Former cop says he robbed bank to avoid homelessness, get health care in federal prison

Man receives sentence for bank robbery

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Former Columbus police officer Edward Pascucci had been jobless for more than a year and was facing homelessness last summer when he decided to rob a local bank. Making off with stacks of cash, however, was never his intention.

Pascucci told a federal judge Thursday he’d run out of options, was facing “severe health problems” and opted to avail himself of the services offered by the federal penal system rather than live on the street.

“I didn’t want to be homeless,” said Pascucci, addressing U.S. District Judge Clay D. Land. “I should not have manipulated the justice system, but I couldn’t think of any other way to get help.”

In keeping with the terms of a plea agreement, Land sentenced Pascucci to five years and three months behind bars followed by three years of supervised release. He’ll be given credit for time served awaiting sentencing.

Pascucci apologized to the employees of the Citizens Trust Bank, to his former colleagues in the Columbus Police Department and to the “community at large.”

“I had no funds whatsoever left to live on,” said Pascucci. “I did this foolish thing hoping I’d get some kind of care.”

Public defender Victor Arturo Arana told Land his client never intended to hurt anyone. Pascucci carried an unloaded revolver into the bank that the teller never saw, he said.

Pascucci, who also served in the Marines, Army and Army Reserve before becoming a police officer in 1989, pleaded guilty in October to one count of bank robbery. He walked into the Macon Road bank about 11 a.m. on Aug. 3 carrying an unloaded .357-caliber handgun.

He presented a note to the teller that read, “This is a stickup, hand over the money,” according to court documents. The teller gave him $1,040, prosecutors said, and Pascucci walked out of the bank. A security guard stopped him on the premises and held him until police arrived.

Once in custody, Pascucci told the FBI he attempted the heist because he was having prolonged money troubles. He indicated in a financial affidavit that the only income he’d received in the past year was a $3,000 gift from his father.

The plea agreement also says Pasccuci admitted to having thoughts of suicide.

Pascucci told authorities he removed the bullets from the gun before entering the bank. Officials later recovered those bullets during a search of Pascucci’s white Geo Metro.

Pascucci, 54, served as a police officer for nearly 15 years, but had a troubled employment history that prompted a psychologist in 2002 to recommend he no longer serve on the force. He transferred to animal control that year, records show, but resigned in March 2006 in lieu of an appeal for unprofessional conduct.

Jim Mustian is a reporter for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

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Bonk 02/24/12 - 01:08 am
No pension for a cop with 15

No pension for a cop with 15 years of service?

Asitisinaug 02/24/12 - 01:25 am
Bonk, lol, no not even close.

Bonk, lol, no not even close. This is a sad situation that many are going through now days, especially that this person was a former marine and law enforcement officer. However, his actions are not acceptable and he must be held accountable. The problem is, this seems to be exactly what he wants -- our prison system with the benefits and medical care, etc. needs to greatly change.

Prisoners deserve 3 meals of minimal calories required on a daily basis and medical care for emergency situations, nothing more and nothing less.

raul 02/24/12 - 07:37 am
Wondering if he would not

Wondering if he would not have had benefits through the VA for prior service. Sounds like he would have been eligible for Medicaid also.

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