80-Year-Old Bank Robber Sentenced

Sunday, October 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — An 80-year-old career bank robber who needs a walker to get around was sentenced to 13 years in prison for pulling off a bank heist last year.

Forest ``Woody'' Tucker, whose criminal career dates back to the 1930s and includes an escape from San Quentin, pleaded guilty in May to one count of bank robbery for a holdup at a Jupiter bank that netted $5,600.

His attorney asked that he be put under house arrest because of his poor health, but U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley said Friday that Tucker was too dangerous to be confined to his home.

``Mr. Tucker is a man who has been an armed robber for most of his life and the danger he poses to the community has not diminished,'' Hurley said.

Tucker told the judge he had to resume his life of crime because he needed money to pay the credit card bills of a friend with terminal cancer.

When Tucker was arrested shortly after the April 1999 heist, he had disguises, guns, handcuffs, a police scanner, Mace and electrical tape in his car trunk. He led FBI agents and police on a wild car chase before they caught him following the robbery.

Charles White, Tucker's attorney, said that Tucker's body and soul had been broken by the 19 months he had spent behind bars since his arrest. He has cardiac problems and had a heart attack a few weeks ago.

``Whatever fight he had in him is gone,'' White said.

Tucker has a reputation for prison breaks and boasts he has busted out 18 times. The most publicized escape was in 1979, when Tucker and two other inmates paddled away from San Quentin in a kayak built out of plastic sheeting, Formica, wood and duct tape.

Tucker and an old prison buddy were captured in 1983, and he didn't get out of prison for another 10 years.