The twisted story of Frank J. Morrocco, an ex-convict from Amherst who suffers from leukemia, took another turn Wednesday afternoon when a federal judge sent him back to jail, at least until Feb. 13.
U.S. District Judge John T. Curtin ordered Morrocco, 56, to be sent to a jail facility because, according to federal prosecutors, Morrocco has violated the terms of his probationary release by getting arrested twice on shoplifting charges.
The judge directed Morrocco to return to court Feb. 13, either for a hearing or to plead guilty on a charge of violating the rules of his probation.
Morrocco was convicted of drug trafficking in 1994. He served 20 years in federal prison and was released and put on probation in late 2011.
His first shoplifting arrest was at an Amherst grocery store last Nov. 16. Afterward, Morrocco said he intentionally got himself arrested because he wanted to go back to prison and get better health care. A judge refused to send him to prison after friends and family members agreed to pay for health care insurance for Morrocco.
But Morrocco was arrested again on shoplifting charges after an incident at a Transit Road department store Dec. 24. His attorney, Jeremy D. Schwartz, said Morrocco is innocent of that charge. He told Curtin that an individual who knows Morrocco was caught with stolen property, but he said Morrocco stole nothing.
Schwartz implored the judge to allow Morrocco to remain free so he can make appointments for his leukemia treatment.
After noting in court that Amherst police had to chase and subdue Morrocco in the Dec. 24 case, Curtin ordered Morrocco to be jailed until further proceedings in his case.
Morrocco, who is barred from spending time with convicted felons or engaging in any illegal activities, has also committed other infractions that violated the terms of his probation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce said.