Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
> 1929 SAUGUS TRAIN ROBBERY   > LAW ENFORCEMENT

Outlaw Tom Vernon Pardoned by Gov. Pat Brown



Click image to enlarge

Webmaster's note.

This report references one or more of the enduring lies that the inept horse thief and train robber Thomas Vernon told about himself: that he was "Buffalo" Tom, the rodeo star; and that he was Thomas Averill, the fantasy love child of Jim Averill and Cattle Kate. He was neither.


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A train robber, vintage old west, has won a pardon from Gov. Brown.

Tom Vernon, 82, derailed a Southern Pacific train on Nov. 10, 1929, and stole $300 from the passengers. He was caught two weeks later and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Vernon has been in Folsom State Prison since his conviction. He first requested a pardon in 1941.


Webmaster's note.

The story is itty-bitty, but there's a big problem with it. It's not possible, in 1964, for Tom to have been in Folsom "since his conviction." In California, felons do not generally become eligible for a pardon until 10 crime-free years have passed since their discharge from probation or parole. In fact, we know Tom had been paroled sometime before August 1953, because that's when he shows up in Idaho as reported here. Even today, it's not unusual for reporters to misconstrue the mechanics and significance of pardons.

The reader should be aware that a pardon is not a commutation (a lessening of a sentence), and it does not erase or seal a felon's criminal record. Instead, a pardon restores certain rights otherwise denied felons. In California that includes, among other things, the right to serve on a jury and, in most instances, with federal approval, the right to own a gun — but not when a deadly weapon was used in the commission of the original crime. So even with the pardon, Tom wouldn't have been able to own a gun. (It also doesn't restore the right to vote because it doesn't have to. In California, the right to vote is automatically restored upon discharge from parole.)

Edmund Gerald "Pat" Brown Sr. was the 32nd governor of California (1959 to 1967) and the father of Gov. Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr.


Courtesy of Lauren Parker.
1929 SAUGUS TRAIN ROBBERY

THE ROBBERY

thumbnail

Passengers / Earliest Known 11-10-1929

thumbnail

Daybreak 11-11-1929

thumbnail

Newsreel Footage

thumbnail

Loren Ayers x5

THE MANHUNT

thumbnail

Boynton Story

thumbnail

Pollack Story

thumbnail

LAT 11-11-1929

thumbnail

Vernon Captured

thumbnail

Mugshots 12/1929

thumbnail

Extradition 12-12-1929

thumbnail

AP 12-19-1929

THE FAKERY

thumbnail

REAL: Tom Vernon Prison Records

thumbnail

REAL: Horse Theft 1920

thumbnail

BOGUS: Tom Vernon Letters 1929-1963

thumbnail

BOGUS: Tom Vernon's Fake Photo ID 1962

thumbnail

BOGUS: Vernon's Own Story in 3 Parts

thumbnail

BOGUS: Cattle Kate Story 12-7-1929

thumbnail

BOGUS: Vernon Retells Story in 1953

thumbnail

BOGUS: Sweetwater Incident 1967

thumbnail

BOGUS Sideshow: Lester F. Mead
'Confessor' 11-1929

thumbnail

REAL: Buffalo Vernon 1884-1939

THE AFTERMATH

thumbnail

1957-1958 x3

thumbnail

Pardon 1964

thumbnail

Death Cert. 1967

thumbnail

After the Wreck
No. 5042 x3

• A New Ending (Now Obsolete)


RETURN TO TOP ]   RETURN TO MAIN INDEX ]   PHOTO CREDITS ]   BIBLIOGRAPHY ]   BOOKS FOR SALE ]
SCVHistory.com is another service of SCVTV, a 501c3 Nonprofit • Site contents ©SCVTV • Additional copyrights apply