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LESSON: When you are in the throes of extreme adversity, you are an easy target for manipulation.  Your hope and desperation blind you to the sharks circling your life raft.  Be more aware and stronger than I was.


The below lesson is an excerpt from my recently released Amazon #1 Best Seller, When Not If: A CEO's Guide to Overcoming


The night before the joint resentencing (the overturned sentence plus the bizarre new indictment), I called Ashleigh on the jail’s recorded line. I told her, “The one thing I’m worried about is only you, me, Larry Woodward (court-appointed attorney), and Judge Allen know about the agreement to come home now in return for me dropping all appeals and lawsuits I’ve filed.”


I finally told her, “At some point in this nightmare, I have to again trust someone, or I will never make it back to you, Cole, and Mom.” This phone call was both prophetic and, unfortunately, another teaching lesson I have invoked numerous times since this day.


The next day, hands cuffed, and legs shackled, I entered the Walter E. Hoffman United States Courthouse, Norfolk, Virginia, to see a packed courtroom of media, detractors, and, remarkably, a crowd of previous clients, Air Force Academy alumni from around the country, family, and so many friends sitting on my side. I couldn’t help crying at the overwhelming support, all orchestrated by Ashleigh. I hoped the proceedings would allow me to be released that afternoon as agreed so I could enjoy an incredible evening with everyone.


Then Larry Woodward leaned over to me at the table and said, “Hey, I just want to let you know I have to run out of here immediately after this sentencing to another engagement so don’t perceive anything negative, or positive, from that. Okay?”


Judge Allen walked into the courtroom with scorn and what I perceived to be a black aura I could feel across the courtroom. Dread came over me instantly. In rushing torments, fear took over my body. The judge began with great purpose. The judge asserted for the record:


1.        “It’s something wrong with his brain” [Tr. p.92].

2.        “There’s something wrong, and I don’t know what’s wrong” [Tr. p.92].

3.        “But there’s something wrong, and we’re going to get you mental health treatment under my case, because there’s something wrong, and it’s not been fixed” [Tr. p.92].

4.        “It’s breaking my heart not to be able to figure out what’s wrong” [Tr. p.92].

5.        “(I)t’s not been fixed” [Tr. p.92].

6.        “I know you’re not polluting your brain with poison” [Tr. p.92].

7.        “There’s something wrong. I’m not a doctor, we’re going to get mental health treatment, but there’s something wrong” [Tr. p.102].

8.        “So I don’t know what’s wrong. I don’t. It’s complex and sophisticated” [Tr. p.102].

9.        “And I’m hoping you get some help to fix that, because you’ve got a very deep problem” [Tr. p.102].

10.      “I’m going to recommend mental health treatment as well” [Tr. p.106].


It was a setup, again. I was toast. Again. My own fault. Again.


I would later submit motion after motion citing legal precedent that if I had such a deep and complex mental health defect how could I have competently entered into any legal contract to allow this next ambush? But to no response of course.


The first sentence of twelve years was reinstated. Judge Allen rejected the second case agreement that required that sentence run concurrently with whatever reduced sentence was implemented for the first case. Judge Allen, instead, added two more years to my first sentence. I had fought like hell for years to reverse my sentence for Case One only to receive more time than I had started with!


And true to his word, Larry Woodward nearly sprinted out of the courtroom. Ashleigh’s later sworn affidavit recounts her story of how she ran after Woodward. She stopped at the top of the courthouse’s staircase while Woodward was already at the bottom. She yelled, “Larry what the hell happened?!” He yelled back, “He’s lucky he didn’t get twenty!” and walked out the courthouse front doors.


Learn from my weakness.  Have a great week!


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