Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Home Schooling - Arizona Style

Police: Phoenix mom coached youthful armed robbers

Jun 01 2009 09:33PM CDT

This undated booking photo released on Monday, June 1, 2009 by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shows Cynthia White Roberson. Authorities said the 51-year-old mother used guilt about finances and sex to get her young sons and their friends to commit at least 20 armed robberies in the Phoenix area in what police are calling a ''revolting'' case. Roberson was arrested Friday, May 29.

The 51-year-old woman used guilt on her young sons and possibly sexual favors on their friends to get them to help her pay her bills by committing at least 20 armed robberies in the Phoenix area, authorities said Monday.

Cynthia Roberson, her two sons, ages 12 and 14, and five others face charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault, investigators said.

"All of us should be disgusted by this," Phoenix police Sgt. Phil Roberts said. "This is absolutely not how to raise your children."

But Roberson, who is recently unemployed,disagreed. She acknowledged guilting her sons, and possibly seducing their friends and three men into committing robberies to pay for her rent and a car loan, police said. "But I'd be willing to bet the Phoenix police chief hasn't done anything to help in his own childrens' education. He just lets the schools do it, and they do it badly," said Roberson.

Roberson contended she was home schooling her own sons and was teaching them a trade that was unavailable in High Schools or private vocational schools. "Nearly one-fourth of teenagers earn their livelihood by robbery and theft," said Roberson. "But most of them are not very good at it which explains the high rate of incarceration of teenagers. They need better training."

Roberson said she was only teaching the guys some of the tricks of the trade, so they wouldn't have to get into drug trafficking or any of those high risk criminal trades. "If you've had some robbery and theft training, your chances of not being caught improve by as much as 50%," she added. "That's just good business practice."

In all of the 20 cases, Roberson drove the getaway car and once coached a 14-year-old during a robbery because he was having trouble stealing a cell phone from a victim, police said. One victim reported that Roberson was holding a sawed-off shotgun during a robbery.

All the robbery victims were physically assaulted, police said. One 13-year-old was beaten and forced to empty his pockets _ which contained only an orange lollipop. The lollipop was seized by Roberson, who ate it herself.

Roberson's 12-year-old was in the custody of Child Protective Services but still faces charges; her 14-year-old was being held in a juvenile jail. Two others, a 14- and 16-year-old, also were being held in a juvenile jail.

Three men arrested were identified as: Jorge Elias, 18, Tony Vaughn, 20, and Jason Moore, 20. They were being held in a Maricopa County jail.

Police do not know how much money the group made, but said the figure couldn't be very high, considering they usually made away with only a cell phone or a bit of cash.

Most of the robbery victims were between 13 and 20 years old, though some were older. They were robbed in parks and along neighborhood streets on weekends.

A request with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to interview Roberson and the other adult suspects was not immediately returned Monday evening; it was unclear whether they had lawyers. It was unclear whether they even understood they needed lawyers.

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