Although Anthony Curcio planned to go down in University of Idaho history as one of its great gridiron stars, a fateful injury and subsequent addiction to prescription painkillers altered the context of just how he would be remembered.
Sadly, Curcio will not be remembered as a Saturday afternoon football hero, but instead as a convicted bank robber who spent five years in prison for an ingenious scheme, with one monumental flaw.
The University of Idaho recruited Curcio, then a highly-touted football wide receiver at Monroe High School in the state of Washington. Unfortunately, a serious knee injury incurred during practice kept him from ever playing a game.
Now out of prison, Curcio expects to watch the Vandals play against Colorado State in Thursday’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Surely watching the game will give him pause as to how things might have turned out if not for his drug-related actions.
On Sept. 30, 2008, after devising a false Craigslist ad to draw a group of day workers to a nonexistent construction site next to a Bank of America parking lot, Curcio used the assembly of would-be workers to distract the guards of an armored truck on a routine bank delivery. Blinding a guard with pepper spray, Curcio dashed off into local woods with two bags of cash in the amount of $400,000 to a rubber raft planted close by on the Skykomish River and paddled his way to freedom, at least so he thought.
Unwittingly, Curcio failed to notice that when doing a dry run of his planned heist a homeless man had observed the fallen football player’s “unusual behavior” and wrote down his license plate. The man later alerted law enforcement, who tracked down Curcio and ultimately arrested and convicted him.
Curcio recalls that after his season-ending injury he became hopelessly addicted to Vicodin and needed money to fuel his addiction.“I was depressed that my whole identity wrapped around sports was gone,” he told USA Today. “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.
“I blame myself for everything that has happened, not football, but it definitely played into it. I was stupid. I had no life wisdom because I had been a good athlete and a big fish in a small pond, so I got praised no matter what. Now it was gone.”
Despite having spent five years in a minimum security prison Curcio feels lucky and has turned his life around. He now gives inspirational talks to college athletes and writes sports books for children. “As embarrassing as it is to my family, if I had gotten away with it I would have lived like that to the grave,” said Curcio. “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.”
Curcio, now a bit of a legend in Idaho, often is referred to as “D.B.Tuber,” a play on the infamous D.B. Cooper who parachuted out of an airplane with $200,000 in ransom money in the only unsolved skyjacking in American history. He urges college athletes, reminding them that they have come so far to get to where they are now, to not “throw it all away” like he did.
“I would have loved to have given it a real shot,” Curcio opines. “Here was something I was good at, that I had talent for and didn’t give myself a chance to fulfill it. I am so thankful that my life has gotten better and I am living the right way. But I’ve got a lot of work to do, otherwise people will just remember me as a guy who stole a bunch of money and got away on a tube.”