Saturday, January 11, 2014

John Stacks Gets Indicted

     My friend John Stacks was indicted last month.  He is the owner of Mountain Pure Water, a bottling plant in Arkansas, and owner of Home Bank of Arkansas in Little Rock.  More than a year ago his water bottling plant was raided at gunpoint by dozens of FBI agents, the drama having been reenacted in his video, Rampant Injustice (, very much like the raid on Colasante Clinic on June 16, 2011.
     No one wants to be indicted, mostly because of the terrible effect it has on one's reputation but also because the legal costs for criminal representation are extraordinary.  Greatly disturbing to any of us who have been unjustly accused, is the persistent belief on the part of so many Americans that an indicted person is, de facto, a criminal.  "Indicted" means accused, not guilty, not proven guilty, not tried in court, not formally judged.  It's refreshing when a news story implies that government agents might have made a mistake (even a deliberate mistake) but stories like this are rare, and besides, readers prefer to assume criminality--maybe it's satisfying to assume that other people are bad, and we, by contrast, are good.
     Here are the news stories about John Stacks's indictment.

John Stacks local newspaper story

John Stacks local TV story

     Last year, John Stacks and I went to Washington, DC to describe to our senators and house representatives how government agents and the IRS violated our constitutional rights when they raided our businesses.  We made a brief impression on these beleaguered representatives, whose office buildings are crammed with polished-looking lobbyists toting Power Point presentations, and alongside whom John and I looked like two hillbillies, but it will take lots more Americans who have been wronged to show up in our nation's capital before anyone really listens.
     Therefore, John Stacks is now dealing with all the sequelae of being indicted.  It's not a quick process, I learned:  over three weeks he has been required to attend three arraignments, and any time he needs to leave the state for business he must request permission.  Government agents told him that if he doesn't voluntarily resign from his own bank, he'll be forced to do so.  He has a platoon of lawyers who forecast a long and costly battle for his freedom.  Most of the big vendors for his bottled water, including Walmart, retracted their contracts in the months after the highly publicized raid, forcing John to fire half his employees--that's ninety people who filed for unemployment.  Now he's considering bankruptcy, because it's one mechanism for him to "start over," if he has the gumption.
     I should be grateful (to whom?) that I haven't been indicted, after an investigation that has lasted, at least so far, three and a half years.  But the costs of defending myself against civil allegations, though not as drastic as criminal charges, are no less daunting.  Years of attorneys' fees add up  If I had been smart I would have done what Pat McCullough did:  run my business into the ground, pocketed the cash, left creditors with huge negative balances, then filed for bankruptcy and unemployment compensation.  Pat was granted both, and has fostered, to the feds at least, an appearance of having been victimized.  But I'm not that smart.
     I admire John Stacks because out of his lemons, as they say, he is making lemonade.  The raid on his business was so terrorizing, and his subsequent enragement so unsettling that he couldn't sleep.  Night after night he lay awake, reliving the incident and smoldering with anxiety, but also stoking his right lateral prefrontal brain, where creativity has its playground, until he kindled an idea for a new bottled drink for promoting sleep.  He talked to pharmacists, biochemists, and marketing gurus who helped him develop a formula that works.  Soon he'll be bottling it and putting it on our local grocery store and Handiway shelves.  He drinks a bottle of his new soporific every night and tells me he "sleeps like a baby."
     John wants me to help fine-tune the formula for his burgeoning product and to write some endorsements.  I haven't decided whether to take him up on this project or not, because I don't feel motivated in any direction these days.  I guess I'm waiting for my own prefrontal lobes to throw me a little lemonade.

No comments:

Post a Comment