he had stolen, but John decided that he and his bride needed to move somewhere with work available. They tried living with her parents briefly in Martinsville where John found work at an upholstery shop. They wanted to live on their own but needed to work and save money. Dillinger also found an outlet for one of his talents in Martinsville. He landed a spot on the baseball team, the AC Athletics, as its shortstop. Before he was public enemy number one, John Dillinger spent the summer of 1924 playing semi-pro baseball. One of the umpires, Edgar Singleton, held a second “job” as the town pool shark. Ed was a distant relation of Dillinger’s stepmother, Lizzie, and it was this friendship with his distant family member that led to his first major arrest and conviction. Looking for a way to earn easy money, Singleton and Dillinger robbed a Mooresville grocer, assaulting him in the process. The grocer knew Dillinger and his family. Police quickly found the pair and pressed charges, but the sentences allocated to the two differed vastly. Singleton received only a two-year sentence after pleading not guilty and standing trial. On the advice of his father, Dillinger told the truth. He pled guilty to conspiracy to commit a felony and assault and battery with intent to rob. For his confession, he received a conviction, and the judge meted out one of the harshest sentences possible, joint sentences of 10 to 20 years and two to 14 years. At 21, and having committed his first robbery, John Dillinger entered the Indiana State Prison. He would serve nine and a half years of his sentence before his father successfully petitioned for his early release. After gathering a petition with 188 signatures, Dillinger left prison in 1933. He returned to the family farm, only to learn that his stepmother had just died. With the Great Depression in full swing, he could not find work. That was okay, though, because in those nine and a half years in the Indiana Reformatory and Indiana State Prison, John studied bank robbery. He learned from the best.
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