GASTONIA, N.C. – A Gaston County man robbed a bank and then sat down on the floor to wait for police to arrest him.
"(This is the) first time I've ever been in trouble with the law,” James Verone said from the Gaston County Jail on Friday. “I'm sort of a logical person and that was my logic. (That was) what I came up with.”
That is how Verone said he came to the decision to rob the RBC bank on New Hope Road on Thursday, June 9.
He didn’t have a gun and he handed the teller a rather unusual note.
"The note said ‘This is a bank robbery. Please only give me one dollar,’" Verone said.
Then he did the strangest thing of all.
"I started to walk away from the teller, then I went back and said, 'I'll be sitting right over there in the chair waiting for the police," Verone said.
And that is what he did.
The teller called 911 and police released the recording:
911 Operator: Is he being threatening to ya’ll?
Bank teller: Yes
911 Operator: What is, he has threatened you?
Bank teller: Yes
911 Operator: To shoot you?
Bank teller: Uh, yes. He’s sitting on the sofa. He can hear everything I’m saying, so I’m in a back room. But there’s four of us here in the bank. Please hurry.
911 Operator: Ok ma’am. They’re just right out there.
So why did Verone do everything he could to get arrested?
"Because I wanted to make it known that this wasn't for monetary reasons, but for medical reasons," he said.
Verone said he doesn’t have medical insurance. He has a growth of some sort on his chest, two ruptured disks and a problem with his left foot. He is 59-years-old and with no job and a depleted bank account, he thought jail was the best place he could go for medical care and a roof over his head.
Verone said he wanted police to arrest him.
"Oh yeah. I went in knowing I was going to jail," Verone said.
He is hoping for a three year sentence. He would then be able to collect Social Security when he got out and said he would head for the beach.
"I've already looked at a condominium. I've spoken to a realtor on Myrtle Beach," Verone said.
He admits his story is unusual and said he wouldn't recommend anyone else do what he did, but Verone said he has no regrets. He said he is getting good medical care now, but the jail doctor accused him of manipulating the system.
"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 said.
Verone may have a problem with his plan because he only demanded one dollar in the bank robbery. Police charged him, not with bank robbery, but larceny from a person. He might not get as much time in the slammer as he was hoping for.
We'll follow his story and let you know what happens.