Friday, March 7, 2014

Top Ten List: Why I was a Bad Criminal

The truth is, I was a bad criminal: sloppy, careless, greedy, sorely lacking in all the skills that make for a successful life of crime. I wasn't devious enough.  Nor was I cautious. I was also overcome by remorse and guilt soon after stealing the cash.  A good criminal must be hardhearted and welcome wrongdoing with open arms. He must think clearly and always stay one step ahead. I did what I did as if in a dream, stumbling and bumbling and making mistakes. While I can remember everything, when I look back it seems as if I'm watching another person. A stupid person.

The fact is, I have no one to blame buy myself for getting caught.  I would give credit where credit is due, but I was not caught through good police work or the oligarch's vigilance. I was caught because I screwed up, got greedy and tried to take more, even though more was the last thing I wanted or needed.

These thoughts nagged at me at first after my wrongdoing came to light.  I blamed myself for my stupidity, considered all the what if's.  Not any more.  Although I would gladly take back what I did, I'm actually glad, now that all is said and done, that I got caught. Getting caught helped me to turn my life around and live honestly once again. Getting caught helped me get sober. Getting caught made me realize how deluded I was. Getting caught helped me recognize my weaknesses and failings. Getting caught helped me realize what is important to me in life.

I did wrong and I have been more than ready for a long time to pay the consequences.  What I most regret is the pain I caused to people close to me.

So now, as these top ten lists have proved popular, I decided to come clean with my stupidities in this wholly factual but partially tongue-in-cheek list: 

Top Ten Reasons Why I Was a Bad Criminal

1. Incriminating evidence: I left piles of incriminating evidence in my office and at home under the bed, modern-day treasure maps, that led investigators straight to the buried treasure.  A good criminal destroys the evidence.

2. Sloppy Work: I did not compare forged signatures to the originals or try to make them look the same. I was lazy and sloppy and my forgeries look like shit.  The fact that I was high on pills at the time didn't exactly help. A good criminal is careful, sneaky, risk averse and sober - and takes the time to get the wrong things right.

3. Blabber mouth: I told people what I had done. A good criminal keeps his mouths shut.

4. Greed:  Not satisfied with my first theft, I went back to the very same place for more. Every good criminal knows you should never hit the same place twice.

5. Foggy Brain: My crime was fueled by my addiction and, though at the time I thought I was thinking clearly, looking back is like watching a bad scene from Cheech & Chong.  A good criminal thinks clearly and soberly in order to stay one step ahead. 

6. Transfers to the U.S.: my crime was committed entirely abroad.  The U.S. would not have had jurisdiction if I had not transferred a bunch of the money for no good reason through a bank in San Francisco. A good criminal knows the law and uses it to his advantage.

7. Lies upon lies: I continued to tell lies even after my scheme was discovered.  I should have come clean sooner and tried to lessen the harm.  The fact is, I wanted to - I felt tremendous guilt and remorse - but I was scared.  I was caught in April 2011 but only came clean after a suicide attempt and a resultant change of heart. A good criminal keeps his mouth shut - he doesn't lie or tell the truth.

8. Spending the loot: the cash burned a hole in my pocket and I spent it on stupid, frivolous things, like someone who had just won the lottery.  I should have saved it untouched and continued to live my regular life or, at the least, tried to assuage my guilt by doing some good with it.  A good criminal hides his new-found wealth.

9. Hubris: I convinced myself that the victim, the oligarch, if he ever found out, would shrug it off and leave me alone. That was not the case. A good criminal doesn't underestimate his adversary.

10. Delusion: Because I hated the oligarch, I convinced myself while committing the crime that I deserved what I took, that I was some sort of modern-day Robin Hood, that I was doing it all for my family. How wrong I was. A good criminal doesn't delude himself about the 'higher motives' of his crimes.

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