1/2 inches. Weight, 122 pounds. Brown hair, hazel eyes, light complexion. Strong bushy hair. Has a mole on his left arm.
RECORD. “Young” Julius is a very smart young sneak thief and shoplifter. He is well known in a number of the Eastern cities, especially in New York and Boston, where he has served terms in State prison. He is a sneak thief well worth knowing.
He was arrested in New York City in June, 1882, for the larceny of a gold watch from a passenger on a Long Branch boat. He obtained $1,000 bail and was released. He was arrested again in New York City in October, 1882, for the larceny of $100 from a lady while she was admiring the bonnets displayed in a Sixth Avenue window. Although morally convinced that Klein was the party who robbed her, the lady refused to make a complaint against him and he was discharged.
He was arrested again in New York City on October 14, 1882, in company of Henry Hoffman (190) and Frank Watson, alias Big Patsey, two other notorious New York sneaks and shoplifters, charged with robbing the store of W.A. Thomas & Co., dealers in tailors’ trimmings, No. 35 Avon Street, Boston, Mass., of property valued at $3,500. All three of them were delivered to the Boston police authorities, taken there, tried and convicted. Hoffman and Watson were sentenced to three years in Concord prison, on November 24, 1882, and Klein to two years in the House of Correction.
Julius was arrested again in New York City on November 27, 1885, in company of Frank Watson, alias Big Patsey, charged with (shoplifting) the larceny of some velvet and braid, valued at $60, from the store of A.C. Cammant, No. 173 William Street. Both pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year in the penitentiary on Blackwell’s Island, New York, on December 17, 1885, in the Court of General Sessions. Klein’s sentence will expire on December 16, 1886. His picture is a good one, taken in April, 1882.
Chief Inspector Byrnes updated his entry on Julius Klein in 1895 by noting only: “This man has reformed. He is now in business in New York City.” It is difficult to know whether Byrnes was dissembling for reasons known only to him; or whether he was truly misinformed as to Klein’s recent activities; or whether Klein–whose real name was Samuel Koller–convinced Byrnes of his efforts to reform.
The pickpocket and shoplifter Julius Klein went to Europe with another shoplifter named Ella Roberts, and they were joined there by Mike “The Dude” Moriarty and Frank Lane. Lane, Moriarty, and Klein went to Paris and broke into a jewelry store. Klein and Lane were arrested and jailed.
Klein was back in the United States by 1894, and from that point lived in New York as furrier under the name Samuel Koller. In July, 1894 he married Sarah Mandelbaum, the daughter of Marm Mandelbaum, who had died in Hamilton, Ontario in February of that year. Sarah had divorced her first husband, Ralph Weill. The whole surviving Mandelbaum clan descended on New York to celebrate her remarriage.
In 1896, Koller operated a Raines Law hotel in New York City, operated under a license that allowed him to serve liquor in late hours, as long as he had rooms to let and food items. Even so, authorities cited him for offering board to sailors–which entangled him in more regulations designed to curb vice. Eventually he was fined in 1902 for running a “disorderly house”, i.e. a brothel.
Koller then turned to a series of stunningly successful swindling operations, in which he ordered goods on credit, accepted delivery, and sold them to fences. He did this in a variety of ways: in one case (1909) he had an accomplice get a sales position with an reputable company–then fed orders through him, using planted phones and offices to satisfy his employers that the orders were real.
In 1910, Koller bought a hardware company that was closing, the W. J. Nixon Co., that had few assets, but an excellent credit rating. Koller used that credit to buy goods, sold them at a discount to junk dealers, and appropriated the gains.
The next year, Koller and another shady partner, Charles A. Seaton, started a company called the Broadway Bargain Company. At the time, there was already a very successful wholesale company called the Broadway Bargain House. Koller and Seaton contacted other companies, asking for samples and making orders of goods on credit, while the sellers all the time believing that they were dealing with the honest traders at the Broadway Bargain House. Their scam took in half a million dollars in goods–none of which was ever paid for. In this case, because the swindlers used the U. S. Mail to conduct their business, they were arrested on Federal charges. Koller plead guilty and received a one year sentence.
In 1916, Koller tried to replicate the same scam by setting up a concern called the Latin American Trading Company. He induced investors to get the company going, using their good names to purchase good on credit. Post Office inspectors were dispatched to his office, but he fled down the building’s fire escape. He later turned himself in.
It seems that with this history, Koller should have been imprisoned for a long time. A witness to a Federal Judiciary committee offered this insight in 1916:
“If you doubt it is possible to be persecuted, if you still doubt that Influence is a bar to justice, if you doubt that the laws of the Federal courts in this district are elastic and can be made to benefit the few who are on ‘the Inside,’ then read on, read on.
“The press of New York have many times exploited the career of the State and Federal protected criminal, Samuel Koller, a notorious dive keeper, crook, swindler, thief, and ex-convict, whose record of crime Is as long as your arm. Some readers may well remember his mother-in-law, the notorious Fagin and keeper of fences for the crooks of a decade ago, ‘Mother Mandelbaum,’ who was immune from arrest during her spectacular career in this city.
“That the mantle of ‘Mother Mandelbaum’ has fallen upon Samuel Koller, and that he is enabled to pursue his criminal activities unmolested is no myth. That ‘Mother Mandelbaum’ exacted a promise from the police department of protection for her son-in-law, Samuel Koller, a legacy which, it is alleged, Koller has reaped the benefit at the hands of the United States and New York district attorneys In the past, Is a matter of record on the yellow ticket of the police department of the city of New York, which shows he can be arrested, but not indicted and prosecuted. Why not?
“He has done time before the mantle of ‘Mother Mandelbaum’ had time to settle officially on his shoulders, but not of late years. Further reasons for Koller’s Immunity from arrest are that until lately mortgages upon his property have been held by a prominent detective and also a former deputy police commissioner of this city, and that a certain United States commissioner stands ready to defend his interests whenever called upon.”
In his final years, Koller returned to keeping a hotel. He died in 1926.