It happened in 1995! How could we ever forget those shocking days when a trial of a lifetime occurred. Many trips to the Bartow County Jail occurred to see my youngest son, Dan as he waited after months of anxiety for his lifetime ordeal when he was arrested for fraud and racketeering after a young life of schooling and the beginning of a marriage that should have lasted for 60 years.
Dan and Melissa had two children, Steele and Sterling. They had not even reached their teen-aged years when the trauma took place. Dan had finished his time at graduate school, as he finished his work at a radio station in Tulsa, at O.R.U., gotten himself a wife, and worked as an insurance salesman for several years and then involved himself in an investment business utilizing his clients from insurance, mostly, as investors.
Everything came to a “dead stop”, as his business went south and charges were brought for not following the regulations properly and payments due, not being made on time. His lawyer who had been a fellow student at college, was found giving wrong advice, and everything crashed down on them both.
Because his father had just completed the largest church building in America and was quite well known across the country for his radio and TV ministry, the newspaper picked up on the happenings and 150 articles resulted during the three week trial with the jurors having to be selected from out of town because of the notoriety.
Close to 15 lawyers were utilized during the investigation and the Judge sentenced Dan to two 45-year terms to be fulfilled simultaneously. The crooked lawyer, and partner, who had been involved in the case, turned state’s evidence, to avoid prison time, and was sentenced to a few week-ends in the county jail. Dan had, from day one, maintained his innocence through the ordeal.
I recall, vividly, my first visit with Danny, at prison after his lengthy trial. I had taken his two children with me to see him at a prison about 25 miles away from Lakeland. When we left Dan, I, of course was driving. Steele was in the front seat looking straight ahead. Dan was watching us drive off from the prison with tears in his eyes. Sterling was sitting in the back seat with a horribly somber look on her face. I was weeping with tears running down my cheeks. I said to Steele, “Steele, how are we going to handle this?!”
He replied, “I guess we’ll just have to get used to it, Grandpa!”
After Dan had been incarcerated about two years, Melissa came to me, privately, and asked me, “Grandpa, what do you think about me getting a divorce?!
I thought for a few moments and then quietly replied, “Melissa, you’ll no longer be my daughter. But you’ll always be my two grand-children’s Mother!”
Just a few years after Dan was imprisoned, Steel contracted Leukemia, and, finally, after five or six years, recovered. Sterling, after that got Cancer of her throat, after a couple of years was pronounced “cured”.
Melissa remarried and after several years divorced her new partner in marriage.
We have tried all kinds of appeals and help from a number of attorneys, even several of the “jail-clerks” in the past 23 years, but to no avail. Many Christians, including judges and successful business people have shared with us his incarceration should never have occurred. One of the practicing judges told me, confidentially, Dan should have been corrected in the Civil Courts, not criminal.
I’m convinced that he’s “where he is” because of ME. One of his legal enemies was on my Church Board at the time of the Church Insurrection, 6 years before his trial.
A real miracle has taken place in the past several years. It’s really supernatural! God has helped me to forgive EVERYONE involved in both the Insurrection and the Incarceration!
Undoubtedly, these two events have been the most horrendous occurrences of my entire life. Without God’s Presence each step of the way, NO WAY could I have made it without HIM!
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