Attila Ambrus in his hockey playing days.
The infamous ‘Whiskey Robber’ – a Romanian national who played in the Hungarian hockey league before being arrested for a slew of bank thefts – has been released from prison after 12 years behind bars.
As reported this weekend by THN editor in chief Jason Kay on his Twitter account, the wily criminal, 44-year-old Attila Ambrus, was freed Tuesday from a maximum security prison in Northern Hungary after being sentenced to a 17-year term in December of 2000. His astonishing story, in which he committed nearly 30 robberies of banks, post offices and travel agencies and walked away with approximately $500,000 before being apprehended in 1999, has drawn multiple movie offers from Hollywood big-timers such as actor Johnny Depp, as well as the book “Ballad Of The Whiskey Robber,” by Julian Rubinstein.
Ambrus acquired the nickname ‘Whiskey Robber’ due to his penchant for appearing in area bars drinking that type of alcohol prior to committing his robberies. He was also a master of disguise and deception – including working his way onto a Hungarian hockey squad as a relatively hapless backup goalie and the team’s janitor – and became something of a folk hero for his colorful personality (including his choice to give flowers to bank tellers before he robbed them, as well as his delivery of wine to police investigators trying to capture him). Numerous songs were written about his plight – and we’re likely to see him back in the spotlight now that he’s a free man. For more information, visit Rubinstein’s website on Ambrus.
Ambrus has yet to issue a statement regarding his freedom, but he has given interviews in the past and likely will again. When he does, THN will be sure to update one of the great hockey-related crime stories in the sport’s history.