A Life Reposessed By the Feds: Aurora Wife of Convicted Ponzi Schemer Shares Her Story, Part II
Editor’s note: Almost two years ago, Denver was caught up in a scandal when it was revealed Shawn Merriman was involved in a $20 million Ponzi scheme. There were many victims but no one was more blindsided by his betrayal than his own wife and four children. In our three-part series, Shawn’s now-ex-wife Andrea shares how she learned the horrible truth, the day the Feds came to confiscate everything and where she is today.
Government representatives, approximately eight of them. Wearing dark jackets and sunglasses, flashing gold badges, they arrived at my home in dark Suburbans with tinted windows–just like in the movies. Only this time it wasn’t a movie, it was my new and unexpected life.
I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. I was ashamed to be associated (by marriage only) with anyone and anything that required government agents entering my home, doing inventory of its contents, and compiling lists of things for seizure. It was surreal.
They were very kind to me. Very polite. They quietly chatted, walked from room to room filming the contents, narrated what they were filming, they asked questions. I mostly stood in one corner of the house, in the dining room, looking out the window, seeing the same view I’d gazed at for the past 16 years so differently. Sadly, I saw everything very differently now. I tried to come to grips with what was taking place in my home around me.
But I don’t think I ever reconciled it. I just endured it, and waited for it to be over.
I had so many questions, but hardly dared speak unless spoken to, much less dared to ask my questions. (And it wasn’t because the officials were sullen looking, tough, or anything else. It was completely the opposite, in fact. They were a group of nice looking, clean cut, friendly, polite, people. They seemed trustworthy and good. Had I met them in any other circumstances, I really would have liked them! That day I was just completely out of my element, still in shock, and very afraid.)
Before they left, I dared ask if they would be taking the painting my mom had painted and the things I had inherited from her. (They weren’t worth anything monetarily, but they had huge sentimental value to me and I was prepared to fight for them.) They assured me they would not take anything of my mom’s. Then they told me what I could expect to happen next and when, and gave me permission to remove any personal items, household items and furniture. They also told me they weren’t interested in my jewelry.
Then they were gone.
Two weeks later, government authorities came to my home and seized many of our possessions. (To those not experienced with these kinds of things, lol, I’m talking about when they officially show up and haul everything away!)
What do you do when The Feds come?
I don’t know what other people do, but I spent the morning putting away clutter that had accumulated during our three weeks of trauma thus far so The Feds wouldn’t think we housed a criminal AND were trashy, dirty, messy people!
The U.S. Marshalls arrived in the afternoon and began packing things up and hauling them away. My spouse wanted me to be gone, but I stood my ground and stayed. I had done nothing wrong. And besides, where was I going to go?
I can tell you what my neighbors did. They all took the day off work to watch our demise. They stood on the deck of our next door neighbor’s home, with drinks in their hands, watching our downfall while their children and grandchildren ran and played around them. They talked, gestured, pointed, and appeared to glory in all that was our lot.
Meanwhile, reporters and camera men came and filmed the proceedings and a few of our neighbors followed them around, walked with them, and made sure they filmed all angles of our home and property. Some of our neighbors stood, with their own cameras, and filmed my children and I coming and going as well. Several reporters rang our doorbell; one even asked my spouse for a comment. He declined to comment but said that He had four children and would appreciate it if the children could be left alone. The reporter said, “I understand,” and walked away.
Despite the fact I’d worked as a journalist, I doubted my peers. I didn’t think they could possibly understand. But I guess they did, after all. I never saw one report that included any photographs of my children or myself.
Later, the neighbors moved their gathering to the cul-de-sac in front of my house. As I arrived home after running an errand and attempted to drive to my driveway, those same neighbors stood in their group, talking amongst themselves, blocking the road, unmoving, and glaring at me.
What do you do? I laughed. (Inside.)
I laughed and joked with myself at what I like to refer to as their trust of me, my character, and my emotional stability in the face of my trauma. Clearly they had NO CLUE how fragile I felt on the inside or they never would have stood, blocking my way, as I sat in the driver’s seat of an SUV, engine running, my foot inches away from the accelerator!
It entertained me the whole time I waited for them to finally move, and as I drove down the driveway and into my garage.
What else did we do when The Feds came?
We had my son’s birthday cake that night. A friend drove my 3rd grader home from lacrosse practice that day but my son was afraid to get out of the car due to the circus of media, neighbors, and U.S. Marshalls everywhere. I went out and brought him in to be with us. There was a feeling in the air that even a little boy could sense and it must have engendered some defensive instinct in him because he turned to me as we walked into the house and said, “Mom, do you know what I want to say to all those people?”
I asked, “What?”
And he lifted his pinky in the air to let me know he wanted to give them a finger…or THE finger. (I didn’t even know he knew about that yet!)
What do you do when The Feds come?
I laughed, I put my arm around him, and I encouraged him to rise above all of the filth of venomous hatred and choose the right (although a part of me certainly could relate to his desire!)
That’s what WE did when The Feds came.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow to read about Andrea’s important life lesson and where she is today.