Former Charity Head Collapses After Plea

By: William C. Lhotka, of the Post-Dispatch
(reprinted from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 5, 2005)

Moments after he admitted that he stole more than $400,000 from the charity he once ran, and pleaded guilty of 16 criminal counts, Robert Hansen collapsed Friday and was rushed to a hospital.

St. Louis County Circuit Judge Larry L. Kendrick took Hansen’s negotiated plea shortly after noon and had left his Clayton courtroom. Kendrick told Hansen that he would sentence him on Monday, after he reads a federal background report.

Hansen’s attorney, Jenna Glass, said she, too, had left the courtroom before he collapsed. As of late afternoon, her client was in the intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Richmond Heights, and may have suffered a stroke, she said.

Witnesses said Hansen, 49, of the 400 block of Mannington Drive in St. Peters, appeared to suffer a seizure and then pass out. Clayton paramedics administered first aid and rushed him to St. Mary’s Hospital.

Hansen had been the executive director of Support Dogs, Inc. Founded in 1981, the group provides and trains dogs for people with spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, autism or other debilitating conditions. The dogs perform such tasks as pulling wheelchairs and opening and closing doors.

Hansen had pleaded guilty to a federal mail fraud count in the case in June and was sentenced in September to two years in prison for that. Prosecutor Dale Hood said U.S. marshals brought Hansen to the St. Louis County Justice Center Thursday night for the state court pleas Friday.

Hansen told Kendrick he had taken blood pressure medicine this morning. He said it wasn’t affecting his thinking. Hansen then pleaded guilty to one count of stealing more than $25,000 and 15 counts of forgery.

Glass said: "He seemed all right. Obviously, he is going through a very difficult time."

Hood said he had recommended to Kendrick that Hansen be sentenced to seven years, consecutive to the two years he got in the federal system. Hansen was aware of the state’s recommendation, Hood said