Walter D. Van Riper

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Walter D. Van Riper
Walter D. Van Riper.jpeg
Attorney General of New Jersey
In office
February 4, 1944 – February 4, 1948
GovernorWalter Evans Edge
Preceded byDavid T. Wilentz
Succeeded byTheodore D. Parsons
Personal details
Born(1895-05-18)May 18, 1895
Montville, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedMarch 4, 1973(1973-03-04) (aged 77)
Boca Raton, Florida, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Alma materNew Jersey Law School (LLB)

Walter David Van Riper (May 18, 1895 – March 4, 1973) was an American politician and judge. A member of the Republican Party, he served as mayor of West Orange, New Jersey, and was a county court judge for 18 years before being chosen to serve as the Attorney General of New Jersey from 1944 to 1948, focusing on combating racketeering while in office.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Van Riper was born in Montville, New Jersey, and graduated from Boonton High School in 1912.[2] He attended the New Jersey Law School (since merged into Rutgers Law School) and was admitted to the state bar in 1916.[3] He was mayor of West Orange, New Jersey, in 1920 and served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey from 1922 to 1924.[1]

New Jersey Attorney General[edit]

Having served for 18 years as a judge in the Essex County Court of Common Pleas, he was nominated by Governor of New Jersey Walter Evans Edge to succeed David T. Wilentz.[4] Van Riper took office as New Jersey Attorney General in 1944 and served through 1948.[1]

As part of an effort to target Frank Hague, boss of the Hudson County Democratic machine, Van Riper was appointed to take over the county prosecutor's office.[1] Using outside investigators and 55 state troopers, Van Riper conducted a series of raids in August 1944 on Hudson County horse-race betting wire rooms that had been protected by Hague and was able to obtain indictments against more than 50 people who had been involved in the illegal activities, the first such indictments in Hague's 27 years controlling the county.[5] In retaliation, Hague had charges of check kiting and black-market gasoline sales filed against Van Riper in federal court through a United States Attorney controlled by Hague.[6] Van Riper went to trial on both indictments and was acquitted of all charges.[7][8][6]


A resident of West Orange, Van Riper died of a heart attack he experienced while swimming in the pool at the Boca Raton Hotel and Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida, on March 4, 1973, at the age of 77.[1][6]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Walter D. Van Riper, 77, Dies; Was Jersey Attorney General", The New York Times, March 5, 1973. Accessed December 22, 2021. "Walter D. Van Riper former New Jersey Attorney General, died of a heart attack yesterday at the Boca Raton Hotel. He was 77 years old and lived at 22 Harbor Terrace in West Orange, N. J."
  2. ^ Pierson, David Lawrence. History of the Oranges to 1921: Reviewing the Rise, Development and Progress of an Influential Community, Volume 4, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1922. Accessed December 22, 2021. "Walter D. Van Riper was born in Montville, Morris county, New Jersey, May 18, 1895, and there completed grammar school courses of study with the class of 1908. He was a student at Boonton High School, 1908-12, and after graduation with the class of 1912 he entered New Jersey Law School whence he was graduated LL. B., class of 1915."
  3. ^ Walter D. Van Riper, New Jersey Attorney General. Accessed December 22, 2021. "Walter D. Van Riper was born in Morris County, New Jersey on May 18, 1895. He graduated from the Boonton High School, New Jersey Law School and was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in November 1916."
  4. ^ "Wilentz Replaced By Judge Van Riper; Gov. Edge Names Essex County Jurist As New Jersey's Next Attorney General Vote Machine Bill Waits Measure to Compel Use in Hudson Is Being Revised to Include Other Counties", The New York Times, February 1, 1944. Accessed December 22, 2021. "Judge Walter D. Van Riper of the Essex County Common Pleas Court was confirmed promptly today by the New Jersey Senate as Attorney General after his nomination was forwarded by Gov. Walter E. Edge."
  5. ^ "52 Are Indicted in Race Betting In Hudson, the First Since Hague's Control Began", The New York Times, August 23, 1944, p. 21. Accessed December 22, 2021. "For the first time in the twenty-seven years that the Democratic organization of Mayor Frank Hague hag been in power in Hudson County, a grand jury today returned nine indictments naming fifty-two persons in connection with raids June 9 on horse race betting wire rooms by Attorney General Walter D. Van Riper, his staff and fifty-five State troopers."
  6. ^ a b c Curtin, Edmond. "Walter Van Riper, 77, dies in Florida", The Record, March 5, 1973. Accessed December 22, 2021, via "As attorney general in the waning years of World War II, he became the target of Hudson County Democratic boss Frank Hague after he broke up Hague's gambling dynasty, centered in Union City. Hague, using his influence in the federal government, had a U.S. attorney charge Van Riper with violations of wartime rationing and check-kiting. Both charges ultimately were rejected by the courts."
  7. ^ "Van Riper Freed of 'Gas' Fraud; No Black Marketer, Jury Finds", The New York Times, May 11, 1945, p. 1. Accessed December 22, 2021.
  8. ^ "Directed Verdict Frees Van Riper As Court Assails His Check-Kiting; Directed Verdict Frees Van Riper As Court Assails His Check-Kiting Edge Calls Charges 'Flimsy'", The New York Times, November 30, 1945, p. 1. Accessed December 22, 2021.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by Attorney General of New Jersey
1944 – 1948
Succeeded by