No: 203 Last Displayed: 11/15/2023


Forty-three years old in 1886. A Jew, born in Germany. Married. No trade. Slim build. Heig:ht, 5 feet 6 1/2 inches. Weight, 120 pounds. Light brown hair, light brown whiskers and mustache, light complexion, blue eyes. Has a small India ink spot on the left hand between the thumb and forefinger, and a small dark mole on the back of the left hand. Two vaccination marks on each arm. Wears a No. 7 shoe.


WISE, or SONDHEIM (the latter is supposed to be his right name), is a very clever professional pickpocket, bank sneak, confidence man, forger and swindler. He is well known all over the United States, and has been arrested in almost every city in the Union, several of which have his picture in the Rogues' Gallery. He was arrested in Philadelphia, Pa., on April 7, 1877. for a sneak robbery. He was arrested again in Boston, Mass. on July 10, 1880, charged with obtaining $1,000 in money from one H. P. Line, in July, 1875. by falsely representing to him that he had a large amount of jewelry in Adams Express Company's office, and showed him a bill of the goods marked C. O. D. This case was nolle prosequi, on account of some valuable information given by him to the police authorities in relation to some bank robberies. Wise has been confounded by many persons with another Albert Wilson, who was arrested in New York, tried, convicted, and sentenced in Buffalo to five years in Auburn prison, on February 7. 1883, for forgery, under the name, of Jas. T. Watson. The history of Watson's operations reveals a series of swindles such as none but a professional could have worked. About the middle of November, 1882, a stranger.called at the Merchants' Bank of Buffalo, New York, and stating that he was in the lumber business, and wished to open an account, deposited $600 in currency. A similar statement was made to the cashier of the Manufacturers and Traders' Bank of that city, and $1,000 was deposited there. Subsequently Watson deposited in the Merchants' Bank a draft for $1,700, made by the Second National Bank, of Wilkesbarre, Pa., upon the Fourth National Bank of New York. A draft for $3,400, made by the Cleveland National Bank of Commerce upon the Manhattan Bank of New York, was also deposited in the Manufacturers and Traders' Bank. Within two days Watson checked against these amounts, leaving but a small balance to his credit. Shortly afterward the Merchants' Bank discovered that the $ 1,700 draft had been raised from $ 17. The other draft was also shown to have been raised from $34. Search was made for Watson, but he had flown, leaving no trace. Descriptions of the swindler and his operations were immediately scattered through the country. A New York detective, seeing the description, immediately associated the criminal with the well known professional "Al" Wilson. Wilson was arrested and held until some of the bank officers from Buffalo arrived to identify him. They were accompanied by Joseph Short, a boy whom Watson employed in his office. The latter immediately identified the swindler. Notwithstanding Wilson's protestations that he was not the man and had not been out of New York in six months, he was taken to Buffalo, indicted and held for trial. The trial took place on February 6, 1883, and the court room was crowded. The prisoner, who is a bright, good-looking fellow, appeared sanguine of acquittal, which feeling was shared by his counsel. The bank officials were positive that Wilson was the man, but their testimony was exceedingly conflicting. The office boy swore positively that Wilson and Watson were identical. The Maverick National Bank of Boston, learning of the arrest, sent a clerk, Henry A. Lowell, to ascertain whether the accused was the individual who swindled its institution of nearly $5,000 under like circumstances a short time before. Lowell identified the prisoner, and swore that he operated in Boston under the name of Whittemore. The defense produced a number of witnesses from New York, who swore that Wilson was in the metropolis when the crime was committed. Detectives from New York testified that Wilson was a professional thief, and had been so for years. Certain witnesses swore that the prisoner had worn a beard during November, and others swore that he wore only a mustache. The testimony being so conflicting, public interest was excited as to the result The judge's charge was against the prisoner, and the jury retired at noon, returning at 3:30 P. M., on February 7, 1883, with a verdict of guilty. Watson, who had looked for an acquittal, was surprised, but maintained his composure. Before the sentence was passed he made an eloquent appeal for leniency on the part of the court. He said that he had a wife and mother, who were left penniless. Rising to his full height, he denied that he was a professional thief and said that his innocence would be proved some day. He requested that he might be sent to Sing Sing instead of Auburn, which request was denied. The spectators in court were unanimously of the opinion that Watson is the coolest rascal ever seen. AI. Wilson's Boston operations were as follows: Some time in August, 1882, under the name of Whittemore, he went into the Maverick National Bank and deposited the sum of $2,000, announcing his determination to carry on business at the bank. The following day he entered the bank, bringing with him a boy whom he introduced as a messenger, and who, so he said, would transact his business for him. He then began. to draw against the deposit until it was almost gone, when he reappeared and deposited a check for $5,000.The next day the boy also reappeared and drew one-half of the $5,000 deposited, and finished on the following day with drawing the entire deposit, minus about $17. Whittemore, after making a similar attempt upon another banking house in Boston, took his departure for Portland, Me., where he also tried to victimize a banking institution. He then went to Buffalo, where he carried on the operations for which he was found guilty, as above stated. His sentence will expire September 7, 1886. Wise's picture is a pretty good one, taken in April, 1877.

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