Wise Gal

Anne Slemmons took Michael Wise's money and ran for the border.

Most of the money the pair stole from Wise has since been recovered, including the $2,900 they paid for never-installed accessories on the 4Runner. But Wise will never see that money, because Cornerstone investors are after it and everything else he owns.

"I rerun the scenario in my head all the time," says Slemons. "I don't know if I could have gotten away with it. I was running scared, and most likely I would've screwed up even if we had got across the border. But maybe if I had all my faculties, I might have gotten away."

Wise's game was up in September 1998. While he was out of town, an Aspen investor named Kelley Carson called the Cornerstone office to change her address. Through Wise, Carson had invested more than a million dollars in Cornerstone-generated loans. But when Cornerstone staffers tried to locate Carson's account, they came up with a blank. Wise had put all of Carson's money into his own accounts. From there, the end was swift--but it didn't come before Wise made a nervy attempt for one more chance. He requested to stay on and earn back the money he stole. Cornerstone officials, shocked at his audacity, fired him on the spot. Soon afterward, Wise admitted his guilt to both the Aspen police and the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office. FBI officials say that Wise has cooperated extensively with them since them.

Like Slemons says, you run before you get caught, not after.
But Wise has yet to serve any jail time. He is working on a plea bargain to reduce the amount of jail time he will serve on two wire-fraud charges. He faces a maximum of ten years, but the likelihood that he will serve all that time is about the same as that of him getting a job at another bank.

Slemons is flabbergasted by this. "They must have had him cold," says Slemons. "From what I know, Wise is unrepentant about taking money, so he didn't admit this out of guilt. They must have plenty of evidence. What I don't get is how he's out on bond. I took $100,000--a fraction of what he stole--and I have a baby. Still, I'm looking at a maximum of seven more years than he is. I don't get it."

"It seems a little unfair," says one of Wise's former business associates. "Slemons stole a hundred thousand dollars from a guy who stole $8 million, and she's looking at doing more time than he is. But I guess that's our society. O.J. Simpson and Clinton get off scot-free, and it looks like Wise might get off as well."

At this point, Slemons says that she just wants to do her time and get back to her daughter. And despite her predicament, she wishes Wise the best. "I'm pretty sure he got more money out of Cornerstone than they're saying he did," says Slemons. "If he can come out of this with three or four million, maybe he can live out the rest of his life comfortably, because I know that after this, nobody else is going to hire him. But as far as I'm concerned, he's still the best employer I ever had.

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