America’s Dumbest Criminals

A lineup of bumbling crooks who practically caught themselves.

By William Beaman from Reader's Digest | September 2006

Expired with a License
Some people would rather die than pay their traffic tickets. Just ask Kimberly Du. The 36-year-old resident of Des Moines, Iowa, was scheduled to go to court to face traffic charges when she got a real stroke of luck. She passed away. Last December 15, Polk County Judge William Price received a letter purportedly from Du’s mother with the sad news that Kimberly had died ten days earlier in a car accident. Proof was included in the envelope: a death notice that appeared to be a printout from the Des Moines Register website. The very next day, Judge Price threw the case out.

But it was soon resurrected, as it were. On January 4, Des Moines police stopped a woman and cited her for speeding and driving with a suspended license. Turns out the driver was none other than the deceased Kimberly Du.

Either fraud had been committed against the court or it was time to call Ghostbusters. Right away, the Polk County Attorney’s office got to the bottom of things, discovering that the Des Moines Register had never published Du’s obituary and that there had been no funeral for the woman. Moreover, Du’s mother knew nothing of the letter to the court that she had supposedly written and signed. It was a forgery, and that became the charge against Kimberly Du when she appeared, for real, in court in early March.

What to do with someone who tries to avoid traffic charges by committing forgery instead? The judge went easy: a two-year prison sentence that he suspended; two years’ probation; a $500 fine; and treatment for substance abuse. But already Du is finding it hard to be back among the living. By late April, she had violated the terms of her probation.

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