The Trials of Christian Longo
Drowning in Debt
In June 2000, Chris was drowning in debt, and Wexford Builders, the main client of his construction cleaning business, wasn't paying him fast enough to keep the wolf from the door. Chris began to forge checks to himself from the Wexford account. Between mid-June and mid-July, he wrote six fake checks to himself for close to $30,000, and cashed them at various area banks. Wexford called the police.
On July 14, 2000, while trying to cash yet another bogus check, the bank called the police. Chris took off, but left his ID behind. That afternoon, the police arrested him. Chris, ever the calm pacifist, readily admitted forging the Wexford checks, justifying his actions by Wexford's slow attention to the invoices Longo had sent them. He was only taking what was rightfully his.
MaryJane picked him up at the police station in the stolen red Montana van. According to Detective Fred Farkas, she was neither surprised nor upset by Chris' arrest. At first the detective wondered if she was in on the scam, but eventually concluded that she was not.
The justice system went easy on Chris, since he had no previous criminal history, he immediately admitted his crime and pleaded guilty, he seemed apologetic and remorseful, and he was the sole support of his family. He pled guilty to four counts of fraud, was sentenced to three years' probation, community service, and to pay restitution.
Chris was "disfellowshipped" from the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Disfellowship is another word for shunning, a practice considered archaic by most, but is a part of the Jehovah's Witness ways. According to the Witnesses, shunning is an act of love intended to inspire repentance and a return to right living. For the Longos, especially MaryJane, this must have been a horrifically shameful thing; without her community, she had only her husband and children to cling to. With the disfellowshipping, Chris lost all his Witness employees, they lost all their friends, and even his family no longer spoke to him.