Having seen the Lex 18 local report on 30-year-old Gary Thompson as he deliberately fumbles about in his wheelchair, pacing back and forth in front of the local police station, and intentionally slurring his speech, I ache in utter disgust. Thompson is a con artist who successfully fakes having a mental disability to tug at the sympathetic wallets of passersby. I grew up in the area and have a handicapped relative, so I’m especially put off by the theft by deception.
Thompson is well-off, or was, and educated. According to The Inquisitr’sinitial story, Thompson won a $2.5 million lawsuit from Honda of America and has a degree in speech pathology. Thompson claims he’s burned through the money he received from the “Morales Vs. American Honda Motor Co Inc” lawsuit.
“On March 24, 1993, Pamela Morales filed suit against American Honda Motor Company (“Honda”), seeking damages associated with the severe injuries sustained by her son, Gary Thompson, as he rode his 1988 Honda Z50R motorcycle into the path of an oncoming pickup truck driven by Helen Graham.”
The accident left him with some mobility issues, but he is in no way mentally handicapped.
Thompson fills his days swindling kind-hearted people out of five to six figures annually by performing the mentally disabled subterfuge, according to his on camera admission.
Thompson blatantly admits on camera to the profitable ruse, unabashedly guiltless to his offensive, unscrupulous behavior. He tells the interviewer, “Thanks for busting me,” and erupts in a hearty laugh.
ABC36 reports, if police arrest him for begging, the crime only carries a maximum penalty of ten days in jail, after which he’d be able to get out and start begging again.
Many Facebook responses to the case made excellent points regarding Thompson’s extra income. Does he report it to the IRS? Pay taxes on $100,000? Could Thomas face IRS penalties for his scam?
The hubris boasting sets me on edge when I think of the millions of actual disabled people who are too proud or too immobile to panhandle on the public street. People who do not have the additional wealth that Thompson had from his settlement available to meet their own needs. Instead his behavior makes decent donators think twice before giving a spare dollar to a seemingly needy person on the street.
A panhandler is a person who depends on the spontaneous charitable giving of strangers. Panhandling runs the full gambit in Lexington, Kentucky as the economy is especially polarized. The median income in the area is around $29,000 per capita. The Lexington-Fayette, KY Metropolitan Combined Statistical Area is the 106th largest Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in the United States. There are millionaires and paupers alike in the immediate surrounding counties, both rural and urban, with a population estimated around 480,000.
I’ve been approached by aggressive pairs of panhandlers who menace and prowl the Walmart parking lots asking for “gas money.” I’ve been in a local Kmart where a young mother audaciously approached me and asked for cash. She baited with a beautiful, well-groomed toddler, claiming her daughter had no shoes. Yet both were dressed better than I in name brand everything, and the child’s socks were pristine.
On my daily commute home, I often catch the red light on the exit ramp. As I wait I see the same homeless man, most days, holding his little cardboard sign pleading for help. He is visibly filthy, gaunt, unshaven, and shakes. He is aged, wrinkled, and leathery. His clothing sags on this skeletal frame as it would on a hanger. I’ve seen him take a police cruiser-side pat-down and be cuffed and stuffed for asking for spare change multiple times. When I see him, I ponder over the hundreds if not thousands of homeless or desperate people in this state.
An updated news report from LEX18 says Thompson has been arrested twice for theft by deception. But again he can’t be retained for long and doesn’t seem to be dissuaded from continuing to deceive people.