Going to Jail, But Did NOT Expect This!

My jail sentence continued. I felt tears streaming down my cheeks as I looked back at my family.  They were beautiful!  They were all sitting together in their nice clothes.   Little CJ was on Chad’s lap and I knew what was about to happen.

My fear was gone and I ached for my family.  The judge came in and it seemed silly to me.  I guess just the back and forth with all of the legal jargon that went on.  I felt kind of bad for my lawyer too.  Julie had worked so hard on my sentencing.  She went with me to my presentence interview with the pre-trial officer.  I really liked him by the way.  His name was Glen Manross and I can only imagine all he has seen over the years.  He treated me with kindness and respect.  The report was fair and I don’t think anyone anticipated the judge would give me the max jail sentence.

There were a lot of mitigating factors.   First of all, I wasn’t licensed and only posses a GED after dropping out of high school when I was young so I am relatively uneducated.  Second,  Julie pointed out the lack of criminal intent.  I was in the middle of a lot of deals and literally had millions of dollars pass through my hands yet I didn’t keep any of it.  The money all went to making payments and when the market crashed I paid off everything I could until my former lawyer told me to just quit and walk away.

Julie brought up my mental health and that I had been subject to horrifying conditions in jail and had been in counseling to cope with that.  She also told the judge that I had an addiction to prescription drugs and that I had sought help.

Several people from the LDS addiction recovery group that I attended were in the courtroom to show support but also wanted to plead with the judge to show mercy and allow me to continue in the program.

I had helped a lot of people in the program and had been asked to be a facilitator again.   Julie was frustrated as was every lawyer that got involved,  It was so obvious that the government had singled me out and let every licensed banker walk.

One banker named Dusty Dastrup had done all of our loans and many more like them and was even responsible for creating the model that was used to close these deals.  Where was he?   I don’t think Dusty Dastrup thought he was breaking the law but if I was guilty surely he was too.

Where were the higher ups from WAMU that approved these loans knowing they were high-value homes and were paid by Dusty under the table?

I have had to let go of these injustices and my sentencing is a miracle in that regard.   I sat there in that cold room and listened as the judge explained why he was going to send me away for 7 years.

First, he said,

“Mrs. Louder,  I could understand if you would have been out robbing Walgreen’s for pills.  If you would have been desperate it would be different.   You and your family had a good life.  You lived in one of the best neighborhoods in the state.  I can only assume that greed caused you to get involved in real estate.”  

Then he said,

“I have no doubt you won’t get involved in this kind of conduct again,  I’m sure you have learned your lesson and are rehabilitated.” 

He had decided that I needed to be made an example of.

“I am doing this to deter others.” were his exact words.

Some of his comments were frightening considering my husband had not pleaded guilty yet.

He said,

“It is so sad that these children are going to have to live without their parents.” 

insinuating that we were both guilty and going to jail.

The courtroom was full of potential witnesses and Chad was scheduled to stand trial in 2 weeks.  Wasn’t he innocent until proven guilty?  In the end, the judge had made up his mind before he ever walked into the courtroom and the rest of it just seemed like a dance to me.

My lawyer finally realized it was useless and sat down.  One thing I appreciate about Julie was that she treated me with respect and helped me maintain my dignity through a very difficult process designed to be quite degrading.

She asked the judge if one of my friends from the 12 step group could talk on my behalf.  The courtroom was full of people who wanted to help and my friend Todd had prepared something to say.  What happened next I will always be grateful for.

Todd stood up even though he was quite nervous and told the judge that he was a simple man who didn’t really understand the ways of the world.  He said,

“Your honor, I am a drug addict and I have made many mistakes in my life.  I have been sober for 2 years now and have been able to attend many meetings with Portia. Please allow her to serve a sentence from home so she can continue to help people.  She has been a great strength to me in my recovery and many others.” 

Then he looked up at the judge and he knew it wasn’t going to help.  I think Todd had prepared a very nice speech but he knew then as I did that the judge had made up his mind so he said thank you and set down.

I consider it an honor that such a humble good man was there on my behalf.  The spirit in the courtroom changed when Todd stood up.   My son Jace later told me,

“Mom it hurt my heart when such a humble man stood in that cold courtroom and opened himself up.  I thought don’t cast your pearls before swine.”

My family was hurting so much!  I looked back and sweet Sadie was sobbing.  The judge asked if I wanted to say something.  Everyone in the courtroom knew it wouldn’t matter to him what I said.  I was so nervous but did not want to miss the opportunity to tell my family how sorry I was and how much I loved them.

I stood and through tears told the judge that I knew I had made mistakes and that he was right that we had a good life before I got involved in real estate.  I had no excuse.

I told my family how sorry I was for what I had put them through for so many years.  I told them how much I loved them and how grateful I was for them.  I told the judge that I had been in extensive counseling and was doing really well.

I had started an eBay business and would be able to pay at least a thousand a month towards restitution if he would let me work and serve either in a halfway house or home confinement.   I said,

“I have made so many mistakes and probably deserve to go to prison.  Please have mercy on my family your honor.”  

Then I sat down.

The judge asked if there were any victims in the courtroom.   No,  the courtroom was silent.  To see the banks as victims is ironic to most people.

The banks were setting the price on most of these deals.  I felt a calm come over me,  a new kind of strength I hadn’t felt before.  I had accepted my fate and only wanted to comfort Chad and the kids.  I knew we would be okay.  I looked back at my family and realized that I had everything!

I looked around the courtroom and thought,

“Look at all these good people.  I am a blessed woman to have such good humble people in my life.”

The judge passed his judgment

There was no mercy to be had.   Seven years!   My family sobbed.  Then the judge did something that is completely unorthodox and we were completely unprepared for it.

He said,

“Now for your custody status,  I want the US Marshals to take you into custody right now.” 

Can you imagine my children having to say goodbye to me while the marshals were putting handcuffs on me and having that be their last memory of me?  I still shudder at the thought!

The whole courtroom was shocked.  Anyone in my position that is neither a flight risk or a danger to society would be allowed at least 8 weeks sometimes several months to say goodbye and get their affairs in order.  He had just taken our situation to a whole new level.  My lawyer jumped up and even the prosecution said we aren’t asking for that.

I said,

“Your honor could you help me understand your reasoning here?” 

He said,

“Sure Mrs. Louder I don’t think you are prepared for a sentence this severe and understand the magnitude of it and I fear you could take your own life.” 

How could he think that I don’t value myself or my family?  He obviously didn’t understand the eternal nature of my hope.   I was a little upset now.

I said,

“Your honor I have never been suicidal in my life despite the fact that I was put naked in a cell for 10 days.  In fact, I have gone through intensive counseling to help me make peace with the abuse I suffered and am lucky that I am still standing. Your honor, I need this time to help my children prepare to live without me.  please don’t take this away from me.” 

What I said didn’t faze him.

I will always be grateful for what happened next.  Chad stood up and tried to compose himself.  He was so broken-hearted,   He cried for several minutes.  He handed our youngest daughter to our oldest daughter and stood at the podium,  through tears Chad pleaded with the judge on my behalf.

I have never felt so loved and such a tender moment in my life.

My perfect husband that represents everything good in the world to me was my advocate.  How I love him!    Such a tender moment for our family!   As I looked at Chad I felt like a queen.

The spirit was so strong and our family was bonded together in love.   I had everything!   They couldn’t hurt me anymore.  The judge just stood there,  it was too powerful to deny.

He said,

“You have 8 weeks to report to Dublin California.”

To be continued…