I can’t remember when I began lying. I am sure it began with a little white lie when I was young and carried on through my life. In my early thirties I became a successful salesperson, then business owner focused solely on making money and getting ahead. Ironically the more success I had and the more money I made the more I became dishonest. I fought it and tried to stop lying in order to maintained my lifestyle but eventually it became inconsequential. My lies were emotionless to me.
The first time I can remember when I lied at my business nothing happened. There were no consequences. I promised to pay someone the next day for a car knowing I did not have the money. When that day came I casually mentioned my accountant had forgot to write the check and I would get it together the next day. I learned that having a man behind the curtain would always buy me time and placed the blame on someone else. This tactic would give me the time to find a way to catch up. The next day would come and I would say my accountant was sick or even better her kids were sick to hold off another day. Pushing and pulling on emotions of others to get more time to figure out how to cover my debts. Soon I was running this game every day. I was selling at a pace that would keep me ahead of the curve. I was winning and feeling that soon I would catch up but that never came.
I was very good at hiding my problems from those around me, and very few happened to pick up on my system. A few questioned me but in the end they eventually got paid and my sales skills to get them maximum profit covered the obvious. I was screwed. I was making money but not enough to service all of the debt I had accumulated over the years. The fact that I had built a multimillion dollar house and new car dealership only lead to the mystique that I was successful but the reality was I had mortgages of 3.5 Million between these two properties along with lines of credit and credit card debt. My monthly nut was over 25K just for my personal expenses. My kids were in private school and add to that my wife at the time had her own issues and wanted to travel excessively in order to try and find happiness. But I was running. Running, working hard day and night thinking, believing, that I could outrun the beast. Lying had become my ally and we were going to make it and come clean someday. Everyone would see.
I was running my business this way for years. Years with a false sense of success and new injections of cash from banks and family friends. Banks only asked for my signature never once questioning the financials that I had doctored to make sure I was approved. There were times when I felt I was close to closing the gap and that fed my ego that I would succeed but I was never really close.
At times, I thought about ending it all even suicide. Filing for bankruptcy and closing my doors but by now I had a new friend. Ego had stepped in and decided we were going to ride this thing out. We were creative, smart and could sell anything. Through sales and will we would get this done.
Then October 2008 happened and everything stopped. The sales funnel that had been pumping out the debt service from my sinking ship failed. I didn’t sell anything for two months. Banks called my lines of credit. Lenders that financed all of the customer’s car loans decided I was too big of a risk and dropped me. My problem was magnified by one hundred and now I had to figure out new angles and lies to keep moving. Then the phone rang.
It was my father’s friend Ray. A man I had met only a few times. He was successful, honest and respected. He owned and operated hospitals all over the world. I thought this was answer. He would bail me out financially and I could start fresh. I had wanted a mentor, a savior all my life to help me figure it out and I thought this was it. I picked up the phone and after a few minutes of small talk Ray gave me the advice I thought I had been waiting to hear for years. “Fire everyone, close your doors and file for bankruptcy tomorrow. Do you hear me! Do it now, this economy is going to take years to recover and you cannot weather the storm. Live to fight another day Greg, you have a family to take care of”. I looked at the phone is disbelief. Who was this guy and why was his suggesting I quit? My ego stepped in again with arrogance and strength. Screw him we can figure this out. We get things done. And it was decided. I kept on lying to myself and others waiting for a solution that would never come.
Alone and without any accountability from a mentor or family my lying ways progressed quickly. I began having to run to the bank before 9:30 a.m. every day to deposit my checks for the sales of the day before begging the banker who I had known for years to cover the checks presenting that day. I had to use all of my charm and personality to throw everyone off at the bank that it was just a cash flow problem. People were slow paying me, they were the problem. I schmoozed, shook hands, had small talk ducking and weaving my way everyday so that no one would be able to see the cracks.
I was lying daily and my family, friends, wife and children had no idea I was in so deep. I began using alcohol and occasional prescription drugs to sleep. My wife was having an affair and my children barely knew me. I just thought that if I kept going one day I would succeed.
Family and friends helped out financially to keep me going as I tried to survive and get back to zero. But it was too late. There efforts would prove useless because I was not admitting the whole truth. I was not baring my soul as to how screwed I was. I was too scared and too proud to admit my weaknesses.
I had found a guardian angel. An investor that was a friend of my then father in law. He was a kind giving man and had recently sold his oil and gas company for over 363 million dollars. I respected him and he helped me keep going with loans to fund inventory. It was August of 2012. I had miraculously survived for 4 years after the recession and I was tired. Tired of lying and tired of the game.
I decided to confess to him that I was screwed and the money he had lent me was in jeopardy. He listened and understood. He knew the struggles I was facing at home with a materialistic wife that would not let things go. He heard me and for once I felt free. I knew I was doing the right thing by confessing and most of all I did not care about the outcome. If he wanted to file a lawsuit against me for lying to him so be it. I did not care anymore.
We met and talked with my banker and he agreed to bail me out. He agreed to place a 1-million-dollar line of credit in place and help me. The only catch was that his former business manager would run all the books and I would have no access to any money. I would earn a salary and he would manage everything else. I happily agreed. I had finally found my mentor. I had finally done the right thing and told the real truth and it appeared it would pay off.
Two weeks before we were set to close on the loan and sign the paperwork two men in dark suits and a local detective from Boulder County showed up at my dealership. It seemed that a customer I had sold a Porsche Panamera Turbo in Canada was upset because I had cancelled the deal. The problem was that I had taken his money and then refused to deliver the car. I knew that I could not pay the consignor or actual owner of the car his funds because they had been washed away in my vortex of robbing Peter to pay Paul. I mitigated my loses and decided to return the buyers money in Canada and act like the sale never happened. After weeks of scrambling to come up with the money for the refund I thought everything was okay. He was paid back and I thought he would fade away. But there was this phone call. One I will never forget. It was from the buyer of the Porshce in Canada. “Are you insane” was his comment. At the time, I never knew what insanity really was but after his statement I looked it up and understood. I was doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. That result never came.
Not even a week later my world came crashing down. The detective that had stopped by ran a story in the local paper, online and with two of the three major new channels in Denver. “Local car dealer charged with theft” was the common headline.
Within hours my game was over. My business was closed and I was hiding in my multi-million-dollar home from my previous customers looking for payment. The angel investor politely told me he could not help any longer as his bride of 45 years said she would leave him if he helped me.
I was formally charged with 41 counts of theft for the remaining victims that I was unable to pay and decided after being threatened with 96 years in prison to take a plea deal from probation up to a twelve-year prison sentence.
I arrogantly sat in the courtroom still thinking that I would be exonerated and just get a slap on the wrist or probation. I thought that once I was past this I would be able to regroup and find a way to pay the people back. I was wrong. I was sentenced to 6 years in the Department of Corrections and 20 year’s probation until my restitution of $580,000 was paid. I was placed in handcuffs and led from the courtroom as my parents, friends and wife sobbed.
I served 14 months out of the 6-year prison sentence, two years on parole and I am still currently serving my probation sentence. Since my release, I have succeeded in finding many jobs and have paid back close to 60K in restitution. I spoke when I was incarcerated to troubled juvenile youth and college students at the University of Denver about my crimes and how they affected others. I am presently engaged and work to overcome the guilt by being brutally honest every day. After losing everything I realized that I really had nothing. Because there was no truth behind it.
I am now a professional speaker and coach others on the consequences of lying and deceiving other people. I help people and my life is fulfilled. I have started a podcast and blog. I have written my first book “The Truth About Lies” and I seek to help others.
I may not be what a lying felon looks like but my story indicates otherwise. For anyone struggling with living their truth, I offer you my story and what I felt for a brief moment by being honest-It will set you free, you just need to let go of the fear.