Mountain Home, friends, family, I have had enough. I have finally reached my limit. I have dedicated my life to my business for 4 years, and today I got to feel defeat for the first time. I would like to jump right in and tell you about the nightmare I experienced at Mountain Home Police Department, but I want to first preface this story with a little history. I want to just help paint the picture of what I have sacrificed since moving here: I haven't watched a single football game; I have not played a single game of Scrabble; I have fished only 3 times in 4 years. Those three things are the 3 things that I love to do more than anything, but I gave it up for business...for chasing me dream. Last year, I only watched 1 movie from my living room, and that with one eye on my phone the whole time. I work at least 83 hours a week. When I should be sleeping, I am working on advertising and future non-profit ideas I have been working towards for Mountain Home. What do I do with my money for the most part? I have reinvested most of my profits back into my business or donated it somehow to our community. Everyone asks me why I do this; "why do you work so much and do so much for everyone else and never take care of yourself?" My answer is: penance. I spent almost 16 years behind bars starting when I was 15. I didn't see a day of freedom for my 20s. I was a terribly addicted and misguided teenager who needed help. Unfortunately, it took a robbery charge to stop me. It carried me 11 consecutive years into an abyss that can only be understood from others like me. It was the worst time of my life. I hated it so much that I wanted to do nothing but good after my release, and that is exactly what I set out to do.
Forgive me, but I have to preface the disaster you are about to read--a little further.
I changed everything about me. I started with college, technical education, tattoo apprenticeship, raising my kid responsibly, and surrounding myself with people who used to be my enemy. Those people turned out to be the most incredible, ethical, and loving human beings I have ever associated with. They were cops, lawyers, politicians, librarians, therapists, mechanics, physicians, property managers, fire-fighters, teachers, and other white and blue-collar and no-collar solid people. If I were to guess, I have over 30 active clients that are police officers and sheriff's deputies. I have had nothing but respect for what they do and admiration for the smiles they maintain despite working in the most ungrateful industry in history. I want you to understand that what I have to say about the Mountain Home Police Department is not all-inclusive. I am disappointed with 2 officers. That doesn't mean that the rest are bad.
Over the past 2 years, I have focused on community action. I have traveled to IDOC and Frank Church to guest speak; I have donated 1000s to those in need; I have donated 1000s of hours covering up or eliminating tattoos to those who can't afford it. I have stripped myself from luxuries like sleep and family dinners to ensure I has extra for those suffering. Consequently, I have aged 10 years since moving to Mountain Home (Nov.4,2016). This is a pace that simply can not continue: It wasn't as if I had a choice to change-even though I had this epiphany. Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse--they did.
Most of you know that I have had family problems that significantly affected my life. After the problems with my son, I went from an already short 4-5 hours of sleep, to a paltry 2-3. My son finally put himself in a position to be helped, and his newfound position also helped mine. Now that he's getting help, I have a chance to focus on evening the keel. For a short while, things starting going real well. Then there was "RAW", and that was the beginning of a much worse situation. Let me share with you what happened when I was at the art exhibit on January 23rd, 2019.
My secretary and I arrived at the shop, cars loaded with all the artwork and display supplies we took to Boise's "Raw" exhibit. It was a little later than midnight. We discovered that we were robbed. Somebody had broke into the shop and cleared the jewelry cases out. In addition, that same person/s destroyed my tattoo removal laser. The LCD screen was smashed in, there were bits and pieces and cords on the ground, the hand-pieces were stolen, and even the visors disappeared. Just above the laser on the wall was a message that read, "Go back to where you came from, MF." When I saw this I couldn't help but have flashbacks of the death threat I received on my wall at my old shop and the threats on Facebook. All I could do was stare at it. I felt like I stared at it all night. I couldn't figure out why this happened, but it doesn't matter: it did.
I filed a police report immediately and turned in the statement the next day. I called my insurance agent freaking out, because I knew this would shut my shop down for awhile, and shutting down the shop is not something I can do without repercussion. I had to reorder supplies necessary to pierce and continue to tattoo, but I was already strapped. Christmas just ended, my son cost me a fortune, and January is a pretty slow month. I don't have room for time off, but my hand was forced, and all of my contractors and secretary are out of work, as well. The good news is: I have insurance for disasters like this. Bad news:the insurance company refused to help with the damages until there is a police report. I sent them the statements, proof of loss, receipts, and the incident report that the police station issued me. Was it enough? No. They insisted on the police report--not the incident report. So, I have been somehow scraping by without the shop generating revenue, and meanwhile there's no police report. I called over and over again. I emailed the adjuster. I spoke with the Lieutenant, too. I kept getting the same responses. So, I haven't been able to pay my rent this month, and now, bills are stacking up. It's not like I can just stop the bills, you know? I have to be able to work. I knew how important this was when I signed up for the Farm Bureau insurance two years ago. I have the property insurance, and I have the "loss of income insurance", too.
The loss of income insurance was supposed to be a safety net for this very reason. This part of the policy was supposed to pay for bills like rent while waiting to get back to work. Unfortunately, it didn't exactly work like that. A matter of fact, it's been over 2 weeks and I still have had no assistance. Things were looking optimistic yesterday when I received a phone call from the adjuster at Farm Bureau. He assured me he had the claim ready to be issued; as soon as the police report was filed he would bring by the check so we could get back to business. This is where the story gets good.
Today, I was asked to go to the Mountain Home Police Department. There was a detective who wanted to talk to me. So, I went in as soon as I could. I was excited thinking that they finally had the report done. That wasn't the case. The detective started asking me questions about my financial situation. Then he started laying out these printouts of past Facebook posts of me trying to sell jewelry and the laser. As he was showing me the images (which didn't bother me, because they were common ads), he started to raise his voice. He cut me off over and over again using bitter tones and manipulative words trying to insinuate that I robbed my own shop! He had the audacity to accuse me of fraud! He kept arguing that I had an jewelry ad up on Facebook that was only a month ago trying to get people to buy my body jewelry. After he finally let me speak, I tried to clarify that we are a tattoo AND piercing shop that resells jewelry and that this ad is just an ad. THAT ad is just like the run-of-the-mill "going out of business department store" ad or like the JcPenny "clearance" philosophy in retail marketing. I mean, we have been selling jewelry for quite some time and these ads are routine. He thought it was suspicious enough to interrogate me as a suspect ! I couldn't believe it. Then he brought up the laser ad I once circulated beside the Survey Monkey Marketing Plan. At one point I put some feelers out there to see if I could profit from selling the laser so I could buy a hair removal laser. It was just a pilot that coincided with a marketing plan/survey I released. I quickly learned that the laser ad got people asking questions about removal. Then it dawned on me that the $60,000 laser post wasn't flagged like all my other attempts to advertise laser treatments. I learned, at that moment, that I could "sell" items like the laser, and in fact, advertise the laser SERVICE without actually calling it a "service". The whole reason Facebook kept flagging me over my "Group" and "Marketplace" posts is because either I am no longer allowed to post "health" or "adult" products/services or because of adding business links causing redirect. So, I took advantage of that loophole. I started taking pictures of things that have nothing to do with the ad (like an apple), and I was able to share with everyone a super professional backdrop of my tattoo station or laser setup (but not the apple :) ). This is how I continued to advertise--as most of you can vouch for. But WAIT...there's MORE !
Eventually, the detective says, "If you are innocent and want to be ruled out, just take a lie detector test." I was like, " Ok, I have nothing to hide, so I have no problem doing that. " I talked to my attorney and he said I shouldn't take one, because this whole thing was ludicrous, but I didn't want to look suspicious, so I took it. I don't know if any of you have taken one before, but I want to share with you how it felt for me. Most of you who know me are aware I have ADD, depression, panic attacks, and PTSD. I am wild, impulsive, and tend to have poor concentration most of the time. As soon as he plugged me into the machine, I started to panic. He kept asking me to answer some questions purposely lying and some the truth. Questions that had a confusing phrase to begin the sentence were the ones I was supposed to answer purposely lying, and the ones that did not have that particular phrase to start the sentence, I was supposed to tell the truth. So, I had a hell of time, but the only way I could focus on the phraseology was to close my eyes and zero in on the words. I was able to calm my breathing (thanks to my anxiety medication) and feel slightly more comfortable. He would ask several questions that were slow and steady, then you would throw an abrupt question like: "Did you plan on robbing your own shop." That is when my PTSD would hit of those times when officers would set me up in prison just so that I could do some "extra-duty" (as the called it) when they needed someone to do laymen duties. I could only see gray and images of traumatic prison experiences from my past and the images from the night I discovered the horrible threats on my wall and the investigator raising his voice shortly beforehand. I had a hard time with these visual nightmares and the welling fear that I was being set up and answered, "NO." I continued to deny it every time, but the flashbacks kept coming. My biggest fear is to be accused of something I didn't do. I have been so afraid of false allegations, that I maintained a small circle of friends, I stayed away from relationships, and I have been generally afraid of people to the point I cover myself in cameras. Now the day has come. Now I feel like, while in that horrible room, that I am being attacked. I felt attacked by the officers who interrogated me and I was afraid to tell them, because of that time when I was attacked by officers in 2009 and 2013. I couldn't help the anxiety, the fear, and the adrenaline while taking the test. I tried to remain calm, but I could only feel the horror. After the test was over, he told me that my test showed that I was reactive to the questions about the break-in. I told him that it was wrong and I had nothing to do with it. I was in Boise at "Raw", and it would have been impossible. He said he was aware because of the live Facebook videos I posted throughout the night, but he thinks that I paid someone to do it. I think that this is all ridiculous, and I can't take this abuse anymore. I have been under attack from anonymous people, a few disgruntled customers, and competition since the day I got here, and now I am getting ambushed by my insurance company and the police department. I am going to assume that the $6000 insurance that I have been paying into every years is trying to wiggle out of any obligation. I am also going to assume that there will not be any help from the police department since they are designed to take as much time as possible and presume that anyone with a history is first guilty until proven innocent. I have done nothing wrong, and I took the lie detector test. If I was guilty, there is no way that I would have taken that test since it was not necessary. Oh yeah, to make matters a tad more interesting, the person who gave me the polygraph test happened to be someone I knew fairly well. I also have suspicions that he has been holding a grudge for some time.
I have given everything to the community that I could give, and now I am the one who needs help. What do I get ? Accused and mentally assaulted by a detective and polygrapher.
I really need to reorder my supplies, I need to fix my laser, and I desperately need to pay my bills so I can stay open. I am needing your help since the insurance company clearly doesn't want to. I have art prints for sale. If I sell them all, I can stay in business. Does anyone want to buy a print of one of celebs or animals from my 2014 series? Anyone want to start designing a sleeve, back piece, or custom portrait? Anything will help even though I have over $160,000 in damages/loss, all I need at this point is to replace the essentials so I can cover the bills.
Don't want a portrait by still want to donate? Thank you in advance if this is you ! You can buy one of these gift cards online. You can keep them, use them, or gift them to someone else. Thank you for whatever you decide to do!
That is all I can do until the shop is in full swing. I can't wait on insurance company anymore. I just have to assume that I will have to fight through this.
Regarding all of my fans, my family, and those citizens of Mountain Home who support me, thank you so much for believing in me. I need you more than ever right now. If you can't buy a portrait, all I am asking for is you to be patient with me and my shop. We are going to be ok, and we will find a way. I know if you could you would, and I know you that your heart is always in a good place. God Bless
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