Bank Robber Motivated by Prison Benefits

by Rick Wetzel on June 24, 2011

In my years of practice as a criminal appeals lawyer, I have never had a client who wanted to get caught for a crime and go to prison.  Nevertheless, the ABA Journal recently reported on such an individual.  A North Carolina bank robber committed his crime for an unexpected reason.  James Verone passed a note to a bank teller asking for a dollar.  He then sat down in the bank lobby and waited for the police to arrive.

The Benefit Package

Verone told the authorities he wanted to get arrested in order to obtain health care while in prison.  Verone said he doesn’t have a job, has no money, and has no health care.  He has two ruptured disks, a growth on his chest, and a problem with his left foot.  Verone said in a jailhouse interview that he’s getting good heath care in jail while awaiting his trial.  A jail doctor has accused him of manipulating the system in order to obtain health care.

The Only Option

Verone said the bank robbery was the first time he had been arrested.  In an interview from jail, he said “I’m sort of a logical person and that was my logic. [That was] what I came up with.”  Verone, 59, hopes to spend three years in jail until he is released in good health and starts collecting Social Security. After jail, he hopes to move to Myrtle Beach and buy a condominium.  Because he only asked for $1 in the robbery, he may not get as much jail time as he is seeking.

The Unexpected Future

A Texas criminal appeals lawyer will tell you that events in the criminal justice system rarely turn out as expected.  Verone’s crime was not serious enough to warrant the three years in prison which he sought before collecting Social Security benefits.  His lawyer is now in the awkward position of actually seeking that he spends more time in prison.  Such action by a lawyer presents a fertile area for a Texas criminal appeals lawyer or habeas corpus lawyer. 

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