Wednesday, February 22, 2006
It has been hard to piece this all together but through research and interviews with those who were there I have been able to get a pretty good picture of the events leading up to my demise. This is not an excuse for what happened but an explanation. It is also an attempt to bring out the truth when it is clear that the general opinions of these events are based on rumors and gossip, not facts.
I was doing good, proud of overcoming personal failings and creating two successful companies. Things looked great and the future even better but that was soon to change.
My former secretary, Eileen Sterling, told me of when I fell fifteen feet from the pallet racking in my warehouse, knocking me out for about five minutes. The impact was so loud that it brought members of River East, who’s offices were directly underneath, running upstairs to see what happened. This occurred about the same time I wrecked my Lincoln Mark VIII. According to her I became an “asshole” immediately after. It is an established fact that this is a sign of traumatic brain injury. MRI’s at St Charles verify I sustained this type of injury. These show both old and fresh areas of damage in my brain. I remember being in intense pain but as a general rule I did not go to doctors so just bore the pain. I was to later learn that I had broken two ribs.
I had just hired an employee at the recommendation of Joe Pena, the maintenance man in our building. This employee was an old friend of Joe’s and they had gone to school and grown up together. That employee, Melvin Losek, said he had some pain pills that would help. They were expensive but they helped me continue working through the pain. I began taking more and more of these pills called “Oxycontin”. I didn’t have a clue they were highly addictive until it was too late. Research shows that drug use is common after brain injuries and amplifies the effects of such injury over time.
After the fall I began to have many other problems. I know you don’t want to hear this but it is germane to this story. Among other things I became increasingly sexually dysfunctional (another symptom of brain injury) This on top of my personality change was a big factor in my wife’s infidelity, at least I think so but she had fooled around before so who’s to say for sure.
I began to make poor business decisions with the resulting increase of money problems. Things were going downhill and I let my marketing company lapse as I concentrated on Corporate Liquidation. Melvin said he could no longer get the Oxy’s for me and when, to my surprise, I started experiencing withdrawals he said he could get me heroin which would stop the withdrawals. I was going through hell so agreed. It did stop the pain but I had to keep taking it or the withdrawals would resume. I had a company to run and it was in trouble so I had to keep going.
Then I caught my wife performing a sex act after hours in the parking lot of the mall she worked at. Our marriage was already rocky to say the least. I spent as much time as I could at work to avoid going home so it wasn’t a surprise but it still hit hard. All these things happened in quick succession. Bam, Bam, Bam…I felt like a boxer who had just received a well timed series of hits. My head was spinning and I moved out of my house into a room I set up in my business. There I isolated myself and it was the start of a depression that would eat me up inside.
I had already started the process of getting a second mortgage on my home to get the cash I so badly needed for my liquidation company. This was when Montgomery Wards was going out of business and I purchased a large amount of their assets. It was push to get what I purchased out of the stores before the deadline set by the auction company so I left the warehouse in hands of Melvin.
One day I began to notice that some of the merchandize I was hauling in seemed to be disappearing so began to keep an eye on it. Sure enough a large number of the security cameras from the Wards purchase were gone. I called the police about it and they sent two detectives from the Scott Park office. Because I didn’t have any proof Melvin stole these items they couldn’t do more than take a report.
With that I began to set up hidden surveillance cameras to record Melvin’s theft. There was nobody else who could be doing this. When Melvin’s good friend, Joe Pena, learned of this he told Melvin who immediately quit. Now I am pissed. I started putting out posters every where I could offering a reward for any information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of “Whoever” stole these security cameras. Come to find out Joe was tearing these down as fast as I put them up.
Unfortunately, during all of this I was locked into what had become a bitter, year long divorce with my unfaithful wife, who was going after as much as she could. My depression had become a progressive disease, as it often does, and the drug and alcohol use I turned too in an attempt to hide my pain made it much worse. I was rapidly unraveling.
I believe the pressure I was causing with my “Reward” posters and the continuing theft from not only me but other companies in my building motivated Melvin to have his wife and father come forward with a computer they claimed to have purchased from me. According to court documents, Joe Pena “just happened” to drop by Melvin’s house and instantly recognized this computer as being the one that had been stolen from a company in my building. Now it looked like all computers, a white box with no labels or distinguishing marks on it. Joe, by the way, was still studying to learn how to read in an attempt to get a GED but he could tell this was the computer. (He still can’t read)
Now I was arrested and being charged with the felony of “receiving stolen goods”. More and more things would come up missing. Even the security cameras I had put up were being stolen though I did get a tape of a figure that sure looked like Joe stealing the one I had looking down into the garage area of the building. This camera was hidden in a remote area that no one would know about unless they were intimate with the building. Of course all those video tapes are gone now.
My mental state was getting progressively worse from the extreme drug use and sever depression. From what I am told I had given up on living and seemed to be purposely destroying everything I had built and been so proud of. One person and hospital records from St Charles psych ward, where I was admitted after being found in a parking lot crying and unable to tell my name, said I told them I was trying to die. I think that is true. Life meant nothing to me anymore.
While I was in this mental state my court appointed lawyer convinced me that if I pleaded no contest the judge might find me not guilty. I just wanted everything to be done. Of course that’s not how it goes. I was found guilty and given a sentence of work release and probation. By this time I am a mess. My secretary told me that one time I came to her door, wearing a wig and hat in an attempt to disguise myself. She said I was disappointed when she recognized me. What was left in my warehouse was being quickly stolen. The door to the back area, where my woodshop and most of my tools and remaining valuables were, had been literally unbolted and was laying on the ground. I had chained my bicycle in the alley at the warehouse to find the chain cut and it stolen the next day. I found out it had been pawned by Joe Pena at Liberal Loan, a pawn shop run by an old business associate, Jascha Chieveroni. Jasch had also been purchasing a large number of my security cameras from Joe and Melvin, which were displayed for sale, but back pedaled hard when I talked to him about it due to the legal ramifications.
I signed my divorce papers November 14, 2001. I packed as much as I could in the car I had purchased with money borrowed from my father in Texas. It was stuffed to the roof and there was barely room for me to get in the drivers seat. I tried to fix the brakes, which had not worked for weeks, with little success and headed out for my old home, Texas, where I was going too curl up like a dog that’s been beat too much and lick my wounds. I made it as far as Oklahoma when I fell asleep at the wheel. After rolling the car at eighty miles an hour and being flung out of the car, I died. I was brought back by the emergency medical team that responded but remained in a coma for a month.
It took me over a year to make it back to Toledo but I was still in bad shape. I suffered partial memory loss from the accident but have been able to recover most of it. When I first walked back into River East it caused a stir as they thought I was dead. Joe’s reaction was particularly strong as he told me to step out into the alley so he could kick my ass. Mary Ellen Potaralsky was also upset and would later claim to have put out a restraining order against me. Court records indicate none was ever issued. It’s hard to believe that she was my first employee when I started Westbrook Marketing twelve years previously. I had asked for financial records so I could complete my income taxes and she said they would only be released to an attorney.
When I went upstairs to survey what was left I began to understand the reaction. Later interviews with local business men would confirm that they had purchased thousands of dollars worth of equipment from Joe Pena, evidently with Mary Ellen’s knowledge. From what I have been able to ascertain the proceeds from those sales were never applied to my back rent and went into their pockets.
One of those business men, Les Ramler of Monroe Michigan said that Joe bragged to him while he was purchasing equipment that he had found $4,000 I had hidden in my area. This would sound right considering I had lots of cash from the $60,000 second mortgage but had become highly paranoid because of the drugs. That also is how much I had told others was in my wallet that had been stolen from my office.
I have been told that the thefts Joe was anxious to point his finger at me for continued even after I left the state. Joe is no angel and was on probation for repeated DUI’s and possession of cocaine. He was leaving the probation building as I was going in one day and laughed at me as he got in his car. “Thanks for buying me this car” he smugly told me. Melvin’s whole family has an extensive criminal history and his house was in the news a few months ago when two people entered it and fired bullets into the ceiling in an evident attempt to intimidate them over a drug matter.
A man I did business with became concerned when he learned I had hired Melvin. He told me that he had paid Melvin and Joe to clean up at his warehouse and shortly after that some airplane parts worth thousands of dollars came up missing and were probably sold for scrap metal.
For a period Joe, Melvin, and I got along and would go to places like the German American Festival together. They bragged to me about being paid to torch a house. Joe said he had put too much gasoline out and the house blew, burning Melvin’s brother Tim. Joe laughed because he said he was in the paper for saving Tim’s life when they claimed to be walking by the house when it blew up. Tim was hospitalized from the burns.
These are the people who trumped up charges against me and spread as many stories as they could to denigrate my reputation. Now I admit I gave them lots of ammunition but I never had a reason to steal, especially with thousands of dollars worth of product, equipment, and the cash from my second mortgage. I was liquidating everything and had become a depressed mess, just wanting to go away.
Now I am mad. I have been trying to make amends for the past but find it frustrating when the lies told by those who were stealing from me cloud the minds of the ones I wish to do right to. Because of my injuries I will never be able to run a company like I had when I was the second largest tenant at River East so I have nothing to gain other than a portion of my self respect from doing what is, in my mind, the right thing.
Among those things I wanted to do was to recover furniture I was refinishing for the attorney Jim Adray along with the parts of the desk I was building for him. This would be to complete the job he had paid for despite the fact he wrote it off and expects nothing.
There was a little desk I had refinished half of that would have absolutely no value to anyone but would help demonstrate my refinishing capabilities. This might allow me to generate enough work to augment my Veterans Disability pension.
It is frustrating when I want to display a semblance of honor and integrity to be blocked from doing so. To be not allowed to correct past mistakes, in at least a partial way, is surprising when it could save River East time and money. Over the last three years I have made repeated attempts to open a dialog with River East with no success. I have offered to clean up the mess left after everything was picked through. I offered to pay for its self storage. I wrote letters for presentation to the board and executive committee. I have received no response of any kind.
I have documented much of what is in this statement. My attorney, Chuck Boyk, suggested I try publicity such as the local television stations advocacy programs as a means of motivating River East prior to filing a lawsuit. Despite the fact that the value of any recoverable items is minute I will pursue this on principle.
I can be reached at 419-351-7332. My E-mail is email@example.com If you are interested in who I am now and my activities you can find a complete journal on my blog at http://walkedwithangels.blogspot.com
My mailing address is;
Toledo, Ohio 43614