Grandma Who Allegedly Stole College Fund At Large Due to Catch 22

Catch 22 Prevents Police in 2 States From Nabbing Her

ByABC News
June 27, 2012, 11:55 AM

June 27, 2012 -- A grandmother wanted in Indiana for stealing her grandson's $97,000 college fund remains at large, believed by authorities to be on the lam in Minden, La. Her vengeance-seeking son-in-law demands her extradition, but a Catch-22 prevents police in both states from apprehending her.

Edna Sue Pate, 73, stands accused of having looted her grandson's college trust fund—of which she was sole trustee—then gambling it all away.

ABC News earlier this month told how the trust had been established in 2003 with a $100,000 balance, to provide funds for the college education of Christian Smith, at the time age 10 and living in Griffith, Ind.

In 2011, as Christian's graduation from high school approached, his father, Thomas Smith, sought to contact Pate about the account. When she did not respond, he started getting worried. He brought a civil suit against her, demanding an accounting of the trust. When that, too, went unanswered, local law enforcement issued a warrant for Pate's arrest.

James Sibley, a Griffith police detective working on the case, in May filed an affidavit laying out the facts: Between 2004 and 2007 Pate had withdrawn some $97,000 in checks payable to cash. Records kept by the Majestic Star II Casino in Gary showed that Pate had incurred some $93,000 in gambling losses. She has been charged by the Criminal Division of Lake County Superior Court with four counts of theft.

Nabbing her has not been easy. The problem isn't any doubt about her whereabouts. The sheriff's office in Webster Parish, La., says it's pretty sure she's living in Minden. They aren't absolutely sure, they say, because they haven't checked. Why not? Here begins the problem.

Louisiana doesn't want to go to the trouble of nabbing Pate unless it knows Indiana will take her off its hands. And Indiana doesn't want to go get her, since that would require a special expenditure of money and effort. Normally, Indiana extradites only criminals residing in adjacent states. To go get granny, they'd have to make a special trip.

As a sheriff's deputy in Webster Parish explained to the Minden Press-Herald, "If they [Indiana] will not extradite, then it doesn't do us any good to arrest her." Moreover, "It's illegal for us to arrest her if we are not a surrounding state. Our hands are tied."

It's a Catch 22 that Tom Smith finds outrageous.

"They just don't want to spend the money," he says in disgust. "Stealing your grandson's money? That's about as bad as you can get, short of physical assault."

He wants to force Indiana to go get her, he says.

Toward that end, he has sent a letter to Indiana prosecutor Bernard Carter saying he will pay the cost himself of sending two officers down south to grab her. "I am reaching out to you," he pleads in his letter. "Please reach out to me." He admits, he says, that Edna Pate is "no John Dillinger." But, he adds, "She is nonetheless my own personal John Dillinger." He has become the Ahab to her wrinkly whale.

A phone call by ABC News to prosecutor Carter's office requesting comment went unreturned.

Smith is organizing a July 13 fund-raising event called "Benefit for Christian" to raise at least $2,000—the minimum cost, he estimates, of sending two officers south. It will take place at Lucille's Blues Bar in Griffith. He also has set up a which sympathizers to his and his son's cause can make credit card donations toward Pate's apprehension.

If the amount donated exceeds the cost of nabbing Pate, he says, he will donate any difference to the Griffith Police Department, to be used as they see fit.