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June 21st, 2011
11:47 AM ET

Man says he robbed bank to get health care

A man walks into a bank and slips a note to the teller.

The note reads: “This is a bank robbery. Please only give me one dollar.”

Then the man tells the bank employees, “I’ll be sitting right over there in the chair waiting for the police."

He perches himself on a chair outside the bank he just robbed and waits for the police to arrive.

That suspect, James Verone, who is from Gaston County, North Carolina, told CNN affiliate WCNC that he robbed a bank for $1 for the sole reason of getting in jail so he could get free health care. He was not armed during the robbery.

Verone, 59, told WCNC he doesn’t have health insurance, but has a host of medical problems: A growth on his chest, two ruptured disks and a problem with his left foot.  Without a job and money, he reached the conclusion that going to jail would mean free medical care (although it's not free for taxpayers).

“I wanted to make it known that this wasn't for monetary reasons, but for medical reasons," Verone said.  His jailhouse interview with the station is above.

The logic, he told the news station, was to get a three-year sentence so he can get out of jail then collect Social Security and then later live in a Myrtle Beach condo.

Verone told his local paper, The Gaston Gazette that he had worked as a delivery man for Coca-Cola for 17 years.  That career ended three years ago, and he couldn’t find steady employment.  Then the medical problems began.  He lived off his savings and sought a part-time job.

The police charged him with larceny, not bank robbery, because of the $1 amount he demanded at the bank. Verone told his hometown paper if the jail penalty isn’t great enough, the crime will happen again.

Verone told WCNC, "I guess I am manipulating the courts to get medical care."

Is Verone’s story an example of one man gaming the system or a product of a flawed health care in America? Sound off below.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.