Career criminal dies at 92; oldest inmate in Mass.

BOSTON (AP) -- The oldest prison inmate in Massachusetts, a career criminal who was the first person to make the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list twice, has died at 92.

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

Montos died Sunday of natural causes at a hospital, Department of Correction spokesman Diane Wiffin said Wednesday. Montos had said in a request to commute his sentence that he was being treated for prostate cancer, hypertension, arthritis and gout, among other ailments.

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. Instead, the store's then-73-year-old owner, Sonia Paine, picked up a baseball bat and "beat the crap out of him," she recalled Wednesday.

He made the FBI's Most Wanted list in 1952 after he and two other men pistol-whipped a 74-year-old man during a robbery 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.

Even before his two stints on the wanted list, Montos was a veteran escape artist. He was 18 when he made his first escape from a Miami jail in the 1930s. He ran from a chain gang in Alabama in 1942 and escaped again in 1944.

At the time of the botched Brookline robbery, Montos had been on the run for nine years after being convicted in absentia and sentenced to 40 years for robbing an Indiana jewelry store.

"His FBI rap sheet reads like a book," John Burke, an assistant prosecutor in Lake County, Ind., said in 1995.

Montos was the only Massachusetts inmate in his 90s. The next oldest is 85. At the time of his death, he was waiting on the request to Gov. Deval Patrick to commute his sentence. The state Parole Board had turned down a request for parole earlier this year.

"I realize that my criminal record is extensive," he wrote in the letter to the board. "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."

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