We come to the part of the story where this has all been leading the last several days.
What actually happened to my wife.
On the surface, you may think, "That's terrible!"
Or you may think, "She got what she deserved."
Or you may think, "Poor Tim." Don't think that. Things are rough, but as I have said before
Life goes on.
We sold our house and moved into an apartment. It was not a bad thing in and of itself. But the circumstances that forced it were.
My wife had committed a felony and we were just waiting.
She had a meeting with the public defender in the third week of August. The original amount was in the range of $1.6M over 11 years. Now the DA was claiming it was more like $2.2M after scouring everything like expense accounts. I asked how could she possible have submitted over $60K a years in expense accounts? She had no clue. Her only guess was that they also used some revised numbers on her legitimate compensation.
Clusterf**k. That's what this was, a total clusterf**k.
I have sat on five juries. I know what kind of people get on juries. Regular folks. A lot of whom would love to make her base salary sometime in their life. And with her legitimate bonus they would think we were Rich. And then for her to be accused of stealing that bonus money over and above what she was making, there was no way she would walk free.
No. A jury trial wouldn't go well.
And a bench trial would probably not go any better because judges are lawyers and the lawyers in this case could not fathom how this happened. They thought everything was hidden. I can tell you, I spotted it almost right away when she showed me the books, within a few days anyway. And I am an engineer.
There was only one thing to do.
Take a plea deal.
The DA was offering 10 years with all but 5 years suspended. The way good time and parole works, we were told, she'd be out in three. Her attorney was going to ask for 18 month which would be served at the county jail and she'd be out in less than a year.
The attorneys asked for a sentencing date of September 30/October 1.
August was spent trying to live a normal life. I didn't ride much because I wanted to spend our last few days, before our life changed forever, together. I rode to the Farmer's Market downtown a couple of Sundays. But mostly we sat around and read or binge watched on Netflix. September 18 - 28 we went to Texas to visit our daughter and Colorado to visit our son. While I was in Colorado, Apple called with a very nice offer, starting October 9. That was perfect.
The next day, the PD called and told us that the plea date was set at October 14.
So I would be starting a new job by taking a couple off days off to see my wife off to prison (or jail ... fingers crossed).
October 14 was a rainy day. We were up early just going through the motions of doing things. We were expected at the court house at 2:00 PM. I swear the clock was running backwards. The kids from Colorado had arrived on October 11 and we had several days of visiting. The ones from Texas could not come because Dr Dani had Surgery on October 13 and October 14. That was disappointing.
We got to court and we had to wait. She was the last one on the docket. The ones preceding her were multiple offender drug dealers ... probation, time served. One had tried to fire bomb his girlfriend's house but he failed because he was so stupid he didn't know how. He was allowed to go to North Carolina to serve a probation.
Around 4:00 is was my wife's turn. The DA read his claims, which boiled down to her being a conniving, vicious, bullying, greedy evil thief. Her boss and his wife got to read a victim impact statement. There were surely some truths in it, but the part where my wife had something to do with his wife having cancer we objected to and sustained. The part where I was somehow a bad guy for being a stay at home dad to our two adopted children was objected to and sustained. The part where her boss had to lay off 22 (or was it 32 no one was quite sure) employees was bought by the judge hook line and sinker. Somehow my wife was supposed to even have tapped into their personal bank account. Not entirely sure how that had happened.
I am not claiming that 1.6 or even 2.2 million is not a lot of money to go missing ... we sure don't know where it is, but it most certainly flowed through our bank accounts ... but over an 11 year period, that amounts to about $220K per year. That would be after average salary at that company, plus other costs of insurance etc, maybe three employees' cost each year. So take that out and only three employees don't get hired or maintained over eleven years. It doesn't magically become 22 or 32 layoffs in June when the missing money is discovered.
My wife got to read her short statement of remorse.
The DA asked for 10 years with all but 5 suspended. The PD asked for leniency because of my wife's health (she had a TIA a couple of years ago, has a bad knee, is hearing impaired, and is 61 1/2 years old) and the fact that she had never been in trouble with the law. How about 18 Months in County?
The judge spoke for 5 minutes. He cited the size of the embezzlement, the position of trust she held, the length of time it had gone on, the burden it placed on her boss's family and the bullying tactics she was supposed to have used on the employee who wanted to expose her (she never did that). He also cited the damage she had done to the American dream of building a company from nothing.
Fact: when she started working there, the company was nothing and today it is one of the largest of its kind in the country, mostly because (some may now say in spite) of her efforts.
Then he said that he wanted to have her serve as an example to others. He ignored the State's recommendation:
25 five year with all but 7 years suspended plus 18 month supervised probation.
My friends, that is not a light sentence. If you recall, I posted about a drunk driver, an Episcopal Bishop, who ran down and killed a cyclist and drove away. Two week later she was sentence. She got twenty year with all but seven suspended. Apparently no following probation.
Killing a man with a car gets a lesser sentence than stealing money.
And the former Bishop is now two doors down from my wife at Maryland Correctional Institute for Women.
All is not lost, however. There is parole, first hearing in 21 month from the start of the sentence. There are good time points, right now she looks to be getting home in less than three years even without parole.
We are each adjusting to our new life. And I have some good new stories to tell. It's not easy, but it's not the end of the world either.
This is something we have to go through. And we will. It isn't summer camp, that's for sure. And getting anything done with the DOC makes me wish I could spend a week at the DMV.
When we came out of court, I stopped the Public Defender. I told her that it was damned good thing the victim's statement was not evidentiary because otherwise they would be facing perjury charges for all the lies they told. "Victim statement are used by the court to allow the victim to vent." Only this time the judge bought it.
The detective on the case came out after the hearing and approached me. He came to me. "Tim, listen, I know it sound awful, but the average sentence in Maryland only last about 40% of the term. So she'll be home in less than three years." I looked it up. He was right. And it could be even better.
Later we found out that the judge has a reputation of being business friendly. So we had about the worst draw of a judge we could have gotten. And my wife's boss is a "one percenter" and if you steal from a "one percenter" you get the book thrown at you.
I have become her advocate. I have a new job at the Apple Store. I am living a new life, alone for the first time in 42 years. But I am not all alone. I visit prison, I talk more to my children, they help me more. Family has become more important than ever. My sister-in-law called me a bachelor. "Nah, I'm not a bachelor, I'm only single-ish."
And that, my friends, has generated even more stories to tell.
And if you haven't figured out by now, I like to spin a good yarn from time to time.
Believe me, this story isn't over yet. It just ... changes.