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Posted: 4:41 p.m. Tuesday, July 3, 2012
GASTON COUNTY, N.C. —
A homeless man who said he held up a bank last year so he would go to jail and get health care is now out.
Richard Verone spent his first night of freedom after 13 months in jail at the Salvation Army shelter.
Eyewitness News asked if he thought planning a bank robbery so police would arrest him was the right thing to do.
“Oh no, I broke the law,” Verone said. “What I did, I wouldn't recommend for anyone to do. Believe me.”
Last year, he thought jail was his best option. He was out of work and believed he was suffering from pancreatic cancer.
“My thought was, if I go to jail they are going to take care of me,” Verone said.
Last June, Verone gave a bank teller a note that read:
“This is a bank robbery, please only give me $1. I have pancreatic cancer,” Verone said.
He thought if he spent a couple of years in federal prison, then doctors would operate on him for free.
But his attorney told him the punishment for his crime would be more than two years.
“He told me I could get five to 25 years if I went federal,” Verone said. “And that scared me."
So he took a plea on a lesser charge. While in jail, he found out he didn't have cancer.
Now, he wants to write another note to the same teller he scared last year.
“I feel an obligation to apologize,” Verone said. “So I am going to write a letter of apology to her.”
He said he is also writing a book about his experience and he wants to speak publicly about health care for the poor.
“We are the wealthiest country in the world and we have people that have problems getting medical care,” Verone said.
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