Yes, I was wrong. Dreams, expectations can fade, suddenly, without notice.
I no longer remember how I first heard of the money missing from a rent deposit made by one of the tenants we were supposed to accommodate. All I can remember is that something like $400 was missing and Janice claimed to have no knowledge of it. As it turned out, the tenants insisted they had paid her we did not have the cash on hand to make up for it. Finally, I would learn that she did know more than she was admitting and I had but one thought. Vividly, I recalled the Judge's warning during her sentencing for the first offense and all I could think of was her serving ten years in prison.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to go through the landlord's books regarding deposits with an Asst. District Attorney investigating the case and his first impression was that his boss would not go ahead with prosecution. I was wrong again. I got a loan and tried to repay the landlord and they refused. So - for some reason, still unknown to me, I acknowledged my responsibility and the DA filed charges. I was headed for court for a crime I did not commit. I thought it was better than having my wife in prison. And I had seen the books, there were other mistakes and I sensed that possibly, they were wrong and my wife was not guilty - even though she had admitted to me that she was.
Going into court with the thought I might end up in prison was a scary experience. My lawyer accepted my desire to leave it in the hands of the judge and not have a jury hear the claims and counter-claims. I heard the testimony of the landlord's employee and for the first time, I took heart. I was next on the witness stand and told the judge my understanding as to what had happened, including my thoughts on the way the landlord kept books, and stepped down. No sooner had I sat down and the judge made his decision - I was not guilty, of poor judgement perhaps, but not guilty of a crime.
Shortly thereafter, for no other apparent reason than my employer assuming I had been guilty, I was fired. But not through with that employer. They claimed that I had taken money from the amounts that I had been responsible for and it did not take long before I was arrested. Fortunately, the same Assistant DA was assigned this case and it didn't take him long to convince the DA, there was no case. I was freed of all charges, but un-employed, again.
The friend who had offered me that job was now working for another company and they approached me to see if I was interested in getting even. That was an interesting thought, but as I considered that we could compete with those who had filed fraudulent charges against me, I decided to join them.
We opened an office away from the previous one I had started, so there would be nothing for anyone to claim I was competing with them, and the fact was, we opened our office to compete with a major nationally known temporary help firm and within weeks, they had closed their office and left the area. Now we had employees from that firm and from the previous employer as well and were well on our way to even greater success. We would open two others offices in short order, but I had nothing to do with them. In the meantime, however, I had found a large company in need of females to work on an assembly line and used my contacts in the "gay" community to recruit new employees. Within a month, we had more females working out of that office than we ever had numbers of men.
With that, the management bought another agency located on "skid row" in downtown Los Angeles and I became their manager. We did very well from the outset as I fashioned an environment where most of the potential workers were comfortable as they waited on the possibilities they might obtain work and more importantly, money for a "cot, some hots and a drink or two" - which was life in the streets.
By now, our company seemed to me prospering, but one day I had a visit from the IRS. They wanted to know of my relationship with the company, an employee or a corporate officer? I was still an employee as I really was not interested in a title, I thought I had earned a secure position in the company and was more content, dealing with the employees. At least, they seemed to be more honest with me than some of the actions in our home office. The visit with the IRA was not just the first one. I would discover that rather than depositing the monies we had collected for income taxes, they had ignored their responsibilities and within weeks, our doors were padlocked. Gone was the possibility I would ever see the wages I had earned as bonuses, but were not paid because of "temporary" problems. Well, we were in the temporary help business, so promises were temporary as well.