92-year-old robber – oldest inmate in Mass. – dies

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, December 3, 2008

BOSTON (AP) — The oldest inmate in a Massachusetts prison — a career criminal whose skill at escaping prison made him the first person to twice make the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list — has died.

Nicholas George Montos was serving 33 to 40 years for robbery in the state prison in Norfolk. He was 92.

Montos died Sunday at a local hospital, Department of Correction spokesman Diane Wiffin said Wednesday. She did not disclose a cause, though Montos had recently suffered a heart attack and in a recent letter to parole officials said he had various medical problems, including prostate cancer.

Montos committed his first crime at age 14. He was 78 when he was locked up for the last time in 1995 after he tried to rob a Brookline antiques store but was beaten over the head with a baseball bat by an elderly woman who owned the store.

Montos was 18 when he made his first escape from jail in Miami. He ran from a chain gang in Alabama in 1942 and escaped again in 1944.

He made the FBI’s Most Wanted list in 1951 after he and two other men pistol-whipped a 74-year-old man in Georgia.

He was caught in 1954, but made the Most Wanted list again two years later when he used a hacksaw to escape from a Mississippi prison. Montos was captured 26 days later.

At the time of the botched Brookline robbery, Montos has been on the run for nine years after being convicted in absentia and sentenced to 40 years in prison in Indiana for robbing a jewelry store. Six days before the attempted heist, he disguised himself with orange sunglasses and a straw hat and robbed a Massachusetts bank of $22,000 at gunpoint.

At the time of his death, he was waiting on a request to Gov. Deval Patrick to commute his sentence. A request for parole had been rejected by the state Parole Board earlier this year.

“I realize that my criminal record is extensive,” he wrote in the letter to the board that was obtained by The Boston Globe. “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.”

Montos was the only Massachusetts inmate in his 90s. The next oldest inmate is 85.