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Mail Tribune 100, June 3, 1921

The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago

June 3, 1921


Peter Strauff and Frank Kodat to be Sentenced Tomorrow for Breaking into Gold Hill Bank — Jury Deliberates One Hour.

Peter Strauff and Frank Kodat, indicted on a charge of burglary in connection with the attempted robbery of the Bank of Gold Hill at Gold Hill on the night of April 13, were found guilty by a jury in the circuit court this morning, after one hour’s deliberation. Both the defendants have prison records. Four ballots were taken, the first standing 10 to 2 for conviction.

E. W. Wright, former commissioner of the Port of Portland, and vice-president of a shipyard at Astoria, arrived this morning too late to testify. He was called as a character witness for Strauff, whose sponsor and friend he has been since he was pardoned by Governor Olcott on Christmas day, 1918.

Sentenced Tomorrow

The defendants listened to the reading of the verdict without a tremor. The court announced that they would be sentenced in the morning. The crime carries a sentence of from one to ten years.

In his closing argument to the jury, O. S. Blanchard for the defense flayed Watchman Wise as “flippant and afraid,” and asked the jury not to convict because they had served prison terms. He criticized the sheriffs office for not posting more men in the bank and for not getting proof that the can of powder was buried under the sidewalk as claimed by a former prison mate of Strauff’s. Attorney William Briggs of Ashland made a strong plea to the jury for Kodat, co-defendant in the case.

Frank Kodat and Peter Strauff, known as “Dutch Pete,” faced trial in the circuit court Thursday afternoon, on a joint indictment charging burglary of the Bank of Gold Hill at Gold Hill, on the night of April 13.

Strauff took the stand in his own behalf, gave his age as 45, and said that he had served prison terms in Montana and at Salem. A short, heavy set man, he told his story with tears in his eyes. Strauff said that he had been paroled from the state prison at Salem in 1916, and had been granted a pardon by the governor on Christmas day, 1918. Letters of recommendation from employers were denied admission, but the witness testified that he had been a deputy sheriff in a shipyard at Astoria during the war, and that he had been trying to lead an honest and upright life since freedom.

“I was working for the Union Pacific in Wyoming, when a telegram came that I was wanted in Tillamook,” testified Strauff. “I went to Portland and met the sheriff of Tillamook county. I was released. The sheriff said: ‘The law has made a mistake; you’re not the man.’” A bank book showing deposits made by Strauff in a Wyoming bank was presented.

— Alissa Corman; acorman@rosebudmedia.com