Thomas O. Martin, investigator

October 28, 1994|By DeWitt Bliss | DeWitt Bliss,Sun Staff Writer

Thomas O. Martin, a retired state investigator and FBI agent who worked on the famous Brink's robbery, died Tuesday at the Johns Hopkins Hospital of a heart attack after surgery. He was 73.

In appointing Mr. Martin chief investigator of the newly formed state prosecutor's office in 1978, Gerald D. Glass described him as a "relentless worker." Mr. Glass headed the office.

At that time, Mr. Martin declared that he wanted to get "back in my own element, criminal fraud, the fraud element of accounting." He retired as chief investigator in 1984.

Mr. Glass, who had left the office before Mr. Martin, said yesterday that he continued to use him "as a sounding board for problems."

Mr. Glass had been Mr. Martin's boss in another new unit, the Major Fraud Unit in the Baltimore state's attorney's office. He described him as "a methodical and logical person who never got flustered."

He said Mr. Martin was very modest, never "tooting his own horn," and would never leak information about the cases he on which he worked. He said Mr. Martin posted a sign in his office, "Loose Lips Sink Ships."

Mr. Martin was assigned to the Baltimore FBI office from 1953 until 1973, when he retired. He was one of two agents who started the office's Bank Robbery Squad.

He became an FBI special agent in 1949 and was cited by then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover for his "devotion to duty" for the work he did to help solve the Brink's robbery in Boston.

On Jan. 17, 1950, nine men robbed Brink's Inc., an armored car service, of $1 million in cash and $500,000 in checks, at the time the biggest robbery in U.S. history.

Mr. Martin also participated in an even more historic event. The Detroit native joined the Marine Corps in 1940 and was in Hawaii when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He fought throughout the Pacific campaign and in 1991 received a special medal for survivors of the attack in ceremonies at the Naval Academy.

Mr. Glass related that Mr. Martin had rented a car in Hawaii that was destroyed in the Japanese attack and letters from the rental company demanding reimbursement followed him from island to island across the Pacific.

After the war, Mr. Martin began working at FBI headquarters and studying accounting at Strayer Business College in Washington. received his degree and became an agent in 1949.

He worked on bank-related crimes such as robbery, larceny and embezzlement, did counter-espionage work and investigated public figures.

After retiring from the FBI, he worked in the Baltimore state's attorney's office until 1976 when he became an investigator in the Antitrust Division of the Maryland attorney general's office.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Good Hope Baptist Church, near Spotsylvania, Va.

He is survived by his wife, the former Alyce Dickerson; two daughters, Paula Avon of Potomac and Lynda Buckley, of Felton, Pa.; a son, Vance Martin of Ojai, Calif.; six grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

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