What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Wisconsin
To all who reply your opinions/advice is greatly appreciated. I am also sorry for such a length post. So I will try to keep it as short as possible. The question being posed; do I have any legal recourse? Abuse of Power – Prosecutorial Misconduct?
In 2004 my oldest daughter was in her last year of college heading to medical school. During this time as many parents understand I was paying bills on her behalf i.e. credit cards, cell phone, tuition, etc. I do not want to use the actual name of the company, say X Co. She had a credit card with X Co. I did not realize but for a time there was included in the bill from X Co. charges for a personal loan which ended up being secured by an automobile. This was early 2004 – late in 2004 my daughter was searching loans for medical school and found an Auto Loan for X Co. She did not buy a car – she was in school in Boston and did not need a car. After months of phone calls from both us of back and forth with Co. X we learned the next step was to file a police report. Which we did. The debt was removed and we did not hear of it again. In 2007 a detective came to my office and asked me some questions about it. I was surprised after over 2 years but did not think much else. I told her the details above. She began our meeting very cordial and when I was done 1 – 2 minutes going over the details she turned quite aggressive and accused me. I was shocked and said I would contact a lawyer and had nothing further to say and asked her leave my office.
I heard nothing until November 2009 when I got a letter in the mail with a court date to answer to charges of:
943.82(1) Fraud Against Financial Institution (Value Exceeds $500 but does not Exceed $10,000) Felony H
943.201(2)(a) Misappropriate ID Info - Obtain Money Felony H
943.38(2) Forgery-Uttering Felony H
946.41(1) Resisting or Obstructing an Officer Misd. A
This began to consume my life. Let me explain – I have never been in court before with the exception of my divorce. My lawyer said he would normally not suggest such a thing but if I paid the debt chances were pretty good it would go away – so I did but the Det. And DA would NOT let it go. I made the heart wrenching decision it would be best to sell the business I had founded and built since 1997. An online music store. The business required my time 7 days a week from 9 am to 9 pm and all of a sudden my life was turned upside down. So by early 2010 I had hired a broker and sold my business. I financed the new owner with a 4 year note with balloon and paid the broker $40,000 (10% commissions) in late May I went away for one week; the new owner was to make his first payment to me in June. The day after I returned home I was when my real nightmare began.
The same detective from 2007 was at my door with 4 armed officers. The 5 came into my home and told me they had a search warrant for my home and planned to seize:
Any and all documents, files, computers, equipment, records, tapes used for the operation of an online business.
Now as you read I sold an online music store, I had begun doing web design after the sale. Both my old and new business was run 100% online by computers, from my home. Every computer was taken, file cabinets, cameras, mail, books, journals… gone… still gone 8 months later. I was told I was not allowed to call my lawyer and was told to sit and not move. My oldest daughter (I learned after the fact) was held in her room by two armed officers for 4 hours while 3 officers tore apart the entire 5 bedroom house, not even the kitchen was left intact. The detective told me the bank I used had filed a complaint. I said nothing. Once they left I called my lawyer. During the next few days the following occurred:
1. The new owner of my business filed a civil Tort suit claiming fraud and included the bank this Detective claimed filed the complaint against me.
2. The broker who held $5,000 in escrow due to me also in June held for any unforeseen debts I had not paid returned the funds to the new owner. He said he did this because the same above Det. Called and told him I had committed fraud and was headed for prison and if he did not gave the $5,000 back he could be facing charges himself.
3. Three clients I was doing website work for but had their files removed by Det. Called and said they needed to go elsewhere and were concerned.
4. The IRS and Dept of Revenue received frauds reports against me.
5. This detective called one of my other daughters and told her I accused her of doing this!!!???? AND called my ex-husband and said the same thing.
So now we come to the news as of Friday. I was to be in jury trial Monday for the charges above from 2009. Over the past year we have not only found the car lot and original loan docs we have a hand writing expert to show – it was my ex-husband, he still owns the car lot. Right down to the VIN number that lead to the owner who bought it from him. The detective only spoke to him last week January 2011 and only told him I blamed him and they were working on fraud charges now against me for the sake of my business. No questions – nothing – to this day. The DA has tried several time to reach a plea agreement of “No Contest and 1 Year Deferred Prosecution” Of course the answer has been NO – so Jury Trial on Monday. Nope – Friday night all charges Dismissed with Prejudice. Statute of Limitations ends in less than 60 days.
Now here is where it gets really weird and I take a LOT of blame. The new owner – I trusted the broker and did very minimal background investigation other than to confirm what the broker told me. I was told he had been the VP for a corporation for over a decade he was an MBA and he and his wife wanted a business they could run together from home. Seemed perfect. Everything I was told checked out. They live in a beautiful $2+ million home, gated community. Now we know he has run 8 corporations into the ground with his wife including one he bought in 2006, it had been founded in 1968 and after 9 months in his hands was bust.
We think this detective called him too. We have no proof and are current litigation with the new owner. He did include the bank by the way. His complaint is they “approved” my bank records but he feels this was also fraud. I should add he is in a current “Slip and Fall” lawsuit besides mine. So the DA has agreed the investigation over this alleged fraud that was behind the Search and Seize warrant will be closed and my property returned this coming week.
Now here I am – for the last 8 months no computers meant no income at my profession. My name is mud and even when the computers are returned it will be hard to get work here ever again. Small community… My online business is gone and OH my I almost forgot the DAY my computers were taken my Gmail email has become inaccessible – still open buy username and password do not work and the recovery information is no longer mine! I have spent $60,000 in legal fees and they are still mounting – my trial for the civil suit is in October.
Do I have any legal recourse against this detective and the new owner in addition to the counter claim against the new owner – who has blocked all my access to my site in violation of agreement and not made ONE payment?