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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
April 14, 1914

Officers of Suffolk Contracting Company and Two Engineers at Bar.


John A. Hennessy's Chief Investigator to Testify at Riverhead To-day.

Special to The New York Times.

RIVERHEAD, L. I., April 13.—The first of the highway graft trials following indictments obtained as the result of John A. Hennessy's investigations in the Sulzer administration began here to-day before Supreme Court Justice Kapper.  The Suffolk Contracting Company of Huntington and Frederick J. Kinney, Michael Scanlon, David Lynch, and John Huber, present or former officials of the company; Spencer J. Stewart, former division engineer in the State Highway Department, and Leigh Roberts, a supervising engineer, are the defendants.

The jury was finally selected at 5 P. M.  Five are farmers, two liverymen, two clerks, one a tinsmith, one a carpenter, and one a boatbuilder.

District Attorney Ralph C. Greene is assisted in the prosecution by Assistant District Attorney Young, and Peter B. Smith, a special prosecutor from Brooklyn, retained by the State.  Justice Kapper announced that he will hold three sessions a day, starting at 10 o'clock or earlier in the morning, and continuing until 10 o'clock at night, with intervals for luncheon and dinner.  To-night's session began at 7:30 o'clock.

John A. Hennessy has not yet returned from Europe, but Joseph Curran, chief of his staff of investigators, is here, and will testify to-morrow.  After the jury was selected Justice Kapper picked out four Deputy Sheriffs, who will remain with the twelve men until the trial ends.

When court convened this afternoon Isidore Kallert of Brooklyn, counsel for Joseph A. Boice of Long Island City, a contractor under indictment for alleged conspiracy, asked leave to withdraw the plea of not guilty and interpose a demurrer.  The motion will be argued on Friday next.

Attorney Bayliss, representing the Suffolk Contracting Company, made a motion for the dismissal of the indictment against the firm for conspiracy.  He claimed that, inasmuch as the company and its officials are also under indictment for grand larceny, which included the lesser indictment, his motion was a proper one.  Justice Kapper, however, denied the motion.  This company built the Patchogue-Coram road.  Stewart was then division engineer and Roberts supervising engineer for the State.

At the opening of the night session District Attorney Greene outlined to the jury what the State would prove against the contracting company and its officers.

Mr. Green said that he would show that the work on the road was not up to the standard, and that because of the fact that insufficient screenings were placed on top of the asphalted roads huge chunks of it were torn out by automobiles and heavy trucks when they went over it.

Three or four witnesses were called to prove signatures to contracts, and then the trial went over until 10 o'clock to-morrow morning.

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