By Erin Sherbert
By Erin Sherbert
By Leif Haven
By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
By Kate Conger
By Brian Rinker
By Rachel Swan
When a police detective contacted the bank with the same request, the bank refused. "We've gone that route several times," said SF Police Inspector Earl Wismer. "The current caseworker and I talked to representatives from Wells Fargo, and used that argument. Ms. Brown didn't ask for the card. It was given to her unsolicited. She can't use the card, because she's confined to a wheelchair, and she's legally blind. She can't use the ATM machine that she visits," the detective said. "I think what it is, is the bank has drawn a line in the sand, and said, from now on we're not going to assume responsibility for these cases where people give up the pin number voluntarily."
Added S.F. Chief Assistant District Attorney Russ Giuntini, "Basically, the system stalled her out."
You can say that again.
But there's also shame to be shared by the city of San Francisco in leaving Brown high and dry.
I commend Wismer for going the extra mile in this case by trying to get the bank to make Brown whole. Guintini likewise took commendable extra interest in Brown's case.
But get this: Rigsby is still at large, months after her alleged larceny, though she hasn't exactly disappeared from the face of the earth. Brown's regularly fed police tips as to Rigsby's whereabouts.
In fact, it's Brown who's doing an important share of the investigative work in attempting to track Rigsby down. She's cultivated and maintained sources close to Rigsby's family. She regularly pumps them for information and she feeds it to the police every time she gets a new lead on Rigsby's location.
So far, police in Petaluma and elsewhere have attempted to serve an arrest warrant based on Brown's tips, and in some cases have just missed Rigsby.
When police serve a warrant and miss Rigsby, "she might come back later. But we can't justify waiting for her to come back," Wismer said. "We simply can't justify it given the resources we have."
In other words, the dollar amount of Rigsby's alleged theft was the mere equivalent of a cheap laptop boosted from Starbucks. And the SFPD can't spare detectives for out-of-county stakeouts to catch every petty thief.
There's a better way to look at Brown's case, however. When one counts other money she allegedly took from Brown, Rigsby apparently took more than two months income from a bereaved woman who every month barely obtains enough money to live on. The equivalent theft from, say, a Pacific Heights resident would equal many thousands of dollars.
"She left me broke for four months. This was money that had to go for my husband's unveiling, of his burial monument," Brown said. "That's why I'm pursuing the case so hard. Rigsby cut a lot of things out of my life."
So perhaps on this occasion we might afford to make an exception to the rules.
I know Wells Fargo can.
"What really killed me was, when all this went down, there was a little article in the Richmond View that said "Wells Fargo donates $20,000 to schools," recalls Bodin-Cyr. "And they can't eat [the money Rigsby allegedly stole]? Is that right?"
No. It's not right. But it's apparently a Wells Fargo banker's version of sticking to principle.