Sutton, Willie

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Willie Sutton (William Francis Sutton, Jr.), 1901–80, American bank robber, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. Sutton, who committed his first serious crime at age 9, robbed his first bank in 1927, and he claimed he stole some $2 million in more than 20 robberies over two decades. Known as "Willie the Actor" for his many disguises, he was repeatedly caught and jailed, attempted escape a dozen timess, and thrice succeeded. Finally captured in 1952, he was sentenced to 30 to 120 years in prison but was paroled in 1969. A folk hero of sorts in his heyday, he denied ever having said that he robbed banks "because that's where the money is."

See his I, Willie Sutton (with Q. Reynolds, 1953, repr. 1993) and Where the Money Was (with E. Linn, 1976, repr. 2004).