92-Year-Old Who Sold 'Suicide Kits' To Be Sentenced For Failing To File Taxes

Sharlotte Hydorn suicide kitsSAN DIEGO -- A 92-year-old woman who sold $40 kits for people to kill themselves faces sentencing in San Diego for failing to file federal tax returns.

Sharlotte Hydorn faces a maximum term of one year in prison when she is sentenced Monday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal.

Both the prosecution and defense agree that she should be spared prison and sentenced to five years' probation.

But prosecutors recommend that Hydorn be ordered to pay more than $25,000 in restitution to the IRS, a charge that the defense is asking she also be spared.

The retired schoolteacher told authorities she knew the helium kits were intended to be used to commit suicide but she said she thought they would be used by the terminally ill.

She pleaded guilty to the tax charge, but under an agreement with prosecutors she will not be in charged in state court with involvement in six suicides.

The Spokane, Wash, native began assisting physicians with patient suicides after her husband, Rex, died of colon cancer, said Charles Goldberg, her attorney. Her husband was in "agonizing pain" and did not want to die "filled with tubes in a hospital."

Hydorn felt that she could design a helium hood that would be more comfortable for patients than the ones she saw doctors using. She received "thousands" of orders for her hoods and began charging for her time and materials.

Agents who raided her home in suburban San Diego last year found checks that were not cashed and thousands of dollars in cash from buyers, her attorney said.

"To Ms. Hydorn, her involvement in the suicide kits was an act of compassion and not based on greed," Goldberg wrote.

Prosecutors said she took no steps to verify the physical condition, age, identity or mental state of her customers and therefore had no idea whether her kits were being bought by people suffering from depression or by minors acting without the consent of an adult. Court documents that say she sold more than 1,300 kits to people across the United States and abroad. Most of them contacted her by mail or phone.

Hydorn's kits included tubing, material for the hood and a user diagram. A needed helium source was not included.

Investigators determined that the kits were sold to at least 50 people in San Diego County since 2007 and that four of those people last year used the kits to commit suicide. None was terminally ill, according to investigators.

Hydorn has pleaded guilty to the tax charge dating back to 2007 and acknowledged she made more than $150,000 in income from various sources during that period, including from the sale of helium kits.

After her home was raided last year, Hydorn told The Associated Press that she wasn't responsible for who uses the kit and was only trying to help people in pain. She said that she had been in business for three years and sold up to 60 kits a month.

Hydorn said she sold the kits under the name "GLADD Group." In court, she admitted that she made $66,717 in 2010 and paid no taxes on that.

She has been allowed to remain free on $10,000 bond on the condition that she not assist any suicides.

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Grandma Sells Homemade Suicide Kits

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WHAT A CROCK!!! Shows the meantality of the Court System!!!donllivi

May 07 2012 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jay love

this is just so stupid, most likly the cops pressed tax charges against her because they found out in reality they didn't have much of a case against this old gal? its like Al Capone, you can't get them based on the actual crime, so you go after them for unpaid taxes? if her kit was so terrible why have we not heard of very many actual uses of this kit by thousands of people so far who bought it and offed themselves? seems they can only trace it back to four people?

May 07 2012 at 4:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How a country can consider its citizens 'free' if it denies them the right to choose if, when and how they end their own life is a mystery to me. A person can do what they like with their property, with their money. They can end the life of an old or sick pet or slaughter livestock. They can hunt and fish. They can end the lives of others in self-defense, or under order of war. They can choose to remove life support from a brain dead relative. But they can't be allowed to decide when to conclude their own lives. People who wish to end their own lives are not necessarily insane and in need of protecting 'for their own good.' They have made a determination based on the facts evident to themselves, which may or may not seem sufficient to others. They may not even be terminally ill or in horrible pain. Because of the current state of the law, people who wish to end their own lives are forced into degrading solutions, which caused more trauma all around than is at all necessary. At the point of the most critical decision, adults are treated as witless infants, unable to understand what is best for them. This is paternalism and despotic control at its worst.

May 07 2012 at 3:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

"None was terminally ill"

Pretty low bar on grammar in this article.

May 07 2012 at 1:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to SadExchange's comment

SAT testing considers "none" to be singular.

•when none quantifies a plural noun, both singular and plural agreements are acceptable.

You must have a CliffsNotes grammar if you think it's that cut-and-dried.

May 07 2012 at 3:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i think the goverment needs to allow some shot to put people out of there misery and out of pain they kill people in prison on death row with an injection they kill animals at the vet so why not end the suffering and pain on those needed this country is backwards the ones who need to end the misery cant and the ones who dont get put to death grant it there killers but that shot could be used on someone suffering really bad from cancer or an old person who is so much pain that modern medicine dont work anymore ....its pathetic....

May 07 2012 at 12:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Something is terribly wrong with this story.
Why would any prosecutor, in his/her right mind, not prosecute a person for assisting in the deaths of people who are not terminally ill? Where are the families of the people who killed themselves when they were not terminally ill? They should be protesting loudly against this travesty of justice. Is this old lady some judge's mother?

May 07 2012 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Fred's comment
David Amaya

this is TAX court, she does not have 5th amendment rights, unless they are to avoid getting convected on tax Fraud charges, SHE is NOT charged in the deaths, YET

May 07 2012 at 1:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I find the name "GLADD Group" offensive because it is too similar to GLAAD, the LBGT advocate group.

May 07 2012 at 10:32 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Laz's comment

Not to mention GLAD bags which could be a trademark issue...unless that's what she called "material for the hood".

May 07 2012 at 11:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I find it offensive that a search for WRWA turns up the Will Rogers Regional Airport when I want the Wisconsin Regional Writers' Association. Geez.

May 07 2012 at 3:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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