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So, Tim, where have you been? June, July & early August

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

So In June we discovered that my wife had been making such gross mistakes with her work, that is was a felony. There was no denying it. It was all there and we had seen it. The only thing left for her was to engage an attorney and get the best deal we could.

Except we could no longer afford an attorney. In an effort to make restitution, or at least to make whatever restitution we could, we signed a promissory note assigning the proceeds from our house sale and the after penalty value of her 401k over to her boss. That was the civil side of things.

But remember, her boss had made a claim that automatically brought in the criminal side of the case. "Signing this will go a long was toward a demonstration of cooperation to the courts." we were told.

So we signed.

We contacted the Office of the Public Defender and they were waiting for her. Apparently, the ADA handling her case gave them a heads up that we were coming. They talked to her and assigned her a lawyer who would call her at the proper time.

"When will charges be officially filed?" we wanted to know.
"Probably around the first of August."

We were told that the penalty could range from probation, not likely, to 18 months at county, up to 25 years in prison, "But it probably won't be anything like that long. And with good time and parole, you are looking at even less time."

I walked away thinking, five years. Less with parole and good time.

Our son David, who has passed the Bar in Maryland but is not a practicing attorney, helped us up date our wills ... we had nothing so what was the point? ... and our powers of attorney. That means that if my wife went away before we sold the house, I could sign everything for her. We also assigned David the same power of attorney, just in case any entity had heartburn about me signing for both of us.

I went online to the Maryland Health Exchange and I applied for Obamacare for both of us. We qualified for Medicaid. Medicare only kicks in at age 65 1/2. And it's pretty good. I just hope we don't get REALLY sick.

I went to Baltimore County Social Services and signed up for Food Stamps. It is pretty amazing, but not I know something about what people have been saying to me ever since I have been in the weight loss and healthy eating game. What they say is that it is expensive to eat healthy. It is expensive to eat in a way to lose weight. You can't really lose weight and be healthy on Food Stamps.

That is utter bunk. We barely changed our eating habits at all and we still had money left on the card at then end of the month.

I also started my Social Security. Not a lot, but it helped.

And we still had a few thousand in cash and checking.

We already knew we would be filing for bankruptcy and selling the house. So we stopped paying our bills. All except the Gas and Electric. We called the Mortgage Company and explained the situation, leaving out the pending felony charges, and they told us that they understood that we would sell the house and they would just get back payments from the proceeds. But the law required them to file foreclosure papers with the county anyway. "Don't panic. It's paper work. It's the law. We won't be throwing you out on the street. Besides that takes years." Tell me about it. We had a neighbor who stopped payment on his mortgage and squatted for nearly five years. And since he couldn't pay the mortgage, he also couldn't maintain anything that broke. He was finally run off last March and the new owner made the place shine.

We started the yard sales. Saturday and Sunday for four weekends. When you live in a house for 25 years and you are spending too much of your own money and then someone else's money (that's gallows humor) you sure accumulate lots of stuff.

It was also a big house: nearly 3000 square feet including the finish attic and the cellar. Plus a garage, a huge patio, an outdoor kitchen, a storage shed. Tons of stuff and furniture. Very little of the furniture went at the yard sale. We offered it to the kids, but they didn't want it. We sacrificed most of it on Craigslist.

That does not escape the notice of the neighbors. We simply told them we were downsizing and moving to a much smaller place. They understood.

The week before Fourth of July we drove out to Colorado with David's pop up camper in tow and my trike in the bed of the truck. Just the two of us. Patrick, who still lived in the same house with us stayed behind. He also knew he had to find a place of his own.

The afternoon of the third of July, Patrick called. "Mister Pat (the next door neighbor) has some friends who are looking for a house and they want to look at ours." Wow! We didn't even contract a Realtor yet. The civil attorneys were bugging us about why not before we left. We had told them we would get one after the Fourth when we got back.
"Sure, show the house. But clean up first."
"I already did."
"Great then show the house."
"No, I already showed the house. They love it."

That evening, my phone rang. It was Pat from next door. "When are you getting home?"
"Tuesday afternoon."
"The Foxes want to show it to their Realtor. Wednesday at 5:00 ok?"
Wow! "Sure."

We got home at 1:00 pm on Tuesday. At 3:00 the phone rang. "Hi, this is Carol Fox. Can we bring our Realtor over at 5:00 today?"
"No. We just got in and we haven't unpacked. Tomorrow will be better."
Oh baby, these people were hot.

The next day the Foxes showed up with their Realtor. And three kids. And Carol about to deliver #4 in the next month. Yeah these folks were hot.

On Friday the tenth, a courier delivered a contract. It was for full market price, actually a bargain for them considering all the upgrades we had done for settlement in four weeks. August 7.

That sounds like a home seller's dream, right? Quick sale, no Realtor on our side, full price, fast settlement.

It was a nightmare.

We had to finish getting rid of 25 years of accumulation. We had to find not one but two apartments. I need to finish off several pending projects. And we still had to mow the lawn. and keep the house clean.

After two weeks of looking at apartments in what the kids called Cracktown and Methville, we were very discouraged. It looked like we would be living in crime ridden part of the city. We were thinking that if we were roommates with Patrick we could get something a little better, but it wasn't much better.

Then one afternoon, Patrick took me to a listing that looked perfect. It was a "senior living community for the active adult." Over 62, check, low income qualified, check, in a quiet part of Catonsville with subsidized rent. We applied. We had two weeks to get something and this looked great.

Patrick found himself two one bedrooms within a half mile. Two, because we weren't sure if the one he really liked was going to be available in time.

Unfortunately the senior place didn't seem to do anything online; they only worked by letter and fax. Nothing was done fast. By the day before moving day, we still didn't have a lease in hand. So we ran over to Patrick's second choice (his first still hadn't come through) and asked, "You got any two bedrooms?"
"We do!"

We signed right up because between Patrick and me we income-qualified. We left our wife off the lease because, well, why would we put her on? We were pretty sure she would only be with us for a short spell.

Come the morning of moving day, we STILL didn't have an actual lease or keys. Just an approval. I was at the office doors when they unlocked at 9:00. At 10:00, as the truck was pulling away from the house, I got the keys.

This place is a gem. It is across from Leakin Park/Gwynn Falls Park. As a cop told me, "That's just where they dump the bodies. They make them bodies somewhere else." It's quiet, The neighbors are nice. There are lots of kids, and few teenagers, so probably no gangs. I walk the dog (we still have Indy) at all hours, including after dark and one night even after 11:00 PM.

On moving day, we picked what furniture we thought would fit in the apartment --- 750 square feet from 3000 square feet. We got a storage unit for some of the boxes and stuff we still wanted to keep for when Patrick gets his own place.

And yet the apartment was still full of boxes. It took us about two weeks to settle in, put things away, decide what went into storage and what went into the dumpster and what went to Goodwill, but when we were finished, it was home.

When Mike first visited, he declared that it was a mini-version of the old house. We were able to keep enough stuff that the apartment was still a familiar place.

The first week of August came and went without any word about the charges. She met with he PD and was told to just hold tight. The PD thought that a delay was a good thing.

We thought differently. If they were taking longer, it meant that they were searching for more than just the overpayments of the bonuses. They were probably looking at expense reports for anything that looked the least bit hinky. Whether it was hinky or not.

And that is what was happening.
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