Heightened anxiety

Sports blotter: "Attack of the seven-foot tall driver" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  September 3, 2008

TALL TALE: Seven-foot high-school hoops star Anthony DiLoreto was the alleged getaway driver in a hare-brained bank robbery.
Short on brains
Look, it’s not easy being seven feet tall. If you are seven feet tall, there’s only one socially acceptable thing you can do with your life: play basketball. Creative thinkers might scheme their way into careers in pro wrestling, action movies about Vikings, or porn, but basically it’s basketball or nothing.

One career the seven footer should absolutely not consider, however, is bank robbery. The thing about bank robbery is that it’s usually done under the cover of darkness, or via a tunnel, or in daylight while masked (the mask being worn to protect one’s identity).

And here’s the thing about identity: ordinary-size people can protect theirs just by wearing masks, since there are a great many ordinary-size people (hence the term “ordinary”). But if you’re seven feet tall, a mask doesn’t help you that much. Because the police already have a lot of information when the witness begins his statement by saying, “Well, he was seven feet tall. . .”

That brings us to the story of Anthony DiLoreto, a seven-foot-tall high-school basketball star from Minnetonka, Minnesota, who was due to play for Cal Poly next year. On August 16, he and a 16-year-old accomplice allegedly attempted to rob the Bremer Bank in Danbury, Wisconsin. Police say DiLoreto was driving the getaway car, but got confused when he didn’t see his buddy come out. So he went into the bank and spoke with an employee about opening a student account. He took off after this, stopping for gas — for which he didn’t pay — before returning to the scene of the crime. When he heard sirens nearby, police say, DiLoreto got cold feet and headed home for good.

His partner, meanwhile, had allegedly done the deed, getting away with about $1000. Not seeing his ride, he fled the robbery on foot, and was eventually apprehended by police, apparently trying to walk the 100 or so miles back to the Twin Cities. The kid admitted to the crime, and told authorities he had been with DiLoreto. Police found our hero at home a few hours later.

DiLoreto was charged with being a party to an armed robbery and being in possession of a short-barreled shotgun. Cal Poly seemed willing to let him enroll as planned, but for now the youngster has put off his college career to focus on his legal troubles.

There isn’t much in the record with regard to basketball players getting arrested for bank robbery, apart perhaps from the famous case of Luther “Ticky” Burden, a onetime ABA star who was convicted in the ’90s for robbing a bank in Hempstead, Long Island, only to have his conviction overturned a few years later on a technicality. Football players get hit with the charge a little more often, but most notable when it comes to bank robberies involving jocks is the record of boxers, who seem to always be getting swept up in this business. Of those, the most well-known is probably former welterweight contender James Page, who was arrested in Atlanta in 2001 after he tried to rob two banks in the same day. A Michigan super-middleweight named Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell was picked up on an armed-robbery charge earlier this year, though that may have been a case of mistaken identity. A bank robbery also figured into one of the weirdest stories in boxing history — the tale of Alex Ramos, the prominent Bronx fighter who spent his whole life shadowed by a psychopath named Alberto Lugo from his neighborhood. Lugo was obsessed with Ramos and often assumed his identity, at first in order to pick up girls. Eventually he robbed a bank and the confusion over the two men’s identity led the FBI to investigate the real Ramos. Weird stuff.

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  Topics: Sports , Basketball, National League (Baseball), NL Central Division,  More more >
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