Fredericka "Marm" Mandelbaum
|Died||February 26, 1894 (aged 76)|
|Other names||Fredericka Mandlebaum|
|Known for||Criminal fence and underworld figure in New York City during the mid-to late 19th century.|
Fredericka "Marm" Mandelbaum (1818 – February 26, 1894) was a New York City entrepreneur and operated as a criminal fence to many of the street gangs and criminals of the city's underworld, handling between $1–5 million in stolen goods between 1862 and 1884. Like her principal rival John D. Grady and the Grady Gang, she also became a matriarch to the criminal elements of the city and was involved in financing and organizing numerous burglaries and other criminal operations throughout the post-American Civil War era.
Life and career
Mandelbaum was born Friederike Weisner in Kassel, a city in modern-day Germany. Not much is known of her early life, other than that her family was Jewish. She married Wolfe Mandelbaum in 1848; they worked as itinerant peddlers in Germany before emigrating to the United States in 1850, likely because of limited economic opportunity for Jews.
When the family arrived in New York, they began a series of small businesses, taking in goods collected by scavengers and reselling them. The pair purchased a dry goods store on Clinton Street, but by 1854, the business was operating as a front for the Mandelbaums' criminal operations (she would later need to store goods in two large warehouses in the city). Mandelbaum began financing thieves and burglars and was involved in planning some of the biggest thefts in the city's history, including the Manhattan Savings Bank Robbery. Expanding her operations, she controlled several gangs of blackmailers and confidence men as well as a school, known as Marm's Grand Street School, to recruit and teach younger criminals how to pickpocket. She was also a top competitor to the Grady Gang.
During this time, she had become one of New York's most prominent hostesses of New York's high society, as well as the underworld, regularly associating with some of the most well-known criminals of the day including Queen Liz, Big Mary, "Black" Lena Kleinschmidt, Adam Worth, Sophie Lyons, and George Leonidas Leslie as well as judges and police officials.
However, in 1884, New York District Attorney Peter B. Olney hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to infiltrate Mandelbaum's organization. An agent, posing as a prospective thief, arranged to have several marked bolts of silk stolen from a store where it was discovered in a police raid on her home the following morning. Arrested with her son Julius and clerk Herman Stroude, Mandelbaum was released on bail and fled the United States with an estimated $1 million. She settled in Hamilton, Ontario where she remained until her death in 1894.
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- Frederika "Ma" Mandlebaum at Rotten.com
- The Sins of New York: As "Exposed" by the Police Gazette by Edward Van Emery
- WNYC - The Next Big Thing: Out Laws (Queen of Fences)
- "Marm - A Gilded Age Mastermind" by William Bryk - New York Sun - December 22, 2004