LUTHERVILLE, Md. - Henry Cole was a real estate guru in the Baltimore area, until he got caught cheating on his taxes. He went to prison, but now Cole is fighting pancreatic cancer.
Today a judge, saying he doesn't have the jurisdiction to end a prison sentence, ordered Cole to go back to jail. Cole and his family were hoping he would be able to fight the disease from home.
However, the judge said Cole would not have to return to jail until the next cycle of his chemotherapy is over in March. When Cole does return to prison, it will be to a facility with a hospital, likely in North Carolina.
In his prime, Henry Cole was a master at dealing real estate. But now he's trying to flip his health and beat a deadly disease: Pancreatic cancer. Cole’s wife Joanne says he’s a fighter, “But he's never had a battle like this though."
Henry's not just battling for his life. He's also fighting to find out where it might end. Cole's family wants him to continue treatment here at home in Baltimore, but the federal government wants him behind bars. Cole’s son-in-law, John Lanahan says, "He paid his fines. He paid his debt to society. He did go away for a substantial amount of time."
In fact, Cole has served 16 months in prison after a 2009 conviction and sentencing. But the feds want another 20 months, not for murder or assault, but tax evasion. Lanahan explains, “It was a tax offense and we're talking about his life here."
Doctors say Cole’s life could last only one more year. But Joanne Cole fears her husband may spend it in a jail cell. She tells ABC2, "My goal, my agenda is that I don't want him to die alone in prison."
But that's a very real possibility. Henry is home while his case is under appeal. He was released just after being diagnosed with cancer last fall. On Tuesday a judge will decide whether he has to go back to a Kentucky prison. Joanne is praying for compassion, hoping letters from doctors about her husband's condition will sway the judge. But Henry's not confident the feds will have much sympathy.
So for now, hope is all this family has. They're facing two sentences, one from the government and another from cancer. They’re hoping they'll somehow find the strength to beat both. Joanne says, “We'll do it. Just got to fight."
If Henry is sent back to prison, he will get medical treatment. But his family fears there will be an interruption in his care.