An innocent man confronted the judge, who knew he had sent him to prison for a crime that he did not commit.
After ten years of imprisonment, Derek Wilson took his first steps as a free person after almost falling to his knees. His son was now a man, and his daughter was a beautiful, shy girl. His wife, however, was a middle-aged, careworn woman.
Wilson took in a deep, clean breath. It didn’t smell like anger, dirty socks, or the sweat of two thousand men. He was free. In all those ten years of his life, Wilson was obsessed with one thought: finding the man who had sent him to jail knowing that he was innocent.
Wilson once led what seemed to many to have been a charming life. He’d been young, handsome, and gifted, and when he’d come up with a revolutionary idea for a patented alloy in college, he quickly became rich.
Charles Danzing, his college roommate and a happy-go-lucky trust fund baby, had put his shrinking inheritance in Wilson’s plan. It had paid off. They formed a company together that paid incredible dividends to Wilson’s idea.
Wilson had married Helen, his high-school sweetheart. Danzing had been his best friend. While Wilson had continued coming up with the innovative products, Danzing had been the frontman, the fundraiser.
Danzing had high-finance contacts and soon their company was trading on stock exchange. Then came an offer from a multinational, an offer Wilson had turned down.
Wilson was not keen to lose control over the company or how his designs would be used. Dancing continued to press Wilson to accept Danzing’s incredible offer. They would be richer than their wildest dreams…
After much discussion Wilson informed Danzing that he would rather sell out than shut down.
It is difficult to appreciate what truly matters when all of our possessions are gone.
Wilson was arrested for fraud three months later as he walked out of his home. The day that should have been relaxed at the lakeside with his family turned into a series of nightmare police interviews.
According to police, Wilson had agreed to a $300 million contract with the multinational company. The company paid for Wilson’s company and discovered that it was not worth anything.
Police had evidence that Wilson’s signature was used to cede his patents to a Japanese conglomerate worth $200 million and on the sale of his company to the multinational for $300 million.
The company was worthless without the patents, and the money was gone. Charles Danzing was gone too, and Wilson quickly realized that he’d absconded with the money and left him as his patsy.
Wilson maintained his innocence and smiled at his lawyer, who was very costly. He saw that everything pointed to his guilt and, as the trial began he realized his hopes of proving innocence were gone.
Time after time, the judge, Frederick Mason, would rule against him. Wilson’s brilliant lawyer fought to have exculpatory evidence that would have pointed a finger on Charles Danzing included but was overruled.
Wilson was staring at the thin, aristocratic judge one day and felt a sense de déjà vu. “I know him, “He whispered to his lawyer. “That judge — he’s one of Charlie’s childhood buddies!”
Wilson’s lawyer frowned. “That’s impossible!”He whispered his response. “He’d have recused himself if he knew Danzing!”
Wilson could not shake the conviction that the judge wanted to bury Wilson, to condemn him. Danzing was also ruthlessly extinguished from the trial.
The verdict was predictable: Wilson was sentenced at the state penitentiary to 10 years. Everything he owned was sold to defray his high-price defense costs and to partially pay the multinational.
Wilson sat in his cold, empty cell and realized his family would be on their own, struggling to survive while he was in prison. Helen would take care of Dylan and Janice’s children, but they would be living on their own.
Many of the friends who had been surrounded by their lucky, golden family disappeared. No one wanted to associate with a felon and his family, and Wilson made a bitter vow: when he left prison he’d be paying Judge Frederick Mason a visit.
Sundays were spent with Helen and Mason, and Mason would feel lifted from the darkness. Helen had found a job and a small apartment. Wilson grew up and became angrier.
Danzing was never seen again and the enormous fortune he had stolen had disappeared into a bank on a tropical island that is well-known for its tax shelter. Wilson’s only consolation came from the belief of his family in his innocence.
He walked out of the courthouse with a piece of paper in his hand that contained the address of the judge. He boarded a bus to take him to the city and his neighborhood.
He was dressed in the three-piece suit that he wore to court for his final sentencing hearing — his last link to his past life — and looked like a successful businessman.
He rang the doorbell of the judge and was answered by a sweet-faced lady. “Yes?”She was curious. “How may I help you?”
Wilson held out a large, manila envelope. “I’m so sorry to disturb you, ma’am,” He said. “But I have some urgent briefs for Judge Mason.”The woman frowned and let him in, leaving the judge to call her.
A few minutes later, Wilson was seen by the judge and he stopped. “YOU!”Mason gasped as he turned pasty white. “Get out!”
“Your honor,” Wilson said, “you and I need to have a talk.”
“I’ll call the police,” Mason gasped “You’ll be back in prison by nightfall!”
“Listen, Mason,” Wilson stated. “No need to panic. I’m not here to harm you. I’m here to thank you.”
Wilson was stared at by the judge. “To thank me?”He asked.
“Ten years ago,” Mason stated, “I thought I was the happiest man in the world. I had everything and I appreciated nothing. When you took it all from me, I thought I’d die. I had no money, no power, no prestige.
“My friends were gone, and I left behind my family and children. Instead of being surrounded by intelligent people with more sense than money, I was surrounded instead by men who had lost just as much.
“I began to see not what had happened, but how much I had. I had the love, loyalty, and support of two wonderful children. I soon made friends with ordinary men and others who made terrible mistakes and were just as innocent as me.
“I wanted to tell you that today I’m a happier and a better man than I was ten years ago. I wanted to thank you for teaching me the true value of what I once had, and what I am.”
Wilson turned his face away from the judge, and he walked out of court. He who had once owned a fleet of sportscars caught the next bus home to his family with light and hopeful heart.
Wilson, with the help of his wife and support from others, set up a small garage to fix up cars and implement some of the ideas that he had while in prison. He is living a happier life than he imagined.
What can we take away from this story?
- We learn to value the things that really matter when everything is gone. Wilson lost all of his freedom and money. He learned to cherish his family.
- Be wary of who you trust. Wilson found out that his best friend had conspired to send him to prison for fraud.
Tell your friends about this story. This story might inspire and brighten their day.