Confessions of a Master Burglar: How Youngstown's Amil Dinsio st - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Confessions of a Master Burglar: How Youngstown's Amil Dinsio stole millions from President Nixon

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

A movie was released on Friday called "Finding Steve McQueen." It centers around one of the biggest bank vault heists in U.S. history. 

What you may not have known is that the crew that pulled it off, The Dinsio Crew, is from Youngstown.

Amil Dinsio was the mastermind and sat down with 21 News anchor Derek Steyer for his first ever TV interview to tell the amazing story.

It's a story that starts when Amil Dinsio was around 16-years-old. He started robbing banks with his brother James.

"Banks were like gifts," said Dinsio. "Somebody gives you a gift, you take it."

At first they did stick-ups, but Amil soon realized the real money was in safety deposit boxes and bank vaults.

"We weren't out there to hurt nobody, we were just out there to take the money," said Dinsio.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Dinsio Crew, consisting of Amil, his brother James and brother-in-law Charles Mulligan, traveled all over the country emptying bank vaults. Dinsio estimates it was close to a hundred banks.

"Thrill of the money and just doing it knowing it's sitting there. It was so easy, you wouldn't believe how easy it was," he said.

Amil was the alarms expert, James was the explosives expert. Their homemade burglary tools and precision of their work made them untouchable.

"There was nobody else doing what we was doing, and we knew what we were doing. Me and my brother. I know of nobody any better," said Dinsio.

By 1972, Dinsio was considered the most prolific and successful bank burglar in the country.

"I don't really like taking from the poor, but when I'm in there, I don't know whose rich and whose poor, so we take what we can make money with," he said.

In January of 1972, Dinsio got a tip that traced back to Jimmy Hoffa about a huge score. Thirty million dollars was being held in the vault at the United California Bank in Laguna Niguel, California. It was alleged slush fund money belonging to President Richard Nixon.

The money was too much to pass up and after scoping it out, Dinsio took the job.

"The minute I saw it, I knew it was ours, it was that easy," he said.

After cutting a hole through the roof and bypassing the alarm, the Dinsio crew dropped down to the roof of the concrete vault. From there, they drilled holes and placed explosives in the holes and blew a hole in the roof of the vault. Sacks of dirt were placed on top of the hole to muffle the sound.

"That one there was so weak. It was 18 inches thick but it was so weak, had all hairline cracks going every direction so we cut back on the explosives," said Dinsio.

Over the course of three nights in late March of 1972, the Dinsio crew emptied more than 450 safety deposit boxes.

"Really, we were after two boxes to start with, President Nixon's boxes. So we got them first and got that money out of there and secured," he said.

It wasn't the $30 million that Jimmy Hoffa promised, but Dinsio said they still took $12 million of President Nixon's money. Gold coins, jewelry and bonds were also looted that weekend.

"It was real nice," said Dinsio.

It wasn't perfect though. Dinsio admits he made some mistakes. He left the getaway car in California with all their tools in a false trunk under the spare tire. He also wishes he didn't take on two outsiders for the job, Phil Christopher and Charlie Broeckel. He did it as a favor. Dinsio admits to getting caught up in his success.

"We were invincible. We ain't gonna get caught, you know what I mean, because we had did so many and there was nothing to it," he said.

Three months after the burglary, Dinsio and most of his crew were arrested and later convicted of a crime that at the time spawned the largest FBI manhunt ever.

Dinsio believes the FBI framed him, stealing fingerprints to tie him to the getaway car and the condo the crew rented as a headquarters near the crime scene.

"Let me tell you something, them boys are good. I'll give them credit they got a job to do, but do it right," he said.

Dinsio also believes Broeckel worked as an FBI informant against him to beat a murder case.

Dinsio has amassed hundreds of documents over the years to prove his case. He filed a complaint in 1994 alleging corruption in the investigation, but it was determined there was no wrongdoing.

Dinsio is now 83-years-old and his life has crime put him behind bars for more than 30 years. He does have a few regrets.

"You lose your family. Your kids grow up. That's a lot of years. It's crazy, but we just kept going and going and just got screwed up," he said.

Still, Dinsio reflects on his time as one of the countries most infamous bank burglars with pride. Laguna Niguel still remains one of the largest bank vault heists in U.S. history.

If you want to read more about that heist and why he says he was framed, get his book, "Inside the Vault." You can get it at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. 

The book also details his burglary of a bank in Lordstown just a few months after Laguna Niguel.

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