Robber to use prison for anti-crime study

Writer given 9 years in heist sees opportunity behind bars

? A man caught in a parked car counting loot from the bank he’d just robbed, with his fake mustache falling off, told the judge who gave him a nine-year term that prison would be an opportunity for his further study of criminal behavior.

“I’ve talked to kids about crime across this country and on three continents,” John L. Stanley told U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan at his sentencing on Tuesday. “But there are some things about crime you can’t understand unless you get into the belly of the beast.”

Stanley, 61, of Dallas, already has first-hand knowledge of life behind bars, and he’s written and lectured about his criminal past. He’s done time since the 1960s for a series of nonviolent property crimes, mostly theft, bad checks and auto theft.

After his release from federal prison in 1989, he began taking criminology and sociology courses at the University of Texas in Austin.

One of his professors said Stanley had worked as a crime consultant to the insurance industry, and in 2000 he founded a company that published a travel book he said was based on living in Mexico as a fugitive for seven years. He also hosted a Dallas radio program called “Crime Wise with John Stanley.”

In December, Stanley admitted he’d driven to Kansas City six months before that and robbed a Commerce Bank branch located in the upscale Country Club Plaza shopping district south of the downtown area.

Officers easily caught him nearby, counting some of the $8,200 taken from the bank. From his car they seized a handgun, and a set of crooked false teeth he’d used for a disguise.

Stanley came to court in a wheelchair Tuesday, with black bruises under both eyes. His voice sounded weak and he appeared to have difficulty hearing. An assistant public defender said later that another inmate attacked and beat him about 10 days earlier

Before sentencing, Stanley spoke of the need for more crime prevention programs and talked about why it’s important for him to write about crime from his own experience.

“You can take a butterfly and put it on a light stand, but until you are a butterfly and fly, you can’t understand why a butterfly flies,” he said.

The judge pressed for further explanation of why Stanley robbed the bank with the apparent intention of being caught.

“So I could be secluded and do the things I need to do while I still have the time,” Stanley said.

“So you can do research on the criminal mind?” Gaitan asked.

“Yes, sir,” Stanley replied.

“I’ve been around this business for a long time and thought I’d seen everything,” said the judge. “But you’ve shown me something new.”