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Strangers Pay $3000 Debt to Keep Grandmother out of Prison

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by underthesea

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In The News

A Cincinnati Ohio woman with a $3,000 legal debt, from nearly 30 years ago, stays out of prison--all to the thanks to complete strangers who paid off the debt for her.
The plight of 61-year-old Dorothy Rembert, who has seven grandchildren, moved Gene Ellington of Cincinnati; he handed over more than $2,000. Last week, another man, Scott Seeman, gave $1,000. Rembert was applying recently for Social Security benefits when government employees discovered that she had an outstanding probation violation based on a 1981 welfare theft conviction.
Nearly 30 years ago, Rembert had been placed on five years' probation and ordered to repay $3,700. Rembert paid $695 and says she erroneously believed her husband, now deceased, had paid the remainder. After applying for Social Security, and triggering the outstanding probation, Rembert was faced with a possible 1 1/2-year prison sentence when Ellington, 57, decided to intervene. "The system failed," said Ellington, a consulting business owner and former social worker, of the debt that had previously been ignored. "There are times that you have to meet people at their need. It was just the right thing to do."
Rembert was in tears Thursday at the Hamilton County courthouse. "I'm glad it's over," she said. She uses a walker, but she rose from a bench to hug Ellington. "Bless your heart," Ellington told her. "God has blessed me and my family and we want to pass on the blessing to you."

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