Paying the Price for a Spouse’s Financial Crimes

Bouncing back from financial ruin can seem overwhelming for anyone. It feels like, no matter how far you tighten your belt, your payments barely chip away at the balance. Now imagine you find yourself in that situation because your husband lied to you, and to everyone else.

Lisa Lawler split from her husband after she found out he’d had an affair, but it turned out that wasn’t his only lie. It wasn’t even his biggest lie. A month after their split, Lisa discovered he had embezzled $2.5 million from the healthcare company where he worked. He was sentenced to 24 months in prison and Lisa, at 50 years old, had to start over again. She hadn’t worked in 20 years and took the best job she could find: setting up store displays in a big box store, making $14 an hour.

And then more bad news came in the form of a tax bill. Lisa was on the hook for $384,000 in unpaid taxes on the embezzled income her husband hadn’t disclosed. After six months of pleading, she was finally able to get released from the tax obligation, arguing that she couldn’t have been expected to pay taxes on money she didn’t know they had.

Lisa started a blog, The White Collar Wives Project, to share her experiences and provide a place for other women to share theirs.

Jenny, the wife of another convicted white collar criminal, eventually chose to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in order to get out from under her investment banker husband’s mistakes. He pleaded guilty to a scheme to defraud investors and agreed to pay $5.3 million in restitution to victims and to forfeit $215,000 in proceeds. He was sentenced to 57 months in prison.

Though Jenny divorced him, their house, cars, and nearly everything they owned was seized to satisfy his debts and, like Lisa, Jenny also got personally hit with an $85,000 tax bill and stuck with a $40,000 credit card bill. She moved back in with her parents and took a job waiting tables. Filing bankruptcy, she decided, was the best way to finally get on with her life.

Starting over, even when your circumstances aren’t as dramatic as Lisa’s and Jenny’s, is never easy. When you’re facing a mountain of debt it can be hard to see how you’ll ever get back in control of your finances. Ronald J. Drescher has been assisting clients with their legal and financial troubles for more than three decades. He can help you find your way back to normal.

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