A former Georgia police officer told a court that he robbed a bank last year so that he could get health care while in a federal prison.
Edward Pascucci told U.S. District Court Judge Clay D. Land on Thursday that he was facing “severe health problems” and homelessness when he decided to rob the Citizens Trust Bank in Columbus, Ga., last August, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.
“I didn’t want to be homeless,” Pascucci said, according to the paper. “I should not have manipulated the justice system, but I couldn’t think of any other way to get help.”
The FBI said Pascucci, 54, walked out of the bank with more than $1,000, ABC station WTVM-TV of Columbus, Ga., reported. He had been jobless for more than a year when the crime occurred.
According to WTVM, FBI agents said Pascucci walked into the Citizens Trust Bank with a .357-caliber revolver on Aug. 3 and demanded money. The gun reportedly was not loaded.
Investigators said a security guard stopped Pascucci after he walked out of the bank and held him until a Columbus police officer could arrest him.
Pascucci, who served as a Columbus policeman for 15 years, got his wish -- he was sentenced to five years and three months in prison. In keeping with the terms of a plea agreement, he also was ordered to serve three years of supervised release. He was given credit for time served awaiting sentencing.
According to the Ledger-Enquirer, Pascucci served in the Marines, Army and Army Reserve before becoming a police officer in 1989.
The newspaper reported that Pascucci had a troubled employment history with the police department that prompted a psychologist in 2002 to recommend he no longer serve on the force. He transferred to animal control that year, according to the Ledger-Enquirer, but resigned in March 2006 in lieu of an appeal for unprofessional conduct.
Described by the Ledger-Enquirer as being shackled and dressed in a yellow jumpsuit with the word “federal” emblazoned on it, Pascucci apologized to the employees of the Citizens Trust Bank, to his former colleagues at the Columbus Police Department and to the “community at large.”
“I had no funds whatsoever left to live on,” he said. “I did this foolish thing hoping I’d get some kind of care.”
On Aug. 3, he walked into the bank about 11 a.m. and presented a note to the teller that read, “This is a stick up, hand over the money,” according to court documents.
The teller gave him $1,040, prosecutors said, and Pascucci walked out of the bank.
Pascucci, the Ledger-Enquirer reported, told authorities he removed the bullets from his gun before entering the bank. Officials later recovered those bullets during a search of Pascucci’s car.
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