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Anthony Curcio – a one-time American football team captain – planned an almost-perfect bank heist ...
2021-04-12 09:00:00
sports

A $400,000 Punt
The Bank-Robbing Team Captain

A $400,000 Punt
A $400,000 Punt

Do you remember the Whisky Robber we mentioned a while ago? Turns out he’s not the only bank-robbing athlete out there. Today, you’ll learn more about the story of Anthony Curcio, a one-time American football player who robbed an armoured car and ran away with $400,000.

Read in 3 minutes

Anthony Curcio was one of the ‘popular kids’ we know so well from American movies: football team captain, always wearing his team’s jacket, always followed by girls’ gazes. His problems began with an injury. At the turn of the century, the promising young sportsman tore his articular ligament, then went through reconstructive surgery, but he finally gave up during the rehabilitation process. Curcio found painkillers more appealing than physiotherapy exercises. This was the first step toward becoming addicted to prescription-pills, and later, also to cocaine.

Despite his accumulating drug-related problems, Anthony went back to sports. For a moment, it seemed that professional American football could help him get his life under control. Unfortunately, it was already going downhill too fast – despite attending various addiction therapies, he was sinking into the world of drugs and all kinds of illegal affairs. In 2008, he found himself in another hole. After several failed investments, years of constant partying and living above his means, Curcio desperately needed money. One time, going back home after football practice, he saw an armoured car parked in front of the local Bank of America, workers loading bags of money inside. He began to wonder whether someone as physically fit as himself would be able to steal some of the valuable cargo and just run away. The seed was planted, and Anthony Curcio began drafting his plan.

It took him three months to gather all the information he needed. During that time, Anthony managed to plan an almost-perfect heist. He knew by heart the schedule of the car’s visits to the bank, the placement of security cameras, and the whole cargo-handling procedure. One of the guards was armed, but Curcio didn’t want to use a gun – so he decided to go for the shock tactic and attack the guards with mace.

Two weeks before the heist, he began posing as a maintenance worker, cutting the hedges near the car’s parking spot. This way, bank guards stopped noticing the man wearing goggles and a high visibility jacket, working right next to the bank. On the day of the heist, Curcio hired 20 people to wear similar outfits and do maintenance work in the area. Taken by surprise and pepper-sprayed, the guard let go of the trolley, and the fake gardener grabbed two bags of money and vanished. His escape route was carefully planned, too – he evacuated via a nearby canal, going upstream using an inflatable wheel and a system of pulling ropes he had prepared ahead of the heist. Then, he left the money in a hiding place. When police arrived at the scene, they saw 20 people dressed exactly like the robber and had no idea how to get anywhere the investigation.

This was not the end of Curcio’s plan. He laundered the stolen $400,000 dollars, planning to spend it on clearing his debts (and some more fun afterwards). He was nearly there when everything fell apart, like a house of cards. The FBI got their first tip from a homeless man who was sitting near the bank several weeks before the heist. He saw a man pull out a gardener’s outfit from behind a trash bin (when Curcio was rehearsing the robbery). The accidental witness found it suspicious enough to write down the man’s car plates. On top of that, one of the people helping Curcio with money-laundering informed the police that the athlete was in possession of an amount of money similar to what had been stolen in the recent robbery.

The FBI found the culprit and in January 2009, Curcio ended up behind bars. Even though serving time wasn’t easy for him, in his biography Heist and High Anthony Curcio admits that it changed him and allowed him to get back on his feet. In the Federal Correctional Institution, La Tuna, he met the legendary cocaine trafficker George Jung (portrayed by Johnny Depp in the film Blow), who encouraged him to write a book. During his six-year confinement, he also wrote children’s stories that he illustrated himself, including My Daddy’s in Jail – the first comic book helping children understand what’s happening when one of their parents is incarcerated.

In 2013, Anthony left prison, fully rehabilitated and addiction-free. Nowadays, he is a creator of picture books for children and colouring books about NBA and NFL stars. He’s also a motivational speaker and works with youth, telling them about his experience with addiction, and works as a coach for a junior American football team in his town. A while ago, he posted an ad searching for the homeless man who reported his car plates to the police. Curcio claims that the man saved his life.

 

Translated from the Polish by Aga Zano

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