The infamous criminal Willie Sutton gave his reason for robbing
banks as "That's where the money is."
That's apparently where the stories, are, too, the animating
idea behind a new book to be co-authored by Jerry Clark, Ph.D. of
Gannon University's criminal justice department and Erie Times News
reporter Ed Palattella.
The book, which is tentatively titled "A History of Heists: Bank
Robbery in the United States," will be published by Rowman &
Littlefield Publishers in early spring 2015. The book will present
a chronicle of bank robberies in the country that made them famous,
from the first daytime bank robbery in the mid 1800's to today.
Clark and Palattella will look at the changes in American bank
robbery techniques through the years and how law enforcement
techniques have responded to them. Clark, who worked on hundreds of
bank robbery cases as an FBI agent, looks forward to combing the
historical record to examine famous holdups and the colorful
None may be more colorful than Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, the
mastermind at the heart of the infamous Pizza Bomber Case. That
case, on which Clark was the lead FBI Special Agent, was the
subject of "Pizza Bomber: the Untold Story of America's Most
Shocking Bank Robbery," the book by Clark and Palattella published
in 2012 and now in its third printing. "We thought the book might
be a success locally and regionally, but it has done well
nationally and internationally too," Clark noted.
That got the attention of Rowman & Littlefield, which
contacted Clark and Palattella about writing a proposal for a book
about bank robberies. "We wrote it, they loved it and we signed a
Now the hard work of research begins. Because bank robbery is a
federal offense, the FBI is the storehouse of information about
bank robberies. Clark's ties to the agency should help in that
effort. "I'm working with the FBI historian," he said. "There is
material about John Dillinger in the archive-including photos-that
only the FBI has. I'd love to see that."
In the meantime, plot elements from the Pizza Bomber Case have
turned up in television series such as the Discovery Channel's "FBI
Criminal Pursuits," Oxygen's "Snapped," Fox' "Almost Human," and
others, and Clark has been interviewed on "America's Most Wanted"
five times. Books rights are currently being optioned to producers
who are in active development of a feature film on the case.
Palattella, who has been a reporter at the Times-News for 24
years, said, ""I am glad to be able to continue to work with Jerry,
who has a deep knowledge of criminal behavior and investigative
techniques. Particularly because of the movies, bank robbery has a
unique place in American culture and crime. Our book will take a
look at the criminals, the investigators and how they tried to
outwit one another."