New Yorker Ho Vasko says she went on a Chinatown pickpocketing spree to amass money to give to the poor. But prosecutors have a different explanation: She's a thief who hates Chinese people. The 67-year-old former restaurateur, who came to the US as a refugee from Vietnam, faces up to three years in jail for thefts from four victims last week, and may also face hate crime charges for an anti-Chinese rant she made after her arrest, the New York Daily News reports.
"I hate the Chinese people, they sell fake stuff," she told police, according to court documents. "They get benefit cards, and they don't contribute anything back, so I take their money and give it to people who need it." Vasko, who has been convicted of theft in the past, is also accused of trying to bribe police to let her go. Her lawyer says she is a diagnosed kleptomaniac with serious mental health problems, including post traumatic stress disorder from the Vietnam War. (Read more Chinatown stories.)