John Lenkowski


JOHN LENKOWSKI was born in New Jersey on June 13, 1915. He came to the attention of law enforcement personnel in February of 1928, when he was only 12 years old. During the 1930s he gained a reputation via the newspapers of being one Camden's leading "bad boys". 

By 1930 his father had passed away. John Lenkowski lived at the time of the Census at 1226 Chestnut Street, just off of Haddon Avenue, a block where many other Polish families lived. At home were his widowed mother Vincentina, brother Joseph, 19, and sisters Sophie, Stella, and Christine. In Depression-era Camden and without a father, both Joseph and John Lenkowski developed a wild streak, and fell into a life of crime in the early 1930s.

On May 24, 1931 brother Joseph Lenkowski attempted to rob Tom Kenney's Cafe at 100 Pearl Street. Police shot and killed his partner, Felix Zubelski, 18, of 1039 Diamond Street, and wounded Joseph Lenkowski as they attempted to escape.

Already having served time and out on parole by the spring of 1934, John Lenkowski as a member of a gang led by Philadelphia gangster Philip Caplan participated in a series of armed robberies in Camden and Gloucester City. The gang was rounded up in May of 1934. Lenkowski also took part in a bank robbery at Marlton along with Mitchell Sadowski, Stanley Geda and another men during this period.

By December of 1939, John Lenkowski was back on the streets. He was implicated in the fatal December 24th shooting of Andrew Scarduzio, an Eighth Ward political worker, who had, with brother Nick Scarduzio tried to enter a taproom in Bellmawr NJ long after closing time. Andrew was shot to death. Considered a suspect in the killing, John Lenkowski was a fugitive when on January 9, 1940 Westmont crime figure Joseph Colozzi was gunned down in South Philadelphia. Colozzi and John Lenkowski had been reported to be in each others company much of the ten days previous to the shooting. 

John Lenkowski was last a resident of Browns Mills NJ. He passed away in September of 1983. 


Camden Courier-Post
February 27, 1928

August Fortune
Elmer Woods
Stanley Barcycki - Victor Bielicki
John Jankowski - Edward Luczkiewicz
Jess Luczkiewicz -
John Lenkowski
Stanley Szwak
Camden Storage Battery
Baird Avenue - Haddon Avenue
Kaighn Avenue - Louis Street
Mechanic Street - Rose Street
Sycamore Street - Thurman Street  

Camden Courier-Post - October 31, 1931

3 CAMDEN CAFES ARE CLOSED BY U. S. COURT
Bronx, Arcadia and Kenney's Ordered Closed by Montana Judge
RUNNEMEDE ROADHOUSE ALSO COMES UNDER BAN
'Soft Drink" Emporiums Sold Illegal Beer, Federal Agents Charged

Three of Camden's most popular cafes and a Runnemede roadhouse, described on the permits as "soft drink establishments" but known otherwise to thousands of South Jersey and Philadelphia thirsty, were ordered padlocked yesterday.

The establishments are: "Tom" Kenney's Bridge Cafe, 100 Pearl Street, the Bronx Cafe, 29 North Third Street, the Arcadia Cafe, 201 Federal Street, and the Marland Club, Black Horse Pike, Runnemede.

The padlocks were ordered in Trenton by Federal Judge George Bourquin.

The four places were raided several months ago by federal agents and the padlocks were ordered on the strength of "beerometer" tests made on the premises which disclosed the "soft drinks" were of illegal alcoholic content. Such tests recently were declared legal by Bourquin.

Owners or operators of the establishments are listed in the orders as follows: Bridge Cafe, Thomas J. Kenney, John A. Smith and Charles H. Schwab; the Bronx Cafe, Thomas J. Boland and Florence Scannell; the Arcadia Cafe, William and Sophia Siobodzian, and the Marland Club, Edward Smith and Gottlieb Mayer, president of the Camden German Maennerchor.

An attempt to rob the Kenney Cafe last May 24 failed when police shot and killed Felix Zubelski, 18, of 1039 Diamond street, and wounded Joseph Lenkowski, 21, of 1226 Chestnut Street, as they attempted to escape.

 Judge Bourqin, who presides over the Montana circuit, was ordered to New Jersey in July to aid the state judge in clearing the crowded court dockets.


 

CAMDEN COURIER-POST

May 12, 1934

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CAMDEN COURIER-POST - MAY 19, 1934

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CAMDEN COURIER-POST - MAY 19, 1934

Identified in Police Line-Up

      John Lenkowski, upper left; Earl Stainker, center, and James Mealy, upper right, all identified yesterday in a police line-up by victims and witnesses of four holdups and robberies. The trio was picked from five suspects who were viewed by more than 20 victims of recent holdups.


Trenton Times * July 2, 1934

Mitchell Sadowski - Stanley Krause - John Lenkowski - The "John Doe" was Stanley Geda
Stanley Powell - Edward Guedryc (Gedrich)

Trenton Times * July 3, 1934

Mitchell Sadowski - Stanley Krause - John Lenkowski
The "John Doe" was
Stanley Geda

Camden Courier-Post - 1938
Click on Images to enlarge
August Pflederer - William Casler - Clifford Carr - Joseph Mardino - Thomas Murphy
Mitchell Sadowski - Stanley Krause -
Stanley Geda - John Lenkowski
Calvin Hunsinger - George Mayo
Genova Cafe 
Park Boulevard - Kaighn Avenue - South 9th Street - South 15th Street - Mickle Street - North 3rd Street Arch Street 

Camden Courier-Post - January 10, 1940

GUNMEN IN PHILADELPHIA
MURDER COLOZZI IN NUMBERS WAR
Westmont Victim Reported to Have Been Aide of Klosterman
SCARDUZIO DEATH TIEUP ALSO SEEN

A reputed employee of Fred Klosterman, Camden numbers baron, was shot and killed in Philadelphia last night in what police there believed was an inter-city fight for control of the numbers racket.

The dead man was Joseph Colozzi, 49, of Westmont, known in the underworld and police circles as a “cheap thief”.

While Captain John Murphy, of the Philadelphia vice squad, expressed belief the slaying of Colozzi and shooting last Sunday of Klosterman were related.  County Detective Chief Lawrence T. Doran was working on another angle.


Visited Colozzi’s Home

Doran said Colozzi had been closely associated during the last 10 days with John Lenkowski, 22, a fugitive wanted here in connection with the murder of Andrew Scarduzio.

“Both of them were convicted of similar offences- thievery, and they apparently were hooked up together lately. I could not say whether either of them ever was In the numbers racket."

Philadelphia police, however, seemed certain Colozzi was shot as a result of a new “numbers war”. They said they had Information that the dead man apparently was in the employ of a Camden numbers bank.

Credence was given the report that local numbers barons are attempting to “muscle in” on the “Philadelphia play” when Irving Bickel, 34, who admits being friendly with Klosterman was arrested yesterday.

New Setup Alleged

Bickel, Murphy said, declared he had been contacting numbers writers in Philadelphia to inform them of a “new setup” and invite them to join.

Detective Sergeant Benjamin Simon and Detective Edwin Mills questioned Bickel in Philadelphia yesterday and said he admitted “knowing Klosterman” but denied he worked for him.

Simon and Mills were in Philadelphia again today working on the Colozzi shooting to ascertain whether there was any connection between the slaying and shooting of Klosterman on Sunday. Simon said he would investigate to learn if the slain man ever had been in the employ of Klosterman.

A theory advanced yesterday by police that Klosterman had been shot by killers hired by Atlantic City gamblers brought on an expression of surprise from shore police.

Detective Captain Frank Feretti said he did not know of any gambling house near the Union Station in which Klosterman may have been interested. He said no request had “been made by Camden police for an inquiry at the resort.”

Colozzi was murdered at Eleventh and Carpenter Streets, South Philadelphia, last night. The top of his head was blasted by shotgun slugs to end1a career in crime that extended over 30 year, with at least 30 arrests.

Colozzi's body was found lying across the trolley tracks in a darkened section near the Bartlett Junior High School.

Police of the Seventh and Carpenter streets station a few minutes before received an anonymous telephone call that "there's been a shooting at Eleventh and Catherine.” The caller hung up.

No One Sees Shooting

Homicide squad detectives under Acting Captain William C. Bugle rounded up a number of persons in the neighborhood but could locate no one who admitted he saw the shooting. That was what the police expected, for the section has been the scene of unsolved gang killings in the past.

Captain Engle admitted the possibility that Colozzi, may have been allied in some way with Jersey gamblers attempting to poach on Philadelphia territory,  and had met sudden death for that reason.

Though Captain Engle described the murdered man as a “cheap thief" he wouldn't deny the possible link to the threatened outbreak in a numbers war between rival operators as evidenced by the Klosterman shooting.

“I won't say there’s a tie up, and I won't say there's not” said Engle. “We can't tell, right now”.

Syndicate Under Way’

But the story told Captain Murphy, head of Philadelphia's vice squad, by a Camden man known to be a pal of Klosterman, put further credence in the rumored attempts at revision along the numbers front

The man is Bickel of a hotel at Delaware Avenue and Market street, who yesterday was held in $1000 bail for a hearing next Tuesday by Magistrate Thomas Connor in Philadelphia’s central police court on suspicion of being connected with the numbers racket. He was picked up in Germantown.

Captain Murphy said Bickel admitted to him he was contacting various numbers writers for the purpose of having them pool their resources.

"He admitted verbally he had the names of several Philadelphia writers and that he was trying to line up the boys,” Murphy said. “He is trying to coerce them with a new numbers set-up. That will cause a revival of gang warfare”.

Although the murdered man was never known to have had theatrical connections police said he often boasted he was an entertainer in a New York cabaret. 

Brother of Philadelphia Cop

The body of Colozzi, brother of a Philadelphia policeman, was identified by the officers wife at the Pennsylvania Hospital, Eighth and Spruce Streets. Five bullets had penetrated his skull.

Police said Colozzi lived at 113 Westmont Avenue, Westmont, since his last release from prison, some time during September 1939.

He lived with his wife Rose and most of their eight children.

In Colozzi’s pocket, when a police ambulance arrived at the scene, was a card bearing his name and the Westmont address.

He was one of two brothers of John Colozzi, whose police record was said to be longer even than Joe’s, and is being sought.

Police of Haddon Township said Colozzi was known to them only as an "innocent” junk dealer, who plied his trade picking up old car parts in and around the section/

Colozzi's last brush with the law according to the Philadelphia police records, was last Spring when he was implicated in a dress robbery. He was freed in September after serving part of his sentence.

Meanwhile Camden city and county detectives continued their investigations into the pump gun shooting of Klosterman, who remained in critical condition at West Jersey Hospital.

Klosterman was shot down in front of his saloon at Mount Ephraim Avenue and Mechanic Street at 10:00 PM Sunday as he went to the street to drive his car to a garage. The would-be killer sped away. 

Seldom In Jail Long

Colozzi had run afoul of the law since early school days, but he often boasted that “with all the friends I got, I can't stay in jail long." He invariably managed to regain freedom, only to renew his jostles with police.

The stiffest sentence he ever got was on December 13, 1934 when Judge Frank F. Neutze sent him and an accomplice to state prison for robbing a coat factory at 7 South 3rd Street four months before.

          In passing sentence on the much arrested “Manayunk Joe”, Judge Neutze put aside pleas the prisoner was the father of eight children and sent him “up the river” for a term ox six to seven years.

          "You're a typical criminal and a menace to the public" Judge Neutze said in a searing rebuke. "A light sentence won't do you any good. Your record is one of the longest shown to me since l have been on the bench. You represent a type that is better off behind bars, for outside of prison you are a menace to the public. I’ll go the limit with you” 

Obtained Police Badge

But Colozzi merely nodded, apparently thinking of which “friend” he would call on this time to get him out.

Previously Joe had established a second-hand tire shop on the White Horse Pike at Lindenwold and escaped serious penalty as police held a continuous club over his head for suspected escapades.

On one occasion he diverted his talents to another “profession”- extortion. By some means he obtained a police badge in Clementon township. A few months later he and several other members of the police department were rounded up for wholesale extortion of money from motorists and truck drivers

Those were the day of Prohibition, and the White Horse Pike was a frequently used. Highway for passage of beer trucks between Philadelphia and Camden and Atlantic City and other sea shore points.

The extortion continued among other motorists most of them guilty of petty violations. There were times when Colozzi took “anything they had”, police said. 

35-Year Police Record

Colozzi’s police record dates back to 1904, when as a a child of 12 he was committed to the Glen Mills, Pa. Home for Boys for petty larceny.  He served 19 months.

In 1909 he was given a two-month sentence in the Montgomery county jail at Norristown PA, after another conviction for larceny.

Then followed a series of brushes with the law, with Colozzi landing behind bars a dozen times, but invariably obtaining freedom before the expiration of his term.

The record continues: 1914, committed to Philadelphia County Prison, larceny, three months;

In 1915, for receiving stolen goods, Eastern Penitentiary, four years and six months;

In 1919, at Newark, larceny, sentenced to two to seven months and pardoned in December, 1920.

A 10-year stretch followed during which his name failed to appear on police records. 

Acquitted of Charge

 In 1929, State Police of the Hammonton barracks arrested him for extortion, but he was acquitted in Camden County Criminal Court May 90, 1930.

In 1930 he was arrested in Trenton for breaking and entering and sentenced to a year and six months in Mercer County jail.

In 1933 he was taken in custody by the U.S. Marshal at Trenton. No disposition of the case is listed.

Later in 1933. he was arrested for Larceny in Philadelphia, and no record is known further of the case.

Later the same year Camden police arrested him for attempted larceny. No disposition.

In October 1933, he was jailed  by U. S. Marshals for violation of the Dyer Act, interstate transportation of a stolen auto, but was placed on five years’ probation.

In July. 1934 he was arrested in Camden for breaking and entering and in December of the same year was sentenced to six to seven years in State Prison.

The last time he appeared in local police records was less than a year ago, when he was arrested on a detainer for violation of federal parole and sent to Mercer County jail. A few days later he was freed.

 

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