America has found a new folk hero. On June 9, a 59-year-old man entered an RBC bank in Gastonia, N.C., and attempted to rob it of a single dollar so he could receive health care in prison, according to the police report.
"I'm sort of a logical person and that was my logic, what I came up with," said Richard James Verone in a jailhouse interview with a local NBC affiliate. "If it is called manipulation, then out of necessity because I need medical care, then I guess I am manipulating the courts to get medical care."
Verone says he has two ruptured disks, a mysterious growth on his chest, and a problem with his left foot. To make sure his intentions were clear during the robbery, Verone told the bank teller he'd be sitting on a couch just waiting for the police to arrive. In a savvy media play, he also mailed a letter to the local newspaper. "When you receive this a bank robbery will have been committed by me," the note read. "This robbery is being committed by me for one dollar. I am of sound mind but not so much sound body."
Since his arrest, Verone's Dickensian story has been picked up by ABC News, The New York Times, Good Morning America, and regional papers throughout the country. On the upside, he's charged with larceny, not armed robbery, and he won't likely be held for longer than 12 months. His bond is $2,000 and he's scheduled to appear in court June 28.
Below, North Carolina's WCNC spoke with him in his jail cell.