Huffpost Politics

Stephen Espalin Claims He Threatened To Kill Obama To Get Medical Care

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STEPHEN ESPALIN
Palm Beach County Jail

Severe chest pains drove one man to do the unthinkable to receive the medical attention he desired.

Stephen Espalin, a homeless 57-year-old man living in Florida, recently told a federal judge that he threatened to kill President Barack Obama, his family and their dog only because he desperately needed medical treatment, the Sun Sentinel reported. In 2010, Espalin resorted to threatening the president after he was allegedly kicked out of a hospital in Boca Raton, Fla., for reportedly lying about his health insurance and giving a false name.

Espalin pleaded guilty to the federal charge and will spend four years and three months in federal prison -- the longest punishment outlined by sentencing guidelines.

This isn't the first time Espalin has been convicted of threatening the life of a president. In 2001, he went to prison for a threat he made against President George W. Bush, the Sun Sentinel reported.

To find out Espalin's reaction to the charges, click over to the Sun Sentinel.

It appears Espalin's plan worked -- he will receive the medical care that he wanted once in prison. While awaiting his sentencing, Espalin received chemotherapy, and he is scheduled for heart surgery once he goes to prison, according to documents from his lawyer.

Espalin's actions may seem drastic, but if he stayed out of prison and continued to live in Florida, there is a good chance he would remain uninsured. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), an outspoken opponent of President Barack Obama's health care reform law, hasn't made a decision on whether the state will expand Medicaid to more poor people. Without a Medicaid expansion, a person poor enough to be homeless still might not be poor enough to get health care in Florida.

According to the Daily Beast, the Federal Bureau of Prisons actually provides pretty good medical care to those who are incarcerated.

"The homeless, the addicted, and the mentally ill have for years treated jails and prisons in much the same manner as northern snowbirds treat their Florida condos … a nice warm place to spend the winter," Mansfield Frazier writes.

Unfortunately, Espalin is not the first American to allegedly spend time behind bars to get medical attention and healthcare. James Verone, an unemployed man, robbed a bank for a single dollar to receive healthcare for an undiagnosed growth on his chest and a sore foot, The New York Times reported. In another incident, James Lannon told police that he robbed a bank because he wanted to get arrested and receive housing and medicine in jail.

Most recently, Frank J. Morrocco claimed he intentionally shoplifted so that he could go to prison and receive expensive treatment for his rare form of leukemia, the Buffalo News reported.

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