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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I have no good answer for this question

A thoughtful reader writes:

Apart from the scope of the $$$ involved, what exactly is the difference between the woman in Vancouver who claimed to be the victim of an acid attack, and the Welches con man? They both claim(ed) to be the victims of something that was not true for the purposes of extracting gifts from sympathetic strangers. The woman in Vancouver is being prosecuted for felony theft charges because three individuals apparently gave her more than $750, which is the point where it becomes a felony. But why don't the authorities in Oregon pursue a similar strategy with the Welches guy?
Indeed. David Wilson, the Welches con man, has been at for a decade or more, and he's stolen more by deception than the acid self-attacker ever has.

Perhaps the distinction has to do with the relative competence and dedication of law enforcement in the two jurisdictions.

Comments (11)

Perhaps another ifference is that David ascribes his plight to an unknown assailant who steals his truck whereas Vancouver nutjob was quite specific in using racist tropes in her fantasies. In US history, her story has lead to instances of terrible and widespread violence (see, lynching, history of; riots against African Americans in countless cities and towns in the US; and counter riots like in LA).

It's like the guy who guys into the 7-11 with a note that says "Give me the money" and never mentions a weapon or hurting anyone -- it's still a crime, but a lot less scary than the guy who goes in with an unloaded uzi that he points at the clerk while asking for the money. No one is surprised when the law comes down faster and harder on the latter.

One crime received national attention; the other didn't. That's the difference.

Any travel guide (Lonely Planet, Moon, Fodor, AAA, etc.) that doesn't mention that predator punk thief now (no nmaes or photo, but by M.O. -- "Have you ever heard of Welches...truck...blah....") is failing. Why don't the freakin' rag newspapers at least cover it?

Hey WW: How about a "Rogue" listing, for Pete's sake?

And include D.A. Shrunk in a dual listing while you're at it. He's worse than David for his failure to protect and serve the people (and visitors) of Portland.

Thhere is a very good answer.

The diierence is Multnomah County / Portland / Schrunk compared to Clark County / Vancouver / Art Curtis.

She used the police department to further her cause by making a false police report. To our knowledge, David hasn't done this.

Is breaking a monetary threshold, such as WA's $750 mark another reason?
I don't know what OR's threshold amount is. I bet someone knows.

The threshold for felony theft in Oregon is $1000 (as of 1/1/10). You can aggregate multiple offenses within a 6 month period to reach that figure if the crimes are of a similar scheme.

Differences: Bethany Storros is mentally ill, Welches con man is well, just a con man. She did not disfigure herself for the sole purpose of collecting money (although she clearly took advantage of the situation once it was presented and richly deserves to be prosecuted). Con man seeks out gullible victims who take nothing but his word and his sole purpose from beginning to end is to steal. Law enforcement does not establish task forces for $20 con jobs on victims who should know better. Shrunk has nothing to do with the con man until a case is actually presented to that office.

He tends to ply his trade around MLK and Broadway & Lloyd Center over to about the Morrison Bridge, right ?

Some enterprising souls could print up a bunch of full color posters of his mug, emblazon them with "Welches Con Man" and go on a flyering blitz in that area, just wheat paste 'em to telephone poles by the hundreds. If you use the right kind of glue, they will never come off.

Or, alternately, a group of people could pool their money and rent a billboard in the area, one also visible from the freeway...

One of the things I really regret never getting the opportunity to do when I lived in PDX was to point at my parked taxicab on the way out of a Plaid or whatever, offer David a free ride to Welches, and then quickly record his stammering response with cell phone video. That would have been comedy gold...if I ever move back, it's right at the top of the to-do list.

I think there may be a racial component to this. Storro's story had the trapping of a hate crime: militant black girl assaults random pretty white girl.

It would have gotten attention whether or not the racial component was involved, but that made it even more salacious.

I remember being skeptical when I first heard the story, but then when I saw pictures of Storro's burns I figured that nobody would have put themselves through that for a hoax. I found myself speculating on how local racial tensions were bad enough to produce random acts of violence.

While I think punishing crimes differently because of presumed racial prejudice ultimately undermines criminal justice, I can acknowledge that that racially motivated crimes hurt more than just the victim.

Storro's hoax may have had the same social effect as an actual hate crime, so for that reason I expect that it is being treated as such.

David Wilson's crimes involve direct (real) victims, but his story has not generated the same level of secondary social effects as Storro's hoax.

Besides if Shrunk shows a willingness to prosecute local con-artists he will make a lot of political enemies.

He lives in a tent with a tarp over it. I saw him enter it the other day when I was biking home from work. You're all correct, it's in between the Lloyd and Burnside. You can't see if from a car.

The answer to this is very simple. As John Rettig said, she filed a false police report. Compounding that is the felony fraud she committed, but the main thing is getting the police roped into her scheme.

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