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Ocean Grove: Forgers

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An extract from the Geelong Advertiser, Monday, April 30, 1928.

Raid at Ocean Grove

Discovery of 10,000 Bogus £5 Notes

Russian Man and Woman Arrested

On Saturday detectives from Melbourne raided a house at Ocean Grove and discovered 10,000 £5 notes. They arrested a man named Stephen Karasickwick [later reported as Stefan Karasiewiez] (47), process engraver, of Warsaw; and Sima Marchenko [ later reported as Serafima Marchenko] (23). The raid was carried out by Detective-Sergeant Mulfahey and Detectives Brophy, Carey, Harding, Saker, and West.

It was stated subsequently that the police had been making investigations for some months into the movements of Karasickwick. Information concerning him had been received from Sydney; and the police knew that anything from £5000 to £10,000 were to be put into circulation.

Karasickwick had been in Australia for about six years. In Warsaw he had held a position as process engraver for the Government. It has been ascertained that he first went to Sydney, where he was employed as a printer. He came to Melbourne some months ago, and then went on to Geelong, where he met a few Russians and some Australians. He has been a companion of the woman for some months. She has been in Australia for five or six years.

Karasickwick and the woman occupied a house which is about three-quarters of a mile from Ocean Grove House. The house can be seen from the road, but has dense scrub at the rear.

On Saturday morning the detectives left Melbourne in a police car, and after making a few inquiries at Geelong, proceeded to Ocean Grove. They took up a position in the scrub looking into the back of the house.

They waited for several hours before making a raid which was commenced by Detectives Carey and West going towards the house. They tried the gate, and found it barred. They climbed the fence, and on going to the front of the house were faced with a savage-looking dog.

Printing Press at Work

They heard a noise inside, and on entering the house found Karasickwick working on the printing press. He was dressed in a dungaree suit. A double-barrelled gun was by his side, and in another room was a pea rifle. The detectives took possession of the gun and rifle.

In another room they found the woman, and in her possession it is alleged they found two genuine £5 notes and two counterfeits, the latter being flawless. In a kitchen dresser they found 10,000 £5 notes packed in boxes, and between each was a layer of paper. In a drawer were found chemicals, inks, dies and engraved plates for printing the front and back of the notes. The workmanship was considered to be perfect. The printing press required six carriers to carry it out. It was worked by pedal.

When questioned by the police, Karasickwick is alleged to have said in broken English, "All I've made you've got". The woman spoke English with extreme difficulty. The detectives regard Karasickwick as an expert note-maker. They allege that he told them it was difficult to get a start in Australia. The machine was removed to the Geelong watchhouse. At the city watch-house tables were covered with packets of the £5 notes.

Ocean Grove: forgers, printing machine

The printing plant, which, it is alleged, was used to print counterfeit notes in the house at Ocean Grove, and the machine interested Constables D. Brady and S. L. Hale when it was moved to Geelong in Tuckfield Street where the forgers lived.

[Photograph : The Sun News-Pictorial, Monday, April 30, 1928 - from the files of the Bellarine Historical Society]

The police regard the raid as one of the most successful for many years, and believe that it will clear up the mystery that has surrounded the circulation of many counterfeit notes that have been reported.

"Artificial" Flower Makers

Karasickwick and his female partner first made their appearance at Ocean Grove about six months ago. They occupied the house for a time, and then had to vacate it at Christmas as it had been let to other tennants for three weeks. As soon as it was available, they took possession again.

They contrived to let it be known that they were engaged in making artificial flowers for women's hats, and some of these flowers, it is alleged, were sold at about 1/6 per bunch, considerably below usual retail prices.

Although they were not communicative, it is alleged they succeeded in impressing people with the plea that the flower-making business had been so successful that they needed a machine for coping with this output. This disarmed suspicion when subsequently a machine was carted to the house. The carrier who brought the machine to Ocean Grove was surprised at its weight and commented thereon at the time.

As the cottage is right on the outskirts of Ocean Grove, the fact that the occupiers were rarely seen did not cause any concern.

A "Gilbertian" Flavor

Neither the butcher nor baker called there. Any supplies required by the couple were purchased in the township, and invariably paid for with good money. On one occasion Karasickwick told Mr. Menzies, the store-keeper, that his name being Russian was too long to be used. He therefore booked up under the name of "Gilbert". He paid his account recently, and at the present time there is only a small sum owing.

There are no houses close by, but some of the residents state that frequently a motor car called there late at night. It has been seen there up to 2 a.m., with all lights dimmed.

For the past few weeks a number of men, ostensibly swaggies, have haunted the locality. In view of later developments, residents consider they were not unconnected with the police force.

House Owner Surprised

The house is one of the ordinary seaside type, on the right hand side of Grub Road, just before the road turns into Ocean Grove. It was formerly occuped by Mr. Smith before it passed into the hands of Mr. J. Blackwell, who regularly each week called for the rent. The house is quite open to view on all sides, although the bush starts a little to the rear.

Ocean Grove: forgers' house

The house in Tuckfield Street where the forgers lived.

[Photograph : Courtesy Jean Hose, Ocean Grove]

Mr. Blackwell got a surprise on Saturday when on knocking at the door it was opened by a stranger, who let him in, locked the door behind him and demanded his buriness. It was one of the detectives. Mr. Blackwell had no difficulty in explaining his position.

At Ocean Grove, Karasickwick had the reputation of being an astronomer, and many people thought that it was in order to study the heavens that he had selected such a quiet locality.

One of the most interesting finds in the house is said to be a book printed in a foreign language, presumably Russian. Over the bed in the front room are a number of texts which in the light of subsequent events are rather significant, although, of course, they were not placed there by accused. One of these reads, "When he giveth quietness who then can give trouble?" Another, "He is able to keep you".

On a ledge in one room are a number of bottles, presumably containing chemicals, whilst a box of drawing pins and a quantity of carbon paper are suggestive.

The artistic ability of Karasickwick was shown by a pencil sketch of a female which is said to have been found in one of the rooms.

There are also, it is alleged, some paper cuttings which appear to have been used in the making of the artificial flowers.

It is understood that amongst the bogus notes confiscated by the police is a large number printed on one side only, and ready to go through the press for a second impression.

News of the raid quickly spread, and large numbers of motorists yesterday visited Ocean Grove and drove to the end of Grub Road for the purpose of viewing the now-famous cottage.

An extract from the Geelong Advertiser, Friday, June 1, 1928.

Ocean Grove Cases

Alleged conspiracy to forge five pound notes

Four accused men on trial

The trial of Stefan Karasiewiez, Benjamin Thomas, Ralph Miller and John Frederick Howarth was commenced in the Geelong Court of General Sessions yesterday. The four were charged with conspiring together to commit an offence against the law of the Commonwealth, namely, with intent to forge certain commonwealth securities, to wit Australian notes of a denomination of five pounds, contrary to the Crimes Act, 1914-1926 and the Commonwealth Bank, Act 1911-1924 of the Commonwealth of Australia. The accused were alleged to have committed the above offence between July 1, 1927 and May 1, 1928 at or near Geelong. ...

An extract from the Geelong Advertiser, Saturday, June 2, 1928.

Ocean Grove Note Cases

Charges continued and adjourned til Tuesday

Russian woman three hours in witness box

... James Blackwell, laborer, residing at Ocean Grove, said he owned a house in Grubb Road at that resort. He recognised the Russian in the dock and the woman, Marchenko. They had occupied his house, after it had been taken by Jack Howarth, who said he wanted it for a sick friend - a Russian-Pole. He was introduced to Karasiewiez, the latter being called Gilbert. Howarth paid the first part of the rent, and Marchenko the last. ...

Mrs. Blackwell, wife of the previous witness, said she received rent from Marchenko.

Frederick John Menzies, storekeeper, Ocean Grove, said he knew Howarth. He had also seen Miller. He had a business transaction with Howarth in October last at Ocean Grove. The business was connected with purchasing supplies. He said he wanted him to supply goods for people in Mr. Blackwell's house. The occupants of the house were Karasiewiez and Marchenko. Between October and Christmas last Howarth came in a car to his shop on occasions and procured provisions. Miller drove the car. ...

Robert Bounds, carrier, said he was standing in Yarra Street on the last Saturday in February, Jack Howarth came to him and engaged him to take a case from the Moorabool St. Pier to Ocean Grove. When he delivered it there he met Karasiewiez and Marchenko. [ ... ]

Last Updated on Monday, 11 May 2009 03:32  

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