Bill Bartmann was indicted on 57 federal felony counts in 2002; Attorney General, John Ashcroft alleged that he was guilty of making fake transactions to shell companies in order to falsify his balance sheet.
Bill Bartmann said, “Ashcroft’s action was after two grand juries voted not to indict. I didn’t know if it was a slow new week at the Justice Department or whether he hoped to find the next Enron-type scandal. All I knew was that I faced a cumulative 600 years in prison if convicted.
Bill Bartmann went into survival mode as he faced the situation head-on. He chose to be honest with his family and not try to sugar coat anything. “The natural inclination is to attempt to shield the ones you love,” said Bartmann, “but your desire to protect will produce the opposite result. Silence allows them to conjure up the most dreaded of possibilities.”
It was a very painful experience for Bill Bartmann, his wife and two young daughters as they witnessed all 89 days of his trial. His wife and daughters watched as the government produced more than 1,000 exhibits and called 53 witnesses in their effort to show Bartmann as a crook. “I produced zero exhibits and called no witnesses, because I had not broken the law,” said Bartmann. “My family also got to hear first-hand when the jury found me not guilty on all 57 counts.” A public statement was later made to confirm that Bill Bartmann had not committed any fraud.
Bill Bartmann was not guilty; however, he was devastated. The lifeblood of his company consisted of credit lines; those lines vanished at the hint of fraudulent activity. Bill Bartmann was a billionaire and the 25th richest person in America one day; bankrupt the next.
Bill Bartmann took steps to accept responsibility for his own actions. “People like winners, not whiners,” said Bartmann. Though he was not guilty of any crime, Bartmann was the head of a company employing 3,900 people, all of whom lost their jobs. “Accepting responsibility for a failure didn’t make me a bad human being – it instead made me a real human being.”
Bill Bartmann is not one to give up, no matter how bad things get. He didn’t wallow in bitterness and self-pity when the bankruptcy judge had a crew come to his home on Christmas week to chainsaw a hunk off his pool house; it was just a few feet over the one acre of land she would allow him to keep in bankruptcy.
Bill Bartmann would not have been able to move on and bounce back to success if he continued to relive the bad times. This is why he closed this chapter in his life and began writing the next one. Bill Bartmann concentrated his energy on building a thriving business of teaching entrepreneurs how to remove obstacles that stand in their way to success. His new book, Bailout Riches, has reached Amazon #1 world-wide best-seller status. The book shows ordinary people how to capitalize on the current government bailouts.
Bill Bartmann believes it is better to forgive others for their wrong doing rather than focusing on revenge which only produces negative energy. He learned that Attorney General, John Ashcroft would be at a book signing in Chicago while he was in town. Bill got in line, wearing a name tag that simply said, “Hi, My Name is Bill.” When he got to the head of the line, Ashcroft greeted him, saying “Hi Bill, where are you from?”
Bill said, “I’m from Tulsa.”
“Oh, really? We had a big case there a couple years ago.”
“Yes, I know. It was mine.” The color drained from his face as Ashcroft recognized Bill Bartmann.
“Mr. Ashcroft, you know now – and you knew then – that I was innocent. Your actions cost 3,900 people their jobs, and cost me $3.5 billion, not to mention enormous anguish on the part of my family. Mr. Ashcroft, I came here for one reason – to forgive you.”
Bill Bartmann turned and left before Ashcroft had a chance to react. He wasn’t concerned with his reaction; he did it for his own peace of mind and mental well-being.
Bill Bartmann says that when your world comes crashing down around you, your attitude toward failure will determine if you recover and become successful again. “Nature is all about regeneration,” said Bartmann. “You’re the most developed product of evolution up until this moment; you have the capacity for renewal.”