MEDINA, Ohio - Two Ohio men have changed their names to those of two Italian immigrants executed in the 1900s for a robbery someone else confessed to committing.
Identical twins Scott C. Wurgler and Matthew A. Wurgler, both 21, of Strongsville, became Sacco Vandal and Vanzetti Vandal, respectively.
The names were inspired by Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were arrested in 1920 in South Braintree, Mass., after shoe company employees were shot and robbed of the $16,000 in payroll they were carrying.
Historians say Sacco and Vanzetti were foreign anarchists who believed in using violence to promote political change.
Both men were found guilty and sentenced to electrocution despite alibis and conflicting witness statements. Another man admitted before the execution that he and four accomplices committed the murders.
In 1977, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis cleared the pair of "any stigma and disgrace."
Medina County Juvenile and Probate Judge John J. Lohn on Tuesday allowed the name change despite an earlier denial by Magistrate Albert D. Shirer. Shirer said the twins wanted to "identify themselves with persons whose names are synonymous with anarchism, wanton destruction and murder."
The brothers said they look up to the historical figures, but they chose the names as a tribute to their Italian heritage and to help with future business and political plans. The name Vandal is in honor of their German background, they said.
The judge in this northeast Ohio town believes few will notice.
"If the applicant is using the name change to make a social commentary, it is a subtle one," Lohn wrote. "Most people won't 'get it' without a short history lesson and a long social commentary."