Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Phony sign language interpreters keep crashing news conferences

Crime motives aren’t typically as complicated as Law & Order might make them out to be. More often than not, people just want that cash. But every now and then somebody commits the kind of grift that boggles the mind: What, for example, is to be gained from pretending to be a sign language interpreter at a police conference? Because that’s exactly what Derlyn Roberts, a noted fraudster, did earlier this week.


The details are all laid out in the above video. According to Tampa Police Public Information Officer Steve Hagerty, Roberts just “showed up out of the blue” to serve as the interpreter for a news conference announcing an arrest in the area’s recent rash of murders. Hagerty has no good reason for why he just allowed her to stand onstage waving her hands around, saying, “I just didn’t ask enough questions.”

But you also can’t blame him because, really, who would lie about this?

Rachelle Settambrino, an ASL teacher at the University Of South Florida, translated Roberts’ sign language thusly:

“Fifty-one hours ago, zero 12 22 (indecipherable) murder three minutes in 14 weeks ago in old (indecipherable) murder four five 55,000 plea 10 arrest murder bush (indecipherable) three age 24.”

Still, that’s better than the other sign language interpreter that made headlines this year. During a Hurricane Irma news conference in September, the interpreter on hand somehow translated information regarding evacuation efforts as “pizza” and “bear monster.”

Watch that trainwreck below, and maybe consider learning sign language. We apparently really need people who know it right now.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.