Before Prison

The Sentence

After I plead guilty and was released from custody Chad took me home to our children.   It was the best feeling ever!   I had been around such darkness and my family was so full of light.  No one had any idea I was going to plead that day but Chad and our daughter Shelby had gone to the temple that morning just for comfort and strength.  Unfortunately when I was taken into custody we were completely unprepared,  they put me in by surprise.  We had been leasing to own a town home and had put over 20,000 down on it.   We were scheduled to close within a few weeks of me being taken into custody and the town home had appreciated by 60,000.   Chad was so broken he didn’t know what to do,  I had been dealing with the woman that owned the town home.   She came into town a few weeks after I was put in jail and decided to sell our home to someone els because we couldn’t close in June.  I didn’t know any of this was going on.  So while I was being evaluated at Seattle sea tac Chad and the kids had to move into Chad’s sisters basement.  They have four children and a 2,200 square foot home in Lehi, Utah.   When I found out what happened at first I was angry,  then I felt so bad for Chad.   We had so much support in that ward.   A bishop who loved us and the best home teachers in the world!   The owner sold it to an investor that was renting it out anyway so Chad went to him and asked if we could continue to rent it for at least a few months.  First he said yes,  he checked and we had always paid our rent.   Then he called back on fathers day and said I looked you up on the internet and your wife is in jail I don’t want to rent to you.  Our daughter was an angel for Chad his sister and our sister in law came and packed everything up.  Shelby told me later that Chad was so depressed it was hard for him to get out of bed.  It’s interesting to me that when the cards are really down and you have no where to turn how angels among us emerge and carry us.
So the day I got out of jail Chad took me to his sisters house in Lehi and I tried to get acclimated to living outside of an isolation cell.   I really struggled for several reasons.  First I had been locked in isolation for months with a fluorescent light on 24 hours a day.  Some of the cells had a small frosted window but my world became a 9 ft by 7 ft cell.   I shook really bad at night and had horrible nightmares and couldn’t sleep.   We were totally broke financially so I called my cousin and took a job shooting kids school picture’s again.  I only made it a day and a half because we were shooting on the stage and it felt like I was locked in a cell.   So many times when I was in isolation I felt like I was being buried alive and would have to pray or sing to calm myself.   When you are traumatized like I was your senses become hyper sensitive.  You are always on high alert!  I was always waiting for what they would do to me next and I was very sensitive to light and sound.
We were living in a bedroom at Chad’s sisters and although I was extremely grateful for her allowing us to live there especially for her influence on my children while I was away it was pretty chaotic.   I set out to find a new place to live but we had hardly a dime to our name.   A neighbor from our old ward had a home he was selling and was willing to let us rent until it sold for a fraction of the rent and didn’t charge us a deposit or any fees.  Another amazing person and testament to the power of God to forge a way where there is no way.   So we moved again!  I became so depressed I couldn’t hardly move or get out of bed!  I couldn’t see my way out of the nightmare.  Chad gave me constant priesthood blessings but I knew I only had a few months until I was sentenced and I needed to use the time wisely.   I was just so beat up!   I went to our new ward and stayed to myself.  I told the bishop what was going on but told him I didn’t really need his help.  I said, ” I loved my old bishop and you will never fill his shoes,  we are only here for a short time so I have no desire to get close to anyone.”  He was kind to us but I would not open my heart to anyone.   I started going to counseling  4 days a week in hopes to get better.   I was surprised how much it helped to open up and talk.   A sweet counselor took an interest in me and started me in trauma counseling.  Sometimes the thought of going back to jail was too much for me.  I knew intellectually that if I was sentenced to serve more time I would go to a nicer facility but my experience sent me into panic just thinking about it.
I was very frustrated with my lawyers and told them I was considering withdrawing my plea.  I was in much better condition now to make such a big decision and felt like I had been coerced into a plea deal that I hadn’t even read.  I would consider a plea if I understood it and felt like it was an honest fair plea but I faced 0 to 7 years and millions in restitution and another lawyer I met with thought that was way to high!   That’s a lot of time I could get and I needed to be sure.  My lawyers wouldn’t even consider withdrawing the plea despite the circumstances,  they would help by asking the government to have a different lawyer look at the plea.  So a hearing was set before the same judge that had locked me up for a mental evaluation,  I was worried!   The honorable magistrate Wells ( A former prosecutor) came in and sat down.  Right when I walked in the courtroom a pretrial officer came and asked me to go give a urine sample.  I said, “No problem,   I just went to the bathroom on my way in though.   I will drink a bunch of water and can go in about 30 minutes.”   I don’t know why this surprised me but it did,  the prosecutor Karen got up and said, “Your honor we want Mrs Louder put back in jail for refusing a drug test.”   The new lawyer the government was getting ready to assign me had watched the whole thing and came up next to me and said that is not what happened.  The judge said,  “Mrs Louder,  I don’t want to hear your excuses!  I will put you right back in jail if you don’t produce a urine sample within an hour. ” Chad was in the courtroom and just shook his head.  The government assigned me a new lawyer to look at the option of withdrawing my plea but the prosecutors were mad!  They had forced me into pleading fair and square:)
My new lawyer’s name was Julie and I loved her.   She agreed that the judge and prosecutors were on a power trip and being very unfair.   It was over the holidays so she asked for an extra week to review all the documents surrounding the plea.  Nope!  The government said no, you have 10 days to help this women decide the fate of her life and her children’s lives.   Julie came back disturbed by my plea.  It was the worst circumstances surrounding a plea she had ever seen!  She tried to withdraw it to at least redo it now that I was in a better place mentally.  The government refused.  They told her we are so sick of Portia.  We know the judge will side with us on everything and we will fight withdrawing the plea and then she will get the maximum sentence.   Julie thought it was too risky.  She felt like I had so much compelling mitigation for sentencing we better just move forward with sentencing.
So fast forward to Feb 12, 2015.  The day I was sentenced.  My friends and family had filled the courtroom.  The news was there and I was nervous.   Chad held my hand as we walked in the courtroom and I could literally feel the cold and sterile energy hit us as we sat down.   I looked back at my beautiful family and felt a deep pain.  He was going to give me the 7 years.  I knew it before judge Shelby even walked in.   I felt like a lamb getting ready to be slaughtered.
Some interesting trivia:  First of all,  the lead prosecutor on my case,  Stew Walz, was also the prosecutor that lost the Franklin Squires case.  He was accused of misconduct by a different federal judge and the case was dropped with prejudice.  If you aren’t familiar with that case look it up.  A man named Rick koerber was charged with taking close to 200 million dollars from innocent investors and walked because Stewart Walz didn’t file the paperwork he needed to.   One of the lawyers I met with felt like I was getting the brunt of the governments prior failures and was being treated unfairly.   Secondly, and unrelated is that the federal judge that sentence me judge Robert Shelby is the federal judge that made gay marriage legal in Utah and is responsible for the decision that was made to allow the federal government to decide such issues rather than the state.   I don’t know all of the political allegiance that are underlying I can only say we have felt a powerful force of good and evil.  We are grateful for the power of God and his protection,  we know he has a plan for us.

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