Maybe you’ve seen Michelle Carter. A video of her smoking a blunt on a New York City train went viral last year. There she was in a wheelchair, both of her legs gone from a New York City subway train accident that made her an amputee. Kids on the train harassed her. One heartless young man threatened to punch her.
What you didn’t know—hell, not many did—was that Carter, who is mentally disabled and who one of the teens referred to as a “a dirty bitch,” was in fact a millionaire. Carter had received a $4 million settlement after her accident, but what followed is what happens when greed takes over.
According to the New York Daily News, five men learned of Carter’s windfall and preyed on the woman’s kindness to steal some $1.5 million of her money.
In October 2015, Carter, 62, gave deli owners Ammar Awawdeh, 27, and his father Yaser Awawdeh, 58 a check of $799,000 to allow her to purchase cartons of cigarettes at will. Because Carter didn’t have a bank account, she figured that entrusting the deli owners with the large sum of money would allow her the freedom to purchase whatever she needed. The Awawdehs didn’t explain that damn near $800,000 was far to much no matter how many cigarettes Carter planned to smoke. Instead they happily took her money, using the funds to pay for Ammar’s wedding, which included a honeymoon in Turks and Caicos Island and a bachelor party in Las Vegas, the Daily News reports.
Yaser also got in on the action, taking some of the money to put a down payment on a new car and writing a few checks, including one to a wholesale jeweler. But Carter had another check that she kept in a Bible and here’s how the Daily News explains what went down:
Carter stashed a second check for $886,000 in a Bible she carried in her wheelchair.
Somehow Awawdeh got his hands on the Good Book and the check — and, aided by Anas Ali, 32, a Chase bank manager from Staten Island, deposited the check into the account of another bodega in Queens, owned by 30-year-old Brooklyn resident Salah Omairat, investigators found.
Ali’s cut was $20,000, prosecutors said.
The scammers allegedly spread their ill-gotten wealth. Omairat’s brother, Mukhtar, 36, got in on the windfall, said prosecutors.
In January 2016, Carter realized the $886,000 check in her Bible — the last piece of her $4 million fortune—was missing.
She reported the theft to the first cop she saw—an Amtrak police officer at Penn Station.
Awawdeh told prosecutors he passed out Carter’s money based on instructions from one of Carter’s friends. “Michelle was OK with it,” he claimed.
He took a cut for himself because “he was 23 years old with plans to get married in a few weeks with no money,” according to a criminal complaint.
Carter’s lawyer, Robert Unger, told the Daily News that she gave away or spent the rest of the settlement over the years.
Ammar was jailed, Thursday, and faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
“The other suspects were released on varying bail amounts after arraignments Wednesday. They didn’t return messages seeking comment, and Awawdeh’s lawyer declined comment Thursday,” the Daily News reports.