Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Pelham Lawyer Charged with Defrauding the Railroad in 1871

In 1871, a well-respected attorney who lived in Pelham was arrested and charged with fraud under a very odd set of circumstances. The lawyer, William Stewart McClellan, was charged with falsely claiming to be the Town of Pelham's Tax Collector and presenting false "tax bills" to the New Haven Railroad over a six-year period, thereby defrauding the company out of about $5,000. An account of his arrest and a description of the scheme appeared in the January 29, 1871 issue of the New York Times. The account is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.


WM. STEWART McCLELLAN, a lawyer residing at Pelham, and doing business at Mount Vernon, was arrested yesterday in civil suit, on complaint of the New-York and New-Haven Railroad Company, on an order issued by JUSTICE TAPPEN, of the Supreme Court. The accused is charged with having defrauded the Company during the last six years out of nearly $5,000, by representing himself to the Superintendent of the Railroad as the Collector of the State, county, town and school taxes for Pelham. Each year he presented to the Company what purported to be correct tax-bills against the Company's property in that town, all of which bills were in excess of the true amount by several hundred dollars. The accused was required to give bonds to await the result of the suit. It is understood that criminal proceedings will be instituted against him."

Source: Westchester County, N.Y. Times, Jan. 29, 1871, p. 8, col. 5.

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At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Candace Longley said...

Interesting article on Wm.S. McClellan, hadn't heard this story before. It must have been particularly embarrassing for his brother who was the Westchester Co. D.A.during this time, Pelham L. McClellan [my gggrandfather]. Love your pieces on Pelham. Thank you.


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