Opinion: $1 bank robbery doesn’t pay off for man who said he was desperate for healthcare

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A $1 bank robbery was what Richard James Verone thought would get him thrown in jail so he could get the medical attention that he needs.

The unemployed, uninsured 59-year-old has a growth on this chest, two ruptured disks and something wrong with his left foot. He figured if he held up a bank for a dollar, he’d get thrown in the slammer and be seen by a doctor.


So, earlier this month, he walked into the RBC bank in North Carolina and handed the teller a note that said, ‘This is a bank robbery. Please only give me one dollar.’

It was Verone’s first attempt at crime. After he held up the bank with his note, he sat on a couch, unarmed, as the teller called 911, and they waited patiently and peacefully for the police to arrive.

‘I’m sort of a logical person, and that was my logic, what I came up with,’ Verone told reporters, according to ABC News. ‘If it is called manipulation, then out of necessity because I need medical care, then I guess I am manipulating the courts to get medical care.’ Apparently, this is what it’s come to. The desperate are looking to prison for more than just three hots and a cot, they also want a doc.

The Washington Post reports that, according to the inmates handbook, prisoners in North Carolina typically only have to pay a $5 to $7 co-payment for most visits or emergencies.

“However, no one will be denied access to healthcare whether they have money or not,” states the handbook. “You will not be charged for visits about life- or limb-threatening emergencies, referrals to specialty clinics, defined chronic disease such as TB, HIV, high blood pressure, diabetes, pregnancy care, vaccinations, and periodic health assessments.”

Verone, unfortunately, caught a bad break. Instead of getting what he desired -- a bank robbery charge that would get him about three years in jail, followed a Florida condo when he’s freed (via Social Security payments), he was only slapped with ‘larceny from a person,’ which carries a much shorter prison term.


Maybe he should call the judge names at his trial for a charge of contempt of court.

Or, better yet, maybe lawmakers should realize that when Americans are willing to trade in their freedom for healthcare, they may stoop to more desperate measures than holding up banks for a buck.


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-- Tony Pierce