W. I. Awbrey

Pardoned after codefendant identified actual accomplice

On August 4, 1931, W.E. Hayes, the postmaster in Franks, Oklahoma, was beaten and robbed of postal receipts totaling $28.72 by two men, one of whom Franks said he recognized as William I. Awbrey. Two days later, Awbrey was arrested in Ada, thirteen miles north of Franks. Shortly thereafter Emmett Poe, who was suspected of being a second man involved in the crimes, also was arrested.

The following October 15, Awbrey and Poe were found guilty by a U.S. Commissioner in Ada — the charge was violating Section 1616 of the Postal Law and Regulations of 1924 — and sentenced to three years in the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.

On August 19, 1932, Awbrey filed an application for unconditional pardon with the Justice Department supported by an affidavit from Poe acknowledging his own guilt but identifying the second man involved as one Lawrence Springfellow. The following month, a federal grand jury in Muskogee, Oklahoma, indicted Springfellow for the crime. Awbrey, however, remained in the Leavenworth prison until November 16, when President Herbert Hoover signed an unconditional pardon.


— Michael Shevlin