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Runaway bride indicted on false crime charge

by Mark5019 / May 25, 2005 2:38 AM PDT

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga.) - Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks was indicted Wednesday on charges that she lied to police about being kidnapped, two counts that could mean up to six years in prison.

A grand jury indicted the 32-year-old woman on one count of making a false police report, a misdemeanor, and one count of false statement, a felony, said Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter


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Being as she cost the taxpayers
by Jerry562 / May 25, 2005 4:06 AM PDT

millions of dollars searching for her, GOOD.

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well your just a tad off amount
by Mark5019 / May 25, 2005 4:16 AM PDT

the atlanta mayor says $43,000 your close

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His city?
by Jerry562 / May 25, 2005 7:24 AM PDT

The FBI and everyone else was in on it. I heard Millions, I'll look for a link later tonight.

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Duluth Mayor said over 60,000
by Jerry562 / May 25, 2005 10:03 AM PDT
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C'mon guys
by Evie / May 25, 2005 11:01 AM PDT
In reply to: this links good

The cost is somewhere in between. Jerry, I too initially heard "millions", but even adding up costs in all jurisdictions I don't think we are even close to one million. But Mark, the 40K (and I've heard to 60K) is only a local figure. Let's all agree that she cost law enforcement a lot of money, and worse, diverted a LOT of resources from REAL crimes. My gut tells me that the indictments are a way to make sure that she pays enough restitution and "pays" enough in other ways so HOPEFULLY this is the last time she pulls a selfish stunt like this.

Evie Happy

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Also as a deterrent to others, Evie.
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / May 25, 2005 1:06 PM PDT
In reply to: C'mon guys

Which may be the most important thing. OTOH, they clearly don't have even half of $60,000 -- and the new bankruptcy laws won't even allow that way out. So what we're probably really seeing is the ruination of two lives, and that's tragic.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Oh puh leeze!
by Evie / May 25, 2005 11:52 PM PDT
they clearly don't have even half of $60,000

How is that clear? Of course she clearly wasted about $60K on the reception alone Sad

She might not have the money, but it IS clear her family does. If she is ordered to pay some restitution and she cannot afford it, then charity begins at home!

and the new bankruptcy laws won't even allow that way out

And that's a GOOD thing, right? Or do you believe people should be allowed to claim bankruptcy to relieve themselves of criminal fines for cases where you feel sorry for them? C'mon.

So what we're probably really seeing is the ruination of two lives, and that's tragic.

Any ruination of Mason's life is of his own doing. If he stays with her he knows what he is in for -- I think he needs help himself if he does, but that's just my opinion. They're not married so he would have no financial obligation for her crimes (if proven/plead out).

There are many tragic things about this case. Wilbanks' future really isn't one of them. Please don't enable her by joining a chorus blaming the government for the ruination of her life!

Evie Happy
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What about kindness and forgiveness, Evie?
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / May 26, 2005 4:29 AM PDT
In reply to: Oh puh leeze!

She's not an axe murder, she's an immature woman with psychological problems. And even if she's a bad person worthy only of scorn (which I very much doubt), her fiance's only apparent crime is loving her.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Did I accuse him of a crime?
by Evie / May 26, 2005 4:39 AM PDT

He is apparently easily fooled but it's his business whether to forgive her, etc. However she comes with the baggage of this stunt (and previous ones) so he knows what he's getting into. I'm not worried about enforcing the law tragically ruining HIS life.

Go ahead and coddle her Dave. It's what has gotten her to where she is in life. Maybe if she hadn't had the slaps on the wrist for her shoplifting stunts this never would have happened.

I just love how all of a sudden it seems the threshold for "just an immature woman" defense has now climbed past 30 y.o.a. At what age do we expect ADULTS to behave as such now, huh?

Evie Happy

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Surely you're not saying
by Dan McC / May 26, 2005 5:48 AM PDT

that irresponsible acts should be measured solely on the amount of attention they garner. How would you compare her actions to those of another who drives while impaired by controlled substances. Certainly the risk involved in the latter's actions are far more consequential than the cost and inconvenience caused by the former's actions.


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by Evie / May 26, 2005 6:28 AM PDT

Not the attention she gathered, but the lives she endangered. One doesn't need a genius IQ to KNOW that the police and everyone are going to be looking for you if you disappear without a trace a few days before a grande wedding. She endangered the lives of everyone in the Duluth area, by diverting resources from REAL crimes. She endangers every future would-be Chandra Levy in the same way that women who make false rape allegations cause folks to question the credibility of real victims.

No, she is not the immediate threat to society that someone driving under the influence of a controlled substance (are you referring to anyone in particular?) or even driving under the influence of alcohol.

If it's Bush's DUI you are referring to, he was dealt with criminally and didn't squander the second chance he got. Wilbanks has already been given second and third chances she has squandered.

Frankly, I don't know that she belongs behind bars for any length of time, although a couple of days or weeks could do her good. I also don't think her restitution should be largely monetary -- part monetary would be OK, but in the past it is apparent her parents have thrown money at her problems to get her out of trouble. Likely they would do the same now. Better to sentence her to MANY hours of community service to pay off her debt. Preferably screening calls or working with a domestic violence shelter or an organization that works to find missing or exploited kids.

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just like pulling a fire alarm when thers no fire
by Mark5019 / May 26, 2005 7:09 AM PDT

you did it now pay the fines

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interesting conundrum....
by Dick White / May 25, 2005 5:17 AM PDT

The search cost a bunch of money. But think of the economic boomlet that created in the hotel/restaurant business there as all the news trucks came to town covering the story.

Some would say she broke no laws, but that doesn't make her actions an less stupid or unconscionable. Thus she "owes" "society" something to make up for it.

Perhaps this iffy indictment simply gives everybody a place to start working out an equitable arrangement.

And underneath it all, we have the troubled girl who now seems to be getting some help. And that is good.


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she made a false statement sawing was kidnapped
by Mark5019 / May 25, 2005 5:33 AM PDT

that in itself is unlawfull.
glad shes getting help but she broke the law

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That came at the end of the situation, Mark...

and really had no impact on anything. The police clearly didn't believe her -- if the total cost from the search was $60,000, her "crime" cost maybe $2000 to investigate. Technically, she broke the law (though I'm still not sure that there's GA jurisdiction since it happened over the phone), but the impact was minimal. They're probably going to waste more time and effort trying her than they did searching for her in the first place -- certainly more than was attributable to her alleged crime. This makes as much sense as the "zero tolerance" policies we've discussed at length in other circumstances.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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With any luck
by Cindi Haynes / May 26, 2005 5:07 AM PDT

They won't have to try her, having charged her will perhaps become a springboard from which a restitution/counseling deal may be agreed on that will be beneficial to all.

Certainly, I don't think it's right for her to walk away unscathed after all the trouble and expense she caused!

Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email the mods

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its still against the law dave
by Mark5019 / May 26, 2005 7:12 AM PDT

you want to re write the laws go to court.
you can coddle her thats whats wrong these days.

no one wants any body to be responceible for there actions.

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So if the...
by Edward ODaniel / May 26, 2005 8:08 AM PDT

bank teller or convenience store clerk is killed "at the end of the situation" it is meaningless and should go unpunished despite being illegal?

If a student gets failing grades on tests (which come normally at the end of specific learning "situations") their simple appearance in class should provide for a passing grade for the course?

The law is the law Dave and since the wedding and various other events for which money was spent did not achieve their purpose any good lawyer could convince a court of guilt in Theft by Deception (normally used when uttering a false instrument but available for other purposes too).

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What Law Did She Break in Duluth, GA?
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / May 25, 2005 6:58 AM PDT

She went missing in Duluth, GA
but I saw no reports that she said anything to anyone in Duluth, GA.

She made false reports in New Mexico.

How does Duluth, GA charge her for something she said to New Mexico police? By the time she did this, all the searching in Duluth, GA had ended.

Seems like authorities in New Mexico know when to cut their losses.

So why are authorities in Duluth, GA wanting to spend money on a trial that has no merit?


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false staements to the police
by Mark5019 / May 25, 2005 7:03 AM PDT

lied to the fbi etc.
you do that its unlawfull so she prob get a fine and pay restitution plus comunity service, she allso is getting help

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Then you haven't been keeping abreast...
by Edward ODaniel / May 25, 2005 7:24 AM PDT

if you really believe your own statement - "but I saw no reports that she said anything to anyone in Duluth, GA"

Her initial call during which she stated she had been kidnapped and molested was to Duluth and the Duluth police which had been looking for her began looking for people presumes armed and dangerous - "Wilbanks gave detailed descriptions of her kidnappers, whom she described as a Hispanic man and a white woman. She said they were driving a blue van, whose license plate number she didn't get. She also told the dispatcher, before dissolving into sobs, that her abductors were armed with a small handgun."

Police in Duluth said a clump of hair similar to hers was found in a Duluth office complex and was undergoing forensic testing. Authorities said it appeared to have been cut.


Porter declined to say what evidence was presented to the grand jury but said the charges stem from a call Wilbanks made from Albuquerque, N.M. to Duluth Police Chief Randy Belcher, detailing her fictitious abduction. The telephone call was recorded.

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Real question as to jurisdiction for an interstate call,
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / May 26, 2005 4:38 AM PDT

Ed. Obviously the Duluth prosecutor thinks so -- but I suspect there's a lot of political posturing in his decision. Given that she's now in a mental institutiion, I suspect no charges would have been brought, sans all the publicity. And I'll bet that her lawyer's very first motion will be to question the GA jurisdiction. By analogy, telephone fraud jurisdiction is usually Federal or the locality where the call was made, not where the call recipient lives.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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No question at all if you read...

what was linked to Dave.

The Duluth police had tapped phones to enable call tracing (which they did) in the event she had been kidnapped (which she claimed in the call).

There is not even remotely a question of jurisdiction for the costs incurred and lying to law enforcement and since she described the male and female as well as their "blue van" she could also have been charged for wanton endangerment had Arizona opted to file charges (that ONE would have revolved on jurisdiction).

Since she claimed to have been kidnapped she could also be liable for federal charges for ALL ASPECTS of her nefarious criminal and civil activities.

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by Walt H / May 25, 2005 8:12 AM PDT

A kidnapping which takes someone out of state involves the FBI which makes that crime a federal offense.

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(NT) (NT) and she lied to the fbi
by Mark5019 / May 25, 2005 8:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Kidnapping
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The FBI has jurisdiction
by Dan McC / May 25, 2005 11:58 PM PDT
In reply to: Kidnapping

for kidnapping regardless of state border crossing, I believe.


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You guys miss the point here, however ...
by Evie / May 26, 2005 2:08 AM PDT

... unless they plan to charge her with kidnapping herself!

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(NT) (NT) true evie but she made a false statement saying she was
by Mark5019 / May 26, 2005 2:18 AM PDT
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I agree ...
by Evie / May 26, 2005 2:25 AM PDT

... the false statements to the FBI give them jurisdiction. The FBI was involved due to the possibility of an abduction so she cooked her own goose involving them with her stunt.

Evie Happy

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