Sentencing of Mercer County Counterfeiters

Huntington Advertiser
September 21, 1911

Jack Wilson Head of Counterfeiters Admits His Guilt

No Denial to Any of the Several Indictments Which Were Found

Others Pleaded Not Guilty

Mercer M. Leanord Pleaded Guilty to Robbing Post Office

Pleading guilty to every count against him which included two indictments of two counts each, charging respectively the coining of counterfeit money and having the same in his possession and one charging post office robbery John E. Wilson, head of the notorious gang taken in Mercer county by the secret service, this morning did as much as he could to save his alleged fellows from the consequences of the acts with which the government has charged them.

Mercer M. Leanord, one of the other six pleaded guilty to complicity in the post office robbery but not guilty to the charges of counterfeiting.

James Leonard, John Cooper Leanord, Riley R. Folden and Esther Folden not guilty to all the indictment which were returned against them.

Against the seventh member of the party, old Mrs. Leanord, a grey haired woman no indictment has been returned at noon today but it was indicated that indictments would probably be brought in later.

Sentence was not passed on Wilson and mercer Leonard when their pleas were received and this action may [be] withheld until after the other cases are disposed of.

The alleged counterfeiters who were brought into the court room from the county jail just before noon to answer to the indictments which it was understood the grand jury would return against them, are a strange aggregation.

Wilson, the acknowledged leader of the gang is an old time crook. He served time in the beginning for safe cracking and later was sent up from Scranton, Pa., on a counterfeiting charge. He had been out of the penitentiary for but a short time when his operations in Mercer county began.

There, the government charges, he assembled round him the people who were brought into court with him this morning.

The Leanords, so the secret service agents say, have been professional thieves from their youth up, operating in the Norfolk & Western country. They have never worked, not any of them, it is declared, except that one of them worked for a month in North Carolina.

James Leonard, "the parrot," is a red headed boy, only eleven years of age, but his countenance is that of an old person and the officers allege that he had an active part in the workings of the gang.

Wilson hid his plant securely, he thought, in the mountains of Mercer and had made a large amount of both gold and silver coin, when a step aside from the counterfeiters plan led to the downfall of the conspirators.

Wilson and some of the others robbed a post office in Mercer county and when two of the men were arrested they were found to have large sums of counterfeit money in their possession.

These were arrested by Deputy Marshal John Stuart and a deputy sheriff of Mercer county. Then the marshal's office notified the department of justice and the head of the secret service detailed Charles E. Wright, one of its veteran agents to run down the remainder of the gang. How Capt. Wright worked the puzzle in such a manner as to arrest the women in the case and the child in a restaurant on the Norfolk & Western and finally captured the plant and all the men alleged to be implicated is a story too intricate and interesting to be briefly told.

Captain Wright is here himself with Assistant Chief Mahan and George F. Foster, another well known secret service agent, to assist in the prosecution of the cases.

The trials of the alleged accomplices of Wilson will probably begin this afternoon.

Only a few indictments were returned in the federal court Wednesday afternoon but a long list was returned before noon today.

The case will be pushed with that expedition which always marks the federal court procedure in the hope of cleaning up the criminal docket this week.

Crime and Punishment

West Virginia Archives and History