Like many of you reading this piece, I always resist and complain when called to report to my seemingly all too often jury duty service. Of course, I take my civic duty seriously and, yet, as a small business owner, I shudder at the prospect of losing both valuable time and income when my business is left unattended. You can imagine, then, how high my blood pressure rose reading the summons preparing me that this case might result in a two week trial.
My case: a classic Ponzi scheme in which $10 million was bilked from investors, young and old, over the course of approximately three years. So after days of hearing victims’ testimonies and reviewing copious charts and spreadsheets prepared by the FBI and the prosecution, we jurors were sent to deliberate and render a verdict. Now, several days later and upon reflection, I’m left with jumbled emotions to sort through regarding the collateral damage. I feel angry at the audacious behavior of the defendant, thinking he could pull off such a scheme, equally angry at the victims’ naiveté and seeming blind trust they bestowed on him. I feel disheartened that the defendant so blatantly violated that sacred trust as well as incredulous that the investors chose to ignore red flags while they sought larger than normal returns. And I feel pity for the defendant’s 2-year-old son who will grow up without the presence of a father as well as for the 84-year- old investor who “invested” $1.3 million from his home equity and, when the music finally stopped, was left chairless.
I’d like to believe I am too smart and savvy to fall for such a scheme, that I would investigate and undertake the appropriate due diligence. But falling victim to people who befriend us and engage with us under false pretenses violates our fundamental value system; I doubt I would be any smarter when it comes to these types of matters of the heart. Loss of money is tough. Loss of trust in humanity, that’s even tougher to recover from.
Yes, we, the jury, found the defendant guilty on all charges.