A man who collected $68,000 by falsely claiming his domestic partner died in the 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center has pleaded guilty to grand theft. Patric Henn, 29, entered his plea Wednesday, without a deal from prosecutors. He admitted making up the story to steal from the American Red Cross. Henn could face up to 15 years in prison at sentencing scheduled for January 19.
He told circuit judge Marc Gold that he thought pleading guilty to the charge was the right thing to do. There was no discussion about what happened to the money, and no American Red Cross representatives attended the hearing.
Henn has been accused of defrauding the Red Cross with a story about a partner, Jeff John Anderson, and his death during the September 11, 2001, attacks. Henn told the Red Cross, the media, and others that he had spoken with Anderson about 45 minutes before the attacks began and that Anderson told him he was about to visit a brokerage firm in the World Trade Center. The twin towers were struck by two hijacked jetliners and collapsed, killing about 2,800 people.
Suspicion about Henn's story first surfaced when he approached a South Florida gay newspaper, The Express, to complain that a New York gay rights group, Empire State Pride Agenda, was not doing enough to help him. Henn told The Express that he and his partner had had a posh lifestyle with homes in New York and South Beach. The newspaper exposed holes in his tale, and within days he disappeared. Fort Lauderdale police issued an arrest warrant for him in December 2002.
Henn was arrested in June 2003 in Dallas and transferred to Florida. According to The Express, Henn spent time in Colorado during his journey from Fort Lauderdale to Dallas, repeating his story along the way. Henn's attorney, assistant public defender Dorothy Ferraro, said she will ask for the first-time felony offender to receive probation. She declined to discuss Henn's plea.