Life-saving lessons: The diary of a mortgage felon: Second chancesJerome MayneMortgage fraud
The following article is part of a series by Jerome Mayne, a
former mortgage broker who served two years in a federal prison,
charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Since his
release, Jerome has made numerous presentations across the country,
detailing his ordeal and offering suggestions on how to avoid
similar situations. For previous articles, visit www.mortgagepress.com, and
for more information, visit the author's Web site at www.maynefelon.com.
The following are excerpts from the journal entries of
Jerome Mayne during his time in prison.
August 24, 2000
I'm settling in, here at the halfway house. My old cellmate Ted
from the Yankton, S.D. prison is also here and, ironically, they
put us in the same room together. Even though everyone else here is
also a criminal transitioning back into the real world, many of
them come from higher-level prisons, violent and unknown. So, it's
nice to be with someone familiar. Ted has been there for most of my
downtime, so it's good to still have him around. I have a case
manager. I don't know how someone qualifies for a position here,
but apparently intelligence and communication skills are not
required. She's in charge of me, though, so I must do what she
says. She said that if I behave, I'll get a 48-hour pass to go home
next weekend. The "child" treatment continues. I think I'll
The rules for a home weekend pass are very strict. When I think
about it, I really can't believe they let us go home at all, since
we're really still serving part of our sentences. They have a
sophisticated, voice recognition computer system that will call me
at home, at any time, and ask me to repeat the names of U.S.
states. If my voice doesn't check out or respond, they'll send the
I'm a little nervous about going "home." I mean, it's Pamela's
home, not mine, despite what she says. Maybe I just feel
uncomfortable because I can't contribute financially to the
household. Pamela and I still have things to figure out about our
relationship. She's been through all of this with me, which
includes driving 650 miles to visit me every weekend while I was in
prison. I know. I'm lucky.
In a few weeks, I get to start my job with the school of
improvisation. Again, I'm fortunate that Pamela and her business
partner own this company and are offering me a job as the director
of marketing. Since they both work out of their homes, they've
installed a phone in their classroom space so that the halfway
house can check up on me at any time during the day. I'll be
working for someone, which is weird. I haven't worked for someone
since about 1994.
My salary will be $18,000 a year. Two years ago, I couldn't have
imagined living on $18,000 a year. It's amazing how little you need
when you have nowhere to spend money.
August 28, 2000
I was given a two-hour pass today to go to the store for toiletries
and clothes. I also opened a checking account at the bank.
As I walked into the bank, I realized I was shaking. I had this
fear that they'd discover I had just been released from prison. I
kept thinking that the words "fraud and money laundering" were
going to show up on their screen and the cops would rush in. They
must have thought I was going to rob the place by the way I kept
looking at the guards. I know it's completely irrational, but I
cannot shake this feeling of guilt. It didn't help that my crime
was committed while I was in a branch of the same bank. Not too
The halfway house is granting me my first 48-hour pass this
weekend. That will be so strange. Pamela still has my--our--bed.
It's been almost a year since I've slept on anything other than a
She's also going to pick up my two boys from Hudson, Wis. before
she comes here to get me. Their mother allowed them to visit four
times while I was in prison and I've spoken to them almost every
week, but this will be different. For the first time in almost a
year, they get to wake up to dad.
September 4, 2000
Aside from the phone calls at all hours of the night by the halfway
house computer system, this past weekend was incredible. I was with
Pamela and the kids. Wow!
I also started my job, today! I was released this morning, at
7:30 a.m., and I had to be back by 5:00 p.m., which was long enough
for the first day. I kept checking to see that there was a dial
tone at work because I was afraid that the phone might go out and
they'd send in the cops. A staff member from the halfway house
showed up to make sure I was there. I was. He said that he'll be
stopping by randomly to check in on me. Where in the hell do they
think I'm going to go? And what do they think I'm going to do, run
out to a mortgage company and write a fraudulent loan? I suppose
they think so.
September 29, 2000
It's been more than a month, now, and I'm getting used to this
halfway house routine. All in all, I have to say that I'm pretty
happy to be out of the prison. My brother got me an old, beat-up
car, so I can go back and forth to work. I'm actually making some
money, too, and my health benefits will kick in on Nov. 1. I get to
go home on weekend passes, and my relationship with Pamela and my
kids are starting to take shape again. I've settled into my room
here at the halfway house with my old roommate Ted. We're on the
fourth rewrite of our second screenplay. I'm starting to feel like
a real member of society again.
October 15, 2000
I can't believe it! I put in a request to work out of my home and
it was granted. That means that each day from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00
p.m., I'll be in my house. Then, assuming I continue to behave, I
can also go home on weekend passes. I can honestly see the light at
the end of the tunnel now.
I am eligible for home confinement at the end of January 2001.
This means that I'll only have to check in with my case manager
once a week. I'll still get those late-night phone calls from the
halfway house computer system and I can't be out past 9:00 p.m.,
but it feels like I'm almost a free man again. I'll be completely
done with my sentence on March 16, 2001. Then I start two years of
I don't know what I'll do for a career, because I don't think
there's a future for me at my current job. They're a pretty small
company and I know they can barely afford to pay my salary now.
Maybe I can tell my story to people in the mortgage profession and
let them know what really happens when you cross the line. I do
have improvisation and stand-up comedy experience. Maybe I'll just
continue to do comedy and get on "Saturday Night Live." It's good
to dream, again.
November 2, 2000
I went to see the doctor, today, because, for the past week, I've
had a sharp pain in my right testicle. The urologist did an
ultrasound and found a big black mass in the center, which he says
is a tumor that must be removed. He can't be certain that it's
cancer until a biopsy is done; however, the tumor must still be
removed immediately because if it is testicular cancer, it will
spread to my lymphatic system quickly. My surgery is scheduled for
Saturday, Nov. 4. I'm lucky that my health insurance kicked in,
I can't write, anymore, right now. I'm in a fog.
November 3, 2000
It's Friday night and I'm home on a weekend pass. I told the
halfway house about my surgery and they said it's okay to have it
over the weekend. How nice of them. I don't have to be back until
the doctor releases me from the hospital, which will probably be
sometime on Sunday. The halfway house expects to see me back by
They declined my request to stay at home to recover until
Wednesday or Thursday. My only alternative is to transfer to the
federal prison in Rochester, Minn., where there's a medical
facility. That's where the crazy criminals go to stay and the old
criminals go to die. I don't really care who's there--it's still
prison! I'd be locked up, again. No thanks. I'll stay at the
halfway house on weeknights and "home office" on weekdays. Pamela
said she'd pick me up and take me home everyday.
Tomorrow morning, I'm going in for surgery to remove what is
almost certainly a cancerous tumor. I can't believe this. What the
hell? Cancer? Now I have cancer? How could I have gotten
I wonder how long I've had it. I did some research on the
Internet tonight and it appears to be pretty serious. The doctors
have a good handle on testicular cancer, though--they know how it
spreads and they know how to stop it. But I guess people still die
from this. Lance Armstrong had testicular cancer, and he's still
alive. I wonder if I'll need chemotherapy.
November 5, 2000
I was released from the hospital at noon today and rested at home
until 5:00 p.m. Then, Pamela brought me back here to the halfway
house. She was with me the entire time at the hospital. She slept
in the chair Saturday night. She took care of me today at home.
What have I done to deserve her?
The guys have been stopping by my room here at the halfway
house, tonight, to see how I'm doing. Ted has taken over as the
host for our room. He bought me the book written by Lance Armstrong
about testicular cancer. I have a good friend, here.
The doctor said that I'll feel better by the end of the week.
He's got me on some pretty heavy painkillers. That's good. Keep 'em
November 9, 2000
I went back in to see the doctor, today, and their tests confirmed
that the tumor is cancerous. It's an extremely aggressive form of
cancer that has probably spread into my lymphatic system, so the
doctor suggests a second surgery to remove selected lymph nodes
from my chest and abdominal cavity. He wasn't trying to scare me,
but he said that the procedure ranks up there with open heart
We have scheduled the second surgery for the day after
Thanksgiving, and I'll probably be recovering in the hospital for a
week or so. The halfway house said that as soon as I return, I need
to get back to the routine.
November 20, 2000
I am scared, because I have cancer. I know that people die from
cancer, but for some reason, I know that everything will be all
right. I just don't see myself dying, right now.
December 8, 2000
The second surgery went fine. They removed several cancerous lymph
nodes, one of which was the size of a golf ball and lodged up near
my heart. The incision runs from below my waist to my sternum, and
it hurts. Thank God and science for painkillers.
Pamela dropped me off at the halfway house, tonight, and I had
to practically crawl up the front steps to the door. This is so
ridiculous. Can't I just go home? Haven't I had enough punishment
for my crime? I really just want to go home!
December 9, 2000 Pamela is pregnant. She went
to the doctor and, apparently, she conceived at the end of October.
That was just before my diagnosis. People are calling it a miracle
baby. I am, too.
December 16, 2000
Today, I started a six-week program of chemotherapy. I feel a
little crappy, tonight, and I'm told it will get much worse. The
doctor prescribed something called Marinol pills, which are similar
to marijuana. Yeah, the halfway house staff loves me, now.
December 18, 2000
I was called in to my case manager's office to discuss the results
of my most recent drug test. She said I tested positive for heroin
and pot and that this is how inmates get sent back to prison. I
told her to look in my file to see the prescriptions for
Hydrocodone and Marinol. How many fingers am I holding up?
February 10, 2001
I finally feel like writing, again. I am now on home confinement
until the end of my sentence, next month. Ironically, I was allowed
to go on home confinement the same week my chemotherapy ended. Real
funny. I only have to check in at the halfway house twice a week.
I'll still have the phone calls from the computer at all hours of
the night and I can't be out past 9:00 p.m., but at least I get to
sleep at home.
I had to go off the painkillers a week after my chemo ended, and
the withdrawal was pretty horrible. I guess I've been a real ass.
Pamela's pregnancy is progressing just fine, and the miracle baby
will be born in July.
The doctor said my hair will start growing back in a few weeks
and I'll start to regain the weight that I've lost. I'll be
checking in with him, regularly, over the next year to make sure
that the cancer is gone.
I've started doing stand-up at open stages around Minneapolis. I
want to get my comedy chops back. I still don't know what I'm going
to do with my life, but I've been through a lot and I feel like I
can handle anything. I have an incredible partner in Pamela and a
new baby on the way.
I've never been a very religious man, but there must be some
truth to the saying, "God will never give you more than you can
handle." The experiences I've had in the past two years have been
so incredible that my life will never be the same again. From here
on out, whatever happens, I'm pretty sure that everything will be
all right. Whew! Talk about your second chances ...
Jerome Mayne is a professional public speaker, dedicated to
raising fraud awareness among finance industry professionals,
through presentations, including "Fraud & Consequence." He may
be reached by phone at (612) 919-3007, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or