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What do I do to prove my innocence


#1

I had an experience happen to me the other day that left me not only
with a major headache but wondering what was wrong with me. A lady
whom I have know for a couple of years called me to her house. She
had three man made opals that she wanted set in silver. Okay that
was no problem. I registered her request in my log book exactly what
she had given me, what she wanted done and the approximate cost. I
had her initial the page and I took the “opals” and left.

The other day she came to my place to pick up the opals. Well I had
finished the pendant and the earrings using all three opals. Now she
says she gave me 5 opals and that they were her mothers and that she
wanted two pendants, earrings and a ring. Not only that they were to
be in gold.

First of all I told her that she only gave me 3 stones and that they
were to be done in silver. Then she became very loud and brutal
calling me a liar, a thief etc. I was lucky I was in my own home as
she was very loudly telling me that she was going to call the police
etc. I took out my book (which has many entries after hers) and
showed her the date she gave me the stones what I was to do with them
and that she herself had initialed it. Now she says that that is not
her initials that I have rewritten the book to be in my favour. By
this time I am really mad and told her to take her opals and leave my
house. Unfortunately when I get that mad I cry. I made sure that she
had safely gotten into her car (she is known to have “accidental
falls” on personal property. I sat there and tears ran down my face.
Then a little later on I have the police on my doorstep.

I went through everything with them. I showed them my log book. I
told them I would swear on a stack of bibles that that was all she
had given me. She had told them that they were extremely expensive
opals and that I had stolen the two largest ones. I asked the police
if she had mentioned that I had given her the three opals that I did
for her for no cost. No she left out that little detail. By this time
my headache was so bad I thought I was going to stroke out. (I have
just had brain surgery a couple of months ago and this did not help
at all). After the police left I sat on the floor and wondered why
was I in this business at all. She was too agressive of a person
(sorry I cannot call her a lady) for me to deal with. Do I just say
no I cannot do

anything for you (if the person is agressive?) Now she has laid
charges on me - which in a small town gets around fast. What do I do
to prove my innocence. I know what I will do in the future (pictures
etc.) but for now I am lost. I have no one to give me any
suggestions on how to handle this matter and I am afraid that my
regular customers will listen to her. I have never had a complaint
before this. Any kind words or suggestions will really help right
now.

Leslie


#2

I have to wonder if she wasn’t setting you up so she could get out of
paying for the work? You say she has ‘falls’ on private
property…sounds like a pattern to me. Maybe you can use that to your
advantage…to show that she has a history of making legal trouble?
Just a thought.

Jeanne


#3

Although I haven’t had the police called, I’ve had experiences with
the type of person you’re talking about before (especially when I was
teaching at a college) and I know how devastating it can be. These
unfortunate individuals are mad at the world, unhappy with
themselves, and sometimes just deranged and they leave unhappiness in
their wake. It is their intent to do so.

Professionally, lt sounds as though you did everything just the way
you should have - and bless you, got her to initial your book! I’m
sure there are many others there in your town who know this woman for
the monster that she is; I too, live in a small town and understand
the way things get around and why you are worried, but that is also
why others will know about her. I know others on here with more
experience will talk to you about proced= ures, legalities, how to
combat this, etc. but I wanted you to know that I understand just how
you feel, what you are worried about, and the emotional toll
involved. By the way, much to my chagrin, great anger can make me cry
too!

Thinking of you,
Donna-Cluny


#4

Leslie Hello,

There is no way to actually “prove” a negative. You can only stand
on your reputation versus hers. This woman is either insane or
dishonest…very likely both. You should talk to a lawyer. He will
know best what to do. If she has a history of having “accidents” on
other people’s property this shows a pattern of behavior that should
help a court see through her actions. This is an old swindle that’s
been pulled in various forms on other people. She wants money to get
her to shut up or else she’ll hurt your business reputation. She
probably singled you out for this because you’re in a business where
personal integrity is important and because you’ve been sick and may
seem likely to give in.

It’s nothing but blackmail. She probably has a done things like this
before. If you could investigate her background you’d likely find
things like this but investigations are expensive. Most people
probably just give her money to go away.

Years ago I read of girls from a teen-aged gang in a big city who
would go into a movie and sit dow next to a man who looked
prosperous and was alone. The girl would lean over and whisper in
his ear to give her a hundred dollars or she’d start screaming. They
generally got the money.

That’s about what this woman’s doing to you. A lawyer can best advise
you whether to sue or pay her off which you might have to do. If you
must, you must. Whatever happens life will go on and you will know
you haven’t done wrong. Don’t stress over this to the point that it
hurts your health. This isn’t the most important thing in your life
unless you let it be.

You know you’re innocent and your true frends will believe you are.
You’re the victim here, not her. Everybody is unfairly treated in
life at times. Accept it, deal with it and move on. God will know
you’re innocent and that means more than anything. Talk to your
friends and family members.Tell them what happened. Life will go on.
Don’t let someone as evil as this ruin it for you.


#5

Dear Leslie,

I am so sorry that you have had this horrible experience. I don’t
have any advice as I’ve not been in this business long enough to be
able to comment and do not know the laws on such things. But my
heart goes out to you. The fact that this woman is known for having
"accidental" falls in personal property says a great deal about her
morals - or lack of them. I sincerely hope that others on this forum
have some useful and comforting words for you and I really hope that
you manage to clear your name of this horrible situation. All being
well, she will be exposed as the con “artist” that she is and your
good reputation will be restored.

Sincerely,
Helen
UK


#6

Hi Leslie

Sorry for your troubles. I’d suggest getting triplicate repair
envelopes.

One copy to the client, so they can refresh their memory after they
leave regarding total cost, value, work to be done, what they left,
etc., one copy for you to be stored in a separate place from the
job-just in case something gets stolen or disappears you’ll have a
record, and the envelope for you.

At this point, you have to make a choice. I would say hold your
ground. Talk to your lawyer and get some advice. I’m willing to bet
that there are laws about spreading ugly rumors. Especially in a
small town. The local mechanic may not want to work on her car, the
plumber, electrician, roofer, tree guy, etc. Shall I go on? She’s got
no leg to stand on, she’s fishing. You didn’t get paid for your work
did you? Oh, and by the way, in America we’re innocent untill proven
guilty. Not the other way around. If you didn’t get paid, I’d
probably sue her in small claims court. I’m sure you can prove that
you did the work, she benefited, and you didn’t get paid. The outcome
will go a long way to show others that she’s nuts and you are the
good guy.

Good luck
Stan


#7

Dear Leslie,

This sounds like a nightmare, call a lawyer. Even if she take you to
small claims court get a lawyer. If necessary he can inform the
court that you have been ill, recuperating from surgery and can’t
deal with the stress on your own.

See what he has to say, if he and you check around your small town,
you may find that she has a reputation for this kind of scamming. OR
perhaps she has some sort of brain issue, it really sounds kind of
like Alzheimer’s type anger to me. You don’t have to prove your
innocence she has to prove your guilt. She has no proof that she she
gave you 5 expensive opals. You have a receipt that she gave you 3
fake opals. [Get a signature next time, not initials by the way].

Good luck, D


#8

Hi Leslie,

It sounds worse than it is. Stay strong dont react. It sounds like
this person has a track record of this type of behavior which I’m
sure in a small town the whole community is aware of. It sounds like
you on the other hand have a good reputation and I’m sure people
will voudge for it if needs be. I would collect names of people who
could voudge for both of your character just in case it goes to
court, but I doubt it will.

I once was in a similar situation I reacted and gave the person there
money back when they threatened to sue me. It was a house sitting job
when I was a teen but I still get upset about it 15 years latter. She
scammed me, I freaked, I ended up house sitting for 3 weeks for no
money and a severely bruised ego because I let the lady get
aggressive.

Good luck
Christine


#9
 What do I do to prove my innocence.  I have no one to give me any
suggestions on how to handle this matter and I am afraid that my
regular customers will listen to her. 

Don’t beat yourself up over what you should have done - it’s not as
bad as it seems. As far as the law is concerned, the good news is
that contemporaneous evidence (originating at the time of the
incident) like your journal holds good weight in the eyes of the law.
Just think about how your evidence (your journal) compares to her
evidence (nothing). I’ve represented myself (my company) in several
administrative hearings and small claims courts over the past 25
years, and found that people with bad intentions show their true
colors in these situations. In every case, the judge or administrator
was always kind, pleasant and business-like and willing to weight the
evidence, and wouldn’t put up with the nonsense that my opponent was
attempting. Don’t forget about any Products Liability Insurance that
you may have. The negative to insurance is that they usually want to
"settle" on any suit they consider to be for nuisance value.

Of course, your concerns about your reputation are a separate issue.
Keep in mind that each of you had a reputation prior to this
incident, and it sounds like hers was a little sketchy already. If
this is the case, and you have a good reputation, that will go a long
way in your favor in your community. Here’s one thing to think about.
The “court of public opinion” also compares evidence, and some might
think that you have some guilt if you gave her free jewelry (the
three settings you made for her opals). Perhaps you should send her
an invoice for the three settings (with 10 day terms), and if she
doesn’t pay (which she won’t, of course), then you should file a
counter-claim in court. Since court filings are public documents, if
you’re not comfortable spreading the word about your side of the
legal war, I’m sure your friends would be happy to spread the details
around the community where necessary. The best defense is a strong
offense.

Finally, it’s my opinion that a difficult client needs to provide a
high profit margin to make up for causing low morale with my staff
(let alone my own morale), potential litigation, potential damage to
reputation, etc. Sometimes a client becomes too risky or costly, and
they need to be “fired.” If you need to turn down work from a current
or new client, it’s not too hard if you make up your script ahead of
time (and practice), and then stick with that script during your
conversation, no matte what the other person says. It’s amazing how
many ways there are to say “I think another jeweler would be a better
choice for you on this piece.” Just watch the politicians… it
doesn’t matter what questions they are asked, they just stick with
their script. They only get into trouble when they go"off script."

Good luck, and for a little comfort, watch an episode of “Judge
Judy” so see how idiots show their true colors.

Jamie


#10

Get a lawyer involved IMMEDIATELY.

If she truly has a history of having “falls” on people’s property
then she is a scam artist (why you would work with her based on that
I’m not sure but that’s besides the point now) and there should be a
record of this. But you need a good lawyer who can aggressively go
after the woman.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com


#11

Hi Leslie,

Is there any state or local ordinance that would stop you installing
CCTV (with sound) to record business interviews in your home? Too
late for this episode, maybe a useful record in future. It’s just an
extension on your other security. You can get cameras that are the
exact size of tungsten halogen ceiling lights. How awful that it’s
needed.

Mark Bingham
Fourth Axis


#12

Leslie

If you have a reputation of being honest and fair in a small town,
then one loud mouth with a history of being a loud mouth will not
ruin that.

Get some people to write a some letter of recommendation on your
character. Bring that with you if she does take you to court. Did you
take pictures of what you made for her? If not see if you can get
some.

Small towns love to talk but their interest in a rumor dies in about
two weeks. People will want to talk about something else so hold on.
You know you are in the right.

Coit


#13

Dear Leslie,

First of all, I want to thank you for sharing this awful situation
with us. In my wildest dreams I would never imagine that a person
would pull such a stunt. I am amazed at how evil some people can be!

I feel terrible for you! I think from your email address you must be
in Canada, and I am in the USA, so I hope what I say will be helpful,
but don’t really know how the Canadian legal system works. I can’t
imagine that it would be much different than ours.

I guess the very first thing you should do is get a very good
lawyer. If you are like me and wonder how in the world you will pay
for this, I suggest you counter-sue your accuser for the trouble that
she has caused for you and ask for your legal fees to be reimbursed.

Discuss the situation with the lawyer and since he will have had
much experience in this arena, he can figure out the best way to
present the evidence so that your innocence will be proven.

Thankfully, I been subject to this type of calamity, but have had
other situations, and the best thing I ever did was to hire a good
lawyer to help me. I was able to retain my calm and let him handle
all the details, and we came out victorious!

I had to take out a second mortgage to finance this, but it was the
best thing I ever did for myself, and was able to write the expense
off my taxes since it was a business expense.

I am assuming you are like most of us and always wonder how in the
heck you can finance something like this, but you will figure out a
way, and believe me, it is the best thing you can do for yourself.

I will also say that it is always best to remain calm, and not
panic. I know this is easier said than done, but the hysterical
person always appears worse than the calm one.

I truly doubt that this woman will be able to get away with this. If
she has a history of creating problems for others, the lawyer should
know this, as I imagine he could bring this up in court for
credibility issues.

As I mentioned before, if you win, you should definitely counter sue
this woman for damages to your reputation, etc., and ask that perjury
criminal charges be filed against her if she lies on the stand.

Take care and I will keep you in my heart and wish that the truth
comes out!

I send you a great big hug!
Laura


#14
Perhaps she has some sort of brain issue, it really sounds kind of
like Alzheimer's type anger to me. 

This is a good point. When you think of the percentage of people
with memory diseases, alcoholism, drug influence, etc., it’s amazing
that there aren’t more incidents where customers “remember” wrong

Jamie


#15

Yowch! Been there, feel for you.

First thing is to calm down. The police didn’t arrest you because
most likely they either consider it a civil matter or there is not
sufficient evidence for an arrest.

Next, remember that you are not required to prove your innocence
(although its a good idea to be prepared to counter all her
allegations), its up to her, in a civil suit, to prove everything.
Its not likely the police will pursue it because you in effect have a
receipt from her for 3 opals. Can she prove she gave you 5, or even
that she owned 5?

What you’re really worried about is your reputation. If this is the
small town you say it is the ‘lady’ probably already has a reputation
of her own going on (seems like a swindler to me, based on what you
say). Probably her ploy was just what happened, scare you into giving
her free work, and sent the police just to hammer it home in case you
decided to pursue collection.

I know what its like with ornery horned toads like that. I can feel
the anger start welling up from my gut. What may help you get passed
this episode is to focus on the future. Instead of just initials in
your log, give detailed receipts with signatures, PICS great too.

It will pass. Empty barrels make the most noise. Don’t let a bottom
dweller scare you out of the profession of your choice.


#16

Immediately send her an invoice for the completed work. If she does
not pay in a timely manner, sue her in small claims court. If she
persists with her outrageous accusations, sue her for slander too.
Do not let up. Bullies only win when we fear them.

Lisa, (still 80 degrees here) Topanga, CA USA


#17

Leslie,

Breathe, sweetie. We are all here for you.

I can’t give you formal legal advice, all I can give is knowledge I
have gathered through life experiences and through education I have
received.

Where are you located? If you can tell me your location, I can look
up the laws for you.

Your log book is your best defense. Also, line up character
witnesses, and ask them to write letters of support for you.

The police also have your side of the story, including the fact that
you gave her the jewelry you did make. The fact that they didn’t
detain you or take you in for questioning speaks volumes. Keep in
contact with the department, and find out who in the DA’s office is
handling the case. Sometimes the DA’s office will drop a case if they
feel there is nothing to go on. If you do contact the DA, take
counsel with you.

If you go to court, take the bill she did not pay with you in
addition to character witness letters and the logbook.

Is there a record of this woman having “accidental falls?” These
should be public - listed as cases in the court docket. If you can
establish a pattern of false charges, that can help you. Get
together any documentation you can. I was sued years ago by a former
employer, and the documentation I had saved me, and nearly got them
prosecuted for criminal harassment.

I also recommend filing counter charges, for defamation of
character/slander. You have a right to file charges against her, as
well-especially since she can damage your business. You also have a
right to gather meaning you can require that she have
the piece you made appraised by another jeweler, and then that
appraisal can be sent to you. You also have a right to see the
charges, a copy of the police report that she filed, and all
evidence against you. If she is claiming that you switched/stole
stones, then she must provide an appraisal dating from before the
logbook date for the stones she is claiming were pilfered.

Law schools often have clinics people can go to to get free legal
help. Also, contact the Salvation Army or the United Way to see if
they can point you toward any free or fee-reduced legal advice. I
strongly recommend you get counsel somehow - this woman could
potentially wipe you out, especially if she gets a loopy judge and a
jury that thinks all jewelers are independently wealthy. She hasn’t
opted to file in civil court, which is interesting.

Also, contact CERF - they may have resources especially for artists
for times like these. There is also the National Association for
Independent Artists.

In the future, you should set yourself up as an LLC. This protects
you personally from situations like this. All you have to do is file
some paperwork with the secretary of state. Let me know where you
are and I can look up for you.

Sweetie, breathe. In, out, in, out. You’re going to be okay. There
are just some very basic steps you must take to protect yourself;
get your documentation in order, and see what counsel you can find.
We are all here for you.

If you like, feel free to contact me off list.

Susannah Garcia


#18
I have no one to give me any suggestions on how to handle this
matter and I am afraid that my regular customers will listen to
her. I have never had a complaint before this. Any kind words or
suggestions will really help right now. 

Unlike many of the people on this forum, I am not in the business as
more than a hobby with an occasional commission, but in my day job,
I deal with security and life safety, so liability and legal issues
do come up.

First, my gut instinct is that this sounds and feels like a fairly
practiced petty scam. The goal is to get you to pony up the cost
difference between what was actually provided and what is claimed.
This joker does not want any of the evidence to actually be
examined, they want you to pay them to get out of your face.

Your log book is your best defense, it’s actually much harder to
modify something like that in an undetectable manner than most
people realize (remember that handwritten initial will leave a
physical groove in the paper). It needs to be in the custody of an
unassailable third party.

Check your local area, there is bound to be a legal aid of some kind.
You really need a proper legal rep. Showing up with an actual lawyer
is prone to make this git bolt and simply not show up.

I am not a lawyer chaser, but I would countersue for the cost of
your commission plus legal fees.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL


#19

Unfortunately you can’t chase a rumor; you should consult your
attorney, possibly filing suit for slander (or libel if she has
published anything). Hope that you can rely on your reputation in the
small community for ethical behavior and get through this. I
sympathize with you and hope and pray that your resolution does not
cost you a lot of money.

I was falsely sued for $1 million a few years ago; cost me $550 in
legal fees to be rid of the suit. Cheap in the long run (and yes the
lawyer was a friend and gave me a large discount on what he normally
would charge).

John
John Atwell Rasmussen
Rasmussen Gems and Jewelry
Web: www.rasmussengems.com
Blog: http://rasmussengems.ganoksin.com/blogs/


#20

Thank you to all who have sent their views and support. Today the
mess just got messier when this lady took the “opals” to the police
and told them that I had even changed stones. That the pieces that I
gave her were not opals but some other kind of mixed stone and that
they were not even set in silver. Once again the police are knocking
at my door. My doctor ended up callling them explaining that I had
just gone through traumatic brain surgery and that the pressure is
not good for my health. My so very kind doctor has gone to the
welfare office for me to set up a lawyer. I am just a bundle of
nerves everytime the doorbell rings. I know I do good work and that I
am very truthful. I do have many clients that are extremely happy
with my work and come back again and again. I also know that I am up
for an excellence home based business award put on by the Chamber of
Commerce. But I cannot seem to focus on that. All I see is fear. I am
shaking so much right now that I cannot do my work that is needed to
do. I am taking a step myself and decided to see a therapist
tomorrow. Hopefully she can give me some help to get through this. I
did hear from one customer today. She was wondering when she could
pick up her pin. I don’t know why but I told her everything that was
going on. She told me that she knows the lady personally and that she
is already spreading this mess around. I live in a fairly small place
and this can really damage my reputation. I hate having no family or
friends. I haven’t been here long enough. I wonder am I going to have
to move? I wonder if I am going to have to go to prison for something
I never did? There are so many things running through my head I
cannot think straight at all. I read all your comments and hold them
dear to my heart, you are like family to me.

Thank you Leslie