the cop got scammed.
So it now turns out that Jeffrey Hillman, the barefoot beggar who famously received a free pair of boots from a big-hearted police officer, not only has an apartment but pockets as much as several hundred dollars a day while pretending to be homeless.
Hillman freely admitted as much to a team of Post reporters who followed him home on the subway Sunday — and then watched as he calmly counted a huge wad of bills. Not to mention that he seems to be the Imelda Marcos of the streets, with at least 30 pairs of shoes and boots.
Most New Yorkers will doubtless be disappointed to learn that the inspiring tale of a police officer’s kindness to a man in distress would have such a cynical denouement. Few, however, will be surprised. Even so, there is a moral to this story that is especially timely.
The beggar whose charade spurred Officer Larry DePrimo's act of kindness is a fraud.
New York is a generous city, at both the individual and government level. In addition to private charity, those in need can count on a whole raft of services, from shelter to food to rent subsidies and Medicaid. Our guess is that most New Yorkers are more than willing to pay so long as their dollars go to help people truly in distress.
Hillman reminds us how easy it is to exploit generosity. His scam seems to have been directed at passers-by who take pity on a man who goes about Midtown pretending to be barefoot, poor and homeless. His example reminds us why it is important for the city to ensure that its own assistance is not exploited by those who don’t need it.
For in addition to the needy, New York also has a whole class of politicians and activists quick to denounce City Hall as cruel and heartless (and to sue) whenever it takes reasonable measures to weed out the deserving from the undeserving.
When the NYPD’s Larry DePrimo bought those now-famous boots, he represented the best of this city. People such as Jeffrey Hillman remind us that when the greedy take advantage, there’s more cynicism about giving — and less help to go around for those truly in need.