The Grand Jury handed down a true bill. I was officially indicted. It was hard for Dan to tell me I got charged. He knew how likely it was to happen, but Dan never took away my hope. He stopped just short of that. It was unspoken but a fundamental part of the trust and respect we had in our relationship – let me keep my hope.
I was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Conspiracy has to involve two or more people, but I had no idea who I allegedly conspired with. To this day, I don’t know who the Government thinks I conspired with. Part of the charge was that I had to know that there was an unlawful purpose. The Fund’s purpose was investing customer’s money with their signed knowledge per the Offering Circular that contained an abundance of risk disclosures, including that potential loss of all their investment. Clearly, it was a high-risk investment. Lastly, I had to have an intent to further the unlawful purpose which I just plain didn’t. The way the Fund was built, no one on the Fund committee would benefit from any of the investments without the investors receiving all their investment back and 100% return. I advised a few close friends and my parents to be Fund investors and I invested in it. The intent was to prosper from the investments of the Fund.
Each element of the alleged crime had to met to be convicted. Interestingly, the Government charged me with being a part of this conspiracy before the Fund existed. No entity, no conspiracy was my thinking. The Government used very precise language to specify that the alleged crime started at least a month before the Fund was legally formed.
The investigation phase was over so whatever had been discovered should have been examined by the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury’s standard is probable cause. Without my involvement in the investigation, the prosecutor was able to go to the Grand Jury and get an agreement that it was probable that a crime was committed.
Shifting from being a “target” to being a “defendant” seems like replacing one label for another with more labels to follow. I was getting in deeper, sinking in the quicksand.
I had to figure out a way not to let labels define me and not care what others thought of me because, well, I was still the same person and I hadn’t committed a crime. Misbehaving and acting out on accusations was going to prove the Government’s opinion of me. I had to resist that with all my might.
The more I understood what the Government’s position was, the better prepared I could be to be understood. That had to be my constant reminder.
I had to start telling people that I had been charged with a crime. I had to tell my boss and my Mom right away. They had to hear it from me. My Mom was literally moving into her new house locally the day I was charged. Dad had died a couple of years before and this was Mom’s new start. What a way to start. I felt bad, but I had to tell her. Telling my Mom was not as hard as I thought it would be. She was surrounded by boxes, people moving her in and lots of commotion. She was understandably preoccupied. I said to Mom that I was charged with a crime. She had this sense that whatever mess I was in, I could handle it. I loved that about her, but I thought she was overly confident this time or like me when I knew nothing about the power of the Government. She had no idea of the seriousness of what was happening.
My boss had known I was under investigation but now I had to tell him that I have been charged. It might be my last day at work. I could understand the position I put Ken in and the only way I could continue to show my respect for him was to tell him the truth as soon as it happened. He was about two hours away and I would have preferred to have this conversation in person, but it was just not an option. I told Ken the news of my indictment over the phone. The moment I started to talk to Ken, I know that he knew it was a very serious conversation. Not that long ago, he had dealt with a co-worker telling him of their terminal illness. I could feel Ken’s reach as he was starting to comfort me and grasp the magnitude of the news before I said much. Once the words indictment came out of my mouth, I sensed he was a bit angry, but not at me, because he knew me. The anger stemmed from the frustration that people weren’t listening to me. I tried to explain the things that I could, but I really didn’t have the “good reason” that I was charged with a crime.
I think my husband had already resigned himself to the fact that I was going to be charged so telling him was confirming what he feared. I told my sister and my kid’s teachers and a few friends and then, I drew a line. Telling people brings an obligation to keep them informed at some level and that was something that I couldn’t promise. As fast as things changed, I couldn’t keep explaining things that I was learning every day, handle all that I needed and remain in one piece. I hoped they would understand.
I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. I was seeking for them to be as understanding as they could for the sake of my family.
How do you prepare to deliver very tough news?