WARNING: This is a very very long post... and infuriating once read... but as always it is entertaining (in a rage-creation sort of way) It's my brother. Oh and it may border on profane every now and again - so don't be offended... or something.
It's Thursday night and I am happily watching my Must See TV on NBC, a great relaxing and exciting time for me (as long as no reruns are on) well, I am in the middle of The Apprentice when my sisterinlaw IMs, now for the last few weeks I have been ignoring her on the IM-World because all they want me to do is sell sell sell more of their stock... BLAH I don't want to! So when she IMs me and says "I need to talk to you" I roll my eyes. Then she says she needs to speak with me on the phone NOW! Ok - at this point, I am a little freaked out... maybe my brother had finally met his match with a deer crossing the road, or had been eaten alive by their 6 dogs, or she was pregnant (that was actually my first thought. DEAR GOD!) So needless to say I am a bit freaked out. I find my phone, which had been on vibrate, and I see that there have been 4 missed calls. It rings/vibrates again... and I answer it. The conversation progresses as follows:
ME: WHAT?!??!?!! FOR WHAT? WHEN? HOW? WHAT?!?!?!
ME: An arrest warrant for what?
Jennifer: For writing a bad check.
ME: To who?
Jennifer: Bottineau Oil Company.
ME: When did you write it, how much, did they tell you it bounced?
Jennifer: after freaking for about 3 minutes and babbling incoherently,I'll spare you all of that
ME: THAT CAN'T BE LEGAL!
Jennifer: Well Derek is in jail.
ME: Did the bank send you notice of a bounced check?
Jennifer: No. Well, I usually give Derek that stuff, so maybe they did.
ME: I'm calling the bank. You trash the house and look for ANYTHING from the bank, Bottineau Oil, etc..
So we get off of the phone and I call my mother - my dad answers the phone. "Happy Birthday Dad, your son has been arrested so he won't be able to call you and wish you a Happy Birthday." So I request that I speak with mom, who handles the mail. She hasn't gotten anything either. So together we call the bank (she's on his account, I am not, I need her to authorize my prodding of the account for information.) Together we call the bank--- long and the short of that conversation: The check was rejected only once on 2/3/05. No other checks on his account had bounced since October.
I call Jennifer back, get the number to the Sheriff's office. I speak with Deputy Jim. Deputy Jim is real nice and Slooooowly explains the events of the night, reads the complaint that was filed by the owner of Bottineau Oil to me (only flubbing a few words, such as thus, plaintiff and De-FEN-DANT) and allows me to speak with my brother. I ask Derek if he wants out or if he wants to just sleep there for the night (cost to get out is $400, plus the charge amount of $313.99) He said he would prefer to get out. Deputy Jim gets back on the phone and I request to speak with the Sheriff when he gets back from Chaperoning the local dance at 1 am. It was Midnight at this point in North Dakota.
So I try for the next hour to find anyway to get money to Jennifer. The Jail will not take a check (HA! that's for anyone not just those arrested for writing bad ones) and will only accept a money order, cash or a wire transfer (which can only be done during banking hours) So I go on a search for a close Western Union in hopes that the Sheriff would be kind enough to go pick it up... (Remember: Jennifer cannot drive Derek's truck and especially not with 2 feet of snow everywhere.) I try to load the Western Union Website... IT WON'T LOAD!!!!! It takes 15 minutes to finally get up and running and the closest site for services is in MINOT! 60 Miles away, I wasn't even going to attempt to get it that way. Derek's account has a $300 limit to pull out of an ATM and Jennifer's separate account the same. They would still be over a $100 short. Derek was in jail for the night.
The Sheriff called me a little after 11:00 my time and gave me the details of what Deputy Jim had already explained to me... blah blah blah. He suggested that Derek just plead guilty and be done with it. I said that is not something that you should suggest in any form, until Mr. Phlem* has a lawyer. My tone I believed scared him and he stuttered for a while and went back to talking about the dance he had just come from. I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE DANCE!!! I then ask when Derek can speak with a lawyer. He said after he is arraigned. I said NO, there's that little thing called the Constitution and funny enough, although your town is 13 miles from Canada you're still in the jurisdiction of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! God Damn it. I was pissed. Anywayzzzzz I had him fax over the complaint and arrest warrant to my work so that I could see it in the morning... And really there was nothing more that could be done at that point, Derek was sleeping, so we just left him that way... I got the name of the D.A. that was on in the morning and the phone number and said good night.
Spoke with Jennifer and my parents one more time to give them the status of what was going on and went to the computer to research the statute under which Derek was being charged. It looked sketchy to me at best, but really nothing I could do at that point... So I went to my VCR and watched the rest of The Apprentice & ER and around 2am attempted to go to sleep because at 6:30a.m. I had to get up and call the D.A. who would be arriving to his office (Derek was to arraigned at 10) I slept like crap, maybe 2 hours... I was just worried about my poor little brother, his stranded wife and this BASTARD that had him arrested without EVER contacting him to say "HEY PAYMENT WAS SHIT! PAY ME!!!"
I woke up at 6:30 - I called the D.A., he wasn't in yet. I then proceeded to call Bottineau Oil (couldn't hurt to see if he would just drop the charges right?) He wasn't there, he was in some W-State where cell phones had not been discovered yet and would be there till Tuesday. So I waited a bit, called the D.A. back, he still wasn't in. I then decided that this was going towards arraignment, so I wanted to call and talk to my brother to make sure that he says he wants a lawyer before he pleads AT ALL. They wouldn't let me talk to him. I said he never got to make his one call, have him call me before arraignment. The Bitch on the other end said not till he goes to Court. So I start cold calling any lawyer in Bottineau, that didn't take long because there were THREE - two work for the D.A. and the third was out of town through next week. I then called into Minot just to get some legal advice over the phone to my brother in ANY form (I cannot provide it even though I know exactly what he needs to do.) NO ONE was in their office... So I call the D.A. again and he's there- He's really nice. I ask him is this necessary to prosecute? He said he has strict liability. I respond, no under the laws of the United States you have prosecutorial discretion. He didn't like the fact that I knew big words, but was still calm and appreciated that I was concerned. I then further expressed my desire to speak with my brother, told him of Bitch at the Jail and he said he'd put a call in to have Derek call me before Arraignment. I said thank you and hung up.
It is now 9:45 in Bottineau, having no call from my brother, I call the jail AGAIN. Bitch answers the phone and said he was taken up to court. I said did you get a call from the D.A.? She says: "Yeh, I have that message right in front of me... too bad."
WHAT THE HELL!?!?!?!?!?!?
My brother is being arraigned for all I know, with several Sheriffs having spent the night saying just plead guilty it will all go away, and NO knowledge that he has a right to request counsel BEFORE the arraignment. I sit nervous and wait for Jennifer or Derek to call me with the status.
The D.A. picked up on the fact that Derek was going to be requesting counsel whenever he had the option and therefore did not have him arraigned per say, but had a deferment hearing set for 3/4/05. THANK GOD! I was so relieved, but then a new disaster hung in the wait... What about his Top Security job with the USFA? What would they do to someone that was supposed to have a blemish FREE record and had just been arrested? Sooooo nervous and worried for him. He get's out of jail and has to go see the 1st Sergeant (that is really bad... that's about 3 levels up.) So all morning, lunch with Shannon and into the evening I am worried, as are my parents, Jennifer, Loving Husband, my Bosses & Shannon-- that he is going to lose his job, get an Article 15 (drop in rank and/or pay) or something else horrible... and we WAIT.
Results are in - the USFA is just as annoyed, pissed and wanting to pound Bottineau Oil as Derek is. WHEW. Granted he did lose his badge so he will be limited on some of his duties until this mess is cleared... but otherwise his job is standing. (He had only been issued his badge for about 5 weeks now, it takes a long time to process, OBVIOUSLY.)
Derek and Jennifer almost celebrate to a large degree just that the military didn't have him killed or something and drive to Minot for a nice dinner. Derek at this point tells me everything that went on in the jail... how the Sheriff and Deputy Jim were really nice, the jail was PINK. Pink bars, Pink walls, pink beds... a bit odd... He said that jail was no worse than Basic Training, but the food was horrible.
Today I mailed out a nicely worded letter including an apologetic, an explanation of Derek's side of the story, a plea to drop the charges and a Money Order in the amount of $313.99. Derek never had knowledge that this check had bounced. To the best of his knowledge it simply had not been cashed yet. The first notice that he had that there was a problem was with the local Sheriff showed up at his home to arrest him. What kind of business conduct is that?
I am just in shock. That sort of charge is not even legal in California. In order to be ARRESTED for writing a bad check you have to intentionally defraud someone -- but in North Dakota, all you have to do is bounce ONE check and they can haul your ass to jail.
Moral of the Story: Don't write checks in North Dakota.
*Named changed to protect... well... the guilty ;-)