Would you intervene if you witnessed something illegal?
After I was released from Alderson Federal Prison, I visited friends and co-workers whom had supported me, through emails and letters. It was comforting to know they were still on my side and returning was an opportunity to personally thank them.
One afternoon, I decided to surprise one of my favorite professional friends in Ballantyne. If you are unaware of Ballantyne, this is an upscale area in South Charlotte with a median income over $100,000.00, predominately white collar.
A well-dressed man entered the attorney’s office where I was visiting my friend. Even though he interrupted my friend from her work, she remained polite and friendly. He simply asked her if she would notarize a document. (Here comes the beginning of the crime …) She then asked, “Sure, but where is your wife?” “This document is asking for your wife’s signature, is she coming in?” He said she was unable to leave the house because the children were sick. He wasn’t concerned, his request wasn’t a big deal, besides the notary knew his wife. He thought nothing of his request, I’m not sure he realized it was an illegal request!
What would you do if you witnessed an illegal request?
As I stood there witnessing the conversation, I was praying she would make the right choice. Her first answer was “no” …then…. He puts pressure on her!
He reminds her of his clout and grandiose position! (Excuse me, I am beginning to choke on my own vomit) He becomes irritated at this point, and refuses to take no for an answer. (Did he stomp his foot?) I am mentally cheering her on, “Don’t cave in, don’t cave in”.
I am witnessing a professional man ask my friend to do something illegal, a would-be felony…what do I do?
What if she agrees, do I intervene, do I tell someone, do I walk away? Am I now a conspiring, am I part of something illegal? I don’t want to go back to prison!
Feeling sick yet relieved, as he walked out of the office. Thankfully for everyone, she continued to say no, regardless of his pressure, and disappointment in her. However, she did confide in me, she had been disciplined once by the commission and wasn’t going to make the same mistake.
At the end of my visit, I was once again reminded how easy it is to be involved in an illegal act. Even though he felt his request was more as a favor to him, it was illegal. Since she had undergone discipline in the past, she was convicted to say NO this time.
Learn more about Penalties for notary misconduct, crimes, and misdeeds at here