The 73-year-old grandmother fled Indiana for Louisiana after stealing her grandson's college fund. But Louisiana authorities won't arrest her because Indiana won't pay to pick her up.
The trust fund was begun in 2003 with $100,000 to fund then-10-year-old Christian Smith's college education. The money was left to him by his grandfather and his grandmother, Edna Sue Pate, was named as sole trustee.
Last year, as Christian was about to finish high school, his father, Thomas Smith, attempted to find his ex-wife's mother so his son could access the money. But Pate was nowhere to be found. And neither was the money.
Smith then launched a civil suit against Pate but when she failed to respond to it, he went to the police. ABC reports that according to an affidavit filed in court by a Griffith, Indiana police officer, $97,000 was taken out of the college fund between 2004 and 2007. Pate is alleged to have written and signed cheques, payable to "cash." During the same time period, court records show Pate lost $93,000 gambling at the Majestic Star II Casino in Gary, Indiana.
Pate has been charged with four counts of theft in Indiana.
The authorities know where she is, or at least was last month. Fox News reports Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton as saying that his deputies found the elderly woman living in the town of Minden in northern Louisiana. But they refused to arrest her.
Law enforcement officials in Louisiana will not take the woman into custody unless police in Indiana agree to come to Minden and return her to Griffith. But Indiana has a policy that the state will not pay to extradite people except from neighbouring states where officers can take a short trip to pick up and return a prisoner. Unless there's a change in policy or someone pays the state to go get her, Pate will remain untouchable as long as she doesn't return to Indiana or a state that borders Indiana.
Thomas Smith is not a happy camper. Since Indiana will not pay to pick Pate up, Smith is attempting to raise the money to pay police to travel to Louisiana and bring her back. The boy's father has set up a website, "ArrestEdnaSuePate.org," and is asking for donations. On his site he promises that all money raised, other than bank fees to process payments, will be paid to the Griffith Police Department; he will not make a profit. Any funds raised in excess of the cost of returning Pate will go to the GPD's General Fund.
A fundraiser is planned for July 13 at a local bar.
Smith was quoted in Business Insider as saying, Sometimes the people have to band together and rise up against the inadequacies in our system. The web site represents my refusal to accept the system's status quo or its inadequacies.