I am a fifty-year-old father of two teenage children and the sole provider for my wife and family. I scrape by like a lot of folks do but recently I have been devastated by unfortunate events that stem from a company that I worked for until 2009.
Prior to 2009 I was employed by a technology company in Des Moines, IA. I started as a computer engineer due to my background with document management solutions. In time, I was promoted to the Operations manager over the technicians.
As the economy began to sour in 2007, the company began to lose employees and the owner created a position called “Director of Business Controls” and placed me in that role. Although I had no financial or HR background he put those areas under my supervision with him as the decision-maker. I knew little about accounting but AP and receivables made sense so I generated the checks that he authorized and signed other documents for the company. Some of these documents were state withholding and sales tax filings.
As the company began to do worse, the owner instructed me to continue filing documents with the states but to not send in the payments. He assured me that he was on the verge of securing outside investment funds and he would make up the delinquency when the money was available.
At that time, the company was struggling to make payroll. I believed in the company as well as what I was told about venture capitalists or corporate contracts that would rescue us. I sacrificed my own pay and helped figure out ways to keep employees and vendors satisfied with the meager income. On my own behalf, I accumulated expenses for Indian contractors that were in the US and paid for my own business travel.
The owner told me repeatedly that he would make it up to me and I was safe. As weeks turned in to months, I realized things were out of control. I watched employees leave and I sat in a mostly empty office taking calls from collectors. The owner was never in the office but I did everything I could to keep the doors open. I consulted with him over the phone and email on how to handle these issues and what agreements the company should make. As things got worse and worse, I foolishly persevered and acted as the company representative.
My finances were destroyed. I fell behind on my mortgage, I had my van repossessed, I drained my retirement account and I could not handle all the collection calls I was getting at home. I was under duress for so long due to the amount of money the company owed me and felt shackled to the place.
Finally, I could not take it anymore. I got angry with the owner for paying a favored employee before others and told him it was a lousy thing to do. He fired me via instant message. He then fled the state of Iowa and resettled elsewhere. Everyone who had believed in him was left in the dust carrying his liabilities.
I had personal debts from the company in the tens of thousands of dollars. I was unemployed and penniless. It took months to find a job in a stale job market but I finally landed a position making subsistence wages. I reluctantly filed for bankruptcy and in time had some of the unsecured debt off my shoulders. I started to get my feet back underneath me. But I am still trying to get out from under this burden of broken promises that has some pursuing me personally for naiveté and ignorance.
I have been battling for years to clean up this mess and most creditors have understood my situation. However, one has latched into me and will not let go. The California Bureau of Equalization made a determination that I was personally liable for nearly $100,000! I spent two years trying to appeal and negotiate with them. I provided information on the whereabouts of the company owner and provided statements from ex-employees about the circumstances. All to no avail.
I hired an attorney that was negligent in communication. I hit a brick wall when suddenly my pay was being garnished at 25% of my gross wage after taxes! I pleaded hardship with them but they were unreasonable. They do not allow for insurance, retirement and medical savings in their calculations. They also placed a lien against my home so I cannot get out from under a burdensome mortgage.
They have left me in a precarious state. I am creating this project in hopes you can understand that I did what I was able to in the circumstances. Under the strain, I performed my duties to the best of my ability. I had no ownership in this company and profited in no way from this situation. I was loyal to the point of losing almost everything and was conned. The company’s owner placed me in a condition where I would lose all that I had if I were to have walked away.
I have letters from company employees who have intimate knowledge of what happened. More would have come forward but some fear that they will also be hounded for cash if they put their necks out. These people are supportive and understand the hell I went through to make sure they were paid. They watched my struggle every day. I am humbly asking if anyone would provide some assistance in eliminating this burden.
I am currently looking to pay off 10% of the balance. This will lessen the accumulation of additional interest and bring me a little closer to settling the debt. I have one other state pursuing me but can only handle one problem at at time.
Your help is greatly appreciated.