ADVERTISEMENT

Frank J. Morrocco, an ex-convict who claimed that he intentionally got himself arrested for shoplifting last November so he could get sent back to prison and get better health care, is in trouble again at U.S. District Court.

Federal prosecutors want Morrocco, 56, to be put back in prison because of a second shoplifting arrest, which occurred at a Clarence department store Dec. 24.

During a court appearance last week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy refused to put Morrocco back in prison but warned the ex-convict that he is “skating on thin ice.”

“There will be another hearing on this situation, but it hasn’t been scheduled yet,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce said Monday. “Our position is that he has violated the terms of his probation.”

Morrocco, an Amherst resident who was convicted of cocaine trafficking in 1994, served 20 years in federal prison. He was released and put on probation in late 2011. Since then, Morrocco has worked as a used-car buyer.

On Nov. 16, Amherst police arrested Morrocco for shoplifting at a Wegmans supermarket on Maple Road.

He told The Buffalo News that he stole items he didn’t need and purposely got himself arrested because he was not making enough money to afford health insurance. He said he wanted to go back to prison, where he had received “excellent” care for his leukemia at taxpayer expense.

After his arrest was publicized in The Buffalo News, friends and family members stepped forward and agreed to pay for Morrocco’s health care. Morrocco said he no longer wanted to be returned to prison, and a federal judge showed sympathy for his plight and refused to imprison him.

But two weeks after the judge gave Morrocco a break, he was arrested by officers again, this time for allegedly helping a woman shoplift at a Walmart store on Transit Road in Clarence, prosecutors told McCarthy on Friday.

Morrocco denies any wrongdoing in the Walmart incident, his attorney, Jeremy D. Schwartz, told the judge.

email: dherbeck@buffnews.com