Authorities: Woman gambled grandson’s college fund

Jun 8, 2012, 7:49 PM

Associated Press

(AP) – A 73-year-old woman has been found in Louisiana after being charged with stealing and gambling away $97,000 from a trust fund for her grandson’s college education, authorities said, but she may never return to Indiana for prosecution.

Edna Sue Pate was wanted in Indiana, where the charges were filed, but authorities there said they would not have her brought there to face the charges. Officials in that state had been ordered to extradite her only if she was found in a surrounding state, which would not include Louisiana.

Messages seeking comment with Lake County, Ind., Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan were not returned Thursday and Friday.

Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton said deputies found Pate at a home in the northern Louisiana town of Minden on Wednesday. Sexton said his agency would arrest Pate if authorities in Indiana decided they wanted to have her taken there for prosecution _ assuming she stayed at the same home in Minden.

“I have no reason to monitor her at this point,” Sexton said. “If they wanted her, they just had to tell me (Wednesday) they wanted her. As far as I’m concerned she’s a free lady. She can leave. She can go anywhere.”

A probable cause affidavit filed last month by Griffith, Ind., police Detective James Sibley says Pate withdrew more than $97,000 from 2004 to 2007 from a trust fund account opened in 2003 under the name of her grandson, Christian Patrick Kenneth Smith.

The documents say Pate was a trustee on the account but did not have consent to use its funds for any purpose other than Smith’s post-secondary education. The documents also say Smith was the sole beneficiary.

The court records claim Pate was known to frequent Indiana casinos and had set up a separate account in 2009 from which she made 49 withdrawals totaling more than $6,000 through April 2010, when the account was closed with a “negative balance.”

The court records say 30 withdrawals from that account were made from ATMs at two casinos in Indiana. Records from one of the casinos, Majestic Star II in Gary, show Pate lost more than $93,000 during that time period.

Sibley did not return a message left by The Associated Press.

Smith’s father, Tom Smith, who is a private investigator in Griffith, said he wasn’t surprised by the decision because he knew Lake County authorities would extradite the woman only from surrounding states because of the expense. He said he found out several months ago she was in Louisiana and asked the Lake County prosecutor’s office to extradite her.

“I tried to pressure them. I picketed. I did an e-mail campaign to the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office,” he said. “If I call them I get routed to voice mail.”

Smith said he is frustrated by the lack of help from the Lake County officials, saying there was $40,000 left in the account when he sued Pate in 2008.

“If I had gotten any support from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department or the probate court to reopen the trust, my son would still have some money,” he said. “It’s all very frustrating. I’ve tried for seven years to try to get someone to pay attention to it.”

A residential listing for a Pate on Methodist Camp Road was unavailable.

Tom Smith said the civil lawsuit can’t proceed until Pate is brought to Lake County.

“I want her to answer for this so other people realize they can’t do this. And that’s what my son wants,” Smith said.

___

Plaisance reported from New Orleans. Coyne reported from South Bend, Ind.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Authorities: Woman gambled grandson’s college fund