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Debtor does time but not the crime

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) -- A jobless Brazilian man who agreed to impersonate a convicted robber and serve his prison sentence to cover a $275 debt wound up doing time of his own for the ruse.

An investigator in Sao Paulo told Reuters on Friday that Denival Santos, an unemployed baker's assistant, spent three months in a prison cell this year posing as the robber, Rene Coelho Honorato, before authorities caught on.

Santos, 21, was recently released after serving an additional four months for impersonating Honorato, also 21, who remains at large.

"He was lucky to serve only a few months, because the criminal had been sentenced to nearly six years. Apparently, the bandit promised him a swift release and not very harsh conditions, which wasn't the case," the investigator said.

While Santos sat in prison, Honorato was stealing money bags from vehicles transporting cash, police said. An investigation led them to Santos, who had dyed hair and fake documents.

Santos told police he had crashed Honorato's motorcycle and owed him $275 for repairs.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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