The harrowing account of one man’s persecution by a justice system indifferent to law and morality.
Debut author Woltz begins this memoir of judicial tyranny somewhat benignly: His financial firm, fulfilling a legal obligation, filed a suspicious activity report with the Central Bank of the Bahamas regarding a trust account an American attorney had opened there. He all but forgot the incident until, two years later, he was contacted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI looking to discuss the matter. He quickly obliged but was taken into custody on his way to the scheduled meeting in Charlotte; his terrified wife was taken into custody, too. What ensued was a long train of prosecutorial misconduct that will rattle readers’ complacent confidence in the U.S. judicial system. Woltz describes a “bizarre Kafkaesque world” in which both he and his wife were systematically stripped of their legal rights. They were denied the power to choose their own attorney, and the one they were saddled with worked in collusion with the prosecutors. In violation of their Sixth Amendment rights, they were arraigned in one judicial district and sentenced in another. They were charged with a litany of trumped-up accusations so absurd that the Middle District Office of the U.S. attorney called it a “sham prosecution.” Woltz and his wife were also subject to degrading treatment, intimidation and outright physical abuse, all in order to compel them to provide false testimony against the federal government’s real quarry. Woltz deftly catalogs his disillusionment: “More or less everything I believed about our judicial system was being challenged through personal experience. I was locked in a filthy mad house, though innocent, un-convicted, and pleading not guilty to the charges.” Woltz served 87 months in federal prison; when released, he saw both his financial assets and marriage disappear. A foreword written by a former magistrate judge provides legal context helpful to understanding the full extent of Woltz’s travails.
A stirring legal drama made more thrilling by sharp, journalistic prose.