In spite of being a target of a federal criminal investigation, Brent made a rare appearance testifying at the Grand Jury. He provided a very thorough presentation explaining that there was no diversion, no intent, no gain, etc.. and that all the investments made by the Fund committee were authorized. I remember hearing Brent’s voice after his presentation and thinking that he gave it all that he had. I could hear pure exhaustion and yet, I heard hope. I seemed to always want to hear hope, to grab hold of whatever I thought was real hope. I admired the valiant effort that Brent had made to save himself and in a way, he was potentially saving me too.
Scott was a former colleague who was on the Fund committee with Brent and I. Scott talked with a large percentage of the Fund’s investors. Scott had an immunity deal with the Government. As long as he was truthful and cooperative, he would not be charged with any crime. He was, as the Government would say, “on the bus”. Scott was a cooperating Government witness. There were some key answers or comments that Scott said at the Grand Jury that were wrong and a few things that Scott didn’t disagree with that he should have. It was clear to me after reading his Grand Jury testimony that Scott had his own agenda.
During the course of the Grand Jury testimony, Scott made several false statements under oath. Given his immunity deal, all he had to do was tell the truth and cooperate with the Government. It seemed to me those efforts should be aligned. Scott lied about when he learned about what had happened with the Fund investments which was a key issue because the implication was that Scott didn’t find out what was happening to the Fund investments until they had already been placed. Scott created the first draft of the term sheet that described how the Fund committee may invest the funds. His disassociation was self-serving and not true. Scott lied about a loan that was made to him from the Fund. The Fund committee was allowed to make loans per the Fund Offering and Scott was a partial recipient of a loan, but denied he benefitted from it.
The prosecutor, Mr. Williams, is the primary person asking Scott questions at the Grand Jury. Scott has no one that is advising him, but again all he has to do is tell the truth. Initially, there was a rhythm to the interrogatories. Questions are asked invoking a repetition of agreement. I would imagine answering affirmatively becomes a bit hypnotic. There is a strategy in play.
Years later, I looked over the Grand Jury transcript and made some observations about what I knew versus what Scott’s testimony was.
Sometimes you lie by answering a question you weren’t asked. Sometimes you lie because you make a false statement. Sometimes you lie when you say you don’t remember. Sometimes you lie when you deviate from the facts. Sometimes you lie with your eyes, your gestures, your expressions, your tone, the volume of your speech. Sometimes your own agenda is sprinkled in your answers.
There was a point in Scott’s Grand Jury testimony when the prosecutor was describing a conversation between Brent and Scott. Brent was giving Scott legal advice and part of that was reiterating telling the investors the truth. The prosecutor was trying to have Scott implicate Brent in something deceitful, but Scott starts to disagree. Mid-sentence, the prosecutor interrupted Scott. In a pang of consciousness, Scott attempted to try and clarify what Brent had said – be truthful with the investors. The prosecutor made a dismissive comment and the truth was lost.
I swung from being hopeful to fearful in the beginning months of the case. The Grand Jury was certainly one of those times. I was hopeful that Brent would find the right words and the hearts and minds of the Grand Jury would understand the truth. It would be a miracle if I were one of the less than 1% of cases that don’t get a true bill. I was fearful that Scott would succumb to the Government’s need for cooperation and say and do whatever he had to in order to get me charged. Cooperation could be construed as nearly agreement, but it shouldn’t mean that you abandon your values in the process.
I couldn’t keep swinging from fear to hope and back. It was making me dizzy. It was so disruptive to everything in my life.
It was around this time that I had an epiphany. I can’t say that I have had many epiphanies in my life, but I can say that it happened in this case. Maybe it won’t sound like an epiphany to anyone else, but at the time for me, given the intensity of each day, it truly was.
My epiphany was that I was simply going to tell the truth about everything as well as I possibly could all the time. Brutally honest. I was going to go out of my way to say everything I could possibly think of that was true. That was my standard and I wouldn’t violate it for anything or anybody. If I couldn’t remember something with certainty, I would research it before I said anything. If I had evidence to prove what I was saying, I would present it. If I truly didn’t know, I would say that. No speculating. If I couldn’t prove something, I would say what I knew and stand on my credibility.
If I got charged with a crime, I was still going to tell the truth. The truth just doesn’t change. The truth was that I was honest with everyone about what was going on in the Fund. I had nothing more to fear. I just had to keep standing on that truth no matter what.
My church community was important in my life and it was around this time that I started to lean in more and more. I am not even close to knowing much of the Bible. I didn’t study it. I can’t quote from passages. I am paying attention at church. I just have a simple view of my faith. I do what I believe to be God’s work.
I would talk with the senior pastors and teaching pastors about the case. They listened well and were supportive. They reminded me of things that I needed to hear and of who I was when I was beaten down.
Applying what I believe to be God’s work, I understood that truth and justice were near the top of His list. My approach was that I would just keep relentlessly telling the truth and although the Department of Justice would figure out what to do with me, God was the ultimate judge. I was okay with that.
If you were a cooperating witness for the Government, would that change the truth?