The NY Post ran an article last week, The downfall of NYC's hottest vegan, which illustrated perfectly how a sociopath can lead a naive, somewhat weak-minded person astray.
Sarma Melngailis is now charged with stealing two million dollars from her trendy restaurant, Pure Food and Wine. (She's the weak-minded one.) Evidently everything had been going fairly well for her until she got together with Anthony Strangis, a man with a long track record of deceit and criminality:
Strangis' life appears to be one big sociopathic cliche. For instance, he once impersonated a police officer. That's pretty much all you need to know right there: impersonation is a sociopathic specialty, and impersonating a cop takes a special kind of gall. Strangis also posed as a wealthy man in order to drum up funds for Melngailis' restaurant, another deception.
Strangis was a gambling "addict." Gambling, like sex, isn't physically addictive. But a sociopath has so few inhibitions and so little thought for the future that he "can't resist" their lures, and thus is far more likely to become "addicted" to sex or gambling.
Strangis was manipulative. He got Melngailis, a woman with an Ivy League degree, to act completely self-destructively. He, like all sociopaths, had a "reality distortion field" that caused her to buy into his ridiculous demands and see things from his point of view. It looks pathetic from the outside, but being in thrall to a Svengali is something that can only be experienced from the inside.
Strangis told his ex-wife he was a retired Navy SEAL. Sociopaths often claim to be either former Special Forces, or ex-CIA. These are pretty much the ultimate in badass jobs, so someone who's a pathological liar will often falsely claim them. Stolen glory is another sociopathic specialty.
(Strangis originally told his ex-wife that the bandages on his chest were from a war wound, when in fact he was just taping down his man boobs.)
Pointing the finger at Melngailis is another sociopathic touch. Strangis obviously has zero loyalty: after manipulating her into abetting his crimes, he then blamed her for them.
Strangis' life appears to be almost a parody of sociopathy. But in fact, if you look closely enough, every sociopath has led a life which is nothing but sociopathic cliches, since sociopaths never depart from character. They may pose as something they're not -- like kind, caring, or noble -- but even those acts are cliches of sociopathic subterfuges.
Melngailis is certainly not without blame; she knowingly went along with Strangis' schemes. So she deserves whatever jail time she's going to get.
But not as much as Strangis does.