'Newspaper Bandit' embarrassed, rewarded

October 11, 2017 07:05 PM

ALBANY - The last thing Johnny Dozier wants anyone to think is that crime pays. After all, things worked out pretty well for him.

"I committed a crime," Dozier, 61, admits, "Luckily and perhaps with the lord blessing me in some way, good is coming out of this, but I"m lucky."

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Lucky, because he could have wound up in jail. Dozier admits he had been regularly stealing newspapers from the Levine Memorial Chapel and he realizes Funeral Director Mark Levine could have had him arrested.

In fact, that's what Dozier thought would happen after Levine showed him convincing evidence of the crime, photos from the surveillance system on Sunday morning, when confronting him.

"I didn't know this was Mr. Levine that day," Dozier said. "He was here that day and I thought a bigger Mr. Levine was gonna come, the owner, a big guy was gonna ball me out, but he was just like he is now."

"Johnny apologized, seemed sincere in what he was saying, and I just looked at this guy and thought this is a good guy," Levine stated.

In fact, Levine's only interest at the time seemed to be what everyone else was thinking. Why?

"I don't know," Dozier responded, "I just wanted to catch up on my Sunday sports. Walking up (the steps to swipe the paper) I knew that I was about to do something wrong."

But he kept doing it anyway. And what did he get in return? An invitation from Levine to join him and his family at the Sagamore Hotel for Thanksgiving dinner.

"I'm sure it'll be a great day and a Thanksgiving we'll both never forget," Levine said.

"I've learned that warmth, kindness, and compassion comes from the most unlikely sources and places," Dozier assessed.


Dan Levy

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