Police: Lexington man pretends to be mentally handicapped for donations

jkegley@herald-leader.comFebruary 25, 2013 

Gary Hank Thompson "totally made up" his mental handicap, police say.

The jig is up for a Lexington man who pretends to be mentally handicapped to solicit donations from strangers.

Police released photos of Gary Hank Thompson, 30, Monday and asked residents to be on the lookout for him.

Thompson has been known to panhandle at the Zandale shopping center on Nicholasville Road, the Lansdowne shopping center on Tates Creek Road and in Hamburg.

Officers have caught Thompson twice this year pretending to be mentally disabled and taking cash, Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.

He has pleaded guilty to two counts of theft by deception, she said. He was charged because shoppers who gave him money felt deceived when they learned he was not mentally disabled.

Thompson pretends to be handicapped by using slurred, slowed speech, contorting his face and holding one hand close to his body "as if he doesn't have use of it," Roberts said.

"He handles himself in such a way that it's very offensive and almost mocking of people who have legitimate disabilities," Roberts said.

Thompson has trouble walking and sometimes uses a wheelchair, but his mental handicap is "totally made up," she said.

After a news conference at police headquarters Monday afternoon, Thompson was spotted downtown by a reporter and photographer from NBC affiliate WLEX (Channel 18). Thompson admitted faking a mental disability and said he makes $60,000 to $100,000 a year from the kindness of strangers.

"When people are making their judgments about giving money, we want you to be aware of Mr. Thompson and be aware of the scam he is pulling," Roberts said.

Josh Kegley: (859) 231-3197.Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service