Once notorious bank robber's new mission: Telling kids don't make my mistakes

SEATTLE -- Anthony Curcio is on a mission.  The former Monroe High School football-standout-turned-notorious-bank-robber is out of prison with a surprising message.

"Money, things are not the most important thing in this world. I promise you that," said Curcio recently at an assembly at Thomas Jefferson High School.

He is on a mission to tell his story so kids will make good choices.

Six years ago, Curcio pulled off the most daring robberies in the Pacific Northwest since DB Cooper jumped out of an airplane with $200,000 in 1971.

Curcio pepper-sprayed an armored car guard outside a bank, then escaped down a creek on an inner tube with $400,000.

"It was well-planned. We were on the scene within two minutes of the call, yet we were unable to apprehend the suspect," said Debbie Willis, who was with the Monroe Police Department at the time.

A month later, detectives arrested him. Curcio spent the next five years in prison, some of it in solitary confinement.

"The cockroaches would come out within a half-hour of the lights being out," he said.

That kind of fall from grace for a high school and college football standout changes a man. For Curcio, it was for the better.

"I`m more focused than I ever thought I could even be. I`m passionate about what I`m doing."

Curcio now speaks to schools whenever he can about the drug use that contributed to his criminal life.

"I lost 5 years in prison, physically removed from everything that I loved. You can never get that time back," he stressed to the students listening raptly.

Paul Nichols is a co-faculty adviser at Thomas Jefferson High School who says Curcio connected with the teens in a way no other speaker ever has.

"They identified with what he went through. They identified with his successes and his failures. They saw themselves through his story. That`s the brilliance of Anthony Curcio."

His speech certainly made an impression on Talaura Martin, a senior.

"In every situation whether it`s good or bad, I`m going to stop and think, really take my time and think about the consequences. I don`t want to go down that road that he went down," she said.

Curcio drives a minivan now and relishes each day with his family.

"I`m blessed that I get a second chance with my kids and my wife."

He's written apology letters to everyone, including the armored car guard he attacked.  Curcio is determined to find redemption.

"Just knowing that I can help prevent somebody from doing the same stuff, getting into the same thing, starting with that first drink or that first whatever, which leads to addiction, which leads to crime, makes me feel good."