LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - After seeing a WAVE 3 News Exclusive report about alleged professional beggar Gary Thompson, homeless advocates are shocked and angered by his actions in Louisville.
Despite Thompson's claim to WAVE 3 News reporter John Boel that he's not a fraud, homeless advocates said they would have trouble believing anything that comes out of Thompson's mouth because he's been exposed and jailed in several cities. They believe he is a fraud who's really only hurting people that really need the help.
When we showed Wayside Christian Mission's Nina Moseley the video of Thompson admitting on video that he was pretending to be both mentally and physically handicapped it was hard for her to find the words.
"That's just unbelievable," Moseley said with her mouth dropped open. A homeless advocate for decades, she helps many who suffer with mental and physical disabilities said of the video, "For someone to put on an act and to be that way and you can tell by the way he laughs that he's just mocking the donors who are supporting him?"
Moseley was also surprised to see a police cruiser sitting nearby as Thompson went up and down the street begging for money. She believes most of the time Louisville Metro Police do a good job enforcing the city's aggressive panhandling ordinance. It's an ordinance Moseley fully supports.
The reason? She maintains there's no reason for the begging, saying there's plenty of food in Louisville with soup kitchens at every turn. Moseley has met many fakes in her years of service, not to Thompson's level, but she said he's not the problem. She said the problem is one created by the people who give the homeless money. She's begged: If you're doing it, stop.
"What you're doing when you're providing money to panhandlers, not in all but in many cases, you're supporting their habit for drugs and alcohol." She said, "you may be giving them the last bit of money that they need to overdose on."
Aggressive panhandling carries a fine of $250 and up to 90 days in jail in Louisville. Metro Councilman and ordinance sponsor David Tandy said he hopes the problem is getting better because he's gotten no active complaints or concerns into his office.