For WCU professor Stephan Clyburn, the ninth day of previous months has brought many bad memories. On April 9, this will change as his wife, Anne, will come home on parole from Cambridge Prison. “The day she comes home, I’ll be ecstatic,” Clyburn said.
After her conviction of a white-collar crime, Anne was serving her sentence at Muncy Prison.
“My wife has been hurt so bad by this all because she was in wrong place at the wrong time,” Clyburn said. “She saw something she shouldn’t have seen.”
Anne reported to the FBI that employees of the Commercial Workers Local 1776 Federal Credit Union in Plymouth were allegedly sending company money to political campaigns. The company audits found no discrepancies in their account of the company’s money.
After seven years of working as the president and chief operating officer, to help rebuild the company and to prevent bankruptcy, Anne was accused of giving herself a raise. She was accused of stealing almost $34,000 in which the prosecution said she allegedly used the money to pay personal bills.
“The truth is being held hostage, along with my wife,” Clyburn said in response to the random audits that were performed, as required by law.
She was convicted of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, theft by deception, receiving stolen property, tampering with records and unlawful use of computers. She was later sentenced for one to seven years. This past November she was transferred to Cambridge.
“I feel very blessed that she was moved from Muncy,” S. Clyburn said it is a dangerous women’s facility. “And that she was not hurt.”
Anne went in front of the parole board for the first time in January in which she was granted parole. She was given 24 hours notice of her meeting with the parole board. It was 24 hours that Stephan “prayed” for his wife.
“The first thing I said to her was: tell me the good news,” Clyburn said to his wife on the phone talking about her parole hearing. “I felt so grateful to hear she’s getting paroled.”
In early January, the parole board officials were “friendly and wished [Anne] luck with her appeal.” Stephan said the board members took less than 20 minutes for deliberation of Anne, “like they realized it was a mistake.”
“It was a complex case,” he said. “[Deliberation] didn’t take very long.”
Clyburn said “things are starting to go in our direction” with Anne getting paroled. Clyburn “will be so relieved” of his wife’s homecoming. He said it has been so difficult having his wife in a maximum security prison.
Along with his wife’s homecoming, they are in the process of making an appeal. With their new attorney, Samuel Stretton, the couple is hopeful of their appeal. Clyburn said he and his wife wish they had Stretton as their original lawyer. He is the third or fourth lawyer to represent Anne. He has “quite a track record” that the couple is hopeful in their case.
Clyburn said Stretton is calling an appeal for Anne not obtaining a lawyer in time for trial. She waved her rights to represent herself. Stretton is also appealing the “judge’s actions.”
“I’d like to think even with our appeal, if it succeeds, that she can rebuild [herself and her career].” Clyburn said, “She worked so hard, only to be robbed of it.”
A friend of the Clyburns, who is now attending graduate school, is “still raising funds for a company.” Stephan said the student is “hoping he can get a company together to give [Anne] a job. Stephan said he knows this is going to be a challenge for Anne, in obtaining a job, with her criminal record.
Clyburn describes his wife as a very gifted business woman. He said without the appeal, Anne may not be able to get a job. Stephan “hopes and prays for justice” that if the appeal succeeds, the “court will rule in our favor.”
“I actually think the appeal will succeed . . . I have no question about it.” Clyburn said, “Eventually her record could be cleared.”
Clyburn said it “makes you wonder how many innocent people are in jail” serving time for crimes they did not commit. Before the trial, Stephan and Anne did not want to sign any agreements as they wanted to fight for her innocence.
Clyburn said stories appeared in the media “five months after she was formally charged.” The first report was published on the KYW website on Sept. 9, 2008. She was formally charged in April 2008 and later “booked” in June. The trial would take place two years later.
After serving a “mere” nine months, Anne was up for her first parole hearing. When she gets paroled in April, she will have served just more than one year of her sentence.
“As agonizing as this has been, my wife and I can [live] again . . .” Clyburn said talking about his wife being released from prison.
“I can’t wait for her to come home, but at the same time, I’m so guilt-ridden,” Clyburn said.
Clyburn and his wife are “hoping to not put this experience behind us.” Clyburn is talking about writing about his wife’s experience and being in prison. They said they learned a lot about friendships and how supportive several WCU faculty and previous students have been for them.
“I feel powerless . . . like I could have done this or that differently. I feel that I did everything I could,” Clyburn said talking about Anne’s trial and conviction. “It was the system that failed her. Not me.”
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a fourth year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.