Killed - November 12, 1931
The headline in the November 12, 1931, San Jose Mercury Herald read: "Deputy Sheriff McAuley Killed, Frank Saporito Wounded In Gun Duel With Hijacking Gangsters."
It was something the people of San Jose had never seen before. Only in big cities like Chicago and New York did they read about police being gunned down by gangsters. Mobsters in San Jose? Never.
Little did Fred Hopkins know that this was going to be his third and final trip to Oakland. Hopkins, a confessed rum-runner, was an ex-truck driver who now ran booze for his brother between Northern and Southern California. On November 10, 1931, Hopkins and Chester Edwards made the bootlegging trip from San Pedro to Oakland. There they met up with Paul Brocchini who sold them 250 gallons of alcohol at $2.75 a gallon. The booze was then to be driven back to San Pedro, and sold for $10 a gallon. At 9 P.M. the next day, they started on the first segment of what they thought was going to be just another run.
What Hopkins and Edwards didn't know was that their every move for the past two days had been watched. Joe Teresi and his gang had other ideas on how to dispose of the illegal booze; Teresi made plans to steal the hooch and sell it in San Francisco. Teresi decided to follow Hopkins and Edwards. Hopkins pulled into a Shell gas station in San Leandro. Edwards got out of the passenger side of the car and walked into the station's bathroom. When Edwards was out of sight, Teresi opened Hopkins door, put a gun to his ribs and said "yes, I mean business." Hopkins was yanked out of his car and put into the front seat of a Chevrolet sedan. "Don't make a move or I'll plug you," Teresi coldly told Hopkins. Spencer Griffith, one of Teresi's gang members, got into the driver's seat of Hopkins' Packard and drove out of the station. Teresi followed in the Chevrolet. The hijackers were just pulling out of the driveway when Edwards walked out of the bathroom. When he realized what was going on, Edwards ran to the stations phone and called the Oakland Police Department with a totally made up story - he told the officers that a very rich gas station owner had just been kidnapped at gun point.
Oakland Police wired Santa Clara County Sheriff William Emig with a description of the fleeing automobiles, and requested that he have his deputies set up roadblocks. Emig, knowing full well that the only route between Oakland and San Jose was by Oakland Road, assigned Deputies McAuley and Saporito to watch Oakland Road near the intersection of Berryessa Road.
It was a little before 11:00 at night. McAuley and Saporito were standing next to their patrol car. The calm of the night was broken as they heard a car speeding towards them. As the car passed the deputies, they recognized it as the hijacked car from the description passed on to them from Oakland. The deputies jumped into their car and gave chase. Deputy McAuley pulled up beside the Packard as Saporito flashed his flashlight signaling the car to pull over. When the rumrunners refused, McAuley swerved toward the fleeing vehicle, forcing the car off the road. Before they were able to get the car moving again, McAuley approached the driver's door. Flashing the light inside he asked the driver "Got any booze in the car?" Hopkins, who became frightened, tried to get out of the passenger side door. He was met by Deputy Saporito. As Hopkins and Saporito struggled for their lives, Teresi fired two rounds into McAuley's heart. Any one of the two was instantly fatal. McAuley was dead even before he hit the ground, never having a chance to defend himself. His gun was later discovered to be still in the holster under his heavy jacket. Saporito didn't know his partner was shot when he received a bullet in the stomach, and two more in his legs. Forcing himself, he drew his revolver and started firing toward his assailants. Hopkins fell to the ground, wounded. Griffith, still seated in the Packard, received a flesh wound in his leg. Saporito, not knowing that he should have died from his wounds, was still fighting with Hopkins. Just before he passed out, Saporito was able to handcuff his prisoner. Hopkins pleaded with Teresi to free him, but Teresi ignored him and sped off toward Gilroy. As soon as he heard about the murder of his deputy, Sheriff Emig wired every police agency and county sheriff in the state.
Meanwhile, Teresi panicked. Confused and scared, he turned back around and started for San Francisco. Palo Alto Police officer Edward Parr spotted the murderer's car and gave pursuit. With speeds exceeding 75 mph, Parr radioed ahead to Officers Martin McDonnal and Robert O'Brien of the Burlingame Police Department to await the fleeing car. McDonnal and O'Brien spotted the car and gave chase. Pulling up beside Teresi, McDonnal aimed his sawed off shotgun and convinced him to stop the car. The driver nodded and started to pull over, but instead of stopping, suddenly swerved off the San Francisco Highway onto Lincoln Drive. The officers slammed on their brakes and skidded to a stop. By the time they turned around the bandits had over a block head start. Loosing sight of the Packard, they turned on to a side street. There they found the car. It had smashed into a fire hydrant, snapping it off two feet under ground. Beyond the geyser of water they found the black Packard - it had careened off a eucalyptus stump, and flipped on to its side.
Expecting to find both men dead, they suddenly saw one of the men running up the street. O'Brien fired off one quick shot. The man staggered and doubled over, scampering into the brush. Loosing the wounded man in the darkness, the officers returned to the crashed car and found Griffiths unconscious, with abdominal wounds. While the officers were dealing with Griffiths, Teresi was running for his life. First he ran to a nearby vacant house and hid under it for a few hours. Next, he ran a couple of blocks and crossed the railroad tracks to some bay side swamps. When morning came he hitched a ride to South San Francisco, where he hid under a pile of lumber until the next day. Later that night he found an automobile with the keys still in the ignition and stole it. He drove it through the darkened streets of San Francisco until he reached the ferry terminal where he caught the next ferry to Oakland. From Oakland he slowly drove to Stockton so not to catch the attention of the police. Fifteen hours later, tired and hungry, he arrived in Los Angeles.
Griffiths, whose real name was later learned to be Jack LeVers, was taken to Mills Memorial Hospital in San Mateo, where he was kept under heavy guard. LeVers was not new to the world of crime. He spent time in a Colorado prison for auto theft in 1926, then again in 1928 he served time in Leavenworth for auto theft. LeVers had been out of prison only three months when he shot Deputy Saporito.
The next morning Sheriff Emig, with Deputy Ed Lowell, combed through the wrecked Packard. They found 25 five-gallon cans and 25 one-gallon cans of illegal alcohol. A more important find was two wallets containing a number of Oakland addresses. Emig and Deputy Hubert Bartley immediately went to Oakland and enlisted the help of Sheriff Driver from Alameda County. With the help of the Alameda County deputies Emig, conducted raids throughout Oakland. They were able to uncover a rum-running ring, producing mass arrests of people who ran booze from Oakland and Martinez to Los Angeles, but there was no sign of Teresi.
The funeral for Deputy McAuley was held in Los Gatos on Saturday afternoon, November 14,1931, with hundreds of officers from around the county in attendance.
Their big break finally came on Saturday after the funeral. Sheriff Emig received a tip that Teresi was going to be at a gun club near Indio, in Southern California. Emig passed the word to the Los Angeles Sheriff who sent two Deputies out to the gun club. The first building the deputies tried they struck pay dirt. A woman, who later turned out to be Teresi's wife, answered the door and attempted to stall the deputies while the wily Teresi, wearing only a pair of pants, tried to slip out the back door. Luckily the sheriff's deputies were a little smarter than Teresi and were ready for his escape attempt. Teresi was easily taken into custody and booked into the Los Angeles County Jail for the murder of Deputy Sheriff McAuley.
Minutes after receiving word that Teresi was actually in custody, Emig and Deputy Louis Gray were on their way south. Teresi, strapped in irons, arrived back in San Jose late Monday afternoon.
After numerous delays the trial finally began on March 1, 1932 with the swearing in of the seven women and five man jury. The prosecution asked for the death penalty. The defense tried to show that Teresi and LeVers were just common crooks who believed that the deputies were fellow rumrunners who wanted to hijack their booze. Hopkins had been persuaded to turn states evidence and testified for the prosecution. In return he was not indicted on the murder charges. The trial ended on March 24 when the case was submitted to the jury. The jury deliberated 56 hours, and on March 27, rendered their verdict of guilty of murder in the second degree. Judge Robert Syer sentenced Teresi to San Quentin for a period of 5 year to life, and LeVers was sentenced to Folsom for 5 years to life. Both Teresi and LeVers were eligible for release after serving only 4 years of their life sentence.
Following the trial, Fred Hopkins, Chester Edwards, and Paul Brocchini were indicted on Federal Prohibition Act crimes; Brocchini also pled guilty in an Oakland Court of loading Hopkins' car with the 150 gallons of alcohol and was fined $200.00.
McAuley left a wife, Gladys May McAuley, and two children - Lorena, 21, and Donald, 17. Santa Clara County under the State Employer's Liability Act, paid the McAuley family $5000 for the loss of their father.