I Am Serving a Life Sentence
I am serving a life sentence. NO, do not judge me. I did not kill anyone and NO, there are no human victims in my criminal case. I am just a white-collar criminal, who is carrying on her shoulders the weight of a restitution of more than 22 million dollars... YES, did you hear me? More than 22 million dollars.
My case arose in Miami, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. I was charged in 2013 with conspiracy to commit health care fraud in a case arising from Health Care Solutions Network, where I worked as clinical director and received a fixed salary for my work. At no point did I ever hold a financial interest in the company nor did I ever personally profit from the fraud. All of this is on records.
I'll tell you a little about my life. I am an immigrant and I came to this country fleeing from a communist dictatorship, looking for freedom and with a suitcase full of dreams. I went to medical school in Cuba. From a very young age, my dream was always to serve others. Arriving in this country, I worked very hard to learn the language and go back to school, and I did.
After years of sacrifice and dedication, I was able to achieve my goals and see my dreams come true. I earned a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, was licensed to practice in the states of Florida and North Carolina, and built my private practice from scratch. Through the years, I was able to earn the reputation of a community that I served with love and honor. And when, my life was at its best, in the blink of an eye, my world fell apart and I lost everything.
The process was very hard, but with faith and the support of my family, I was able to survive the years of confinement and everything else that came to take away my dreams and after serving 7 years in federal prison and almost two years in home confinement, the shadow of this financial execution remains with me and will remain so for the rest of my life.
Just a few months ago, I finished my prison sentence, and even though my freedom is limited because I have to serve three years of supervised release, I thought the worst was over. Little did I know that the worst was yet to come.
After the probation officer asked for my husband's personal information and financial records to make him pay for this restitution, that was it. He told me, "This is too much. I can't do this anymore." The next day, he filed for divorce, after almost 40 years of marriage.
The so-called white-collar criminals, we also suffer a lot of collateral damage. The financial burden that accompanies us affects all levels of our lives. The family suffers and when they realize that the road is endless, many try to get away so as not to continue feeling the pain. I don't blame them, because they don't have to walk along this road with us forever.
The Bible teaches us that there is an appointed time for everything in this life. My question here is, when will my time be? When is enough enough? I was not sentenced for life and I also deserve a second chance.
Painting by Gwynne Duncan