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Man who robbed bank for free healthcare released

Published: Jul. 6, 2012 at 9:09 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2012 at 9:09 PM EDT
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GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - One year ago he walked into a RBC bank in Gastonia and handed the bank teller a note.

In it, he demanded one dollar.

He then casually took a seat and waited for police to arrive.

James Verone wanted to go to jail.

He was sick and he says he knew he would receive health care there without any cost to him.

"The whole day I thought I got to come off like a nice guy because I'm not doing this to make any money," said Verone. "I think I came off as nervous, because I was nervous."

He laughs now, but he was desperate.

At that time, the 59-year-old feared he had pancreatic cancer.

"The six places that I went to get taken care of, I could not get anyone to take care of me," said Verone.

Verone, a retired delivery driver, couldn't get healthcare.

His slew of ailments left him unable to work.

His savings were gone and in his mind, his only chance for free healthcare would have to come from behind bars.

"Everything that they did for me was specific and well understood, but only to the limit that they can do things," said Verone.

His plan was to stay in jail until he turned 62 and then receive social security benefits.

But after spending one terrible year in jail,  he struck a deal with prosecutors.

On Monday, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny and was released based on time served.

Today, he's writing a book about his experience which he hopes will generate some income.

While he still has some regrets about his decision, he believes it was worth it to make his point.

"Yes, it was worth it, I had no other direction to go, I was afraid for my life," said Verone.

Verone learned in jail that he didn't have cancer, but he still has significant health problems.

He's currently staying at a shelter until he can get back on his feet.