Convicted Felon – Can You Ever Escape the Stigma?

To groups all around the country, I say the following words – Every choice has a consequence! At times the consequences we face are short lived and often forgotten. But, there are some choices we make in life that have permanent long-lasting implications. They will never be forgotten – we, likewise, cannot hide from their continued effects.

As a Sales Executive for a public company and ethics speaker, I am open about who I am, my past and the lessons I’ve learned. I speak about them often and have found that most people (not all) find hope and inspiration from the words they hear. But, just when I think that the message – you reap what you sow – is beginning to take hold, I get a reply that sends me backward, realizing that no matter how much good you do – someone, somewhere, is standing ready to throw stones.

Today I got a post to one (well…actually all) of the videos that I have posted on YouTube. You can view the video by clicking on the image to the right on your screen. The posting must have been from a disgruntled former employee who felt the need to blame his or her failure on someone other than themselves. Here’s the comment with the foul language removed:

This is incredible! What a crock of XXXX! This guy is a crook and I have reported him to Texas Dept of Insurance as he is getting commissions off agents when he can not be licensed himself. The investigation is going on at present. I worked for this jerk, and he is no more than an ex-con, working for a company that knows his history but continues to keep him on knowing that he embezzled from families and back in the same line of work, only in a different state. This makes me sick!!!!!!!

It is always interesting to me the approach we, as humans take, when we face failure. It continues to ring true, no matter what spin you put on it, every choice has a consequence. In the company where I serve as Sales Exec. I have grown more successful sales execs for the company during my 15 year tenure than any other. Yet, for someone who found this career opportunity not for them, I am a crook. It is truly all a matter of perspective.

To set the record straight – which is a matter of public record – I was convicted of embezzlement and tax evasion for crimes which occurred in the mid to late 1980′s. I was a CPA at the time and not in any way associated with the industry to which I serve as a Senior Sales Executive today. I am not proud of my past, but I cannot change it either.

People do ask me if I had it to do over again would I change anything? The answer: yes…I wouldn’t do what I did. Prison is no fun. It was, however, an unusual learning environment. I learned many things but three come to mind:

  1. Much of life is an illusion. That is shown in the comment above. It is an illusion to think that one persons failure at a job is somehow the result of my crimes over 20 years ago!
  2. Every choice has a consequence. My choices certainly did. Not only did I go to prison, but many relationships I had in my life failed due to my choices and the consequences that followed. It is sad but true and the pain follows to this day.
  3. Success comes in many ways. It is not always measured in material possessions, but more times than not measured in the impact that you have on another’s life.

So if there is a part of the above comment that is saddening, it is that the effort that I put into speaking in order to use my experience as an example to help others was somehow lost on this person. You can’t win them all…but perhaps, upon reflection, folks will come to understand that you might make a mistake, but you aren’t a mistake.

God bless. And if I could leave you with one thought it would be: Look past the illusion, make good choices and claim your success!

As always your comments are welcome!

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7 Responses to Convicted Felon – Can You Ever Escape the Stigma?

  1. Mary says:

    Hello, Chuck.

    Congratulations on using a negative experience in a positive way. It’s not an easy thing to rebuild your life after serving a prison sentence; no one makes it easy.

    Someone very close to me is serving a six month sentence in a state instituion. I am trying to find out about educational programs and job training they could use when they are released. Where should I start?

    God bless,
    Mary

  2. Terry Taylor says:

    I like you did the very same thing. I was a CPA who misappropriated funds and served 2yrs in prison. I am trying my best to obtain employment in a professional capacity. I am going into the interviews being honest and I am trying to keep a positive attitude. Is it possible to ever get back into the accounting field?

    Driven for restoration

    Terry

  3. Kelly J. says:

    I was just curious if you knew of any specific organizations that people who have been convicted and are now out cna join. I know someone that is a convicted felon, armed robbery, he has learned from his past and regrets it and has changed his life. He wishes he could work with kids, but knows he will never get the chance to. I am trying to find an organization or smething that he might be able to join. Just curious… Thanks for your help!

  4. Jack Doe…You are only unproductive and a drain on society as a convicted felon if you chose to be. Your choices got you the title of convicted felon and your choices can get you whatever you want if you’re willing to make empowering choices for yourself. Sound, from your post, that you’ve chosen to be a victim rather than a victor. Sad. But, you can today choose another route. The “will to work for crumbs” – you don’t have to do that either. But you do have to start over. No one owes you anything. You owe yourself. Perhaps you should look in the mirror and ask just who you are and if you’re better than the comments you write. Your choice.

  5. What a surprise to see this site….not really , I always knew you would wind up on the “TUBE” ! Just
    pulling your leg, but I am delighted to see that you are doing well in spite of the nay sayers. I just want to tell you that I think of you and Deb often and truly miss you both.Having said that, I can tell your readers that I too worked under the direction of Chuck Gallagher, the felon, if you must, but I can honestly say that few people have taken me under their wings as Chuck did.You taught me everything I know about the Caring Business and I do so appreciate that.Now we had our ups and downs but at the end of the day Chuck was always there for me. He did make mistakes like all of us but he took his punishment like a man , made restitution as best he could and moved on. Always vowing to be a better man because of his mistakes.Yes, I speak as if I was there. I was…and my admiration of a life turned around will never be greater than for what I saw in Chuck ! As my Bible says “let the one having no sin cast the first stone”. Forgiveness and tolerance is a wonderful thing, and if you have any doubt just read “The Book” ! ( I am referring to the Bible for those of you that are not sure)

    Chuck , you just go on with your SPECIAL Message of hope and fresh starts.Let those that are listening with tender hearts and a life full of regrets, realize that the same Jehovah God that forgave you and allowed you to start again can do the same for them. Always, hugs and prayers !

    • Charlotte…what a wonderful surprise to reconnect. I am so pleased to hear from you and know that you’re bringing your special gifts to those with whom you come in contact. I’ll connect via email, but wanted to say a public thanks for your kind comments.

  6. terri pierce says:

    Mr Gallagher, I want to send my thanks for everything you said is the absolute truth. I live in California and I am a convicted felon who went to prison for Petty theft with priors, I have multiple convictions
    I ruined my chance to every be employed in the state of california.
    I am not asking that my record be erased. I am asking that it allow for
    me to become employed. No one want to hire ex-felons with theft related crimes no matter how much or how many years have gone by. Society believes that all people who have felonies should not be entitled to anything good which pretty much eliminates any chance of
    becoming a productive member of society. California is by far the worst state in the union for its treatment and limitations it puts on ex-offenders

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