On June 9th, a desperate former Coca-Cola employee named James Richard Verone robbed a bank in Gastonia, North Carolina for $1 because he wanted free meals and health care. More from the Gaston Gazette:
When his career as a cola delivery man ended some three years ago, Verone was knocked out of his comfort zone.
He hopped back in the saddle driving a truck. But that employment didn’t have near the longevity, and Verone found himself jobless.
He lived off of savings and sought a part-time job.
Not his first choice, Verone became a convenience store clerk. But the bending, standing and lifting were too much for him. The Gastonia man’s back ached; problems with his left foot caused him to limp. His knuckles swelled from arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome made daily tasks difficult.
Then he noticed a protrusion on his chest.
Strapped for cash, Verone looked into filing for disability. He applied for early Social Security.
The only thing Verone qualified for was food stamps. The extra money helped, but he felt desperate. He needed to get medical attention, and he refused to be a burden on his sister and brothers.
“The pain was beyond the tolerance that I could accept,” he said. “I kind of hit a brick wall with everything.”
Of course, as you might have guessed from the headline, the logical conclusion of this tale of economic hardship and woe was realized on the 9th at a Gastonia bank with Verone handing the teller a note that demanded one dollar and medical attention. “I told the teller that I would sit [in the waiting area] and wait for police,” Verone told the Gazette.
While this incident seems like either something out of a Kafka novel or a ballsy move of social activism, Verone told the Gazette that he had no other choice; he “exercised all the alternatives.” His plan, in all, is to land a spot in prison, ideally receiving foot and back surgery and getting the protrusion in his chest diagnosed. After that, he hopes to be released in time to receive Social Security and move to the beach with the money.
Verone is currently awaiting trial on one count of larceny. With a $2,000 (reduced from $100,000) bond that he says he won’t pay, Verone now shares a cell in the local jail and receives three meals a day. If at trial his penalty is not great enough, he told the Gazette that he will deliver an ultimatum to the court: another robbery will occur.