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17 ‘frontists’ Indicted;. Face 8 Years in Jail on Sedition, Theft Charges

February 8, 1940
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The 17 Christian Front members arrested Jan. 13 and 14 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an alleged plot to overthrow the Government were indicted by the Brooklyn Federal Grand Jury today on charges of seditious conspiracy and stealing Federal munitions and property. The defendants face a maximum penalty of eight years’ imprisonment and $15,000 fine each, if convicted on both counts.

United States Attorney Harold Kennedy, who presented the evidence to the Grand Jury, said in a statement that the men were being accused as individuals and urged the public to “turn a deaf ear to those who continue to raise false issues, whether it be ostensibly against these men or in their interests.”

“Under our system of government these men are entitled to a fair trial, free from any atmosphere of bias, sympathy or prejudice,” Kennedy said.

The indictment charges: (1) that the defendants conspired “to overthrow, put down and destroy by force the Government of the United States and by force to take its property,” (2) that they conspired “to commit an offense against the United States by stealing munitions and other personal property belonging to the United States.”

The munitions allegedly stolen were from the armory of the 165th Infantry (the old 69th Division), of which one of the defendants, John T. Prout Jr., is a captain. It was the first time that the specific armory from which the defendants were alleged to have stolen arms was officially stated.

The indictment did not mention the Christian Front and referred by name to only one organization, the Action Committee, but said that the defendants intended to use their position in “other organizations” to further the conspiracy.

The defendants are: William Gerald Bishop, 32; John F. Cassidy, 30; John T. Prout Jr., 29; Michael J. Bierne, 32; Macklin Boettger, 32; Andrew Buckley, 32; William H.D. Bushnell, 18; Claus Gunther Ernecke, 36; John Franklin Cook, 19; John A. Graf, 23; Leroy Keegan, 37; George M. Kelly, 24; Frank M.J. Malone, 25; Alfred J. Quinlan, 22; John A. Viebrock, 36; Michael Vill, 32; Edward L. Walsh, 23.

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