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Ex-Con Shoplifts to Get Free Health Care in Prison

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on December 12, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Frank J. Morrocco made a show of shoplifting at a Wegmans store in Amherst, New York, but not because he couldn't pay. He told police he wanted to get arrested so he could get treatment for his leukemia.

This plan isn't as crazy as it seems, since Morrocco is a recently released ex-convict. He was convicted in 1990 of felony drug conspiracy and his 20-year sentence ended last December. Morrocco has a rare form of leukemia and couldn't afford health care.

He shoplifted in order to get back into prison so he could access prison health care. But now he's having second thoughts.

When Morrocco went into the store, he immediately starting putting things like shoelaces, sandals, and stuffed animals into his basket. Then he conspicuously walked out without paying, according to The Buffalo News.

Shoplifting is a violation of Morrocco's supervised release deal, and federal marshals soon had a warrant for his arrest.

It's not that Morrocco wanted to shoplift. The self-employed man told reporters that he makes too much to qualify for government programs, but not enough to afford his own health insurance or out-of-pocket care.

The health care Morrocco got in prison was free and would treat his cancer.

It's a sad statement that prisoners are entitled to health care, which means free or low-cost services for many, while most law-abiding citizens can't get similar health care for the same price.

Things may change once more provisions of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) take effect. For now, however, Morrocco believed that prison was his best bet for adequate health care.

But in a sad twist of fate, Morrocco is now hoping a federal judge won't send him back to prison for his actions.

Shortly after his arrest, a relative and two friends offered to pay his health care costs, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Now it looks like Morrocco will be able to afford the treatment he needs, if he can stay out of prison.

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