Today, the newspaper printed an article about us. Well, it was mostly about Mary and her recent arrest. She was arrested because we were a little behind on our taxes (~$800). The ABC called us in to talk about getting a mixed beverage license. They pretended to be really nice, like this was just a formality so that we could expand our business. We were escorted to a conference room behind the bulletproof glass. They shook our hands with smiles. One was agent Weaver, but I can't remember the name of the other guy. Then Agent Weaver said, "well, the good news is you meet all the qualifications for you mixed beverage license. The bad news is you're under arrest."
What a zinger, Agent Weaver!
Then Mary said, "wait, we only owe like a thousand dollars. We can just write a check for that amount. I didn't know I was committing a class U felony. Isn't there something we can do so I don't have to go to jail?"
"Oh, you're going to jail," Weaver said.
"This is how you treat your business owners in Virginia?" I asked.
"I warned you about your taxes," Weaver said.
"You just said we had to take care of them before we got our mixed beverage license, " Mary said, "and we've made payments every month, and I've been talking with Kathy at the state tax office."
Then Weaver stood up and took her card out of the file and yelled, "be very careful what you say to me because she said you haven't spoken with her since November! Be very careful what you say to me!" This turned out to be a lie. Kathy told us she told him we had spoken with her in April. In fact, she has been the most helpful person through all this. She spent a great deal of time at our restaurant helping us make sure this didn't happen again.
Agent Weaver then stopped himself and said, "before we get into a long conversation about this," he reached into his pocket and pulled out his Miranda Rights cheat sheet and read Mary her rights, and she cried. I took out my phone and looked up the number of our lawyer. Then I realized why they had called the meeting for 12 noon on the Friday before Memorial Day. You can't get legal council or pay your taxes or do any kind of real business with banks or the government for four days. We were kind of dressed up because we were opening our new wine bar that night and looking forward to a long weekend.
Then agent Weaver started filling out paperwork in triplicate, which took ages because it was four felonies and four misdemeanors. His hands shook the whole time like he was getting off on it. It was totally creepy. Like, really, really creepy.
We all sat there in silence, and I looked up Mary's father's number because agent Weaver said Mary couldn't. After that he said she was under arrest for embezzlement because we were hiding money from the state. He said that this was what Al Capone got caught for. That's right, agent Weaver compared my wife to Al Capone. Then he put hand cuffs on her and said I should follow them to the jail because he had told the magistrate that she doesn't need to be locked up for the next four days. "Thanks agent Weaver."
As they put her in the car, I stopped for a moment in a weird vestibule between the front door and the bulletproof glass near the entrance, they might call it a lobby, but that would be euphemistic. I had the phone in my hand trying to call my father-in-law. Just then a third agent came up behind me and introduced himself as the boss, agent Stephen Jones. Stephen Jones started calling me a liar and an embezzler and saying that we could lose our license over this. He was supremely angry and aggressive, touching his gun and everything. It reminded me of someone I knew in high school who was on steroids and got "the rage." It was as if he was trying to get me to do something I would regret.
Instead I didn't square off with him at all and kind of just said over my shoulder "I know how this works. This is how you've chosen to serve your community, and if you get your way, one more Virginia business bites the dust."
He looked at me with crazy eyes like the ones you see in pictures of terrorists and just then Agent Weaver sheepishly popped his head in and said, "we're ready to go," like he was saving me from him. Like this whole thing was a set up to try to get me arrested. I still have creepy feelings about that strange exchange.
And that's it. I waited at the jail. The jailer said she had never seen anything like this in the 20 years she'd been working the jail. Then the jailer said in a scolding tone, "I think you can take the handcuffs off." As a matter of fact no one I've spoken with has ever heard of something like this happening for so little an amount of money. It's pretty crazy. We have to go through two court systems, and we are requesting a jury. Do you know how much money this is going to cost the taxpayer in paperwork alone? A lot more than they're going to get out of us.
In the jail parking lot, Mary and I had an argument because I was pretty angry and she was pretty stressed. But now we are back in stride and working together to get through this.
Some people are saying that we are beings targeted by someone who has a vendetta against us for whatever reason. Those people might be right. Haters gonna hate. If people see you with any degree of success or enjoying your life a little too much, some of them are going to get jealous and start trying to destroy you. But here we are smiling. This is nothing. We have each other.