Should Charles Ramsey Cash In?

Michelle Singletary
Columnist May 9, 2013

Being hailed as a hero may lead to a payday for Charles Ramsey, the Ohio man who helped rescue Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight and Berry’s 6-year-old daughter allegedly kidnapped and raped by Ariel Castro. Castro was charged Wednesday with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.

Ramsey may be eligible for the reward money offered for information about at least two of the women who had been missing, reported ABC News.

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, “The Color of Money.” View Archive

On it’s Web site the FBI said it was offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information regarding the disappearance of Berry.

Ramsey, always animated in his television interviews, may also get something from McDonald’s. He’s said repeatedly that he was enjoying a McDonald’s burger when he heard Berry scream for help from within the house where the women had been essentially imprisoned for a decade.

After an overwhelming response on Twitter calling on McDonald’s to do something for Ramsey, a company spokesman said the fast-food chain plans to reach out to the rescuer, according to ABC News. McDonald’s tweeted on May 7: “We salute the courage of Ohio kidnap victims & respect their privacy. Way to go Charles Ramsey- we’ll be in touch.”


Charles Ramsey speaks to the media on May 6 near the home where missing women Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight were rescued in Cleveland. (Scott Shaw/AP)

In a recent interview, CNN’s Anderson Copper asked Ramsey about the possibility that he could profit from his actions.

Ramsey referred to the victims: “I tell you what you do, give it to them,” Ramsey said of any reward that might be due. “Because if folks been following this case since last night, you been following me since last night, you know I got a job. . .”

Earlier in the week, “Charles Ramsey” was a trending topic on the Web. One of his interviews immediately after the rescue has become a viral video on YouTube.

“Several supporters started a Rally.org fundraiser to buy him a $5,300 high-end grill and a three-year membership to the Sirloin of the Month Club,” wrote the Daily News’ Michael Walsh. (In interviews, Ramsey said he ate BBQ with the Castro.)

In Portland, Ore., Robby Russell, launched a fundraising page on gofundme.com in hopes of raising $10,000 for Ramsey, reported Oregon Fox television station KPTV.

“I thought maybe there’s something I could do with all this feedback that people want to provide to him,” Russell said. “Maybe I could help raise a little money so that he could be a little more comfortable throughout the situation.”

When I last checked, the effort had raised $10,210. Shelbie E. donated $150.

“The initial $10,000 goal was an arbitrary number that I expect we’ll easily pass,” Russell said.

At Hodge’s Cleveland, the restaurant where Ramsey works, T-shirts bearing the words “Cleveland’s Hero * Charles Ramsey” and a drawing of his likeness are being sold in his honor. At Ramsey’s request, all proceeds will be donated to the rescued women, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

Color of Money Question of the Week

Should Ramsey accept any money or rewards for his actions? Send your responses to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Be sure to include your full name, city and state. Put “Should Charles Ramsey Cash In” in the subject line.

I Want My Ring Back

So, I move from hero to jilted NFL player Mario Williams, who is making headlines because he wants his bling back.

Williams, a defensive end who recently signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills for a reported $100 million, is suing former fiancee Erin Marzouki to have her return a 10-carat diamond ring.

Williams claims in a lawsuit that he proposed to Marzouki with a 10.04-carat diamond worth $785,000. But Marzouki ended the engagement less than a year later, reported Courthouse News Service.

“The termination of the relationship was solely caused by defendant,” the complaint states. “Defendant never intended to marry plaintiff and used the relationship as a means to get to plaintiff’s money and acquire gifts. Defendant has absconded with the diamond engagement ring. Plaintiff has demanded that defendant return the diamond engagement ring, but defendant has failed and refused to do so.”

In addition to buying her a pricey ring, Williams says, he showered Marzouki with $230,000 worth of gifts.

What do you think? Should the Williams ex have to return the ring?

Send your responses to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Be sure to include your full name, city and state.

Mother’s Day Madness

I’ve heard from so many adults that their mothers drive them mad with Mother’s Day gift expectations.

And that habit is starting to show up among women who aren’t quite mothers yet. A reader asked Judith Martin, who writes the Miss Manners column, about a daughter-in-law who is expecting in July but wants a Mother’s Day gift on Sunday.

“I am a bit old-fashioned; I do not recall celebrating Mother’s Day if you are only pregnant,” writes the woman.

Martin goes on to point out a trend I’ve noticed and that I find annoying. She writes: “People now feel emboldened to declare that others must honor them. Typically, this is expressed in self-generated adult birthday parties and showers. Rather than waiting for others to be moved to organize such an event, the would-be guest of honor initiates it, sets the terms and expects the guests to pay the bills.”

As to the question from the mother-in-law, Martin responds: “As the idea of Mother’s Day is for mothers to be shown appreciation by their children, your daughter-in-law has a problem. Even though she is devoting herself to the nourishment and well-being of this child, she is unlikely to receive chocolates, roses or even a card from that source.”

Read the rest of her response here.

Celebrity Cash

Grammy Award-winning artist Lauryn Hill was recently sentenced to three months in prison for failing to pay her taxes, reports the Associated Press.

The 37-year-old singer pleaded guilty last year to failing to pay taxes on more than $1.8 million earned from 2005 to 2007. In addition, Hill owed $2.3 million for outstanding state and federal taxes from 2008 and 2009. Before her sentencing, Hill paid more than $900,000 in the outstanding debt.

“I am a child of former slaves who had a system imposed on them,” Hill said before U.S. Magistrate Madeline Cox Arleo. “I had an economic system imposed on me.”

Twitter followers commented on the sentencing. Some made light of it, while others took offense at the judge’s decision.

Michelle’s Mailbag

If you missed it, I have a new Monday online feature that allows me to answer the questions I couldn’t get to during the live chat and to respond to questions you send by e-mail (colorofmoney@washpost.com), Twitter (@SingletaryM) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/MichelleSingletary.com).

The Tipping Point

For last week’s Color of Money Question, I asked: “How do you react to poor service at a restaurant?”

In a survey, Tom Frank, a restaurant consultant and one of the founders of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro restaurant chain, found that nearly 40 percent of survey participants said they felt obligated to leave a tip despite receiving poor service.

Frank says don’t feel sorry for wait staff who provide bad service; instead, just tip for good service.

Here’s what some of you thought about getting bad service:

“When service is poor, I still tip, but at a reduced level,” wrote Steve Brodeur of Boston. “(It drives my wife crazy.) But if I have anything to say, I tell the server, not the manager — unless the fault might not be the server’s, or if I wouldn’t return because of the experience.”

Katie Kiman i of San Francisco said her reaction to slow service absolutely depends on the attitude of the server. “If the server is off in the corner playing with their phone, or simply nowhere to be found, they are getting a skimpy tip (having worked in a restaurant as a kid, I simply cannot leave zero tip). But if the server is clearly hustling due to a large number of tables, I’m leaving an extra tip because they are working extra hard and are probably getting stiffed by other people who think it’s taking too long. Likewise, if the server is apologetic that there was some sort of mix-up in the kitchen, they’re getting my normal 20 percent.”

You are welcome to e-mail comments and questions to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Please include your name and hometown; your comments may be used in a future column or newsletter unless otherwise requested.

Follow me on Twitter at @SingletaryM, or connect with me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichelleSingletary.com.

Tia Lewis contributed to this report.

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or singletarym@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to postbusiness.com.

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Michelle Singletary
Columnist May 9, 2013

Being hailed as a hero may lead to a payday for Charles Ramsey, the Ohio man who helped rescue Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight and Berry’s 6-year-old daughter allegedly kidnapped and raped by Ariel Castro. Castro was charged Wednesday with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.

Ramsey may be eligible for the reward money offered for information about at least two of the women who had been missing, reported ABC News.

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, “The Color of Money.” View Archive

On it’s Web site the FBI said it was offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information regarding the disappearance of Berry.

Ramsey, always animated in his television interviews, may also get something from McDonald’s. He’s said repeatedly that he was enjoying a McDonald’s burger when he heard Berry scream for help from within the house where the women had been essentially imprisoned for a decade.

After an overwhelming response on Twitter calling on McDonald’s to do something for Ramsey, a company spokesman said the fast-food chain plans to reach out to the rescuer, according to ABC News. McDonald’s tweeted on May 7: “We salute the courage of Ohio kidnap victims & respect their privacy. Way to go Charles Ramsey- we’ll be in touch.”


Charles Ramsey speaks to the media on May 6 near the home where missing women Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight were rescued in Cleveland. (Scott Shaw/AP)

In a recent interview, CNN’s Anderson Copper asked Ramsey about the possibility that he could profit from his actions.

Ramsey referred to the victims: “I tell you what you do, give it to them,” Ramsey said of any reward that might be due. “Because if folks been following this case since last night, you been following me since last night, you know I got a job. . .”

Earlier in the week, “Charles Ramsey” was a trending topic on the Web. One of his interviews immediately after the rescue has become a viral video on YouTube.

“Several supporters started a Rally.org fundraiser to buy him a $5,300 high-end grill and a three-year membership to the Sirloin of the Month Club,” wrote the Daily News’ Michael Walsh. (In interviews, Ramsey said he ate BBQ with the Castro.)

In Portland, Ore., Robby Russell, launched a fundraising page on gofundme.com in hopes of raising $10,000 for Ramsey, reported Oregon Fox television station KPTV.

“I thought maybe there’s something I could do with all this feedback that people want to provide to him,” Russell said. “Maybe I could help raise a little money so that he could be a little more comfortable throughout the situation.”

When I last checked, the effort had raised $10,210. Shelbie E. donated $150.

“The initial $10,000 goal was an arbitrary number that I expect we’ll easily pass,” Russell said.

At Hodge’s Cleveland, the restaurant where Ramsey works, T-shirts bearing the words “Cleveland’s Hero * Charles Ramsey” and a drawing of his likeness are being sold in his honor. At Ramsey’s request, all proceeds will be donated to the rescued women, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

Color of Money Question of the Week

Should Ramsey accept any money or rewards for his actions? Send your responses to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Be sure to include your full name, city and state. Put “Should Charles Ramsey Cash In” in the subject line.

I Want My Ring Back

So, I move from hero to jilted NFL player Mario Williams, who is making headlines because he wants his bling back.

Williams, a defensive end who recently signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills for a reported $100 million, is suing former fiancee Erin Marzouki to have her return a 10-carat diamond ring.

Williams claims in a lawsuit that he proposed to Marzouki with a 10.04-carat diamond worth $785,000. But Marzouki ended the engagement less than a year later, reported Courthouse News Service.

“The termination of the relationship was solely caused by defendant,” the complaint states. “Defendant never intended to marry plaintiff and used the relationship as a means to get to plaintiff’s money and acquire gifts. Defendant has absconded with the diamond engagement ring. Plaintiff has demanded that defendant return the diamond engagement ring, but defendant has failed and refused to do so.”

In addition to buying her a pricey ring, Williams says, he showered Marzouki with $230,000 worth of gifts.

What do you think? Should the Williams ex have to return the ring?

Send your responses to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Be sure to include your full name, city and state.

Mother’s Day Madness

I’ve heard from so many adults that their mothers drive them mad with Mother’s Day gift expectations.

And that habit is starting to show up among women who aren’t quite mothers yet. A reader asked Judith Martin, who writes the Miss Manners column, about a daughter-in-law who is expecting in July but wants a Mother’s Day gift on Sunday.

“I am a bit old-fashioned; I do not recall celebrating Mother’s Day if you are only pregnant,” writes the woman.

Martin goes on to point out a trend I’ve noticed and that I find annoying. She writes: “People now feel emboldened to declare that others must honor them. Typically, this is expressed in self-generated adult birthday parties and showers. Rather than waiting for others to be moved to organize such an event, the would-be guest of honor initiates it, sets the terms and expects the guests to pay the bills.”

As to the question from the mother-in-law, Martin responds: “As the idea of Mother’s Day is for mothers to be shown appreciation by their children, your daughter-in-law has a problem. Even though she is devoting herself to the nourishment and well-being of this child, she is unlikely to receive chocolates, roses or even a card from that source.”

Read the rest of her response here.

Celebrity Cash

Grammy Award-winning artist Lauryn Hill was recently sentenced to three months in prison for failing to pay her taxes, reports the Associated Press.

The 37-year-old singer pleaded guilty last year to failing to pay taxes on more than $1.8 million earned from 2005 to 2007. In addition, Hill owed $2.3 million for outstanding state and federal taxes from 2008 and 2009. Before her sentencing, Hill paid more than $900,000 in the outstanding debt.

“I am a child of former slaves who had a system imposed on them,” Hill said before U.S. Magistrate Madeline Cox Arleo. “I had an economic system imposed on me.”

Twitter followers commented on the sentencing. Some made light of it, while others took offense at the judge’s decision.

Michelle’s Mailbag

If you missed it, I have a new Monday online feature that allows me to answer the questions I couldn’t get to during the live chat and to respond to questions you send by e-mail (colorofmoney@washpost.com), Twitter (@SingletaryM) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/MichelleSingletary.com).

The Tipping Point

For last week’s Color of Money Question, I asked: “How do you react to poor service at a restaurant?”

In a survey, Tom Frank, a restaurant consultant and one of the founders of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro restaurant chain, found that nearly 40 percent of survey participants said they felt obligated to leave a tip despite receiving poor service.

Frank says don’t feel sorry for wait staff who provide bad service; instead, just tip for good service.

Here’s what some of you thought about getting bad service:

“When service is poor, I still tip, but at a reduced level,” wrote Steve Brodeur of Boston. “(It drives my wife crazy.) But if I have anything to say, I tell the server, not the manager — unless the fault might not be the server’s, or if I wouldn’t return because of the experience.”

Katie Kiman i of San Francisco said her reaction to slow service absolutely depends on the attitude of the server. “If the server is off in the corner playing with their phone, or simply nowhere to be found, they are getting a skimpy tip (having worked in a restaurant as a kid, I simply cannot leave zero tip). But if the server is clearly hustling due to a large number of tables, I’m leaving an extra tip because they are working extra hard and are probably getting stiffed by other people who think it’s taking too long. Likewise, if the server is apologetic that there was some sort of mix-up in the kitchen, they’re getting my normal 20 percent.”

You are welcome to e-mail comments and questions to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Please include your name and hometown; your comments may be used in a future column or newsletter unless otherwise requested.

Follow me on Twitter at @SingletaryM, or connect with me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichelleSingletary.com.

Tia Lewis contributed to this report.

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or singletarym@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to postbusiness.com.

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