Friday, May 29, 2015Friday, May 29, 2015

Despite gift, US beggar prefers the shoeless life

Published on Dec 4, 2012 6:10 AM

NEW YORK (AFP) - A New York police officer rocketed to overnight fame when a tourist filmed him giving new boots to a homeless man, and posted the video online. But when a reporter caught up with the beggar, the man was shoeless again.

What happened? "Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money," the homeless man, identified as Jeffrey Hillman, 54, told The New York Times. "I could lose my life." Mr Hillman, who first arrived to New York 10 years ago, said he was surprised by all of the attention.

"I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get?" he asked. "This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie."

A photo taken by a tourist of Mr Hillman and the police officer, 25 year-old Lawrence DePrimo, that was posted on the police department's Facebook page has received more than 600,000 "likes."

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!