Generation Lazy?: Johnnie and Dorothy

A Scamming Son?
Dorothy says her 27-year-old son, Johnnie, is a freeloader and moocher who takes advantage of her. Though they’re now living apart, she says Johnnie has moved back in with her twice, free of charge, and she fears he’ll return as soon as he runs out of money. “Johnnie has never paid any rent. He just assumes that’s what parents are for,” she says. Dorothy says Johnnie has blown through more than $84,000 since he dropped out of college to travel the world. “It was actually inheritance money from his grandparents to be used specifically for college.”

“It was definitely an adventure. My goal is to hit every country in the world, and I’ve been to about a third of them,” Johnnie says. He admits he’d rather travel the globe and enjoy life than go to college or hold a steady job. “I’ve never gotten a job. I don’t want to work for anyone.”

“I would pay anything to have him get a degree,” Dorothy says.

Johnnie thinks his mother should enjoy her money rather than saving it. “One thing I know for certain is that we’re all going to die. Other than that, life’s an adventure; enjoy it,” he says. Johnnie says his mom is just being greedy. “She’s a multimillionaire. She doesn’t need the money.”

Dorothy says Johnnie’s devious behavior started when he was a child. She says as a toddler, Johnnie would bang his head on the floor until he got his way, and if he didn’t like his school, they withdrew him or transferred him to another facility. “We always gave in. We’ve created a monster,” she admits. Dorothy says Johnnie was kicked out of boarding school for getting tattoos and drinking, and at age 15, threatened to burn down the house if she didn’t give him $5,000. She says she feared he would follow through with the threat, so she caved in.

“So, you were afraid of him?” Dr. Phil asks Dorothy.

“Yes. He had the can with the gasoline behind the door; he really did,” she responds. She says she even moved out of the house and slept somewhere else that night.

[AD]“I faked the whole thing,” Johnnie admits.

“So, you’re both deceitful and a bully?” Dr. Phil asks Johnnie.

“Exactly,” Johnnie responds. He claims that he earned the $5,000 by selling items online, and his parents wouldn’t give him the money when he asked for it.

“So, it seems then that the natural thing to do is to threaten to burn down the house,” Dr. Phil jests.


Johnnie says his mom has a one-track mind. “That’s all she ever talks about is money — money this, money that, investments.”

Dorothy says, “You need money to live on. This is it. Nobody lives for free.”

Dr. Phil asks Johnnie how much money he has made in the past year.

“Nothing. Zero,” he says with a smile. “Well, actually, I had a couple jobs. I probably made a couple thousand dollars.” He says he sold items online, worked as a movie extra, did promotional work and was a hair model for a weekend.

Dorothy says she found Johnnie most of the jobs, and also provided his transportation. “I drove him to the jobs. I picked him up like he was in kindergarten.” She says she hoped he would give her money for rent and household bills, since he was living with her at the time, but he didn’t.

Johnnie says he has been living in Central America for the past two months.

“So, what are you going to do down there?” Dr. Phil asks Johnnie.

“I’m opening a sushi restaurant. I’m running a tour company; and I’m going to try to hike through the Darién Gap,” Johnnie responds.

“How many tours have you led?” Dr. Phil asks.

“I haven’t actually done any yet. I’ve just been hanging out with some cool people, and I’ve been driving around Panama in my Suburban,” Johnnie admits.

“So, the only tour you’ve taken is by yourself?” Dr. Phil concludes.

[AD]“I’ve taken lots of people all over Panama,” Johnnie responds.

“But do they pay you?” his mom asks.

“Yes, they do pay me,” Johnnie says. “I haven’t been paying anything lately.”

“You must be rolling in the dough,” Dorothy says sarcastically. She says Johnnie scammed her out of $14,000 for the vehicle.


“What you’re describing here is a con artist, bully and scammer, right?” Dr. Phil asks.

“Right,” Dorothy responds.

Dorothy explains why she considers her son a scam artist.


Both Dorothy and Johnnie disagree about an incident involving Johnnie’s broken-down car at the California-Nevada border. Dorothy says Johnnie barricaded himself inside her car, with the keys and a dog, and refused to let her inside unless she allowed him to go home with her. She says the cops eventually got him out, and she went home.

“I honestly have no idea what she’s talking about. I’m sitting here, and I don’t remember that at all,” Johnnie says. “She came and helped me. I got insurance on the car. They towed me to the border, and she left me there at a hotel. I said, ‘Fine. I don’t want to deal with your crap. I’ll stay here at the hotel.’”

Dorothy insists the police surrounded the car.

“And you don’t remember this?” Dr. Phil asks Johnnie.

“She likes to make up stories. She likes to lie,” Johnnie responds.

Dr. Phil addresses both of them, saying, “One of you has a serious break with reality here.” He asks Johnnie again whether the cops actually surrounded the car. “Did that happen?”

“I honestly don’t remember it happening. I don’t believe it happened. My car got towed to the border, and I went into the hotel because she was being crazy,” Johnnie responds.

“You see, that sounds like a lie to me,” Dr. Phil tells Johnnie. “You don’t want to take a solid stance that it didn’t happen. You’re saying, ‘I don’t remember it.’ That sounds like you’re waffling around. Then you say she was acting crazy. It sounds like the craziness would be associated with wanting to get you out of the car. So, there are a lot of things that kind of point to the fact that this did happen, and you just don’t want to own it. I don’t know why, because it’s one of the least offensive things that I have on my list of things that you’ve done.”

“I’m here to be honest,” Johnnie says.

“Well, let’s start now,” Dr. Phil tells him. “Did you want to go home with her that day?”

“When I first got into her car, we were talking about it, and I was talking about going home with her. She was so rude and insulting, she yelled at me about my truck the entire time. She made it very clear that she didn’t want me going home with her. When my car got to the border, and there was a hotel there for 25 bucks a night, I said, ‘I’ll stay there’,” Johnny says.

“Thirty five,” Dorothy interjects, referring to the room price.

“But wasn’t this after you were locked in the car, and the police came?” Dr. Phil asks.

“No,” Johnnie says with a chuckle and a nod of the head.

[AD]“You said no, but you nodded yes,” Dr. Phil tells Johnnie.

“I was not locked in the car. The police did not surround the car. I got out of her car voluntarily, I walked into the hotel, and I booked my room. I said, ‘I don’t want to stay with you if you’re going to treat me this way,’ and that was it,” Johnnie says.

“In a strange and convoluted way, I actually kind of agree with some of your thinking,” Dr. Phil tells Johnnie.