Wrist slap for the well-to-do


To the Editor:

I have never written a Letter to the Editor, but the Hyland-O’Reilly debacle has just really pulled my chain. This woman, who had stolen a cashmere sweater from a clothing store in Menemsha and a necklace from another store, The Green Room, has been handled with kid gloves because she is a well-connected “socialite.” Quoting from the September 6 edition [New York socialite nabbed for high end shoplifting] of the MV Times, Ms. Hyland-O’Reilly was handled in the following manner: “At the request of Edgartown lawyer Martin Tomassian and with the agreement of assistant district attorney Tucker Green, before the morning roll ended, Ms. Hyland-O’Reilly’s earlier arraignment, witnessed by Chief Cioffi, was expunged from the court record.”

Ostensibly, this was so that it could be rescheduled to September 24. Ms. Hyland-O’Reilly was allowed to leave the Island after admitting to the theft. She said that she would return the stolen necklace “when she returns to the Island for a pretrial conference.” On September 14, this woman consented to a plea agreement. The court continued the case without finding for a year, ordered her to make full restitution, and stay away from the stores she had robbed. Boy oh boy, that’s going to be a real hardship. As if they would welcome her patronage next summer. Oh yes, she also has to get 20 hours of psychological counseling during the year she is on probation.

This woman did not steal out of need, not that it would have been acceptable if she had. She has money. She was arrested at the ferry in her Mercedes-Benz SUV. She is “co-founder and managing partner of Ounavarra Capital LLC, an independent investment boutique focused on providing clients with superior service.” She stole because, in her own words, “she really liked the sweater and was concerned that her husband would be upset if she kept spending money.” First of all, if I stole everything I liked, Laughing Bear would be empty. As for her husband being upset, I have a novel suggestion: stop spending money.

Last winter, a friend of ours, who is in the United States legally, was pulled over because a tail light on his truck was out. Because he did not have his green card on his person at the time, he was arrested and jailed. He was then sent to prison for three months while the authorities made sure he was here legally. When they found out that he was, he was released from prison without so much as an “oops, sorry about our mistake.” This is a person who has never been in prison in his life. He was forever changed by this experience and is still dealing with the trauma. Yet an admitted thief is allowed to walk free, return her stolen merchandise at her convenience, and have the record of her offence expunged.

There is clearly one law for those with money, title, position, etc., and those without. I really take issue with the heading in this week’s MV Times, “New York Socialite Agrees to Plea in Shoplifting Case.” It should have read “Well-to-do Thief Gets Hand Slapped.”

Cheryl Riddick Cross

Oak Bluffs