Maplewood, MN–According to Jury convicts wife of forging checks while her husband was serving in Iraq (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 5/2/08):
“Dana M. Kieser deceived and defrauded her husband when he was at his most vulnerable, serving in Iraq with the Minnesota National Guard, a Ramsey County jury heard Friday.
“She closed out John Kieser’s retirement and college-savings accounts, forged his name on two checks totaling almost $25,000, bought a home in Fargo, N.D., and sold their home in Maplewood — all without his knowledge or consent, prosecutor Laura Rosenthal said.
“Dana Kieser showed little emotion when the verdicts were read. John Kieser was in the courtroom, too, but he clearly took no joy in them. He was served with divorce papers while home on leave in early January 2007 but still held out hope for reconciliation, even two months after his tour of duty ended in July.
“The couple’s contested divorce is pending in North Dakota. Dana Kieser said during testimony that she has custody of their two boys, ages 6 and 4…
“Rosenthal said that Dana Kieser left her husband essentially homeless and that he never has and never will live in the Fargo house.
“District Judge James Clark set sentencing for June 12. Dana Kieser is unlikely to serve any time in prison. The presumptive sentence for check forgery is a stayed sentence. The amount of restitution would be determined by probation officials.”
There are many, many truths which this case illustrates. Here’s a few:
1) It is usually the woman, not the man, who initiatives the divorce and breaks up the family, and it is often done without a genuinely compelling reason.
2) It is often husbands, not wives, who “hold out hope for reconciliation” and try to work the marriage out.
3) Many men are in harm’s way in Iraq or Afghanistan and are–let’s be blunt–stabbed in the back by their wives. Sometimes it’s through wives looting them, as in this story. More often it’s through women initiating unwarranted divorces and then moving “back home” with their kids, and then making weighty financial demands upon the father. As I explained in my co-authored column Protect Deployed Parents” Rights (Trenton Times & several others, 11/11/06), “Many married parents deploy overseas, never suspecting that their parenthood essentially ended the day they left home.” In most cases, the victimized parent is the father. It is indicative of our society’s disregard for men and fathers that there is no negative social stigma attached to these acts.
This represents a societal change, and a bad one. When my grandfather was fighting against Germany in the Argonne Forest in 1918, can you imagine what the reaction would have been if my grandmother had left him? She would have been condemned–rightly–for betraying her husband. Her relatives would have told her, “How can you betray him when he is in danger? How could you take a man’s kids away while he is abroad? Why are you breaking up your family unnecessarily?” This ethos is long gone now. (To learn more, see my blog posts Reflections on Veterans Day Part I and Part II.)
4) I had to laugh at the line “[Prosecutor] Rosenthal said that Dana Kieser left her husband essentially homeless.” Actually, we don’t have any problem with that–the wife could have made a false claim that the husband “threatened her” or that she is “afraid of him” and she would have easily gotten a restraining order which would have barred him from his home and made him homeless. Hundreds of thousands of women do this every year and nobody even blinks. To learn more, see my co-authored column Letterman Case Shows Problems with Restraining Orders (Albuquerque Tribune, 1/17/06).
5) I get letters all the time from soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan who tell me that their wives have cleaned out their accounts and disappeared, and I doubt that 1 in 10 of them ever gets justice for it. My first thought in reading this story was “Dana Kieser must have really screwed up–women get away with this all the time.”
6) After all of this, “Dana Kieser is unlikely to serve any time in prison. The presumptive sentence for check forgery is a stayed sentence. The amount of restitution would be determined by probation officials.” So all that happens might be that she is asked to pay some of it back, though even that amount will probably be light, because, after all, she’s a single mother with two kids to take care of.
7) Dana Kieser lied and deceived but she has custody and probably will keep custody and John Kieser will face stiff child support obligations. Despite her crime and the criminal conviction, in the end, she wins and he loses.