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Man who stole for family is sentenced

Published Oct. 13, 2005

Bernard Gamble had a family history of cancer, severe stomach pains and declining weight. He thought he was dying and he wanted to take care of his family. On Oct. 7, he took a broken pistol to the airport currency exchange where he had worked for 17 years and stole $135,000. He cried, realizing he was taking money from people who knew and trusted him.

After leaving $85,000 in a cardboard box at the home of one of his daughters, he spent two weeks riding Greyhound buses. He took a bus to Miami, to Chicago and then back to Fort Lauderdale. He went to Orlando.

He had lost his glasses and never saw the appeals for his return that his family had placed in newspapers across the country.

But finally he called home and found out that his family had given back the money he had left with them. And his two-year-old grandson persuaded him to stop running.

"He said, "Grandpa, I love you. Come to my house and play ball with me,' " Gamble said last year.

So, he turned himself in. And he found out he wasn't dying.

A doctor determined he was suffering from an infection and adhesions from a childhood appendectomy.

On Tuesday, Gamble, who had returned the rest of the stolen money and pleaded guilty, was sentenced to five years' probation. He also was fined $7,854 and directed to undergo psychiatric counseling.

"Your delusion, about dying of cancer, made you almost bury yourself," Supreme Court Justice John Milano told Gamble.

"I never meant to hurt anyone," Gamble told New York Newsday after turning himself in. "All I wanted to do was provide for my family, give my wife something to live on. . . . People had so much trust in me, and I threw it away. I can only say I'm sorry, but it is from the bottom of my heart."