I don’t use the word ‘evil’ very often to describe crimes that people commit and in all honesty I’m not sure the following really is deserving of that designation, but it certainly feels like it to me. It involves two people who took advantage of a 93-year-old man with Alzheimer’s disease:
Rebecca Tharpe posed as a legitimate buyer for the home of Artee McKoy, a retired barber with diminished mental capacity, and forged his signature on a sales contract. The contract was used to obtain a mortgage on the property. Tharpe then sold the house for $395,000 and pocketed $102,000. Tharpe’s accomplice, Alexandra Gilmore, received more than $200,000 in proceeds, including a $97,000 check that had been made payable to McKoy and an additional $130,000 which she secured by setting up a real estate company and falsely claiming to have been owed the money from a previous mortgage loan on the property.
Gilmore also took advantage of McKoy’s diminished capacity to twice refinance a property he owned in Bayside, New York by claiming that she was McKoy’s daughter and that he was refinancing the property in order to make cash gifts to his children. Earlier this year Gilmore pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree grand larceny as a hate crime and was sentenced to two to six years in prison.
Gilmore opened an account in McKoy’s name without his knowledge at Commerce Bank in Massapequa and directed that all account statements be sent to her house. A review of bank records by the District Attorney’s office revealed that Gilmore withdrew more than $100,000 from the account four days after an unendorsed check for $129,268 had been deposited into the account and cleared. Several months later, she withdrew additional funds from the account after a second check – this time for $222,160 – had been deposited and cleared.
According to bank records, a few initial monthly mortgage payments were made on the Jamaica property before payment ceased all together and the house went into foreclosure. A civil court case is presently pending before Supreme Court Justice Howard Lane. The Bayside property has also been forced into foreclosure proceedings.
As you can see above, Gilmore got two to six years in prison for the crime. Can you guess what Tharpe’s punishment was? A mere 30 days in jail and five years probation.
Maybe Tharpe’s role in the crime wasn’t as extensive as Gilmore’s — the news item is rather brief — but it’s clear that Tharpe knew full well what she was engaging in. It makes me wonder just how callously selfish you have to be to even think of engaging in a crime like this? Of course we don’t know what her motivation was, or Gilmore’s for that matter, but it’s hard to imagine how one could rationalize something like this to themselves.
The more I think about it the more I realize I’m having a visceral reaction to this news item and that in the great scheme of evil acts this pales in comparison to many other atrocities people have committed. I think because it strikes so hard at my sense of basic fairness that it bothers me so. Still I think Tharpe is due more than a month in jail and five years of probation, but perhaps that’s just me.