Notorious criminal “Marm” Mandelbaum

When you think of the criminal element in New York City in the late 1800s, portly immigrant ladies rarely come to mind.

But 250-pound Fredericka “Marm” Mandelbaum, who arrived in Manhattan from Prussia in 1849, became one of the city’s most infamous thieves, a kind of mother hen to organized crime in post–Civil War New York.

FrederickamendelbaumAfter moving to the U.S., Marm and her husband opened a dry goods store at 79 Clinton Street, which quickly became a front for her various illegal activities. Marm fenced stolen goods, financed gangs, assisted con men and blackmailers, and even taught pickpocketing to kids on Grand Street.

This godmother also had a ladylike side. She gave lavish dinner parties mixing New York’s elite with crooks. Supposedly she tried to improve the manners of her criminal cohorts, and she was a queen bee to other female swindlers of the time.

Finally arrested in 1884, she took off for Canada with a million bucks. She died there in 1894.

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3 Responses to “Notorious criminal “Marm” Mandelbaum”

  1. Joe Z Says:

    She actually jumped bail and went to Canada. She ended up with a lot more than a million bucks. Her bailbondsman backdated financial instruments used by her to post bail and transferred the money back to Fredericka. Pretty damned spiffy!

  2. A 19th century pickpocket fleeces New York City « Ephemeral New York Says:

    [...] Illinois, she arrived in New York City in 1884 and became part of the infamous inner circle of top fence Marm Mandelbaum. But not for [...]

  3. A con artist known as “queen of the underworld” | Ephemeral New York Says:

    [...] Born in 1848, Sophie spent her Manhattan childhood mastering the family business. Sent to Sing Sing three times by her 20th birthday, she was part of a gang led by another infamous female thief, Marm Mandelbaum. [...]

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