Female White-Collar Crime Divas-Mordern Day Thieves
“History consists of a series of swindles, in which the masses are first lured into revolt by the promise of Utopia, and then, when they have done their job, enslaved over again by new masters,”
Allow me to introduce a very famous female white-collar criminal from the 1860s. Her name is Annie Reilly, but she went by several names. Annie stood barely five feet high, but was known to have stolen more property than any female in history. Read on and find out about this elite woman of crime.
”Little” Annie Reilly (1844-unknown), also known under the aliases Kate Cooley, Connelly and Manning, was a 19th century American thief and con artist widely regarded as “the cleverest woman in her line in America”. A well-known member of New York’s underworld, she was part of an elite “inner circle” of female career criminals under Marm Mandelbaum during the 1860s and 1870s.
She later emigrated to the United States and settled down in New York City where Reilly found employment as a servant and child’s nurse. She was said to look much younger than her age and was both charming and intelligent. She spoke at least two or three languages. Once gaining the confidence of the lady of the house, most often by making “a great fuss over the children”, she would rob the house of its valuables, usually jewelry, sometimes leaving with sometimes as much as four to five thousand dollars. She rarely stayed in one place for long, waiting only one or two days before robbing her employers, and eventually became known up and down the Eastern seaboard. She became especially infamous in New York, Brooklyn and Philadelphia and was considered “the cleverest women of her line in America”.
It was during this time that Reilly became associated with Marm Mandelbaum, then one of the biggest criminal fences in the city, and eventually became part of an elite “inner circle” of female career criminals which included Lena Kleinschmidt, Sophie Lyons, Kid Glove Rosey, Queen Liz, Big Mary and Old Mother Hubbard, These women would meet often at extravagant dinners hosted by Mandelbaum where it was said they discussed their latest criminal escapades.
In early-1873, Reilly was finally apprehended in New York after robbing the East 84th Street home of Mrs. A.G. Dunn among others. Held in custody in default of $6,500 bail, she was tried in the Court of General Sessions by Judge Sutherland, convicted of grand larceny and sentenced to 4½ years in New York State Prison on April 23, 1873. She was then using the name Kate Connelly. Three years after her release, she was again arrested on August 3, 1880, for stealing from the Second Avenue home of Mrs. Evangeline Schwarz. She was convicted on September 8, under the alias Kate Cooley, and sentenced by Judge Gildersleeve to three years imprisonment on Blackwell’s Island.
She immediately returned to her criminal activities following her release in January 1883. Reilly remained active in and around New York and, while employed at the New York Hotel, was responsible for the theft of $3,500 worth of jewelry and other valuables from guests. She soon moved on to Brooklyn where, under the name Kate Manning, she was arrested for the theft of a watch and chain from Charles A. Jennings on June 5, 1884. A stolen bronze statuette was found in her possession at the time of her arrest. She pled guilty in court and was sentenced to another 4½ years in the Kings County Penitentiary. Her criminal career was among those featured Thomas F. Byrnes’ “1886 Professional Criminals of America” (1886). As of 1886, she had stolen more property in the last fifteen years then any other female thief in the United States.
Wow, can you believe this has been going on over a century and a half. She’s not the only one, I will be posting more women in crime history over the next few weeks, some are more interesting than Little Annie.
With that said, I hope it brings home the reality that something has to change and we must work on change by spreading the word against white-collar crime – that is preventing it before it occurs. Tell someone about this site, you never know who needs to hear about something they may be doing.
The mission of this site is to prevent professional, educated, and career-minded females from committing white-collar crimes; to educate, and confabulate with others who have an interest in this epic situation and who has a desire to make a difference.
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