“People need a few laughs these days”
On a winter’s day in 1950 the Brink’s Building in Boston was robbed of $1,218,211.29 in cash, and over $1.5 million in cheques, money orders and other securities. The robbery was then the largest in the history of America. Anthony “Fats” Pino planned the heist and he hired Joseph “Big Joe” McGinnis, Stanley “Gus” Gusciora and Joseph “Specs” O’Keefe.
The robbery took two years to plan and often the robbers would enter the building to sketch out the lay of the land. Pino then took on seven more men, including his brother-in-law, Vincent Costa, plus Michael Vincent “Vinnie” Geagan, Thomas Francis Richardson, Adolph “Jazz” Maffie, Henry Baker, James Faherty and Joseph “Barney” Banfield.
They carried out a complete dress rehearsal in December 1949 and another on 16 January. Finally on 17 January everything was ready. They wore uniforms similar to Brink’s staff plus rubber Halloween masks and overshoes. Pino and Banfield stayed in the getaway lorry while seven thieves entered the building.
They bound and gagged five Brink’s employees and in 35 minutes they were back outside again with their loot. They divided the money and then agreed not to touch it for six years until the statute of limitations expired.
165 Prince Street, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
6.55pm Tuesday 17 January 1950
Brink’s Incorporated offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the robbers and the recovery of the money. In June 1950 O’Keefe and Gusciora were arrested in Pennsylvania for a burglary. O’Keefe was sent down for three years in Bradford County Jail while Gusciora got 5-20 years in the Western State Penitentiary at Pittsburgh.
When he was released O’Keefe was arrested on another burglary charge and bailed for $17,000. While free, on 18 May 1954, he kidnapped Vincent Costa, claiming he had never seen his share of the money. Pino hired Elmer “Trigger” Burke to kill O’Keefe. He shot O’Keefe on 16 June 1954 but the robber survived. In August 1954 O’Keefe was sentenced to 27 months in prison.
The FBI continued to pressure him and he told them everything on 6 January 1956. Six days later the Feds apprehended Baker, Costa, Geagan, Maffie, McGinnis and Pino. On 16 May they arrested Faherty and Richardson at Dorchester,Richardson and Maffie were Richardson at Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Banfield had died and Gusciora passed away on 9 July from a brain tumour and acute cerebral edema.O’Keefe was sentenced to four years and freed in 1960. The other eight men were sent to prison for life on 9 October 1956. When a film was made Richardson and Maffie were invited to set. Richardson said: “I’m glad they made something light out of it. People need a few laughs these days.”
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Only $58,000 of the $2.7 million was recovered. The robbers missed escaping prosecution by less than a week.