Five months in prison for Jocelyn Kirsch

Posted: May 01, 2014

Add U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno to the long list of men mystified by the jet-setting identity thief Jocelyn Kirsch.

Not for her fake flowing tresses, which prosecutors alleged seven years ago she bought with other people's money, and not for the bikini shots, which were plastered across tabloid covers after her initial 2007 arrest.

No, the federal judge was more puzzled Tuesday with a question at Kirsch's core as he sentenced her to five months in prison Tuesday for violating her federal probation with a simple stretch of shoplifting.

"Is the defendant mentally ill," the judge wondered aloud, "or is she a self-indulgent criminal? This court cannot fully answer this question."

Kirsch, clad in a olive-green prison jumpsuit, offered little by way of an answer.

She declined a chance to address the judge, leaving it to her lawyer, Ronald Greenblatt, to argue that his client's struggle with media attention, depression, and anxiety led her to steal a $463 designer handbag in 2012 from a California department store - a crime that occurred less than a year after her release from federal prison on identity-theft charges.

"A young woman who was all over the media and received a five-year prison sentence, and then, once she gets out, goes and steals a pocketbook? Is that crazy? Yes, it is," Greenblatt said, pleading with Robreno to consider how his client's mental health problems affected her behavior.

Louis Lappen, first assistant U.S. attorney, took a dimmer view. He called Greenblatt's version of Kirsch's life "psychological mumbo-jumbo nonsense."

"If she gets a free pass here," he said, "then she can think of herself as she's described herself before - as someone very skilled at theft and deception."

It was an argument the attorneys have been having for nearly seven years.

In 2007, Kirsch, then a student at Drexel University, became tabloid famous for the identity-theft spree she carried out with then-boyfriend and University of Pennsylvania graduate Edward Anderton.

The duo - dubbed "the new Bonnie and Clyde" by investigators - scammed nearly $120,000 over a year by forging checks and opening fake credit card accounts in the names of friends, coworkers, and neighbors.

They spent the spoils on visits to pricey salons, expensive dinners, and luxury trips to Paris, the Caribbean, and Hawaii. Their travel photos showed the pair smooching under the Eiffel Tower, lounging by ritzy hotel pools, and horseback riding on exotic beaches.

In court Tuesday, Greenblatt argued that the intense national attention their case received followed his client all the way to her new home in California.

She has lost more than one job, he said, thanks to reporters asking her new employers pesky questions. And despite that scrutiny, she has managed to pay back more than $41,000 to her victims.

But it was Kirsch's own actions - that 2012 shoplifting conviction outside San Francisco - that landed her in front of Robreno again Tuesday.

And whether or not he understood the woman standing in front of him, Robreno was eager to make one thing clear.

"The type of antisocial behavior she engaged in," he said, "must have consequences."


jroebuck@phillynews.com

215-925-2649 @jeremyrroebuck

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