Woman faces theft charges over autism advocacy role

A sad example of people preying on the desperate from the Asbury Park Press in NJ:

Annie Mennicucci was desperate to find help for her 8-year-old autistic son, and in October she thought she found it in Nancie Fisher, a Manahawkin woman who advertised expertise in the disorder. ‘She said she’d have my son talking in two weeks,’ said Mennicucci, a Beachwood resident who paid Fisher $1,500 to serve as an ‘advocate’ during special-education meetings with Toms River Regional School District officials.

Leanne Laboy, a mother in Barnegat, paid Fisher $125 an hour to work as an advocate for her two children who have Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.

But according to authorities, Laboy and Mennicucci were deceived by Fisher, who stands accused of using fake credentials to win the mothers’ trust. Fisher, 47, was charged by Beachwood and Barnegat police in June with theft by deception. The charges have been forwarded to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office for review, Assistant Prosecutor Martin Anton said Wednesday.