This Ex-Football Player Was His Home Town’s Hero. But When The Housing Market Crashed, He Broke Bad

In a small town in Washington, footballer Anthony Curcio is preparing for the big leagues. But when an injury derails his promising career, he turns to the housing market to make his dreams come true. When that comes crashing down as well, his life takes a far darker turn.

Curcio was born on September 1, 1980, in Monroe, a city of fewer than 3,000 inhabitants some 30 miles outside Seattle, WA. In his teenage years he was an athletic and popular student, captaining Monroe High School’s basketball and football teams.

As time went on, it became clear that football was Curcio’s true love. In fact, he went on to set records, and emerged as a talented wide receiver. After high school, he followed in his father’s footsteps and enrolled at the University of Idaho.

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In 1999, Curcio arrived at the university’s campus in Moscow, ID, and joined a team that was at the top of its game. But although things went well at first, he soon found himself tempted by the party scene. And while he briefly enjoyed a period of success under a new coach, an injury would soon send his life spiraling out of control.

During practice, tragedy struck. Curcio managed to tear a ligament in his knee, and was prescribed strong painkillers to help him cope. However, he soon became addicted to the pills, and his football career disappeared in front of his eyes. Instead, he resorted to injuring himself in order to receive more medication.

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At first, Curcio caved to pressure from his family and cleaned up his act. So once he was sober, he started his first business venture, a company that sold casino and gaming goods. However, a police raid saw his business shut down, and a penniless and desperate Curcio returned to drugs.

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Somehow, Curcio was able to maintain some semblance of a normal life. After graduating from college, he married his high school girlfriend Emily, and went on to father two daughters. He also set up a property company, and began to earn good money buying and selling houses.

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Sadly, more disaster was just around the corner. In 2008, the financial crisis hit, and Curcio found himself saddled with a portfolio of worthless assets. Still battling an addiction to drugs, he needed money in order to maintain his habit.

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Over the years, Curcio had dabbled in illegal activities, including theft, counterfeiting and scams. However, now desperate, he planned his most audacious job yet. In fact, it was a move that would see Curcio go down in history – although not as the star footballer he had once dreamed of being.

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Now back home in Monroe, Curcio hit on the idea of robbing an armored vehicle while it was making a delivery. For three months, he watched the comings and goings from the local Bank of America branch, putting the finishing touches on his scheme. But he knew that even the most foolproof heist would be useless if he could not get away.

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Searching for the perfect escape route, Curcio looked to Woods Creek – the river that flowed past the scene of the crime. At first, he considered using a jet ski to get away. Eventually, however, he settled on a rubber tube, carried upstream by a system of pulleys.

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Finally, Curcio put his plan into action. A few days before the intended robbery, he placed a fictional job advertisement on Craigslist. In it, he offered $28.50 an hour to workers, asking them to meet outside the Bank of America at a specified time. Crucially, he also told them to wear a yellow safety vest, work shoes, jeans and a blue shirt, and to bring a mask and goggles.

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On September 30, 2008, the applicants began to assemble in the Bank of America’s parking lot. Meanwhile, Curcio arrived on the scene, dressed in an identical outfit. Wearing the mask, he attacked a guard with pepper spray and snatched two bags full of money from a delivery cart.

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His loot in hand, Curcio made a dash for the river. There, he jumped into his rubber tube and pulled himself to safety. After some 600 feet, he climbed out, stripped to a different outfit and stepped into a waiting vehicle. In the mean time, the police had arrived on the scene.

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Thanks to Curcio’s clever forward planning, however, they didn’t get very far. Instead, they found the bank’s parking lot full of men – each of whom matched the description of the robber. Stumped, they were unable to track down the culprit, and the story of the daring crime captivated the nation.

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At the time, the public was growing mistrustful of banks, and Curcio’s bizarre yet effective approach won him many fans. In some circles, he was even dubbed D.B. Tuber, after the famous folk hero and hijacker D.B. Cooper. Meanwhile, Curcio had made it away with $400,000 in cash.

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For a while, it seemed as if Curcio would never be caught. Then, a month later, a homeless man reported the licence plate of a man that he had seen acting suspiciously in the weeks before the robbery. Tracing the vehicle to Curcio, the FBI began surveillance on the ex-football star.

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After matching his DNA to a mask found discarded at the scene of the crime, the authorities arrested Curcio. Eventually, he was sentenced to 72 months behind bars. But even though this seemed like the lowest point for Curcio, he was able to seize the opportunity to turn his life around.

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In prison, Curcio began writing and illustrating books for children. And when he was released on April 4, 2013, he continued his literary career. He published a book, Heist and High, about his experiences, and managed to save his relationship with his wife and young daughters.

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Today, Curcio gives talks to young people, keen to help them learn from his mistakes. “I tell young athletes that they have come this far,” he told USA Today in 2016. “Why throw it all away now like I did?” Meanwhile, Curcio seems content that he is living a better life – although he does sometimes watch college football, lamenting over what might have been.

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