I am a former White Collar Wife writing about my experience of recovery.

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     I began blogging on the subject of white collar wives after experiencing the devastating consequences of my, (former), husband's financial crime.  My goal was to reach other women who are suffering or have suffered as I did so that they wouldn't have to walk this dark and uncertain path alone. The blog also serves to educate the public regarding the stigma wives and families face as a result of guilt by association.  The truth is that wives and children are the FIRST victims of many white collar crimes as a result of the acute breach of trust and ensuing financial ruin that is brought upon them by a man whose primary obligation is to protect his family.  As a result of the positive response to my blog essays I created a private on-line support group, The Secret Lives of White Collar Wives.  The purpose of the group is to provide a safe and private place of acceptance and empowerment. Our community continues to grow both nationally as well as internationally.  Please contact me at lawlerlisa1@gmail.com for a private screening into the group. (A request made directly to the group page will not be accepted). 

     In addition to my advocacy work on behalf of white collar wives and families I have developed a lecture on ethics in the workplace. I urge all who are serious about compliance and risk to contact me for a compelling hour of "Truth or Consequences: Easy Money Isn't Easy" from a new voice with a new perspective on enforcement. Humans are vulnerable to many temptations and too often fail to consider the dire consequences one bad decision can have on their and their families lives. 


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

White Collar Wives and Their Criminal Husbands

What do you get when you cross a devoted wife with a white collar criminal husband? Stay tuned. Summer break is nearly at an end....

Thursday, May 26, 2016

"The Personal is the Political"

      When mechanisms begin to stop functioning properly they either make a noise that begs attention or they simply shut down and stop working.  It's been proven time and again that the squeaky wheel is usually first in line to get the fix.  Social activism is the squeak that makes the noise that promotes public awareness with the goal of getting the legislative grease it needs. At nearly sixty years old I've witnessed social activism at it's best during the 1960's and '70's with the civil rights movement, protests against the war in Vietnam as well as the women's liberation movement.  These squeaks turned into groundswells and were heard loud and clear across the land. The personal is indeed the political but one must participate to affect change. Heather Booth was a bold, vital and fearless participant in the women's movement and continues to play an important role in social activism. Her quote, "If it's happening to other people it's not a personal problem, it's a social problem,"  inspired this blog piece. 

     Thousands of white collar wives and children around the world are experiencing the confiscation of their homes and belongings and being cruelly stigmatized and humiliated through no fault of their own and with little to no recourse. They are shamed into the dark shadows of their lives where they willingly remain, quivering and paralyzed with the fear of what is to become of them and their children.  Innocent spouses and children are not only experiencing a personal problem but they are in fact also experiencing a social problem because it's happening to so many women around the world on an ongoing basis. Innocent women and their children are being cast out of their homes and out of their lives and left penniless because of the criminal deeds of their husbands.  This should be making headlines but because it is happening to women who formerly led comfortable and some even very comfortable lives in first world countries, it is of no consequence to the general public. In fact the public often takes pleasure from this unique fall from grace unaware or uncaring of the fact that the majority of white collar wives are innocent of any wrongdoing. The only guilt they own is by association. 

     Although white collar criminals come from all socioeconomic backgrounds the mere mention of a white collar criminal congers up visions of bankers, stockbrokers and the like. But the truth is that white collar crime knows no professional or economic boundary. None the less, white collar wives are mostly seen as entitled, spoiled and undeserving of pity and in most cases are not considered victims at all. There is a misconception that all wives are somehow in on the scheme and therefore are deserving of being left with little if anything to survive on. Most wives know nothing of their husband's schemes and those that do have an inkling are powerless to intervene because men who perpetrate these kinds of crimes on an ongoing basis share a clinical personality disorder that is nearly impossible to penetrate with reason and almost always, incurable.   

     Women are losing access to their joint marital assets in legal firestorms which can and too often do end in complete forfeit/seizure.  They are not afforded the courtesy of separating their fair share of marital assets but are instead losing the entirety of their personal assets to fines and victim restitution. These women and children have done nothing wrong but are being punished in the extreme.  Where is their day in court to prove their innocence?  A white collar wife can seldom afford to hire legal counsel to protect her marital assets because of lack of funds, a frozen bank account or because any and all available funds are going toward her husband's legal representation. Essentially, marriage makes a white collar wife a party to her husband's crimes but she has no recourse to protect herself against his actions. Instead of allocating an innocent spouse her portion of her marital assets, most women and children are forced onto welfare because long time stay at home mothers or under-trained older housewives who are suddenly forced into head of household provider status cannot easily find jobs and cannot afford training. Most white collar wives suffer from PTSD and are unable to function effectively. They don't have the medical insurance to help them cope with their trauma. They must do the best they can with what little they have.  White collar wives are at the mercy of the courts to NOT leave them destitute but "the system" makes no provision for these women and children. They are treated like criminals and suffer extreme consequences.  Families are the first victims of white collar crime because of the acute betrayal of a husband and the emotional and financial ruin he has imposed upon them. They are inextricably tied to the   criminal proceedings and ensuing consequences. Where is the due process for women in this scenario? I got out of my marriage early on in my husband's investigation because common sense dictated that I protect myself and my son.  But most wives are inclined to stand by their husband's either because they don't believe things will get as bad as they do or they refuse to believe that their partner and father of their children could be "a bad guy".  These women who do not disengage become forever entangled in their husband's legal snare. I am now past the worst of it but in mentoring so many white collar wives I have come to know that although grim and life altering, my experience was less daunting than others. I am an advocate for white collar families not only because of the devastation it caused my family but because of the gross miscarriage of justice innocent women and children must endure. The damage runs deep for all of us and at times can be utterly debilitating. 

    But change will never come about for the innocent spouse with just one lone voice. White collar wives must withstand embarrassment and public scorn, real or imagined, and come forward and protest on their own behalf if any change is to come about. But where are they? Where is their squeak to gain the grease they so desperately need and deserve? Where are the voices of the victims of this most egregious trespass of rights? White collar wives are hiding in victim status, (and they are indeed victims), working hard at one or more jobs, sometimes menial jobs, to keep a roof over their and their children's heads. They are in shock, they are ashamed, they are mired in fear and anxiety. They are exhausted. They are whispered about, pointed at and humiliated and broken. But they must make some noise to bring about change. I have been victimized. I have been shamed. I have been broken. I have been consumed with fear and anxiety. Yet I speak out for those who were/are too afraid. I can bring awareness but I cannot bring change by myself. I am asking innocent spouses to fight for themselves and others as I have done so that our collective voices can be heard.  I have provided the platform but others must step up now to aid in the cause. 

   I challenge white collar wives or family members or former white collar criminals who read my blog, particularly this post or who participate in our support group or who are still hiding in the shadows to come forward from that hiding place you believe is protecting you but is in fact only hiding you in plain sight and causing you further harm and humiliation, to write a guest blog about your own experience. I cannot continue to advocate on your behalf as just one voice will never affect change. Your silence is not a squeak but rather a roar and tells us just how personal your own experience is. Your collective silence can never be heard and your hiding will only guarantee that others will walk your same path. There will be no change until there is unification and activation.   It's time to make your personal very political. Make your struggle count for something. Stand up and fight for yours and your sister's rights for justice. The only purpose your silent struggle serves is to protect you from the shame of your husband's deeds. The reality is that you are hiding from nobody but yourselves and are helping to create a culture of guilt by association by not promoting your innocence which requires respect and not shame. Stand up and take up your space!!  I remember the hiding from the shame and how that only harmed me further. How is your shame and fear serving you? The worst has already happened. What else is there to fear??? The fear of not knowing where your next dime is coming from or how to keep a roof over yours and your children's heads is all too real. You have lost so much. Isn't it time to gain something back? I cannot present one voice or simply one signature for change. So please squeak ladies. And squeak loudly and often to get the grease you deserve. If you don't ask for the grease you will not get any and simply shut down and stop spinning. It's your choice really. I began this blog three years ago by saying, "I know you're out there." Many have come forward to seek help and I am glad to offer a safe haven in our group. So come out, come out wherever you are and take a stand now with your sisters or forever hold your peace as I will mine.  Unless others are willing to come forward to tell their stories and help change the status quo for white collar wives my lone voice will go silent on this issue.  My voice has squeaked about all it can and what we need now is a chorus. 

   For the past three years my squeaks have reached a wide audience and I hope I have been able to open minds and hearts to the plight of the white collar wife. Many women have found their way to my, (now international), support group because of my writings and I am glad for that and so I consider my time here well spent. I hope others will continue to find this crack in the pavement over time so that they can squeeze through the door of enlightenment and community and get the help and support they so desperately need. 

     To whomever is reading this I hope you will make your personal political. Get involved with a cause that is close to your heart and try to promote justice wherever you can. Do your best always to make this world a better place. To do anything less is a failure of citizenship. 



Wednesday, April 27, 2016


This is a re-post of one of my most widely read blogs. This essay brings to light the utter devastation white collar criminals bring to their families:

This is the third and final essay in a three part series written by women from the group The Secret Lives of White Collar Wives who have described their own heart wrenching experience about the events leading up to their husband's incarceration.  There is no typical path to jail/prison for white collar criminals.  Each case comes with it it's own set of circumstances and law enforcement procedures. State vs. Federal, etc. The following is my own account of the days leading up to my ex-husband's incarceration. (My ex-husband is known in this piece as Tom).

The Sins of The Father by Lisa Lawler

     My husband Tom retained counsel when he learned he was being investigated for embezzlement and his attorney at the time told him he had a "better than good"chance of being summoned to court rather than arrested because he had been cooperating. This was because he had offered to surrender himself on more than one occasion and had given his change of addresses in a timely manner over the course of two years. I was newly separated from my husband at the time because what had begun as an epic mid-life crisis, (with all of the predictable accouterments),   had turned into a full on meltdown and Tom wasn't interested in help from me or anyone else for that matter.  In fact, he was under the delusion that he had his life well in hand but the sad truth was that he was dangling dangerously over a cliff that was beckoning him to jump and was woefully oblivious to the fact that if he fell his family would fall with him. The news of Tom's criminal investigation was the final blow to our marriage. I filed for divorce but remained actively supportive for the sake of my son.  Needless to say this turn of events was a rude awakening for a man who had thought he was on top of his "game".  When weeks of waiting for the grand jury to bring indictments turned into months we began to live our lives in an excruciating state of limbo. When would the blade fall and how deep would it cut? How the hell would we survive this nightmare?  Many white collar families agree that the waiting is the hardest part. That is until the next hardest part comes along.

     A year later there was still no word from the grand jury and the terrible waiting continued. With our divorce final we had sold our home and moved to another state where Tom and I both had family nearby. We sat our son down before the move and revealed to him his father's legal issues and possible outcome. He was of course shocked by this news. He had always looked upon his father as a man who was better than most and in fact larger than life. To see his father in this new light broke a part of his young heart and soul that can never be healed.  Once in our new town in our rented homes we were all trying to adapt to the fact that we were no longer the strong, happy family we had once been, our lives and surroundings now beyond recognition. We had become the walking dead going through the motions of living but not really alive.  Since our separation our son spent one weeknight and every other weekend at this dad's place and after our move we continued this schedule.  Tom and I attended our son's sports practices and games together and even went to dinner as a "family" once a week as a reassurance to our son, (and to ourselves), that all was not lost and that we were all still a "team", still connected.We made a gallant attempt to live life as normally as possible under acutely abnormal circumstances.
     We were living off the proceeds from the sale of our house during the pendency of the AG's investigation so money was tight. I had been job hunting for nearly a year but there were few jobs available for a "professional stay at home wife and mother." In hindsight I should have taken ANY job because if I'd had a crystal ball I'd know that the market was about to crash and there would soon be even fewer jobs. Tom was too paralyzed to look for work so he spent his days trying to keep busy with projects.  Another five months passed and another school year had begun for my son and still no word from anyone regarding the case.  We were all well beyond our breaking points as the stress, fear and anxiety were nearly unbearable.  Later that year, as it had been so long since we had heard anything about Tom's case we began to entertain the idea that maybe the AG had decided not to pursue charges.  Delusion is sometimes a great coping mechanism. We continued to live our lives the best way we could under the circumstances.

     Late one evening a few weeks before Thanksgiving my son came into my bedroom covered in red, itchy hives. He was miserable.  I asked him if he'd eaten anything out of the ordinary or been in the woods as he was highly allergic to poison ivy. He said he had not.  I thought it odd because he was fine before going to bed a couple of hours earlier. I gave him an anti-histamine and swabbed anti-itch cream all over his back and then handed him the remote control on my nightstand.   T.V. wasn't permitted after nine p.m.on a school night but I felt badly because his hives were inflamed and painful.   It didn't take long for the Benadrly to kick in so he said good night and returned to his room. He reappeared in my doorway twenty minutes later with his pillow,  "Mom can I sleep in here with you tonight?"  I pulled the covers back and he crawled in.  This was unusual for him but he fell asleep quickly.  I could tell that something was up and it wasn't just the hives.  I read my book for a while longer and then snapped off the light.  A few hours later I awoke in full on panic mode.  No nightmare prompted my awakening and I was so unnerved that I knew going back to sleep wasn't an option.  I got up and made myself a cup of decaff  tea and checked the locks on the door as I waited for the kettle to heat.  I sat on the sofa in the dark sipping the soothing hot liquid trying to figure out what the hell was going on. I thought about my son's hives,  his unease and my rude awakening and couldn't shake the feeling that somehow they were all connected.  I had to stop my racing mind so I turned on the television.  It's amazing how comforting Dan and Rosanne are in the wee hours and it made me sad but hopeful to see a reminder of how a regular, loving family operates.

     The next morning I was awakened by my son standing over me smiling from ear to ear as he lifted his shirt, "Mom my hives are gone!"  I was happy for him and relieved that it was just a fluke. Then he asked, "Mom why did you sleep on the sofa?"  It took me a moment to remember.  I could tell by the light outside that my son was late for school and realized in my haste to deal with the rash I had forgotten to set my alarm clock. We were out the door in twenty minutes.  Later that day after a thankfully uneventful stream of errands I arrived home to a ringing phone. Racing to answer it I tripped over our Yellow Lab, Max and dropped one of the bags of groceries I was carrying. I experienced the crashing of the glass marinara jar before it even hit the ground. An assortment of fruit rolled onto the floor and into the sauce that was now splattered everywhere.  I swore under my breath and told myself to slow down.  Yup, things were back to normal.  The home phone rarely rang.  I maintained a land line only because it was necessary with a child in school so I expected that the call was coming from the nurse to tell me my son's hives had returned, (or worse),  and that I needed to come pick him up.  I reached for the receiver and quickly glanced at the caller ID out of habit.  I was caught completely off guard when instead of seeing the school ID I saw Hays County Jail.  I quickly retracted my hand as if it had just been burned on a hot stove.  Taking that call meant life would be forever changed because the thing we never wanted to happen but had tried so hard to prepare for was about to be real   Tears filled my eyes as I reluctantly picked up the receiver.  "Hey. It's me.  I wanted to let you know that it's finally over. They picked me up about an hour ago at my house." I braced myself against the kitchen counter, bit my lip and tried to speak. "Did...how...um, are you okay?"  Tom sounded too upbeat and I realized he was doing it for me.  I quickly collected myself and returned the kind gesture.   "So,  do they have you in an orange jumpsuit yet?"  He laughed. And then we were silent. There was so much to say. So many emotions of care and concern but at the same time,  so much bad blood between us.  "You need to call my attorney and tell him to get in touch with me."   We were both relieved to get to the business at hand rather than struggle through emotions we weren't prepared to deal with.  The elation of having the horrific waiting finally be over was tempered by the crushing reality that the man I had known and loved since we were in our teens and the father of my child was going to be behind bars for an undetermined length of time in a place where nightmares can come true.  I tried to be strong for him. To reassure him that we would be okay for however long he would be gone. I told him about our son's bizarre rash and my panicked awakening from the night before and we both agreed that our connection was still so strong that they were likely a foreboding of his arrest. 

     Since Tom would be extradited back to another state he wasn't eligible for bail. We had long since discussed whether or not to have our son see his father in jail and had decided to have a wait and see approach. If he were going to have a very short sentence then we agreed that we wouldn't have our son visit him unless he really needed/wanted to but if it were to be a very long sentence then of course arrangements would be made.  "I'm not sure how long I'll be here before they fly me back."  Then silence. I knew what he was going to say next and it took everything I had not to release the pain festering in my soul from exiting my mouth.  "Do you think you guys will be able to come see me before I go?" The million dollar question that my son and I had pondered for two years in our sparse conversations about this subject had finally been asked.  I took a deep breath so that my answer would come out in words and not sobs.  "I thought we agreed that we didn't want Hunter to see you in jail." The truth was that I not only didn't want my son to see his father in jail, (a tormenting memory that would haunt him his entire life), but I couldn't bear to see him there either. "Tom this is so hard and I'm so sorry but I don't think we can come." It was difficult to get the words out. There was a brief pause and then he said, "No. I understand. It's okay. I know how hard this is for you guys." I could hear the disappointment and fear in his voice and it crushed me. I wanted to get into my car and drive to the jail to support him, tell him how much I loved him, be there for him. Say goodbye. But I couldn't afford to go back to that dark place in my soul where I could barely function.  I had worked too hard to come to terms with all that had transpired up to that point.  My husband's hateful treatment of me during his epic mid-life crisis which resulted in a "nightmarish affair", (his words), that led to his embezzling millions to begin a new life with his mistress and the grueling process of the investigation, our divorce, and the list goes on. No. I had to stay on the path of strength to protect myself and my son against any further damage. And I had to stay strong so that I could face what was yet to come.  "Tom let me get off the phone so I can call your attorney.  Get in touch with us when you can. I know Hunter will want to talk to you. And hey, we really will be okay. "  At that moment an awkward pause was inserted where  "I love you" should have been but we were both painfully aware that after thirty years it was something we no longer said to one another. 

     It's true that we reap what we sow. Four days later Tom was put in hand cuffs and leg shackles by two Massachusetts State Troopers and escorted onto a commercial jet like a murderer who had been hunted down and finally caught. This was done needlessly and at taxpayer's expense and served no other purpose than to traumatize  a young boy further.  So much for cooperating with the AG. It was an election year and Martha Coakley had to prove to the Commonwealth that she was tough on white collar crime.  Tom fired his attorney a week later. Although eligible for bail and wanting desperately to leave the jail, I persuaded Tom to accrue time served while waiting for his trial/plea date.  What else did he have to do? It turned out to be another year of waiting and wondering before his case finally got to the sentencing phase.  We were three years in by then and far, far from where we began in our bubble of happiness in the solid and secure life we had worked hard to build.  Home was a distant memory by then and a place none of us would ever truly find again.

      White collar crime serves no purpose other than to destroy EVERYTHING it comes in contact with. It destroys lives. It destroys families. It is utterly ruinous. And the fallout is without end...

(This is a modified version of a chapter from my book, House on Fire: A Cautionary Tale which is still in the works. )

Sunday, March 27, 2016


     Spring brings with it the promise of the end of the dark, cold days of winter and the assurance for brighter and warmer days ahead.  Many white collar wives and families live far too long in the relentless grips of a never ending harsh winter that brings with it insurmountable struggles and suffering.  This  climate makes it difficult and at times, seemingly futile to continue to try to keep up with the harsh elements that require all of our energy and threatens to blow our houses down.  But Spring is here and brings with it the warmth of the sun and rains that will wash away all signs of the muddied,  cold ice and grit in the aftermath of a long winter season.  We can bask in the warmth of the sun that will provide sustenance for new growth and even the possibility of a garden. The longer, warmer days ahead will allow us time to recharge, rebirth and recommit to growing into the light. We can learn from the young roots that are pressing through the hard ground now after surviving a seemingly unsurvivable environment that no matter how long, how cold or how devastating a winter they had to endure they will indeed announce their arrival and take up their rightful space and share their strength and beauty with us. They will absorb and store all of the life sustaining nutrients they need in the months to come so that when they fall and fade and disappear back into the harshness of winter they can come back to us in their full essence once again next Spring. 

    I wish you all a Springtime of taking in all the beauty and promise of rebirth that this season affords. Winter will certainly come again so take in all of the light, warmth and color you can to recharge for the darker days ahead. So go ahead, get out in it, take up your space and bloom!!

Happy Spring!!!!


Monday, March 21, 2016


     In my previous essay regarding divorce and white collar wives I talked about the emotional and moral aspect of divorcing your white collar criminal husband.  In this essay I will talk about the devastating financial fallout of white collar crime and how divorce can help to remedy this aspect of "the bomb". As a white-collar-wife mentor I get asked this question a lot: "Should I get a divorce?" My answer to that question is a resounding, "Yes!".   To be clear, under normal circumstances I am not an advocate for divorce unless and until all other remedies have been tried and failed. But the fallout from a white collar crime brings with it a wrecking ball that can and does bring down even the strongest of homes.Would you and your children stand in the middle of your home while it was being demolished? Of course not.

     So let's get to it. At any time during the course of the investigation of your husband's "alleged" financial crime(s), your assets are at risk. By assets, I mean, ANY AND ALL assets. Your home, your automobiles, your checking account, your savings account, your furniture, the bracelet you inherited from your grandmother, etc. You get the picture? If your husband is or has been the target of a grand jury, (and he may or many not have any idea that this is taking place), and that grand jury decides there is enough evidence to take to a judge for an indictment(s), then you are at great risk for having your assets frozen before your husband ever steps into a courtroom to determine his guilt or innocence. Asset forfeiture/seizure is a common practice in white collar criminal actions as the funds derived from the sale of these assets go toward restitution to the victims who were "robbed" of their own assets as a result of your husband's crime.  This is as it should be.  But because you are married to a possibly guilty party to a financial crime means that just as your husband will have a debt to pay, so will you. Joint marital assets are in fact, "for better or for worse".

     The law and enforcement of innocent spouse laws are all over the place regarding criminal/civil and federal restitution.  In many cases wives of white collar criminals have had to hire expensive attorneys to protect their assets when the innocent spouse laws in their state, (if there are any),  should have been enforced properly to begin with.  Sadly, the only way to protect your portion of your marital assets is to divide your property through a divorce action the moment you learn of an investigation. This sounds like a hasty, harsh and extreme measure but as the FIRST victim of your husband's crime you and your children are entitled to YOUR half of YOUR assets.  There have been many instances where husband's and wives have panicked and made the rookie mistake of simply putting all assets into the names of family members thinking this action will protect their assets against seizure. DO NOT MAKE THIS SAME MISTAKE!!! Hiding assets, (especially in plain sight), will only make matters worse because it is ILLEGAL!!  The ONLY remedy to this most unfortunate event is through divorce proceedings and division of assets at the ONSET of a criminal investigation. There are prosecutors as well as judges who will see this move as a ploy to hide assets if you wait too long into the process of the investigation or god forbid, after arrest. Some will say ending a marriage in this manner is too extreme a measure. But the law of physics clearly states that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The act of committing a white collar crime is akin to a 7,2 earthquake that is followed by smaller but equally devastating aftershocks.

     Filing for divorce is not a ploy to hide assets. THIS IS AN OPTION THAT YOU ARE EXERCISING to protect yourself and your children against the crime that was committed against you. A husband who places his family in harms way has defaulted on his marital obligation on an epic scale and any judge who has a problem with this thinking can take it up with me. I am not an attorney. What I am is an advocate for justice for innocent spouses and children whose rights are too often negated when it comes to asset forfeiture and seizure as a result of a spouse's white collar crime. Opting out of a marriage and taking your portion of your assets with you is not hiding assets. However, opting out of a marriage, taking your assets with you and then continuing on as a married couple is akin to giving the finger to the Feds and I can't get behind that action. The decision to divorce is never an easy one but remaining married to someone who held such little regard for his own family, (white collar criminals often rationalize that they are stealing money FOR the betterment of their family's lifestyle), is undeserving of your commitment to him. There is no nobility or good intentions in committing a financial crime for one's family or for any other reason for that matter.

     Innocent spouses can and must protect themselves against the fallout of their spouses white collar crimes. To not perform proactively and instead "wait and see" is a calculated risk that can have devastating and long lasting harmful and irreversible consequences for you and your children. Is this an extreme measure? Yes, of course. But your husband's actions were also extreme and warrant an equally extreme remedy.


Thursday, March 3, 2016


     The White Collar Wives Survival Guide is now one step closer to publication. It's been a long time coming but the book is now complete. After I figure out how to format it onto my soon to be launched website, The White Collar Wives Project,  it will be available to any and all looking for help as they enter into the nightmare that is "the white collar crime machine". This guide offers both emotional and practical guidance from initial investigation to likely incarceration and beyond. The path of the white collar criminal is laid out before him with a format that has long since been established. However there is only an enormous black hole of uncertainty for wives and families who must endure the emotional as well as legal fallout with nothing but fear and panic to guide them. I hope my effort will help in some way toward providing sustenance to those that seek it on their long journey into the abyss of this life altering event.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"The CNBC Guy"

Taking it To The Street

     Late last Fall a colleague of mine was asked by an associate of his, a producer at CNBC, “What’s new in the world of white collar crime?” CNBC produces the program “American Greed” whose focus is primarily on white collar crimes and the men who commit them. My colleague is a former white collar criminal and fairly well known consultant/lecturer writer, (and Moth contributor), on the subject of white collar crime who supports my advocacy work, and I his. He told the CNBC guy that he thought my story would make for an interesting segment and answered the producer's question with, “White collar wives.” The producer replied, “What the hell is a white collar wife?”  After sharing with him about my advocacy work, the international support group I founded and facilitate for white collar wives, my blog and the book(s) I am writing the producer said he was interested in contacting me and took my number. My colleague called me excitedly to tell me about the conversation and to expect a call. I of course thanked him for the introduction.

     A few days went by, then a week, a month and then many more months followed without a word from "The CNBC Guy". To date, I still have not heard from Mr. CNBC and likely never will. But I've been down this road before with others who were seemingly interested but who ultimately felt that white collar wives are not an interesting enough topic on their own merit or that they think they already know everything there is to know about a white collar wife. Given this wide view I'm going to provide an education here not only to The CNBC Guy but to all concerned with the business of white collar crime because I think it's worth having this education in your line of work. Hopefully after learning what you need to know on this topic every time you consider white collar crime you might think twice and remember that there is more to the story.  White collar crime is not just about money and the perps who go off to prison. That's only half the story because there are families whose lives are profoundly affected and forever altered. Did you know that? Well, did you?   
     So Mr. CNBC, here's what wasn't interesting enough for you to pick up your phone to learn about white collar wives, even on a slow news day. 

     Did you know that wives and children of white collar criminals become impoverished in every way possible, (emotionally, financially, socially, etc.),  through no fault of their own?  Did you know that after laying the horrific burden of their crimes at the feet of their families that most white collar criminals then threaten or attempt suicide because they know they have obliterated any security or stability their families had or would ever have?  Did you know that the pain wives experience as a result of these, (sometimes constant), threats and or attempts  add to the fear, anger and shame she is already coping with? Did you know the trauma inflicted in realizing the man who was supposed to protect his family but instead sold them off to the highest bidder for a bloody buck and is now too cowardly to deal with the consequences makes a white collar wife want to take her own life too but she cannot afford to entertain that impulse because she loves her children and has an obligation to care for them?  Did you know that wives carry the pain of those that have been harmed financially by her husband? Did you know that many wives are forced to face their own legal battles as many are levied heavy fines from the IRS and DOR, (sometimes into the hundreds of thousands of dollars),  for gains they had no knowledge of and only because they dutifully file their taxes jointly with their then unknown to them, criminal husbands? How can a wife report income that went unreported to her? And how can she cope with being threatened by the full force of a government who treats her as a guilty party? Did you know that in the midst of trying to find a solution to this absurd situation she is suffering debilitating fear and anxiety? Did you know that the government can continue to threaten her with revocation of a drivers license and in some cases a cease and desist from driving ANY vehicle on ANY road in that state unless and until the debt is cleared? Did you know failure to comply is punishable by the full force of the law as in, "These violations are punishable by jail"?  Did you know that a tax entity will try to arrange a hardship payment plan and that agreeing to set up such a plan is akin to pleading guilty? Most white collar wives don't understand that what they need is a full ABATEMENT. Did you know that wives often have to go into further debt to borrow funds from family members to hire attorneys to protect themselves and their children to clean up the mess their husbands left for them? Did you know that wives and children have to stand by helplessly as their homes and everything in them are seized and hauled off to be sold to help pay the debts of the sins of the father? Did you know that ANY AND ALL property is deemed guilty regardless of whether or not the asset was owned by the wife PRIOR to or separately from her marriage? Do you have any idea that it is just this side of impossible to have such assets returned to a wife?  Do you know the heartbreak and emotional damage a child suffers watching his/her father being hauled off in handcuffs? Do you know how broken a child becomes when their father is eventually incarcerated for a crime of pure greed? Do you know the pain and helplessness a mother feels for her children under these circumstances?  Did you know that most white collar wives have to go on welfare to support themselves and their children because after attorney fees and losing head of household income there is nothing left? I don't mean nothing left as in there are no funds available for a manicure after groceries and rent are paid, I mean THERE ARE NO FUNDS LEFT. PERIOD. Did you know that it's not a crime to be a professional wife and mother, (either working class or upper class),  and when a woman loses this least respected job to return to the workplace there is in fact too often no place for her there?  Did you know that wives and children become marginalized in society as they suffer in the extreme from guilt by association causing them to hide in the dark shadows of shame which makes recovery very difficult?  Did you know a white collar criminal investigation can take years to bring to trial/plea and that during that time families are left in a state of horrific limbo while waiting for the ax to fall and that they are riddled with so much heartache, shame and anxiety that they become unable to function normally? Can you imagine the emotional assault a family must endure knowing a husband/father chose his own selfish behavior over the well being of his own family? Can you see now that wives and children are the first victims of most white collar crimes? Well, can you??

     The fact that white collar criminals are so often "spotlighted" in the news time and again is shocking to me. Their stories are all the same in that they violate a fiduciary trust, get caught and do their time. They come out of prison and begin new lives full of repent and a willingness to do better. Those whose marriages did not survive the bomb remarry in short order and go on their way. And I'm glad for that as I am a great believer in redemption. But what is known of the women who are left behind to pick up the pieces of theirs and their children's  shattered lives? It can't possibly be known because those who have the means to educate the public and help reverse the social stigma and unjust laws regarding white collar wives either don't care enough or have no idea of our struggle. Our stories of domestic sabotage, strength and survival are never heard. But they should be. And it's my job to make sure that from here on out, they are. White collar wives will no longer go quietly into that dark night.

     The fact that a seemingly savvy news producer had no interest in the plight of white collar wives leaves me no doubt that I have to continue to try to educate the public about the horrors families face as a result of their husband’s financial crimes. The public, and apparently one CNBC producer, think that white collar wives are made of plastic as a result of how often it is perceived we use our credit cards at Barney's and are therefore not deserving of any support or sympathy whatsoever. And some people believe that wives and or ex-wives of white collar criminals are somehow living off the spoils of ill gotten funds. But I know of only one white collar wife who was reportedly able to keep a whopping two million dollars from her husband's illicit financial empire and she knows who she is. But most white collar wives who are not proactive at the onset of an investigation are left without a dime to their name and the only household possession left behind after the receivers come in and take everything is a broom to sweep up the mess. 

     So Mr. CNBC, now you know what a white collar wife is so there's no need to pick up the phone.