By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com June 19 2003 12:00 AM ET
A Fort Lauderdale, Fla., man who is accused of collecting $68,000 by falsely claiming that his domestic partner died in the September 11 terrorist attacks has been arrested in Dallas and will be extradited to Florida to face theft charges, officials said Tuesday. Patric Henn was arrested Friday in Dallas and charged with petty theft and marijuana possession. Officers there soon learned that he had fled Florida in December, about the time a Broward County judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
Henn has been accused of defrauding the Red Cross with a story about a partner, Jeff John Anderson. Police say he told the charity, the media, and others that he had spoken with Anderson about 45 minutes before the attacks began and that Anderson had told him he was about to visit a brokerage firm in the World Trade Center. But Anderson's name never appeared on any official victims lists, and "to our knowledge, no such person exists," Fort Lauderdale detective James Pott said.
The sheriff's office in Dallas said Henn must resolve his Texas charges before being extradited to Fort Lauderdale, where he could receive up to 15 years in prison if convicted. It is unknown when the Texas charges will be resolved.
Suspicion about Henn's story first surfaced when he approached The Express, a Fort Lauderdale gay newspaper, to complain that the New York-based gay rights group Empire State Pride Agenda was not doing enough to aid him. "He wanted notoriety and sympathy," said Express publisher Norm Kent. "He wanted to be on Larry King Live as a victim of this disaster." The paper conducted an intense investigation of Henn, which led to an exposé in February 2002.
Red Cross spokeswoman Devorah Goldburg said the group contacted authorities once it learned of Henn's alleged deception. "We take fraud really seriously," she said. She said that the $68,000, if recovered, will be returned to the Liberty Fund, which is earmarked for victims of September 11 and their families.
According to The Express, Henn spent time in Colorado during his travels from Fort Lauderdale to Dallas, repeating his story along the way. The paper received a phone call from a Denver man with whom Henn had spent an evening, during which Henn "maintained the fraud," Kent said.
Kent said gay rights activists are outraged by Henn's behavior, because they worked hard to ensure that the partners of gay victims of September 11 received the same benefits as the spouses of heterosexual victims. The paper pursued Henn, Kent said, "because we didn't want him to
poison a just human rights initiative.... He's a criminal first and then a gay man." He said the paper received phone calls from all over the country, pinpointing Henn's whereabouts and activities. "People in the gay community helped expose him," he said.