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THE GANG THEY COULDN'T CATCH by Debra Weyermann

THE GANG THEY COULDN'T CATCH

By Debra Weyermann

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-73131-9
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 Tucson newspaper reporter Weyermann tells, with humor and insightful objectivity, the story of the 1981 heist of $3.3 million from a Tucson bank depository. Perpetrated by ``the Boys,'' a loose-knit trio from the poor section of Des Moines, the robbery was ``the largest...of a standing bank in US history.'' David Grandstaff, 38, was considered by the FBI (who suspected him at once) the ``most dangerous'' of the robbers because he was ``the most controlled and brainy.'' Grandstaff had planned $30 million-worth of robberies in his 20- year career and had earned college degrees while in Leavenworth. His partners on the Tucson job were Doug Brown, a violent hothead, and Bruce Fennimore, a car-whiz whose showboating would eventually bring trouble. At the time of the Tucson robbery, all three had jumped bond on a Phoenix jewelry heist and were being sought by an embarrassed FBI. Here, the bank job--which took all of 20 minutes and left $500,000 in small bills scattered on the floor--is meticulously detailed by Weyermann, who had Grandstaff's cooperation. Fleeing with and dividing 350 pounds of currency was no easy task, she tells us, but Grandstaff also insisted on disassembling every weapon and automobile involved. Immediately tagged for the crime by both the FBI and the Des Moines D.A., the Boys still might have made a clean getaway had Fennimore not returned to Des Moines driving a $30,000 Corvette. Arrested, he plea-bargained, winding up eligible for parole in six years. Afterward, it took the government four years to bring Grandstaff and Brown to trial--where, amazingly, the two were acquitted. Weyermann speculates that the jury ``hated Bruce Fennimore, couldn't stand the FBI agents and...weren't that crazy about the bankers, either.'' Jaunty and smooth, like a Donald Westlake caper--except all true. (Photographs)