updated 10/12/2006 9:01:51 PM ET 2006-10-13T01:01:51

A man who couldn't find steady work came up with a plan to make it through the next few years until he could collect Social Security: He robbed a bank, then handed the money to a guard and waited for police.

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On Wednesday, Timothy J. Bowers told a judge a three-year prison sentence would suit him, and the judge obliged.

"At my age, the jobs available to me are minimum-wage jobs. There is age discrimination out there," Bowers, who turns 63 in a few weeks, told Judge Angela White.

The judge told him: "It's unfortunate you feel this is the only way to deal with the situation."

Bowers said he had been able to find only odd jobs after the drug wholesaler he made deliveries for closed in 2003. He walked to a bank and handed a teller a note demanding cash in an envelope. The teller gave him four $20 bills and pushed a silent alarm.

Bowers handed the money to a security guard standing in the lobby and told him it was his day to be a hero.

He pleaded guilty to robbery, and a court-ordered psychological exam found him competent.

"It's a pretty sad story when someone feels that's their only alternative," said defense attorney Jeremy W. Dodgion, who described Bowers as "a charming old man."

Prosecutors had considered arguing against putting Bowers in prison at taxpayer expense, but they worried he would do something more reckless to be put behind bars.

"It's not the financial plan I would choose, but it's a financial plan," prosecutor Dan Cable said.

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