“I want my money back!”
A woman who’s been charged with 12 felony counts of swindling more than $300,000 from an autistic man might hear that phrase from the person she’s accused of stealing from.
Katherine Rosenthal was given power of attorney over the swindling victim because he was autistic. The autistic man’s mother saved money while working at the Federal Reserve Bank as a librarian in order to support the rest of the family after her death. The father granted power of attorney to Rosenthal sometime after she and the autistic man befriended each other at an Eagan apartment. When the man’s father died in 2004, Rosenthal began withdrawing money from the autistic man’s account, along with cashing out 17 savings bonds. An attorney who filed charges against Rosenthal claims she used the money to pay off student loans and purchase a house under her name alone in San Antonio when it was intended to go to the autistic man. Her response? “That’s my money.”
Umm, I’m pretty sure the money belonged to the man and not you. Swindling is a heartless crime as perpetrators often take advantage of someone else’s trust for a cruel purpose. This case is no different. The WCCO story spent a lot of time focusing on the crime itself, not revealing much detail about Rosenthal’s motive or how severe the autistic man suffered from his disability. Knowing those two things would answer some questions and serve as a potential lesson for people dealing with autism about criminals preying on easy targets (the mentally disabled fall here). I’ve discussed lack of awareness, particularly to danger, as a symptom for autistic people. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rosenthal stole from the autistic man as his condition would likely reduce his awareness to the crimes Rosenthal allegedly committed.
The crime itself is a story, an all-too-common one for reporters (TV and newspapers often have several crime beat reporters), but there’s a much deeper story embedded within the charges. Should WCCO pursue the juice inside, the rest of us might learn something and adequately prepare ourselves in case our internal sensors detect a scenario similar to the autistic man’s. We work hard to earn our money. The only shortcuts are game shows and lotteries. I’d never support swindling, but if you have any dastardly plans to do so, target someone who can at least match your intellect. You’ll most likely get busted, but you’d save some face versus stealing from a mentally disabled person.