Police Blotters have been mainstays in newspapers for ages. Perhaps occasionally, a blurb read in the blotter sticks with you and you later wonder what happened with that situation.
If you read the blurb in the Boulder Daily Camera in April 2009 about the arrest of Steven Gesse for menacing his neighbor with a gun, you can now read the full story about that case in Bogus Allegations: The Injustice of Guilty Until Proven Innocent, by Michelle Lombardi Gesse - his wife.
According to the book, the Gesses invited neighbors to their home for dinner at their Boulder County home one fateful April night in 2009. After the consumption of wine and a meal and a perceived happy ending to their gathering, one of the guests later returned to the home, demanding Gesse apologize to the neighbor's mother over a comment that the guest found offensive, Lombardi Gesse writes. As her story goes, Gesse complied but a conversation between the two men became heated after the apology was given. In the middle of the night, the Gesse home was surrounded by the SWAT team and Steven Gesse was arrested for the threatening the neighbor with a gun.
Bogus Allegations follows the Gesses as they liquidate assets, cancel out-of-state trips and pay to take multiple breathalyzer tests a week until the trial, to comply with bond conditions. Based on the allegedly intoxicated statements of the victim, as played out in the book, it seems surprising that the case is pursued at all, and yet, for months Gesse is treated as criminal as he awaits the chance to finally defend himself at trial.
Ultimately, Gesse is found not guilty. This is a satisfactory result, based on the story that the book tells - which, of course, is biased in favor of the accused. And according to the book, the Gesses were able to come through he ordeal with their marriage and finances in better shape than most might in this situation, but they can't say the same of their friendships. One particular friendship was severed as a result of this event, and the book takes no mercy regarding that couple.
A current bestseller, Defending Jacob by William Landay, also deals with the toll that an impending court trial takes on a family and its finances. Bogus Allegations does what that bestselling novel can't do, as Michelle Lombardi Gesse, the defendants' wife, is able to focus on her feelings and emotions live as they happened as pieces of the puzzle unfold, based on what she wrote in her journal at the time. It's this emotion that makes true crime memoirs fascinating. She doesn't provide sugar coating or apology for her feelings.
This book is well worth the read. It is an unflattering look at Boulder County officials, but more broadly, it examines the American judicial system and the claim that you are innocent until proven guilty. As with all great stories, there is a love story as well, as the vow in good times and bad is put to the test.
By Lyn Rinehart
Camera Book Critic --Daily Camera