The All-American Bank Heist

Written by David Kushner, GQ

Friday October 1st, 2010

It's a weekly occurence these days: the kooky bank robbery as seen on the local news. But every so often along comes a scheme of such ingenuity, such precision, that you can't help but stop and appreciate the craftsmanship. This is the tale of the fall

The ballsiest bank heist in recent memory started off without much fanfare at all.

It was a late September Tuesday, a much needed workday for the dozen guys huddled outside a strip mall in Monroe, Washington, a bedroom community some thirty miles northeast of Seattle. The men had all answered the same curious ad for employment, posted on Craigslist the week before. Its instructions were very specific: Applicants were told to gather in this exact spot, on a small patch of blacktop between the Jack in the Box and the Bank of America at 11 A.M. Not that any of the men thought much about the location. Like the rest of the country, Monroe was getting hammered by the recession, and these guys would meet anywhere if it meant nine days of work and $28.50 an hour.

The author of the post—someone from the Clean Monroe Beautification Project—went on: “All workers must purchase safety glasses or equivalent eye protection, ventilator mask, yellow safety vest, long sleeves and no shorts, along with proper foot protection.” After applying, each man received an e-mail from the supervisor, telling him to show up wearing ablue shirt. “If a project manager is not there,” it concluded, somewhat ominously, “do not leave.”

As the men waited, one landscaper was already going hard at it. He’d been there since before the others arrived, killing weeds outside the Jack in the Box, and he continued working the lawn until exactly 11:05 A.M., when a Brinks armored truck rolled up to the Bank of America branch next door. As the messenger got out and started wheeling bags of cash to the bank, the landscaper stopped spritzing, tossed aside his pesticide sprayer, and sprinted toward the truck. He was only a few paces from the guard when he fired enough pepper spray to stun a 1,000-pound grizzly bear. As the guard clawed at his eyes in pain, his attacker simply grabbed the bags, heavy with cash, and sprinted into the nearby woods.

The whole job took about thirty seconds.

When the police arrived a few minutes later, they surveyed an entire parking lot filled with landscapers matching the thief’s description. “We just got scammed!” one shouted to detective Tim “Buzz” Buzzell. A sixteen-year veteran of the force with a lantern jaw and a linebacker’s build, Buzz was used to chasing down the occasional stolen four-wheeler. This Thomas Crown Affair shit was new to him. With K9s barking, he ran down behind the strip mall where the crook was last spotted. Along the gravel leading to the woods, he found a trail of discarded items: a blue cap, a long brown wig, a white particle mask, sunglasses. The path stopped at the edge of Woods Creek, a narrow stream less than two feet deep. Buzz stood on the bank, watching the water ripple quietly over the jagged rocks.

An hour of searching, with helicopters circling overhead, turned up nothing. Then one of Buzz’s patrol officers called him over to something floating in the water about 200 yards downstream. Buzz raced through the underbrush to where the creek flowed under the concrete pillars of a rusty and abandoned train trestle. Bobbing up against a fallen log was the crook’s apparent and bizarre means of escape: a black-and-yellow inner tube, decorated with a picture of a bee next to the word hornet. A few feet away, a blue shirt and a two-way radio had been tossed on the creek’s bank. Buzz and his partner, detective Barry Hatch, a former scuba instructor with formidable ears and a crew cut to show them off, stared blankly into the woods.

The bandit was gone, along with $400,000.

Word quickly spread across the Internet about Monroe’s outrageous caper. A local radio caller named the crook D. B. Tuber, in homage to the famed 1970s bandit D. B. Cooper, who parachuted from a hijacked plane with $200,000. One blogger dubbed it “the most awesome robbery ever.” Another said the thief was a mastermind who pulled off a “Hollywood” heist.

Back at the red-brick one-story Monroe Police Department on West Main Street, Buzz and Barry sat in a fluorescent-lit room going over the clues. At first Buzz thought the thief had to be some kind of idiot to flee in an inner tube. “It seems gimmicky,” he said to Barry. But the more Buzz thought things through, the more the scheme showed a certain ingenuity. Had the thief simply hopped into a getaway car at the bank, he would have been easy to follow. The tube let him float stealthily down under a bridge and run to God knows where. The planning, from the decoys to the escape, was meticulous. Alongside the creek, Buzz and his men had discovered a long steel cable that had been stretched between a tree and a fallen log, which the thief could have used to quickly pull himself with the bags of cash. But the planning didn’t stop with the heist. Unbeknownst to Buzz and Barry, earlier that day, while they’d been out canvassing the creek, the criminal had been right next door to the police station.

As a helicopter thumped overhead, a young blonde receptionist at Windermere Real Estate chatted up a good-looking local named Anthony Curcio. Dressed in a white polo, the blue-eyed 28-year-old was Monroe’s All-American Boy. His parents ran a successful landscaping company in town, and Curcio had been the star captain on both his high school basketball and football teams. He had even married his high school sweetheart, a cheerleader, and they had two little girls.

Curcio had been flipping houses around town for three years, and no one thought it strange when he asked to use the phone inside the agency because his cell was dead. As Curcio stabbed the buttons, he couldn’t help but glance down at his shoes. They were soaking wet, a faint stain of water spreading beneath them on the floor. He quickly hung up the phone, thanked the receptionist for her hospitality, then drove with a friend past the police station, where Buzz and Barry remained late into the night, studying evidence that just didn’t add up.

“I was walking over here really anxious, not sure if I was going to talk. Not sure if I’m doing the right thing. But I’m hoping something positive can come out of this in the end.” It’s November 2009, a little over a year since his crime, and Anthony Curcio is telling me this inside an empty visiting room at the Federal Correction Institution in Big Spring, Texas, where he’s serving his six-year sentence. Tumbleweeds roll outside. A husky correctional officer guards the door. A broken soda machine buzzes loudly. Slender and athletic, Curcio manages to look vaguely fashionable in his beige uniform, the inmate number on a neon orange badge.

Clothes aside, Curcio doesn’t seem like lockup material. He’s well-spoken and polite. Thoughtful and methodical. He considered this meeting for months before finally agreeing to break his silence for the first time since the crime. From the outset, he tells his story with the same obsessive attention to detail with which he planned his heist, writing me letters (including a fifty-page treatise on the robbery) and calling me repeatedly for months after I leave. At one point, in a fit of paranoia, he demands a contract promising him control of the tale—until he apologetically relents and accepts that he never really was in control of his story at all. “I was fucked and thought I could fix everything,” he says. “I just wanted to be the hero again.”

In Monroe, a town of 16,000, there was once no bigger hero than Curcio. “I used to call it a cow town until I came here,” he says, glancing out the window at the West Texas badlands. Growing up, Anthony’s family wasn’t so much known as renowned. Anthony’s dad, Jay, was a former star wide receiver at the University of Idaho who, after an injury, launched a landscaping company. Anthony’s grandmother, mom, and older sister had all been homecoming queens. The family prospered, living in a grand lakeside home with a wide green lawn where Curcio spent fall days playing football. “Since I can remember, I always wanted to be a receiver like my dad,” Curcio says. “He was my idol.” Small for his age, Curcio compensated with obsessive preparation, staying up game-planning late into the night. By high school, he was an all-star wide receiver and point guard—“a big fish in a little pond,” as his mother, Geri, had put it affectionately.

His junior year, Anthony won the homecoming game on a post-corner route. That same year, he won the captain of the cheerleading team. “Everything about him was contagious,” his wife, Emily, tells me one morning in Monroe over coffee. With short brown hair and bright blue eyes, Emily still has the natural beauty of her high school days. “Everyone thought, We need Anthony here—he’s the life of the party!” she says. “But he was really the death of the party.”

With an athletic scholarship to his dad’s alma mater, the University of Idaho, and Emily heading to Washington State University nearby, Curcio thought things could not possibly get more awesome. But even from that height, it only took two small steps for him to fall. It happened during a punt return in spring practice. As Curcio backed up to field the kick, he got tackled. His foot stuck in the turf, and he heard a pop. Trainers carted him off the field and iced him down. The doctor gave him Vicodin. The injury, a torn ACL, sidelined him for weeks. Curcio always loved to party, but now he started to skip class to drink with his frat buddies. Before long he lost his spot on the team—and then everything stopped. “Life went on for everyone but me,” he says. “All my success in life had revolved around this game. Now that I was injured, I was nothing.”

Before midseason, Curcio forfeited his scholarship and transferred to WSU to be close to Emily. There he ran into a new problem: His Vicodin prescription had run out. It had snuck up on him, this addiction, but the effects weren’t subtle. His body withdrew violently—vomiting, cramps, insomnia, diarrhea. Curcio had never felt anything like it. And after a week of sleepless nights, he could no longer take it. He needed his pills. He slipped off his shoe and sock from his left foot and stood next to an oak coffee table in his apartment. Then he kicked. And kicked, slamming the top of his foot into the table, as the veins began to split. But even that didn’t work. The school doctor refused to give him anything stronger than ibuprofen. “This is all I get?” Curcio pleaded. To land more, he started forging fake scrips and scoring pills on the streets. Almost overnight, it seemed, he was popping more than thirty a day, watching Sopranos DVDs in a haze with Emily at night.

As always, Emily was there for him. She was there when he told her about the drugs freshman year. She was there when he got back from rehab that summer. She was there after graduation when he proposed—on one knee in her kitchen with her family surrounding them. Soon they bought a house together, and life began again. Curcio even found a new way to make a name for himself: real estate. He got his Realtor’s license and began flipping houses. It was 2004, and the market was booming. He made $25,000 on his first deal, $160,000 on his second. He befriended Realtors and bank loan officers around town, many of whom remembered him from his high school days. He and Emily moved into a 4,000-square-foot house and bought lakefront property. He decorated his man-cave with framed posters of his favorite crime flicks—Casino, Blow, Scarface, Donnie Brasco. “Anthony was fascinated by the Mafia, because his dad’s family is from the East Coast and he’s Italian,” Emily says wearily, adding that while in high school he sewed an Italian flag onto his letterman jacket to stand out. “I didn’t want any of that stuff in the house.”

But for Curcio, real estate success turned out to be just as fleeting as football stardom. And before long, he was in over his head. He bought a house that he thought would take only $50,000 to fix up but ended up costing $150,000. By late 2007, the housing market had crashed. Curcio started taking drugs again, including cocaine, to stay up renovating properties, but he couldn’t work fast enough to avoid foreclosure. Curcio went back to his bank officers, whom he considered his friends, only to be turned away, and he was too stubborn to go to his parents for handouts. Soon he was down from $200,000 to $20 in his bank account. He started selling his tools. One morning, after depositing money at the Bank of America, he sat in the parking lot in a borrowed car, munching on a burger from Jack in the Box. His own car had been repossessed. So had Emily’s. Their house was on the verge of going, too. Curcio couldn’t shake the feeling of failure. He’d failed Emily, he thought. Failed his family. He wanted desperately to be the man again. He gazed out the window at the bank, wondering what he was going to do.

Then he saw the armored car.

“Armored truck robbery,” Curcio typed into Google late one night. That’s how it started, researching online to see if this heist was even possible or if he’d have the nerve. Though he craved what he called “instant results” to his personal financial crisis, he knew the idea of robbing an armored car was absurd. But the more he researched, the more he thought he might actually be able to pull this off. People were doing it all the time, all over the country. A robber in Florida had stolen $1.8 million from an armored car, then vanished completely, and one in D.C. had succeeded simply by dressing up as a Brinks employee, grabbing the cash, and walking away. I could do this, Curcio thought. All he needed to do was disable the guards, but he had no intention of using a gun. Again he hit the Net, surfing YouTube videos of people getting pepper-sprayed. But a few Jackass stunts weren’t enough to convince him. So one day, after waiting for Emily and his daughter to leave home, he went out back with a huge can of bear mace and a bowl of milk. He sprayed a cloud and stepped into it, like he had seen women walk into a cloud of perfume. “The fucking instant it hits, it hurts like hell,” Curcio says. “I’m like, Okay, this works.” To neutralize the acid, he splashed his eyes with milk, just as he read to do online.

Planning the heist became a full-time job—and addiction. Online, he read all he could about Brinks, how it operates, its delivery systems, its tracking devices, the firearms used by its crews. Late at night, while his pregnant wife and his daughter slept, he chewed tobacco and mapped out the theft, detail by detail. When he recounts them now, he becomes animated, drawing out the moves with his finger and shaking his head at his own ingenuity. “I’m thinking how most people do this kind of heist in the dark at night, so I’m going to do the opposite,” he says, leaning forward in his chair. “I’m going to do it in the middle of the day. I’m going to be so visible I’m invisible.”

Curcio decided on the Bank of America in town because it edged up alongside the woods—and a perfectly unlikely route of escape, Woods Creek. The stream flowed into the nearby Snohomish River. Curcio could just drive a Jet Ski up the creek to the river and then have a buddy pick him up from there. He spent weeks digging out a channel, planting rebar stakes to mark his path. But on a test run, he hit a boulder and cracked the Jet Ski’s fiberglass shell. He settled on an inner tube instead.

When Curcio wasn’t at the creek, he was casing the bank. He disguised himself using mortician’s wax—a thick paste that left his skin red and irritated—and wore landscaping gear he bought at a hardware store. On the morning of September 9, 2008, he prepared for a dry run, but he panicked at the last second—too many people, too little nerve—and ditched his landscaping disguise and radio behind a Dumpster by the bank. A bit later, he drove back and jumped out of his SUV to grab the outfit. He saw a homeless guy standing nearby watching him—even talked to him for a minute—but then shrugged the whole thing off. What’s an old bum like that going to do anyway? He jumped back into his car and left.

Late that night, while he worked out the scheme, he listened to news on the TV about the impending $700 billion bailout. This only egged him on more. Didn’t the government know that the banks were at fault? he seethed. They had doled out the loans like lollipops, hooking suckers like him and never saying no—until it was too late. Everyone was in on this great American scam, Curcio thought: appraisers, mortgage brokers, agents, inspectors, escrow companies. “The banks are going to get all the money,” he muttered, “but who the fuck is going to bail out us?

On September 29, the night before the crime, Curcio couldn’t sleep. He got out of bed at 5:30 A.M. before Emily and his girls awoke. Just watching them sleep peacefully, he wanted to quit, to not go to the bank, to be the old Anthony again. He felt his throat constrict and began to cry. He hated what he was about to do. Hated what he’d become. But it was too late. The planning had taken over. By now he had already placed the Craigslist ad looking for landscapers, and that, for him, was the final step. The unemployed guys were going to be there soon, and the armored car would follow. Game time.

Curcio had a friend pick him up and then drop him by the bank. He changed into the landscaping outfit and started pulling weeds outside the Jack in the Box as the job applicants stood by. The armored car pulled up to the Bank of America on cue. Curcio squeezed his eyes shut and prayed. God, I know you don’t like what I am doing, so I won’t ask for your help,he said quietly, but please be with my family. Then he opened his eyes and threw his pesticide sprayer to the ground. He gripped the big black can of bear mace under his arm like a football and ran.

Buzz and Barry pursued the case late into the night of the robbery, patching together the strange clues. Though they were able to swipe a bit of DNA from the particle mask, there was nothing matching the code in the criminal database. The DNA was worthless without a suspect. They replayed the few seconds of grainy surveillance tape from the Bank of America, which caught the perp as he pepper-sprayed the guard. He seemed to be a young guy, about six feet tall, white, but the mask obscured his face. With every passing moment, the money he stole could be dwindling away. They went home without a suspect.

The next day, however, one of their patrol sergeants piped up, remembering an odd visit he had received a few weeks before. A city worker had stopped by the station to tell him about some homeless guy who had found a disguise and a radio near the bank. It wasn’t much of a lead—no one from the force followed up on it initially—but Barry and Buzz were running out of options. They scoured old notes and visitor logs, searching for anything filed at that time. Then they got it. The report had come on September 9—three weeks before the robbery—from Randy Oesch, a public-works employee who had been fixing a sewer near the bank. But when they reached Oesch minutes later, he didn’t have much to go on. “The homeless guy had a beard, I think,” Oesch recalled, “and a dog.”

Barry knew just what they needed to encourage the witness: burgers. He drove to a nearby McDonald’s, then east to Sultan, a foggy small town off the Snohomish River where the local homeless were known to camp. “We’re looking for a guy with a dog and a beard,” Barry explained to a bag lady on the side of the highway. The homeless woman arched her brow. Buzz reached into the McDonald’s bag.

Five burgers and five homeless people later, he had negotiated his way to the base of a small overpass off Highway 2 near an empty school bus. Outside a white and blue tent, he found a ragged guy with a long beard, a mangy dog snoozing by his side. The man looked up from his crossword puzzle at the cops and smiled wide. “It’s about time you got here!” he said in a backwoods drawl.

Allen Dean had read about the manhunt in the papers and was waiting for the cops to track him down. Originally from the Ozarks, he was 53 years old, his face etched with dirt and hollowed at the cheeks. He has been on the streets since losing his job as a framer due to a heart condition in the mid-’90s. He’d been hoping to save up enough money to buy a car and drive back down to Arkansas to see his kids. But it hadn’t been easy.

Before the recession hit, Dean says, he had been making as much as $200 a day panhandling around Monroe. Now he’s down to $50 a day. He carries a cardboard sign with the words homeless anything helps god bless scrawled in thick black ink. To keep his mind alert, he buys and reads two newspapers every day, completing the crosswords on his own. “I never miss a day!” he says.

On the night when Barry found him under the bridge, Dean told him how he’d been begging in the mall near the Bank of America when he spotted the radio behind the Dumpster. Dean had just picked it up when he saw more stuff—a particle mask, a dark wig, sunglasses, a can of mace. He made quick work of the clues: a disguise meant for no good. Dean had been convicted of a felony for chopping down trees illegally and didn’t want to wind up behind bars. Fearing that his fingerprints were on the radio, he ran up to Oesch, who was working in the sewer, and told him what he’d found. “You gonna call the law, or am I?” he said.

Oesch went off to tell the cops, and Dean thought that was that—until he saw a silver SUV pull up behind the Dumpster a bit later and a young guy jump out to retrieve the pile of goods. “Hey, dude, I wouldn’t mess with that stuff,” Dean told him. “I called the law, and they’re coming to pick it up.”

“What’d you do that for?” the man replied, a little panicky.

“Well, look at it,” Dean drawled. “Anyone and his neighbor knows what that’s for!”

The young man stared at the pile of stuff for a moment, then picked it up and drove away. As he sped off, Dean quickly fished his crossword pen out from his dirty pocket and scribbled down the license-plate number. Then he called the tag numbers back in to the police. “That kid was stupid,” Dean says. “He probably thought, ‘Just an old tramp. He ain’t gonna do nothing. He ain’t gonna write my tag number down.’ ” Dean adds with a laugh, “Wrong! Game over!”

The car was registered to a pretty blue-eyed brunette named Emily Curcio. Turned out, one of the cops had gone to high school with her husband, Anthony. When Buzz and Barry showed the guy the picture of the robber from the surveillance photo, he looked at the way he crouched with the mace in a runner’s stance. “Anthony’s an athlete,” the cop told them. “There’s a strong possibility that’s him.”

But despite having the DNA swipe and the license plate, it wasn’t enough for Buzz and Barry to move in on Curcio. They needed more evidence. They had to somehow snatch a DNA sample to match the particle mask or bust him with the money. In the meantime, the slightest misstep could send Curcio fleeing—and spending or hiding the $400,000 for good. “You don’t want to tip your hand,” Buzz says. There was just one problem. Curcio was already gone.

After spending so many months painstakingly plotting his heist, Curcio failed to consider one thing: how he’d feel if he actually got away with it. The panic set in as he ran up the bank of Woods Creek and eventually wound his way through an apartment complex. He chucked his wet shirt and, from a laundry room, stole a white polo that barely fit. Then he strolled to the Windermere office, where he called a friend for a lift. He had chosen the spot because it was so conspicuous, right next to the police station—it would give him an alibi if he ever needed one. He’ll never forget how he’d almost given himself away while talking to a real estate agent. “He didn’t notice that my feet were wet,” he says, shaking his head in disbelief. “It’s a good thing.”

Curcio got a ride to a motel, where another buddy was waiting. They threw the wet money on the bed, counting the fives, tens, and twenties. Four hundred thousand! He couldn’t believe it. He thought maybe he’d get half that at best. After stashing the money, he drove home in time to give his daughter a bath. Emily had seen news of the robbery during Oprah but didn’t think anything of it, other than it sure was bizarre.

Curcio, who had been leading a double life for months, kept up the charade over the following days. He moved the money to a friend’s warehouse, where he had set up a makeshift office that he decorated with his crime-movie posters. When Emily was nursing the baby, he’d slip into the garage and talk furtively on the phone. One day, while his family was away, he brought the money, still moldy and wet, to the house and dried it—with sheets of fabric softener—in the dryer.

While it never occurred to Emily that her husband might have committed the crime, she suspected something was amiss. He was acting distant again, like he had in college. She asked him where he was spending all his time. “Are you back on drugs?” she said. Curcio blew up defensively: How dare she question him? Emily stared at her husband, looking for the guy she once knew. After being there for him for years, she had nothing left. Her kids needed her. “Get out,” she screamed. “Get out and go!”

Just about the time Buzz and Barry had started looking for him, Curcio went where a lot of guys go when their wives tell them to beat it: Vegas. He grabbed fistfuls of hundreds—about $30,000 worth—and hit the road with a few friends. He rented rooms at the Palms and hired a guide for $2,500 a night to get them into the clubs: LAX, Playboy, the Moon. They even hit up a party for a Jessica Simpson single release. Back at the rooms, they partied into the early-morning hours. There were girls.

Late one night, alone in a palatial suite, Curcio pulled a chair up to the floor-to-ceiling windows. Sitting there with a bottle of booze in his hand, he stared out over the Strip at the lights, the traffic, and the people. For a moment, he felt still. “I looked out that window and thought how, out of all those people out there,” Curcio says, “I took a risk that only one in a few million would be willing to take.”

As his friends poured into his suite, he told everyone to watch him. In the middle of the room was a coffee table, just like the one that had destroyed his foot when he was kicking it for a Vicodin refill. “I bet you I can clear that thing in one jump,” he told them. And he backed up and ran on his shitty knee and jumped, pulling his own little Evel Knievel Caesars Palace moment. Except that he came crashing down on his arm, breaking his wrist and elbow.

There was a blur of a trip to a hospital, a splint, more booze. Back in his hotel, he locked himself in his room. He went into the shower with a bottle and drank as the water steamed around him. When he woke up, he found himself on the bathroom floor, the tub filled with water and a hair dryer plugged into the outlet next to him. “I was suicidal,” he recalls quietly. “I hated myself so much. All I wanted was to be with my family.”

When he returned to Monroe, Emily took him back, too tired and confused to know what else to do. She asked why his arm was in a sling, and he said he’d hurt himself playing basketball. He told her everything was going to be all right now. He had done a real estate deal and had come into cash. They weren’t going to have to face foreclosure or move or give up their dreams. She had a baby shower coming up, and he gave her money to clean the house. He’d get them a car. Make things right.

On November 3, 2008, he drove in his new Range Rover (purchased under a friend’s name) to the parking lot of a Target in Monroe. He had arranged a money drop with a buddy: $17,000 cash in a safe. But as he got out of his car, he saw the cops close in. “Get down! Get down!” Buzz and Barry yelled, eyeing him over the barrels of the AR-15’s. Not long before, the FBI had been trailing Curcio when they saw him toss a Gatorade bottle with his chewing-tobacco spittle into the trash—and plucked it after he left. The DNA from the spit matched the DNA in the particle mask, giving them enough evidence to arrest the fugitive once and for all. With nowhere left to run, Curcio got on his knees. “This is slander,” he whined. “Do you know who my parents are?”

As the prison guard comes over to tell us time’s up for the interview, Curcio blinks back to reality, as if returning from a dream. It’s nearing lunchtime, and the other prisoners are filing out of their barracks into the awful nothingness and heat. Though Curcio misses his family desperately, he says the time here is forcing him to reevaluate his life and prioritize. “I lost everything,” he says. “And all I wanted to do was provide for my family.” For now, Emily is still there for Anthony. After a tough stretch when she was out of work and on food stamps, she accepted a high-paying job in Seattle with an international asset-management company. Given all she has learned about her husband in recent months, though, she doesn’t know what their future holds. “Although he says he did it ‘for’ his family, I believe that he actually RISKED his family FOR THE MONEY,” she writes me in an e-mail one night. “He had been using drugs, money and material possessions to fill a void within himself for years.”

In a way, Curcio achieved what he’d wanted: He ended up a star again. D. B. Tuber is the stuff of legend now, with pictures of his famous inner tube across the Web. Even the prosecutor, assistant U.S. attorney Bruce Miyake, gave him props during the sentencing. “This robbery stands out for its boldness, level of planning, and its ingenuity,” Miyake says. “He almost succeeded in planning the perfect crime.”

“It was the perfect crime,” Curcio insists. Except that it wasn’t. He got caught. If anything was perfect, it was how the guy who feared losing his house got busted by a man who didn’t have one, a man nobody expected anything from. Even Buzz and Barry admit that without Dean’s help, Curcio could have gotten away. Dean used the reward to buy himself a Nissan Pathfinder; he plans to drive back to his family in the Ozarks and get off the streets for good. “I’m going back to see my kids again,” he says.

As Curcio limps on his bad knee back to his cell, he tells me he’s grateful to Dean for getting his life back on track, too. “You know the funny thing?” he says. “I grew up in Monroe and never once saw a homeless guy. Maybe he was some kind of angel.”