July 16, 1927
“If I had a hammer
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening…”
— “If I Had a Hammer”, written by Lee Hayes and Pete Seeger
Jacob Goldstein, President of Rothschild Mortgage and Finance, permanently ended his business partnership with the firm’s Vice President, Joseph Stern, by bashing him four times over the head with a hammer and firing three bullets from a revolver into his body. It would have been less messy if only Goldstein had let an attorney handle the dissolution.
Goldstein denied premeditating the attack, which occurred in the company’s elaborately furnished offices at 505 Hellman Bank Building, and swore to police that he had acted in self-defense. According to Goldstein, Stern had behaved like a lunatic and had menaced him with a hammer during a quarrel over business matters. Goldstein further stated that he was in fear of his life when he wrenched the hammer away from his future former partner, and then used the tool to crush the man’s skull. The coup de grace was delivered with the revolver he had purchased the day before.
Police found Goldstein’s explanation unbelievable and charged him with first degree murder. Goldstein entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment but was later allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter, for which he received a sentence of from one to ten years in the state pen.
It’s not easy to get kicked out of California forever, but Jacob Goldstein managed it. On the condition that he would move to Forest Hills, New York to live with friends, 63-year-old Goldstein was paroled from San Quentin on February 24, 1933.