Only in America–“I Couldn’t Stop Stealing, It Was Too Much Fun”

Lawyer Says Walters Lacked Self-Esteem
Document Cites Childhood Trauma

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Harriette Walters was insecure.

She abused alcohol and drugs. She gambled too much. She was overweight. All her life, she considered herself a failure. That changed only when she doled out large sums of cash to co-workers and friends, her largesse transforming her into a benefactor.

. . . “Ms. Walters giving away some of the stolen funds helped soften the disparity in her mind between who she was and who she wanted to be,” her attorney, Steven Tabackman, wrote . . . Walters suffered unspecified childhood traumas, which were behind her substance abuse, gambling and low self-esteem . . . Her “significant misuse of substances degraded the power with which [her] moral sense would have stopped her activity.”. . “The excitement it provided together with the attractiveness of the social environment would cause her to return, and to increase her thefts in order to fund her activities,” Tabackman added.

–read entire article–


Attractiveness of a social environment and childhood trauma (unspecified, naturally) as a plea enabling twenty years of embezzlement.

The defense rests, your honor.

It’s amazing how a half-century or more of psychological discovery illuminates our unfair treatment of Al Capone. If we had truly understood Al’s early and difficult childhood, all might have turned out differently and we wouldn’t now be faced with the reminder every Valentine’s Day of all that nasty machine-gunning.

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