The most senior American outlaw has died.
Nicholas George “Little Nick” Montos was doing 33 to 40 years for armed robbery at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk. He was 92-years-old and still considered to be a threat to society. Massachusetts Department of Corrections official Diane Wiffin did not disclose the cause of death. Montos had recently suffered a heart attack in prison.
He was the oldest inmate in the country.
Montos was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. His first arrest came in 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression, when he was 14. He stole a saxophone.
He made his first jail escape at age 18 when he broke out of the Dade County Stockade in Miami. He had just been sentenced for auto theft. He escaped from two Alabama chain gangs in 1942 and again in 1944.
Ten Most Wanted
He made the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List for the first time in 1951 after he and two accomplices pistol-whipped a 74-year-old man in Georgia for the old man’s $1,000 life savings. At the time the FBI described Montos as, “one of the top safecrackers in the country. Likes gambling. Italian food. Tips liberally. Has a ‘big shot’ complex. Armed.”
In 1953, while still on the run from his 1951 conviction, Montos was accused of robbing $153,000 from a Florida bank. The next year, while still on the run, he was accused of robbing a famous inventor and art collector named Oscar Zerk. Allegedly, Montos and two other men invaded Zerk’s home, held a gun to Zerk’s head and absconded with $200,000 worth of jewels and art including an elephant’s tusk carved to depict a gorilla stepping on a beehive.
He was eventually apprehended, in his car at a railroad crossing with a loaded pistol by his side, and sentenced to death for the 1951 pistol whipping. First however, he was sentenced to serve seven years in a Mississippi prison for a bank robbery there.
He used a hacksaw to break out of the Mississippi prison in January, 1956 and was named to the FBI’s Most Wanted list a second time. Two months later he was arrested in a Memphis motel room with a submachine gun and $2,000 in cash.
In the 1960s, after paying his debt to society, Montos moved to Chicago and allegedly found employment with alleged gangster Sam Giancana. In the 1970s, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that he was the “top hit man” in Chicago. He was never convicted of murder.
He was arrested and released for a jewelry store burglary in 1982 and arrested after robbing another jewelry store in Hammond, Indiana in 1985. He was convicted of that crime but escaped during his trial. He was sentenced to a 40-year-prison term in absentia.
He stayed on the run until his final robbery, in 1995 when he was 78. Montos entered an antique store in Brookline, Massachusetts and pulled a .22 caliber pistol fitted with a silencer on a 73-year-old woman. He bound the woman, Sonia Paine, with zip ties but she escaped and, while Montos was robbing her safe, she hit him over the head with a baseball bat.
“I don’t take any crap from anybody,” Ms. Paine said at the time. “I beat the hell out of him.”
His Eight Rules
For awhile, in the 1950s, Montos may have been most famous for his “Eight Rules To Avoid the Cops:”
1) Only go out in the daytime except to do a burglary;
2) Avoid taverns where hoodlums congregate;
3) Change your brand of beer every few months;
4) Give up cigars;
5) Never drive more than five miles an hour over the speed limit.
6) Never use a hotel or a fictitious phone number for an address;
7) Avoid being followed by driving on diagonal streets whenever possible;
8) And, hire pickpockets to get identification papers from men about your size.
No Mercy For Outlaws
Earlier this year, Massachusetts turned down Montos request for parole. This summer he asked Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to commute his sentence.
“I realize that my criminal record is extensive,” Montos wrote the Governor. “I suspect there may be some who will suggest I deserve no mercy or compassion. I can understand their feelings. But there is no way I am going to live to serve out my sentence.” The Governor did not write back.
Nicholas George “Little Nick” Montos died November 30th, 2008.
Requiescat In Pace