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This week, a judge ruled that William Leroy of Bowery oddities shop Billy's Antiques can't have his seized subway signs back, despite the fact that a court had dismissed charges that he acquired them illegally. Judge Rita Mella explained that while she sympathizes with Leroy, New York state law does not give the court the power to return the signs. Any defendants who wants to reclaim seized property has to go directly to the Police Department; if that doesn't work, they generally have to sue.
But despite being stuck in a legal situation that even the judge herself admits is unfair, Leroy isn't too depressed to send us emails. Last night, he passed along the photo above along with a note that begins: "These are the 'Bowery Ghosts' I keep warning all these Gentrified/Suburbanized Shops that keep opening up around Billy's."
The photo, according to the website of the National Library of Australia, is a mug shot of De Gracy (no first name listed) and Edward Dalton. It was one of about 2500 photos taken by New South Wales cops between 1910 and 1930, and it came with the annotation "magsmen," Australian slang for "con men," written in pencil. Leroy writes:
De Gracy and Dalton well know criminals on the Bowery in the 1920's....They spoke to me while I was in the store at night alone during the Blizzard. They said they are disgusted by how clean and normal the Bowery has become and vowed to haunt all the shops.There's nothing online about either man spending time on the Bowery, but look at those guys—would you want to be on their bad side? Here's hoping they can haunt the NYPD until Billy gets his signs back.
· Case Is Dismissed, but Signs Remain Seized [City Room]
· Billy of Billy's Antiques Warns Rag & Bone about Bowery Ghosts [Racked NY]
· Billy's Antiques Got Subway Signs Fair and Square, Says Owner [Racked NY]