The 2008 financial crisis put many people in dire circumstances from which they could not recover. For one former college football player named Anthony Curcio, the financial ruin that followed forced him to break bad and altered his life forever.
Anthony Curcio was the All-American boy. Growing up in Monroe, Washington, Curcio was one of the most popular kids in school and was voted as captain of both his high school football and basketball teams. Within a few years, the party would come to a crashing halt.
The Small Town Boy
For Anthony Curcio, sports were his whole life. There was not much to do in Monroe and Seattle was about thirty miles away. With only 3,000 people in Monroe, sports were the best bet for staying busy and out of trouble. Curcio had hoped of playing football in college. His father starred as a receiver at the University of Idaho, and the young Curcio wanted to do the same. Between football and basketball, it seemed like sports were in his future.
A Star Athlete
In high school, Anthony broke all of Monroe High School’s receiving records and earned a handful of awards for his play. His play earned him not only the opportunity to play in college but to fulfill his dream- to play receiver at the University of Idaho. In an interview with 20/20, Anthony said, “Catching a touchdown pass, that’s a true feeling. It was everything that I wanted to be; it was falling into place.” Curcio’s vision was coming to fruition.
Welcome To College Life
Anthony was ecstatic about bringing his talents to Moscow, Idaho. With over 10,000 students and endless opportunities, University of Idaho made Monroe and its 3,000 residents look puny. Anthony had a huge personality and immediately got swept up in the social scene. He loved to party, and it started getting in the way of football. During his freshman year, he redshirted to extend his eligibility but was suspended for his habits outside of the team.
Ready To Play, Coach
Although his 1999 arrival on-campus for football did not go as planned, Curcio came back for his second year prepared. He was training and living well and hoped to make an impact with the team. The school brought in Tom Cable to coach the team, and they looked ready to play. Cable would become the head coach of the Oakland Raiders some years later. His good health and spirits, however, would not make it through the year.
Tearing His Life Down
With a promising season ahead and plenty of opportunities to earn playing-time, Curcio tragically injured himself during practice. The prognosis was not good – he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The injury would take him out of football for the year and require intense physical therapy. For the pain, Curcio began taking prescription Vicodin. Immediately, it began to affect his psyche. “I was depressed that my whole identity wrapped around sports was gone,” Curcio said.
Latching On To The Wrong Remedy
Instead of focusing on rehabbing his knee and getting ready for the next season, Curcio fell victim to the power of Vicodin and developed an addiction. Anthony said, “Now I was just a student. I latched onto the painkillers, and within a few prescriptions, my dream of football was gone. The pills had me.” The pills became a safe haven for him as he tried to deal with the insecurity of not playing football. He fell deeper and deeper into their clutches.
Finding The Next Score
Eventually, Anthony was far enough removed from his surgery that his Vicodin prescription had run out. He resorted to extreme measures secure more pain pills. Sometimes he would forge prescriptions, and other times he would purposefully injure himself in the hope of getting more Vicodin. His friends’ medicine cabinets became another source of stealing pills. When finding pills themselves was not an option, he stole campus furniture and sold it on eBay or counterfeited and sold baseball cards.
The Happiest Part Of His Life
As he spiraled further into a pill addiction, Anthony Curcio did have one great thing going for him – he had a family. After college, he married his high school sweetheart, Emily. She was a cheerleader, and he was a football player, but their lives were anything but storybook. Anthony attempted going to rehab on a handful of occasions for her, their children, and his parents, but he could not hold onto his sobriety for long.
His First Business
With a college education in-hand, Anthony put his non-football skills to work and set up a business called Tony’s Gaming. The company bought and sold gaming merchandise and casino tables. Only a few months after opening for business, the Washington State Gambling Commission and local police shut the company down and confiscated all of its inventory. Curcio did not have the right permits to keep the company open. Again, he dove back into pills for comfort.
Living A Double Life
Anthony moved on to another venture. This time it proved lucrative. He started a property company in Seattle and began flipping real estate. In no time, Anthony started buying him and his family fancy homes on the waterfront and expensive sports cars. “On the outside, here I was, this confident person when we moved into this nice, brand new house. I have this beautiful wife. Got into real estate, everything’s great, on the outside. But on the inside I had no control,” he said.
Hard Times For Everyone
By 2008, Anthony’s life still seemed great. His business was booming even if he was sporting a $15,000 a month substance addiction. Of course, 2008 was a terrible year for real estate as the housing bubble burst, the market crashed, and millions lost trillions of dollars. Curcio found himself with a portfolio of homes on the brink of foreclosure in addition to his personal debts. With few assets or cash in the bank, Curcio came up with a crazy plan.
Hatching The Heist
One day while sitting in a Jack in the Box restaurant in his hometown of Monroe, Curcio watched a Brinks armored truck drop off cash at a Bank of America across the street. Desperate to get himself back on his feet and support his nasty habit, he decided to rob the truck. Over the next three and a half months, he carefully studied the money drop off operation: when it was delivered, how many people in a truck, etc.
Planning His Escape
Robbing a bank truck might seem directly from Michael Mann’s crime thriller Heat, but Anthony had no interest in a Hollywood-style shootout. Instead, he meticulously plotted his escape. In place of hopping in a car and speeding away, Anthony stashed a rubber tube on the nearby Woods Creek, which leads to the Skykomish River. From there he would pull himself down river to his getaway car with a pulley system. He thought about using a jet ski, but his practice attempt failed.
The Distracting Ruse
Anthony still needed to make his exit without being seen. A few days before his planned robbery day, Curcio put a fake job advertisement on Craigslist for a landscape job. He said that the job paid $28.50 an hour, but workers must come to the meeting point in a yellow safety vest, jeans, blue shirt, work shoes, a mask, and goggles. All he had to do was blend in with the crowd following the heist.
On September 30th, 2008, Curcio put his plan into action. While the Bank of America parking lot began to fill with his Craigslist applicants in identical outfits, Anthony weaved his way towards the Brinks truck. He pulled out a can of pepper spray and assaulted the driver as he pushed a dolly with the cash. Curcio then grabbed two bags of cash with over $400,000 as the driver released the dolly to tend to the pain in his eyes and headed for the creek.
A Riverside Getaway
Anthony’s plan had unfolded without a hitch. He raced to the creek, threw the cash in the tube and pulled himself 200 yards away to his getaway car. The car was on the other side of the highway than the bank. He then removed his clothes and wig and drove away. Meanwhile, police showed up to the bank and found a parking lot filled with people matching a description of the suspect. They would need a big break to solve the case.
The Notorious And Mysterious Robber
Quickly, Curcio’s plot made national news. In a coincidence, the U.S. government had just announced its plan to bail out the banks, including Bank of America, days before. People on the internet began calling him names such as the “Craigslist Robber.” Some people dubbed him D.B. Tuber, a play off of D.B. Cooper. Cooper was the man behind a million dollar heist in which he jumped out of a plane with a parachute and was never caught.
Not So Fast!
It seemed like Curcio would get away with the heist, but he made a mistake during his planning and trials. Two weeks earlier, he left his mask behind a dumpster after a dry run. When he went to retrieve it, a homeless man confronted him and wrote down his license plate. Police began tracking Curcio since the car was registered to him. The FBI knew they had their man when a DNA sample from Curcio’s drink bottle matched a mask and wig near the scene.
Caught Red Handed
On November 4, 2008, Anthony Curcio was arrested by the FBI. They picked him up in Lake Stevens, Washington, as he exited his SUV. He had $17,000 in cash on him. Although the prosecutors only had circumstantial evidence against him at first, they would get a big help from an associate of Curcio’s. The associate made a deal to flip on Curcio and helped the FBI recover $220,000 of the stolen funds. In the end, they recovered all the cash except payments to accomplices.
D.B. Tuber Goes To Prison
Curcio’s heist earned him 72 months in federal prison. “As embarrassing as it is to my family, if I had gotten away with it I would have lived like that to the grave. It takes a real big snowball to be rolling to get to the point where you think about stealing from an armored truck. Even once I was thrown into jail it took a long time for me to wake up,” he said.
Reaching Rock Bottom In Prison
No longer able to fuel his addiction, reached rock bottom while in prison. Although he was not involved in the incident, Curcio was put in solitary confinement for his affiliation with two inmates that had assaulted another inmate. While in solitary confinement, he was beaten, witnessed suicides, and had cockroaches in his cell. In general population, he befriended an inmate named George Jung that put him on the path towards his recovery as a person.
D.B. Tuber? More Like F. Scott Curcio
Jung felt that Curcio should write a book based on his experience. Jung connected him with Dane Batty, an author/biographer, and Batty helped Anthony compose his story and connect him to the publishing world. Curcio’s story was published in June 2013 and is called Heist and High. The book was released a few months after Anthony’s release from prison on April 4, 2013. He walked out a free man and drug-free thanks to a drug-treatment program.
An Established Children’s Author
His memoir was not the only thing that Anthony wrote in prison. He became infatuated with writing and illustrating and decided to write children’s books. In prison alone, he wrote and illustrated over 20 books. One of his books, My Daddy’s In Jail, is targeted at kids whose parents are incarcerated. He says that he created the book for his daughters because he “wanted them to know that it wasn’t their fault and that I loved them no matter what.”
Moving On And Living Life
Now that he is out of prison, Anthony is doing everything he can to fix his life and make it great for him and his family. He returned to his family in the Seattle area and worked hard to repair his marriage. His new passion, beyond writing children’s books, is speaking to young people about the dangers of substance abuse and addiction. He knows that he put his family through plenty and hopes to stop others from making his mistakes.