In July, Sarah Robinson, a homeless mother of six, caught the national media’s attention after she was busted stealing $300 worth of necessities for her children from a Wal-Mart in Missouri. Now, she faces charges for an unrelated crime.
The responding officer did not arrest Robinson for the diapers, baby wipes, children’s shoes and other items she stole. The mother was homeless and living in her car with her kids, so instead, the officer went back into Wal-Mart to buy shoes and other items for each of her kids. He then issued Robinson a ticket.
“Being a father myself, you know it obviously pulled at my heart,” Officer Mark Engravalle says in a video report.
“We were both in tears, you know, so it was more of a mutual understanding and we didn’t really say anything, you know,” he said. “The look on her children’s face with the shoes and everything, I mean, that was all that had to be said.”
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When the story made headlines, people began donating gift cards, food and $6,000 to the family, reports NY Daily News.
But things turned foul just after they were starting to look up for the family. Robinson, 34, was arrested on Aug. 14 on federal methamphetamine charges from Missouri.
U.S. Marshals apprehended Robinson after a grand jury indicted her for “knowingly and intentionally possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it.” Robinson could now face 20 years behind bars if she is convicted.
David Langston, Robinson’s lawyer for her theft case, is not representing her in the methamphetamine case, but suspected that she was only a fringe player in a large meth operation. He said federal authorities may be targeting her as part of a legal strategy.
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“They indict people at the fringe to strengthen the indictment,” Langston told NBC News, adding that Robinson probably would not have spoken to reporters if she was a hardened drug dealer.
“My experience has been: if you’re the target of a drug investigation, you don’t want to draw the spotlight on you,” Langston continued.
The attorney took up Robinson’s theft case after he had heard that she was attempting to use diapers more than once. “It broke my heart,” he said. Langston took her case pro bono, though he did not know about her background.