- Associated Press - Friday, April 13, 2012

CORNWALL, ONTARIO (AP) - Canadian author and notorious criminal Roger Caron, who broke out of prison more than a dozen times, has died at age 73.

Cornwall Funeral Home said Thursday they were handling the funeral arrangements for the writer, who died earlier in the week. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the early 1980s.

Caron won one of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards, the Governor General’s Non-fiction Award, in 1978 for his prison memoir “Go Boy! Memories of a Life Behind Bars.” The book detailed the 24 years Caron spent incarcerated.

The Cornwall native was in his 40s at the time and had spent much of his life in prison since beginning his criminal career as a teenager.

Quebec media dubbed him “Mad Dog Caron” in the 1960s after a series of bank robberies and prison escapes. He had a fondness for wearing Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan masks during the heists.

Following the success of his book, he appeared to have given up his criminal past, becoming a poster boy for prison rehabilitation. Then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau referred to him as a “great Canadian.”

But the infamous figure would eventually run into trouble again.

In 1990, Caron began robbing banks again to feed a cocaine habit. He was convicted in 1993 of seven crimes after being arrested following a robbery at an Ontario Zellers store. Later that year, he also pleaded guilty to charges of hostage taking and assault at a psychiatric hospital.

In 2004, Caron was sentenced to 20 months for illegally possessing a pistol. He had been arrested at Ottawa’s Rideau Centre in October 2001 with a loaded .32-caliber pistol, a wig, change of clothes, knife, surgical gloves and duct tape in a gym bag.

Caron was released from Maplehurst Corrections Centre in April 2005. He was 67. He spent some time in Barry’s Bay, Ontario, with his wife, Barbara, before he moved to Cornwall, Ontario, to end his days in the nursing home. He had no children.

Caron, who overcame illiteracy to become a published author, wrote three more books after “Go-Boy!”

“Bingo! The Horrifying Eyewitness Account of a Prison Riot” chronicles the 1971 Kingston Penitentiary riot. Caron also penned “JoJo,” his first attempt at writing fiction. In this novel, a man who ends up in prison in Kansas undertakes a daring escape to Canada. “Dreamcaper,” is about an American fugitive’s desire to commit the ultimate robbery.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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