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Originally published July 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 28, 2009 at 9:40 AM

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6-year sentence in robbery with getaway inner tube

A Lake Stevens man who stole $400,000 in a meticulously planned armored-car robbery in Monroe last year — complete with an elaborate disguise, decoys hired on Craigslist and a getaway inner tube — was sentenced Monday to six years in federal prison.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Even the judge who sentenced Anthony Curcio to six years in federal prison Monday agreed his $400,000 armored-car heist last year in Monroe was the stuff of movie thrillers.

Curcio spent eight months planning the caper down to the last detail. The Lake Stevens man cased the bank. He sewed a special rip-away disguise. He stashed a getaway inner tube in a nearby creek so he could float to freedom.

And he placed an ad on Craigslist seeking out-of-work landscapers to show up at the bank dressed like he would be, to confuse any pursuit.

But in the end, the crime was not dashing but simply tragic, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart also said. Curcio, 28, a local high-school football hero turned alcoholic and painkiller addict, had betrayed his family and endangered everyone from the armored-car guards to the hapless day laborers who had shown up looking for jobs.

Robart's sentence in a Seattle courtroom exceeded even the recommendation of the prosecutor, who said the robbery "stands out for its boldness, level of planning and its ingenuity."

"But for his two mistakes, he almost succeeded in planning the perfect crime," Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Miyake wrote in court papers.

Curcio had been the big man on campus growing up in Monroe, where his well-to-do family owns a landscaping business. He was captain of the football team, played some college ball, married his high-school sweetheart and started raising a family as a successful real-estate agent.

But he was also an alcoholic and for years had struggled with painkiller addiction stemming from a serious college-football injury, according to documents from attorneys and his family.

Last year, down on his luck and with another baby on the way, he hatched the idea to rob an armored car. He chose a Bank of America branch on Old Owen Road in Monroe and went to work planning.

On Sept. 30, he showed up at the bank dressed as a landscaper, wearing special clothes held together with Velcro, along with a vest, a wig and a particle mask. He pepper-sprayed a Brinks armored-car guard, picked up two bags stuffed with cash and dashed for the creek like a running back on a breakaway.

He fumbled one bag, but held fast to one containing about $400,000. He ditched his disguise, hopped in the inner tube and floated down the stream to a getaway car. Back at the bank, about a dozen landscapers had shown up in response to the Craigslist ad and were milling around, throwing off the cops.

Curcio stashed about $220,000 in a friend's safe and took the rest on a spending spree. He went shopping, bought a fancy SUV, and took his buddies and a teenage mistress on a high-roller trip to Las Vegas.

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But investigators already had begun seizing on Curcio's errors.

For starters, a couple of weeks before the robbery, a homeless man had found Curcio's stash of robbery gear in a trash bin near the bank, apparently left there during a dress rehearsal. The man gave police the license number of Curcio's car after he showed up to retrieve the stuff.

Second, Curcio left behind his particle mask after the robbery. With Curcio as their suspect, investigators secretly obtained his DNA from a bottle he had drunk from, and matched it to DNA from the mask.

Curcio was arrested in November.

While not discounting the seriousness of the robbery, the prosecutor agreed Curcio was a troubled soul.

While passing himself off as the all-American boy, "lurking underneath this image was a dark individual wracked by his addiction to painkiller medication," Miyake wrote in recommending a five-year sentence. "If he is able to control the demons in his life, he has great potential."

Curcio's family and friends sent the judge more than 100 pages of letters attesting to his fundamentally good character, highlighting his struggles, and expressing their hopes that he will emerge from prison a changed man.

"The path of destruction Anthony was on had only two destinations: prison or death," wrote his wife, Emily. "I am so grateful, especially for the sake of his daughters, that his new home is a cell and not a coffin."

Ian Ith: 206-464-2109 or iith@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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