Man Tries to Commit $1 Robbery To Get Health Care in Prison

James Verone was in major need of health care, and he didn’t have the money to pay for doctors. So he decided to try to commit a crime so he could get arrested, convicted, and then have health care in prison:

A couple of months ago Verone started weighing his options. He considered turning to a homeless shelter and seeking medical help through charitable organizations. Then he had another idea: commit a crime and get set up with a place to stay, food and doctors.

He started planning. As his bank account depleted and the day of execution got closer, Verone sold and donated his furniture. He paid his last month’s rent and gave his notice. He moved into the Hampton Inn for the last couple of days. Then on June 9 he followed his typical morning routine of getting ready for the day. He took a cab down New Hope Road and picked a bank at random — RBC Bank.

Verone didn’t want to scare anyone. He executed the robbery the most passive way he knew how. He handed the teller a note demanding one dollar, and medical attention. “I didn’t have any fears,” said Verone. “I told the teller that I would sit over here and wait for police.”

Verone was then arrested, and is representing himself with the goal of getting enough prison time to make sure he gets the medical care he needs:

Because he only demanded $1, he was charged with larceny from a person. Still a felony, the count doesn’t carry as much jail time as bank robbery. The bearded, gray-haired man plans to represent himself in court. He’s trying not to get too confident about his knowledge of the legal system. He just wants to prepare a statement for the judge and then take whatever active sentence he is given. Verone is considering an ultimatum if the penalty isn’t great enough, he said. The crime will happen again.

The day Verone set out to commit his first felony, he mailed a letter to The Gazette. He listed the return address as the Gaston County Jail. “When you receive this a bank robbery will have been committed by me. This robbery is being committed by me for one dollar,” he wrote. “I am of sound mind but not so much sound body.”

Verone wanted to talk to a reporter to make sure people knew why he turned to crime. He figured he had nothing to lose.

The irony of the story is that I’m not sure Verone actually committed the crime of which he was charged. I gather the crime is General Statutes § 14-72(b)(1), which prohibits theft from a person. Theft requires intent to permanently deprive another of property. But it’s not clear that Verone had any intent to permanently deprive the bank of its money. If I understand the facts, he just wanted to do what was necessary to be arrested, without any actual intent to deprive others of their stuff (thus the $1 request). Verone wants people to know why he committed his act, so they know he’s not a bad guy. But I think his reason shows that he lacked the intent that the crime requires; if I’m right about that, Verone is actually not guilty of the crime charged.

Thanks to Sentencing Law & Policy for the link.