In 1968, Tom Bennett stole some motel spotlights during a spring break trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In 1993, he was a 44-year-old physical therapist with four children, and he was living in Severna Park, Maryland. He said, “I just remember, overall, taking advantage of Fort Lauderdale in several obnoxious ways.” For a while, the spotlights decorated his dorm room, and then he threw them out. In 1993, he wrote Fort Lauderdale mayor Jim Naugle to confess his crime and to offer to donate $100 to a charity group of the mayor’s choice. What was the mayor’s choice? The Informed Parents Red Ribbon Committee, which teaches kids not to use illegal drugs. Mayor Naugle said that he was pleased to receive the letter: “It was really unusual. Kind of made my day.” In 1971, Mr. Bennett became a born-again Christian, and he has tried to atone for the errors of his youth. He said, “I was like some of the politicians who go back and remember their wild and woolly days.” In 1990, he told a dean at Western Maryland about the time that he had cheated on a physics exam. So that Mr. Bennett could atone for that bad deed, the dean made him attend a school career day.
For Further Information: Cindy Elmore, “Spring Break Prank Leads To Good Deed.” Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Florida). 29 May 1993