Man Robs Bank to Go to Prison and Get Health Care

James Richard Verone is 59, has no priors, and worked for years for Coca Cola. Then he got sick. He didn't qualify for anything but food stamps. He needed medical care for a variety of conditions, from a protrusion on his chest to carpal tunnel, back pain and arthritis.

He made a plan: Rob a bank for a dollar, go to prison, get health care and three squares a day.

He handed the teller a note demanding one dollar, and medical attention.....[Vernone said] “I told the teller that I would sit over here and wait for police

So far it's worked.

He has seen several nurses and has an appointment with a doctor Friday. The ideal scenario would include back and foot surgery and a diagnosis and treatment of the protrusion on his chest, he said. He would serve a few years in prison and get out in time to collect Social Security and move to the beach.

[Hat tip to Sentencing Law and Policy.]

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    You have to walk in his shoes! (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 02:39:13 PM EST
    I hope that I am a long way from Mr Verone's plight, but I have thought many times about people that aren't.

    The homeless, the very poor and the medically needy could vastly improve their condition if they were willing to take certain risks and I don't mean the risk of stealing or cheating.

    I mean if all the homeless and hungry gathered in front of the town hall, the court house, the nice businesses downtown, or even in front of the jail and refused to leave until their needs were met in a humane way, then I guarantee things would change.

    I can see it now.
    "Leave and don't trespass again or you will be arrested?"
    "What time are you serving lunch in the jail?"

    If the medically needy laid down their blankets in the hospital corridors and refused to leave until they were seen, what might happen?

    When people are willing to make those stands, things will change.  The well off people and the politically connected have no real reason to change things when the homeless/needy/mentally ill are hiding behind the dumpsters out of sight.

    By the way, what I read indicated that Mr Verone was charged with larceny (about a 1 year sentence) and not a Federal crime where he could get better treatment, because he didn't have a gun.  Well now he has learned his lesson.  Next time he can bring a gun.

    When the system's rigged, (none / 0) (#1)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 08:51:29 AM EST
    find a way to sting the grifters.

    Does that sound like Kdog? ;-)

    Ever seen The Mouse That Roared? (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 09:10:38 AM EST

    Very sad.... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 09:11:12 AM EST
    I like to think I'd jump off a bridge before I let the bastards chain and cage me to receive medical care...but ya never really know until your in that desperate situation.

    I give him props for making a statement on our warped society, but I think its just crazy to live in a cage to get care...thats not a life, not how I define it.

    back and foot surgery (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by CST on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 09:40:17 AM EST
    Make it sound like his body was his cage.

    I hear ya... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 09:49:06 AM EST
    I've never had to live with constant pain...I just don't know if replacing back & foot pain with the pain of a 6 x 8, cativity serches, indignity, abuse, god awful food, and no freedom is an improvement...death seems a better out imho...though I'd never judge.

    I guess if ya can stand it and will be released...more power to ya.  And it is one helluva political statement.  Personally I don't think I could stand it.


    Fortunately for Mr. Verone, he was (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 11:06:18 AM EST
    charged with larceny as he only asked for $1.00.  Could probably have been charged with federal crime of bank robbery.  Also, he chose not to ask his siblings for help, which is an interesting part of his story.

    Too bad (none / 0) (#7)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 11:39:06 AM EST
    It's too bad he didn't wait for the (un)ACA.  The government would have at least granted him a waiver from his "I can't afford health insurance" $1000 tax....that would have made him feel better.

    actually (none / 0) (#8)
    by CST on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 12:00:53 PM EST
    under the ACA he would probably be eligible for medicaid.

    Right now if you are a single adult with no kids, there is pretty much no way you can get on it.


    this is kind of the perfect example (none / 0) (#9)
    by CST on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 12:02:12 PM EST
    of how the ACA would actually help someone.

    Will that hold up? (none / 0) (#10)
    by nycstray on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 01:00:42 PM EST
    aren't they trying to close up a loop hole in that because it allows too many folks in?

    I think that depends entirely (none / 0) (#11)
    by CST on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 01:30:49 PM EST
    on the 2012 elections.  Republican governers are certainly trying.  I have no doubt about what a Romney administration would do.

    Up until 2014 the rules are kind of fuzzy, and given the current funding "issues" (ahem - republican governers) in many states, they are trying to do whatever they can to cut medicaid, with mixed responses from the Obama admin.  AKA, they are accepting some cuts to "generous" medicaid programs, not others.  But under the ACA that would all have to change in 2014, when the increased federal funding kicks in.

    I have no doubt that the benefits in the ACA would not survive a GOP congress and president at this juncture.  Which is one of the major flaws of 2014 implementation.  After 10 years or so it will probably be harder to dismantle.

    But nevertheless, as it stands, and as it was passed, the medicaid expansion would probably cover this guy (I say probably because I don't actually know what -if anything- his income is).  I think it's critical to any discussion of the ACA to talk about what it is as it currently exists, and not what it might be under some other condition - since there is no way of knowing that, and frankly, any changes could make all the praise - or all the complaining, entirely moot.  If the GOP gets rid of it entirely there will be nothing to talk about either and we are back to the status quo.


    I'm wondering if Mr. Verone's "owning" (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 01:37:45 PM EST
    a condo might not bar him from receiving Medicaid.

    better answer (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by CST on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 02:07:19 PM EST
    No.  If you can get through the jargon:

    "Under PPACA... The new income test for these
    individuals will be based on MAGI, or in the case of an individual in a family greater than one,
    the household income of such family.14"

    "MAGI is defined as the Internal Revenue Code's (IRC's) Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), which
    reflects a number of deductions, including trade and business deductions, losses from sale of
    property, and alimony payments, increased by tax-exempt interest and income earned by U.S.
    citizens or residents living abroad."


    complicated question (none / 0) (#13)
    by CST on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 01:51:42 PM EST
    just googled, I do not think it would be an issue.  The only clear information that I could find was talking about home ownership and medicaid eligibility for elderly people.  Any home up to $500,000 was exempt from being considered an asset.  Not clear if that would only apply to the elderly or if a condo would change it, but I'm thinking not.

    I can't imagine the numbers being thrown around now about how many people would be affected by the expansion - are all homeless people.


    Reminds me (none / 0) (#16)
    by Nemi on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 03:40:58 PM EST
    of the sad situation in Japan where the elder commit crime in order to be taken care of. :(

    Almost all are serving sentences of one to several years for theft - usually of food from supermarkets - small-time fraud and, in a few cases, possession of drugs. [...] [T]he most common condition afflicting these men is loneliness. Some serve their sentences without seeing a single visitor. Their relatives are either dead, live too far away or, unable to cope with the shame of having a criminal in their midst, have ceased all contact.
    Life on the outside can be unforgiving for elderly men with a criminal record. "Those without family or friends are worst off," Ogawa says. "If they don't have a guarantor, they can't find a place to live. If they have nowhere to live they can't get a job. It's a vicious circle."

    Instead, the best chance many have of security, decent healthcare and three meals a day is another stint behind bars. According to a recent justice ministry study, almost two-thirds of Onomichi's older inmates will walk back through its doors within five years of their release.

    Pills and porridge: prisons in crisis as struggling pensioners turn to crime

    Move to Massachusetts? (none / 0) (#17)
    by diogenes on Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 10:31:09 PM EST
    Wouldn't it have been easier to move to Massachusetts for Romneycare?  In some other states in the northeast, at least, childless adults can get medicaid as well.  
    Whether his family could have helped him is unclear; the article's quote is enigmatic:
    "...he refused to be a burden on his sister and brothers..."