In a tragic tale of gambling addiction, a father and mother pleaded guilty to stealing more than $53,000 from their war-injured son.
Michael and Lori Nault were caring for their son, who had been injured in the Iraq war. Part of this “care” put them in charge of his finances and they used the money for gambling. Some of the story didn’t come out until the son’s care was taken over by an outside company. “There were countless fundraisers where they raised money for Shane only to go out to casinos and use that money for their own benefit,” said Stephen Grisham, president of Alternate Decision Makers.
Alternate Decision Makers is a guardianship service that can take on cases when appointed by the court. They are run out of Minnesota. Michael and Lori Nault “not only defrauded their son, they defrauded the people of Eau Claire and the people of Eau Claire County. They profited from their son's horrific injuries,” Grisham said in court. The fact that the son served his country, was injured, and then came home, not to a loving and caring environment, but into a parasitic relationship with his parents makes the whole sordid affair that much more tragic.
While the parents will serve some months in jail, the damage they caused remains. To those familiar with gambling addictions the story is an old one – a families resources and any available cash is taken without much thought or remorse to feed “that next big win.” Of course they think they will pay it back… when the next big jackpot hits. In this disease, part of the lie is that just by continuing to play, everything will eventually work out. It never does.
One wonders if a guardianship might also be appropriate, not just for the son and his financial affairs, but for the parents as well. Certainly part of their treatment will be restricting access to funds. Part of the plea agreement dealt with restitution, although the details were not disclosed.
It was also not reported on whether or not the terms of the parents’ parole would include treatment for gambling addiction. I hope so. If there is one caveat here, it is that left untreated, gambling addiction is a progressive downward spiral and that it doesn’t just go away on its own.