Chapter 24 – Bingo!

bingo-hiFrom my book Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure, rehab, jail and victory.

It was a late Friday afternoon and we were on our way to Jason’s Deli in Cool Springs when my cell phone rang.  “Mr. Gouldener this is special agent Rodriguez with the FBI…” Several days earlier I had met with him about a Denial of Service attack on our church computer in which thousands of fraudulent emails were sent that had knocked us offline multiple times. It was an amateurish attempt, but it was aggravating. Agent Rodriguez had previously confirmed to me that the attack was both a Federal and a State crime. His call was to give me a status report on the FBI investigation and to make a recommendation as to the next step.  During our initial discussions I had given him the names of my only two suspects. I told him that one or both were most likely responsible for the attacks as well as a previous DOS attack in which the church email account was broached and the password changed so we could no longer access the account.  The names were those of father and son tandem George and Galen Robinson. He asked me how I knew. “Because I have known them for 20 years; like you cops say I know their MO”. His call was to inform me that he had been in contact with local police and that pursuing the case on a local level would probably be the most expeditious way to proceed, but if I preferred to keep it on the Federal level that was my choice. When the call ended I looked at Cathy and said, “This thing could very well take on a life of its own; it is going to lead us to a point where we are going to have to decide to give them a taste of their own medicine or to walk away. Right now, I am afraid I am in more of a get even mood”. The feeling I had after that phone call was exactly the same as I once had on a deer hunt when I looked through my scope and there stood a huge buck. I had him in my sights!  My heart was pounding and the adrenalin was racing through my bloodstream.

When I first went to law enforcement I feared that they would blow me off. I found that not to be the case, but along with that knowledge came a degree of trepidation. Frankly, adrenalin rush or not I was into something that ran against my natural gain. The following Monday I met with Detective Tom Spray who seemed to be a computer crime specialist. He knew exactly how to proceed. I gave him the same two names and told him I would bet him lunch that someone with the name “Robinson” would be found responsible for the email attacks. When I left the police department the plan was for Detective Spray to appeal to the court to issue a subpoena requiring Comcast to reveal the identity of the sender.  He was confident that the court would quickly give us relief.  As I drove back to my office my emotion was a mixture of relief, anxiety and dread. Frankly, I knew that we were at most only a few days from the arrest of the criminal. Since I already knew it would be one or the other, both former good friends, I recalled happy times together and actually hoped that my suspicions were wrong; however, I knew in my heart they were not. In twenty years you sense things about people.

A few days later Spray called me. When I answered he simply said “Bingo, preacher; you would make a good detective. The attacks came from Galen Robinson’s computer in Fairview, Tennessee. We are going to have him come in for questioning”.  A couple of hours later Spray called back; he was laughing, “Well, our friend Galen cannot come into until tomorrow because he has to escort Sonny James to the Awards Show tonight, but he agreed to come in tomorrow”. Under questioning Galen finally admitted his criminal activity. He begged for mercy claiming that if this hit the news he would lose a lot of his web design business. Detective Spray also told me that he had also talked to Galen’s wife and she was furious with her husband. With the confession in hand it would be a slam dunk at trial.

The next day Lou Alvarez, our church board chairman, and I met with Spay. He told us the next step was for us to decide. We left the meeting undecided as to what to do next.  Cathy and I prayed about it and we came to the conclusion that what we needed to do was forgive, move on and not put Galen through the embarrassment and expense of arrest and a trial.  A few months earlier this same family had me arrested on a false charge which was tossed out of court after only twelve minutes of testimony. I remembered the sound of that steel door slamming behind me. Unlike me, Galen was actually guilty; yet, I could not do that to him. Shortly after my arrest George actually sent me my mug shot in one of his taunting emails that we all referred to “Moon Mail”. I have it in my office to remind me of what jealousy can do even to people who claim to know the Lord, but do not follow His gospel. So for many reasons a side of me wanted to get even, but if we did then what good would it serve? Sure it would punish Galen, who certainly deserved punishment, but it would also hurt his innocent wife and his two sweet children and I was pretty sure that was not what God wanted us to do. I thought about the day I had stood in ICU at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and prayed for Galen’s infant son as I watched his surgically repaired heart beat in his open little chest. That was one of the most spiritual moments of my life. There was no way I was going to put his daddy in jail.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:6 “Forgive us our debts as we forgive others”. (NLT) The word “forgive” is a verb; it is more than saying something. It is doing something. The Bible clearly teaches that God honors those who actually forgive. I decided to take my satisfaction in being the better man and doing what I think Jesus would have done. I informed Spray that I personally did not want to move forward with the case. However, the ultimate decision would have to come from our church board. The board was not in quite as a forgiving mood.  But after much heated discussion and hurt feelings they agreed to turn the other cheek.

Just when you think you have heard it all comes Chapter 25 – “Of All the Lawyers”. Coming up next.

For the complete beta version of my book  for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory.

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2 Responses to “Chapter 24 – Bingo!”

  1. Sheila Wilson says:

    You did the right thing John. Something we already know, you are the better person.

  2. john says:

    Thanks so much. We love you!

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