Hoarding is listed in the diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association
That doesn’t excuse him and it doesn’t warrant forgiveness. But it is a crime that can be undone. There is no victim and the money can be paid back; with interest; with an appropriate fine. He may have to sell off everything he owns. He’ll get a healthy dose of community service. There are worse things than humiliation. Like jail.
It begins with the circumstance of George Gilmore. George is the much heralded boss of the Ocean County New Jersey Republican Party. George is also under indictment for tax evasion. He owes the government an easy mil going back six years. He’s a wealthy man and normally we take delight in seeing people of priviledge not get away with the kind of things we mere mortals pay dearly for. No one’s shedding a tear for the Micheal Cohens or Paul Manaforts of the world. They’re going to jail. I don’t want to see George Gilmore go to jail. He’s done too much good. Under his tenure, Ocean County has been the model of good, efficient, compassionate governance. If the rest of the state ran with such competent leadership, we might even (don’t laugh at me) like our politicians.
There’s strong precedent in Ocean County for leniency in crimes like this. Much worse, in fact. Last year twenty-one people in Lakewood pleaded guilty to welfare fraud. Rich people, some millionaires. Oblivious to the fact that they were scamming money earmarked for the truly needy, they were people light on conscience. Real life villains whose greed superseded the more unfortunate. They got caught. Their penalty? Make full restitution and pay a fine. That in itself seemed too soft. But then, the NJ State Welfare Fraud Division, in some unpublicized backroom deal, downgraded their sentence to half of what they stole and no fine. Basically they were rewarded for their dishonesty.
And this is where the plot thickens and my story takes a twist. Investigations of this miscarriage of justice found that the guy who authorized the deal had no authority to do so. His supervisors, incredibly, knew nothing about it. The head of the Welfare Fraud Bureau knew nothing about it. One of the most publicized cases of Welfare fraud and the entire bureau was in the dark. This seems to be the hallmark of the Murphy administration. A mosh pit of patronism, nepotism, and incompetence. Lizette Delgado-Polanco is the Chief Executive Officer of the Schools Development Authority. The Agency reads like an invitation list to her family reunion. Nobody seems to know who hired them, what their qualifications were, or how they got there in the first place. They all sing the same song: “I Don’t Know Nuthin’ About Nuthin'”.
Back to George Gilmore. If he’s guilty, and it looks like he is, why not cut a similar deal with the state. Makes sense;No? To his lawyers, apparently not. That’s like throwing in the the towel and with it a bonanza in billable minutes. Their defense? He’s got a hoarding disorder. You know, like when people’s houses get overrun with old newspapers and tissue boxes because they can’t throw anything out. George, they contend, couldn’t pay his taxes because he was addicted to stockpiling artwork, soda machines, and lawn ornaments. How they plan to sell the idea that he also hoarded houses, granite counters, and vacations is anybody’s guess.
By that reasoning, if I’m attached to my collection of high-top Chucky-Tees, I shouldn’t have to pay my parking tickets. If I’m a kleptomaniac, compulsive gambler, pot head, or a drunk, all bets are off. Anything that’s classified as a psychological “disorder” is an automatic “Get Out of Jail Free” card. These are high-profile legal minds. They must have been smoking the good stuff. It’s true Hoarding is listed in the diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association. So is “Conduct Disorder”,” Internet Gaming Disorder” and “Gender Dysphoria”. Pretty much, any deviation from perfect behavior has a clinical label. Who knew I had an Attention Deficit Disorder? I thought I just wasn’t interested.
On second thought though, maybe this ploy was not the brainchild of the law firm of Curley, Moe, and Larry. Maybe it’s more reminiscent of the great legal imaginations of Howe and Hummel, the notorious nineteenth century New York lawyers who invented “temporary insanity”. If this hoarding defense doesn’t land, think of the possibilty for appeal based on “inadequate representation”. It’s genius, I tell ya’.
Or is it a page out of the Menendez playbook? Remember Bob Menendez, the NJ Senator who peddled his political influence for bimbos and jet sets? They call it quid pro quo (this for that). It’s illegal and Menendez could have been its poster boy. I knew he was guilty. You knew he was guilty. The reporters knew he was guilty. Even his own party knew it. Yet he was never found guilty. But know what? He was never found “not guilty”. All he had to do was convince one out of twelve jurors that he was not “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” and he walks. Sure they could have retried him, but with the full weight of the Democratic Party behind him in election year, no one really had the stomach for it. Maybe that’s the smart play in the Gilmore case. Shouldn’t be too hard to mine the jury pool for one cluttery-lookin’ guy who might be a card-carrying hoarder himself.
Or he could just hire me. I seem to have all the answers. Of course, I won’t work for nothing. I get forty dollars an hour and I’m sure it will take me all morning.