Posted: Feb 25, 2013 10:36 PM
Updated: Feb 26, 2013 5:24 AM
He's in a wheelchair, and gets his money by making you feel sorry for him.
Gary Thompson, says he rakes in 60,000 to 100,000 dollars a year begging. But his sob story is a sham, and he admitted it to LEX 18.
Since our story first aired about Thompson, complaints have poured into our newsroom.
"It's offensive;" "It's disturbing;" "It's just plain sad;" those are some of the comments viewers have shared who say they believed Thompson, and gave him money.
He is in a wheelchair, because he has difficulty walking, but his speech isn't slurred and his arms are fully functioning. Thompson is not the man he makes himself out to be.
"I appreciate you guys busting me," Thompson says as he laughs. "Yeah, I'm really good at it, really good. I clear about 100,000 dollars a year doing this." Thompson goes on to tell us, "I am normal, it just helps to be mentally handicapped."
"Helps" with his business. Thompson is banking on the fact you'll feel sorry for him, enough to give him your hard-earned money.
"He got me!" Judy McKinney says.
She tells LEX 18 Thompson wheeled out in front of her stopped car on Shelby Street
"I don't make that much money, but I reached into my pocket, and gave him everything I had. Six dollars at the time," McKinney says.
She says he gave her the same spiel he gave us
"I actually thought he was a handicapped person and I actually thought I was doing a good deed."
Dozens of you have come forward, telling us about Thompson, that he "approached you," and that you "gave him money."
Thompson has now been exposed, but he doesn't seem worried, or remorseful. We caught him on camera trying his act again, after we busted him, right outside police headquarters. It doesn't look like he's going to stop this anytime soon:
"Hey I love y'all!" Thompson says, looking right into the camera. "Keep paying me! I'll see you on the street!"
On another note, Thompson used to be a millionaire. His mother sued Honda in 1993 after he was injured in a motorcycle accident. He got 2.4 million dollars, money he says he blew.
Thompson has pleaded guilty to charges twice this year. Penalties are a 50 to 100 dollar fine and a maximum of ten days in jail. Police say to arrest him, an officer has to catch him in the act.