How do you steal an education? In the Connecticut case it is defined as theft:

Larceny is a form of theft involving taking the goods or money or another without permission. Some states divide the crime into the categories of grand larceny and petit or petty larceny, depending on the value of the item(s) stolen.

It is usually distinguished from embezzlement and false pretenses in that the actual taking of the property is accomplished unlawfully and without the victim's consent, and along with the taking there must be a carrying-off. It is also distinguished from burglary in that the theft does not necessarily involve unlawful breaking and entering.

So under which category does an education fall? It's the money. It is always about the money.

I like the rest of the country, has been captivated by the young woman in Connecticut, who was arrested for wanting to give her six-year-old son a better education. I was outraged that this could happen and then I calmed down. I began to look for the rest of the story. I am suspicious by nature, that is the way I'm wired.

"She has been charged with larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny."  "She is accused of allegedly stealing $15,686. from Norwalk schools." Prosecutors allege that figure is the value of her son's education at Norwalk's Brookside Elementary School between the time he was illegally enrolled in January and McDowell's arrest on April 14." This the equivalent of a college or university education for one year in some states.

The NAACP has gotten involved. And still, I can't help feeling like there is more to the story. Something that hasn't been told. I don't have enough information in which to make an informed decision.

Her criminal history has been exposed. "She has been to jail for robbery and weapon offenses in 2001 and as recently as November, she was arrested for marijuana and narcotics possession."

I am all for wiping the slate clean. She did the crime and paid the time as far as those offenses are concerned. But there is an old saying that goes, if you will lie, you will steal.

There is rush to judgement going on in this case. A rush to place blame. I am not so quick to make a decision of guilt or innocence for either side.

The laws for this obviously need to be revisited, since a similar case in Ohio also made headlines not long ago. The mother in this case "was convicted of felony records tampering."  She served nine days in jail. The Reverend Al Sharpton showed up in her defense." For more on this story go to:

The pursuit of a decent education should available to everyone, regardless of economic status and it certainly should not be a criminal offense.

"If she is convicted she could face up to 20 years in prison." This would be tragic. Not only for her, but for the son that she is fighting so fiercely to provide a better future for.

I am concerned that even if she should win the battle, that she will lose the war. Her character is at issue as well as her ability to take care of her child. I fear that he will be taken from her and then where will he be? I saw no mention of family members or other support systems in the news reports. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but it gives one pause.

The child is not in a stable environment and from what I can tell is not in school either. The mother is bouncing around allegedly from house to homeless shelter and back to house again. This is no way for a mother or a child to live.

Acting in the best interest of a child is admirable and should come without punishment. If that is the case here. Something is just not right in this case, I can't put my finger on it, but something, is just not right.

I pray that my instincts are off, but I fear that they are not. I feel a set up taking place. How did this make national headlines so quickly? Why did the NAACP come on board so quickly? Do they see a "fifteen minutes of fame" window opening up?

Does Ms. McDowell see a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? A way out for herself? We've all seen the stories of someone being in need, and all of a sudden bank accounts are opened on their behalf and the donations come pouring in. And only later, do we find out that we've been had.

I have seen some internet posts where people are asking for PayPal accounts to be setup to fund her defense. We've seen it time and time again. I pray that this, is not that. That this is not an attempt to extort human sympathy or to fatten her bank account.

I don't like being suspicious. I like to see the good in everyone. Sometimes no matter how hard you look, you will not find it. I am not saying that this is the case here.

I fear that Ms. McDowell is shining a light on herself, and that she may not be prepared for the fallout. The fallout of what kind of lifestyle she and her child are living and the impact that lifestyle will have on her ability to continue to take care of her child.

I don't like the questions, I'm posing, because I'm not sure that I'll like the answers if my hunch is right.

Doing the right thing, for the wrong reason, is wrong, period. Wrong + Wrong does not equal right. I'm not taking sides, I want what is fair and what is just.

I would love to be wrong and see justice served, but this is something that should not come quickly, it should be thoroughly examined without the glare of television cameras, and three-minute packages on newscasts.

It should not be rushed through, because it is in the spotlight or because people are watching. But I am afraid that is exactly what is going to happen in this case. The case will be decided quickly and then it will be forgotten, until the next time and the next mother acts in the same way.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope that this case changes the way schools operate, that now matter what district you live in you can be educated. I hope that she wins the battle and the war.

"I don't know everything, but I can tell you what I've got so far"

Views: 6

Comment by Penguin Board of Directors on May 1, 2011 at 3:15pm


As you said, we do not have the complete detail regarding Ms McDowell's case. Unless there is a special statute in the State of Connecticut that defines larceny in some special way, the facts of this case, as known, do not satisfy the elements of common law larceny. 

At common law, larceny is the trespassory taking and carrying away of the personal property of another with intent to deprive permanently. 

To find for larceny against defendant, the elements of larceny must be met. As D'Ronica stated, there must be a taking and carrying away. The taking and carrying away must be trespassory. In other words, they must be done by defendant without the permission of the owner of the property. Personal property is everything but realty (everything but real estate). 'Taking' entails grabbing or wrapping one's hand(s) around the object. Carrying away occurs at even the slightest moving of the object from its position. Defendant must have the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the personal  property. The cost of the education that defendant was accused of obtaining fraudulently could be construed as personal property; since it is not real estate. Since the property belonged to the City of Norwalk or the State of Connecticut and not to defendant, it qualified as the personal property of another. Unless defendant could argue that she only intended to deprive the owner-city or State of this educational facility only temporarily, she would be deemed to have the intent to deprive permanently. 

The issue in this case is whether the item that is the subject of the alleged crime was such that the defendant could be adjudged to have "taken and carried (it) away." Defendant could not take and carry away something as intangible as educational facility. If just one element of larcent fails, defendant could not found guilty of the crime. As such, at common law, Ms McDowell could not be found guilty of larceny. If there is no larceny, regardless of the amount of the item, there could be no grand larceny. 

I have scanty information on other charges or cases against Ms McDowell.

Comment by Penguin Board of Directors on May 1, 2011 at 4:39pm



"If just one element of larceny fails, defendant could not be found guilty of the crime."

Larceny was wrongly spelt and the word 'be' omitted in prior post. Thanks.



Also, Ms McDowell could be charged with fraud or receiving under false pretenses; rather than larceny. Her defense team could always plead for leniency on account of extenuating circumstances.  


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