Gerhard Puff

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Gerhard Puff
Gerhard Arthur Puff
Gerhard Arthur Puff
FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
Charges Bank robbery and murder
Born c. 1914
Dresden, Germany
Died August 12, 1954
Sing Sing Prison, Ossining, New York, U.S.
Added December 3, 1951
Caught July 26, 1952
Number 30

Gerhard Arthur Puff (c. 1914 - August 21, 1954) was an American gangster, executed by the federal authorities in New York for killing a federal agent. A native of Dresden, Germany, on June 6, 1927, the thirteen year old Puff, along with his mother and five year old brother arrived at Ellis Island on board the S.S. Columbus from Bremen.[1] The family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin [2] where he became a naturalized citizen in 1934, but by 1940, he was an inmate in the Wisconsin State Prison in Waupun, Wisconsin.[3]

In 1952, he traveled from Kansas City to Manhattan with his 17-year-old wife, Annie Laurie. By this time, his career as a bank robber had earned him a spot on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. Shortly after he arrived at the Congress Hotel, FBI agents waited to arrest him.[4] He did not remain at Room 904 but returned to the first floor in a few minutes by the stairway where FBI Special Agent Joseph John Brock, aged 44, was stationed. Puff encountered Agent Brock and shot him twice in the chest and took the collapsing officer's gun. Then, with a gun in each hand, Puff zig-zagged through the hotel's lobby, firing another shot at converging agents. Agents outside the hotel called on Puff to surrender but he responded with bullets. Puff was shot and collapsed on the street. He was taken to a hospital for treatment, then to the prison ward at Bellevue. Brock was treated by a doctor on the scene, then rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.[5]

On May 15, 1953, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Gerhard Arthur Puff was found guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death. Puff's attorney appealed the conviction but to no avail and on August 12, 1954, at Sing Sing Prison, Ossining in the electric chair and declared dead at 11:08 p.m. Puff was one of the first people New York State Electrician Dow Hover was hired to execute.[4] The execution was the fifth federal execution since President Dwight D. Eisenhower took office on January 20, 1953.


  1. ^ New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957. Microfilm Publication T715, 8892 rolls. Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; National Archives at Washington, D.C. Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715; Microfilm Roll: 4068; Line: 5; Page Number: 187.
  2. ^ 1930 Federal Census for the 22nd Precinct, Block 3756 of the City of Milwaukee, County of Milwaukee, State of Wisconsin, Enumeration District 40-279, Sheet 13-A, Lines 36-38
  3. ^ 1940 Federal Census for the Wisconsin State Prison, Second Ward, City of Waupun, County of Dodge, State of Wisconsin (Enumeration District 14-60, Sheet 16-A, Line 22)
  4. ^ a b "The Last Executioner" by Jennifer Gonnerman, The Village Voice
  5. ^ Profile,; accessed December 23, 2013.