BONUS EPISODE: CAT AND MOUSE II
ZAC STUART-PONTIER: Hey, everyone. Crimetown will be back with regular episodes next week. In the meantime, we’re going to bring you a story that we couldn’t quite fit into the season, but still wanted to share.
It features two people you probably remember: State police detective Brian Andrews...
BRIAN ANDREWS: I almost shaped my whole career on Tony Fiore to be honest with you.
ZAC: ...and master thief Tony Fiore...
TONY FIORE: He was assigned to me his whole career. He was just a rookie patrolman. They promoted him from patrolman to detective, all the way up to the head of the state police. I made his whole career.
ZAC: They circled each other for years.
BRIAN: Tony was difficult to follow. Tony would purposely go into a neighborhood that he knew well, and he’d go down a dead-end street, knowing it was a dead-end street.
TONY: I took Brian, I mean, he’ll tell you, I took him down dead-end streets. Ya know, he’d follow me down a dead-end street like where am I going and then I’d stop and I’d just look at him and shake my head.
ZAC: But eventually, after bugging Tony’s house, Brian finally arrested him.
BRIAN: I was pretty excited. I was fascinated by this whole thing. It was a great arrest!
TONY: I had guys tell me that they never saw anybody do time like me. They didn't understand it. I used to get up in the morning and I would run 15 miles a day, 7 days a week. I would play pinochle, I would cook for guys, I'd put on meals in the prison. I never, never let anything bother me.
ZAC: Tony did his time, and got out ten years later, a new man. Rehabilitated. Finally ready to change his ways and go straight.
TONY: Every day I was up to no good. You know, there wasn't a day that went by that I wasn't up looking for something.
ZAC: In this bonus episode, Tony gets into a new line of work. And one last time, he goes up against his old foe, Detective Brian Andrews.
When Tony got out of prison in 1989, he started working at his dad's gas station, driving a tow truck. One day, Tony's dad asked him to go tow a car in Fall River, Massachusetts.
TONY: So I go up there and it's in the parking lot of a shopping market, so I'm over there and I'm backing up to the car and here comes this armored truck. He pulls up to the door. So I'm just standing there and I'm watching ‘em. So out comes this guy carrying this big bag he's carrying. I said, wow. You know, it was a little little little short guy about this big. And he's got this big bag, he opens up the door, throws it in, and he gets in, and they take off.
I said, "Wow," I said, "Look at that," I says.
It was around 1 o'clock in the afternoon. I said, "I'll take a ride up there tomorrow," I says, ya know, I'm not doing nothing. So I go up to Fall River the next day in my car. 1 o'clock, here comes the armored truck. Backs right in front of the door, he parks, guy gets out, goes in, comes out with this bag, back in and everything. I said, "wow", ya know, I says. “How easy he’ll be to get.”
ZAC: So Tony devised a plan to do something he'd never done before...rob an armored truck.
TONY: I got this kid, used to live right across from my father's gas station, probably one of the best car thieves you ever known in your life. He could get in a car and steal that car faster than you could in there with your key. I take him up to Fall River. And I parked my car in the lot. I said to the kid, "Alright, cross the street," I says, "I want a 4 door car, I don't care what it is, as long as you come in that parking lot where we can jump in the front and the back," I said, "We can't be playing around." "Yeah, yeah," he says.
I said now, when you see this armored truck, pull up in front of this market. You get the car and come in this parking lot, I said, then you’re gonna see me running toward the car when I get it. He says alright. The truck comes.
Me and the other kid go out, we grab him, I get the bag, this cuckoo clock hits him over the head with the pistol for no reason, splits his head wide open and everything, I mean, the guy had a few stitches in the head and everything but he was alright. The truck takes off, and we take off with the bag.
MARC SMERLING: How much money was in the bag?
TONY: 175,000. So now I said, "wow, this is easy.”
BRIAN: I get information from an informant that Tony's doing armored cars now.
ZAC: By now, Brian Andrews had risen in the ranks of the Rhode Island State Police to become Detective Commander. And this new phase in Tony’s life of crime, it surprised Brian.
BRIAN: Before then, I never really knew of Tony—Tony was a burglar. A big burglar. I never really knew him to carry a firearm. So he went from that, to armored car robberies. I mean, that's how bold he was.
TONY: We went to pick something up at the Emerald Square Mall.
ZAC: The Emerald Square Mall is a shopping center in southern Massachusetts, just across the state border from Rhode Island.
TONY: Now It's like quarter to 3 in the afternoon. We're coming out to come out the main door and in comes this armored truck and it parks right in front of the door.
So we're sitting there, we're watching, there's a Bank of America right there, and this guy comes out and he's got this hand truck you pulled and it's stacked with bags. "Wow." And he wheels it out, goes to the back of the truck, opens the back door, and he throws them in one at a time, and they take off. I said, "Look at that," I said. Next day we go there, quarter to 3, ya know, like a clock here comes the truck, same thing. We go watch this for about a week.
TONY: When the truck pulls up, a bus pulls up and the guy's got a handicap ramp on the bus and he lets in the people, ya know, on wheelchairs or whatever, they help them in. So I says, what we gotta do, we gotta get a wheelchair.
BRIAN: When you take down armored cars, it’s all in timing.
ZAC: Again, Detective Commander Brian Andrews.
BRIAN: How do you get up close without the guards feeling threatened? How do you get the jump on the guards when they got the money?
TONY: I says, I'm gonna sit you in the wheelchair, my friend George. 90 years old.
ZAC: George Chapdelaine was an elderly wiseguy.
BRIAN: George Chapdelain looked like your grandfather. Tony was going to push George.
TONY: So I said, "George, you're gonna sit in the wheelchair with a blanket over your leg with the AK47 under the blanket." Now this guy's gonna come walking out with the bags and I'm gonna wheel you towards him and then all you gotta do is just take the blanket off, now you got the AK47, ya got him.
BRIAN: Because if you're the guard in the car, who's gonna think twice about some guy pulling up you know an old person, pushing them up in a wheelchair. You're not even gonna pay attention. As soon as you get right on top of that, the blanket comes off, there you are right there.
TONY: So now we gotta plan our escape. So the back of the building, I'm looking, there's a hill goes like a big embankment and it goes up to the top of the hill and there's a road up there. So I said to him, "What we gotta do, we gotta get up that embankment, have a car there and then, ya know, jump in and then take it off." So I’m thinking, I mean, the embankment is pretty steep too, ya know, I said, "Well, what about if we steal a jeep," a 4-wheel drive and I said that will go up that embankment and we can drive right up there. So we go up to where they park at the train station people go to work, they park there. So I look, I see this red jeep, so I steal the jeep.
ZAC: But unfortunately for Tony… he wasn’t alone. He was being watched the entire time.
JIM MULLEN: So we were on Fiore. And they go into the commuter parking lot up in Massachusetts, and they come out in a stolen Jeep Wagoneer. Now we know something’s really gonna happen.
ZAC: This is Jim Mullen. He was a detective assigned to the intelligence unit. Brian Andrews was his captain.
BRIAN: After they stole that Jeep wagoneer, and they kept it at Royal Crest Apartments, I had our guys sitting on that car. Because past experience has always shown that when the truck moves, or the car moves, that's the day of the score because they're not gonna be riding around in a stolen car. The day that thing moves, that's the day of the score.
Now these guys are sitting on this car, a week, two weeks, all day long. I'm burning these guys out. I mean it was brutal. So I pull the guys off the Wagoneer. Now it's probably 7:30 in the morning, I'm on my way into work in my cruiser, he gives me a radio call and says, "The Wagoneer's gone." You have gotta be kidding me. As soon as I called our guys off, they moved the damn thing.
Now, tension like you wouldn't believe. I tell him, "Get going. Get some guys and start checking all the places that we knew these guys hung around or came from." Cause I'm worried there's gonna be an armored car robbery and somebody's gonna be killed.
ZAC: It’s March 29, 1991. Jim Mullen searches high and low, trying to find Tony.
MULLEN: Tony comes out of his garage in a Jaguar, stolen. We follow him. So much is going on, and I need to always be talking to him.
BRIAN: I'm hollering at him.
MULLEN: I have two phones, I have a driver, I'm yelling at him, because I've been on these guys for years. This was going to make your whole career for Christ’s sakes.
BRIAN: You gotta know the moves.
MULLEN: This was it. This was pretty big.
BRIAN: If you don't take it down then get in that car and don't ever come back. That's the way it was.
MULLEN: All our guys now, we’re on Tony, and then we follow Tony over to where the staging area was at the Ann and Hope.
ZAC: Ann and Hope is a discount retailer in New England. In the parking lot, the cops see a cluster of cars, including the stolen Jeep, and Tony’s crew getting ready for the score.
MULLEN: We let them get dressed. They put on body armor, they hand out machine guns, AK47s, they go over to the Emerald Square Mall.
TONY: But when we pulled into the the Emerald Square Mall, they got this divider that separates the driveway in and out and it's only a little, maybe a 15 foot thing. They had to be six, seven guys on there, like with a rake and I'm looking at it and I said, "Wow," I said to the guys, "Look at all these guys working on there. What kind of landscaping has this guy got? He can pay that many guys to do this one little thing there?" And then we went around the back of the building to get our car to make the move-in, and there's a guy sitting there with a newspaper and he's looking at me and then when I look over, the newspaper would go up and down. I told ‘em, I said, "There's something wrong here."
"Nah, nah, you're getting paranoid." I says, "Oh, well, we'll go. If you think I'm getting paranoid, we'll go. But this ain't right.” Now, the truck come in. It was Good Friday, the truck was supposed to be there 3 o'clock, quarter to 3, and he got there like 1:30. I guess they didn't have that many stops.
MULLEN: Yeah the truck came early. The truck came early. Oh yeah. The truck came early.
TONY: So now the truck come in. Now, we wasn’t set up because we're waiting till quarter to 3. We're gonna set up around 2:30 or something, we're gonna get in position. I says, "We can't set up now." I mean, we can't be running around here and everything. We're gonna have to wait a day. So now, they’re watching us, what are they gonna do, are we gonna make a move or not? I mean, they’re all over that parking lot. I think they had the whole state police barracks up there, the FBI, and everybody else.
MULLEN: So now we got all these guys and two stolen cars, all these guns, right, we make a decision, Brian makes a decision, now we have to take them off and we do, boxed ‘em in.
TONY: All of a sudden, I see a helicopter coming down into the lot, all these cars just coming from nowhere, boxed us in.
And Brian come over, he says to me, how you doing Tony? I said, not too good, Brian.
BRIAN: It was like, like for Tony, he wasn’t stressed out, he didn’t act like he was shocked. He was very respectful. Okay, I got caught. What am I gonna do?
I asked him, I said, What would you have done if one of the guards had taken out his gun and tried to foil the robbery?" He said, "That's why we were carrying guns." They would have shot him. They would have killed him.
It was at the tail end of my career. I was all done. I retired shortly thereafter. I was done. I never really appreciated all those good grabs that we did until after I had been retired for a few years and then I looked back and I said, Jesus Christ I can’t believe we did that stuff.
ZAC: Tony served seventeen years in prison for that attempted robbery at the Emerald Square Mall.
MARC: Do you have any regrets about any of this?
TONY: You know, I did a lot of time in prison, you know, a lot of time.
MARC: How many years in prison, total?
TONY: Probably 30, close to 30. That’s the only regret. I lost everybody, my mother died, my father died, my brother died when I was in prison. I never went to any of their funerals, wakes or anything, they wouldn’t let me go. You go in, you come out, everybody’s dead, I mean, but, you know. Nothing I could do.
BRIAN: Jimmy also sees a uniformed police car in Tony’s driveway. You finish the story…
TONY: When I bought the house up there...
ZAC: After Tony was released from prison, a reporter who knew both him and Brian put them back in touch. Over the years, they’ve gotten together a handful of times to trade old war stories.
BRIAN: And it’s funny, when you talked about stealing the car, to rob the armored car, you talked about going to the premium parking, and you watched the keys, to get the car you wanted.. Because that’s how we got into your house. We watched the valet. And we got your keys.
TONY: Did yous follow my footsteps? Because that’s how I got all the cars...
ZAC: Brian Andrews had a remarkable career in law enforcement. After the state police, he did security for a private company called G-Tech. Now, he’s retired and lives in Florida.
These days, Tony has a pretty normal life in Rhode Island. He’s got a new crew now… a painting crew. It’s a little less glamorous than robbing armored cars. But it’s a living.
TONY: Brian’ll tell you. He followed me and knows what scores I did. And I never stopped. We went through all those… you know.
BRIAN: You remember Lt. Mullen sitting in the car reading a newspaper with it up?
ZAC: Next week we are back with a full episode. Featuring a very special comeback…
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