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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Former Westport Mom on Prison Life: ‘It’s a Spiritual Retreat’

UPDATE A former Westport mother of four says serving time in federal prison for mortgage fraud is like a taxpayer-funded spiritual retreat.

WestportNow.com Image
Heather Bliss on life in prison: “It sounds absolutely ridiculous. I know.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow photo from CNBC

“It’s rest,” said Heather Bliss, 39, in a CNBC documentary taped in a federal prison in Danbury where she is serving a 30-month sentence. (See WestportNow Feb. 14, 2013)

“It’s a spiritual retreat. It sounds absolutely ridiculous. I know.”

The documentary, “White Collar Convicts: Life on the Inside,” was reported by CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin and premiers on April 29 at 10 p.m. (See video excerpt here.)

Bliss was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $12,500 fine. Her husband, Westport property developer William Trudeau Jr., was sentenced to 15 years in a scheme prosecutors said involved more than $3.5 million in fraudulent gains.

Asked if she thought what she was doing was wrong, she replied: “I remember having a bad feeling about it, but I trusted those around me.”

Pressing to clarify, Ross Sorkin asked, “Do you think you were guilty?”  Bliss replied: “No, I had no intention –- my intention was not to defraud anybody. No.”

Federal prosecutors “told us that was a lie,” Ross Sorkin said.

CNBC reported she earns 12 cents an hour as a groundskeeper and that her routine revolves around meals, calls to her kids, and a morning yoga class.

Bliss, who surrendered eight months pregnant and temporarily transferred to a one-year program for inmates who are new mothers, said friends tell her serving prison time, “doesn’t sound so bad.” She added, “And we have to laugh about it, those of us that are here.”

“We have a choice when we are here on how we are going to handle it and how we are going to take each day,” she said. “And so many of us look for the gifts. Look for the positive things to focus on while we are here instead of the negative.

“And the negative is obvious. We are confined here. We are away from our families. And all that pain and suffering. But for us to get through the day, we think about those things.”

With both Bliss and her husband in prison, their four children are living with friends. She acknowledged she has it easy.

“If I were on the outside with my four children, I’d be running around crazy,” she said. “I’d be very busy. And I have a lot of down time here. So we joke around and say that it’s our spiritual retreat.”

Asked if people on the outside looked at her prison lifestyle and said justice was not being served and that this a problem and it should be harder, Bliss replied: “My opinion would be If incarceration is the consequence of a crime, it should be harder and a shorter period of time.”

WestportNow.com Image
Heather Bliss and husband William Trudeau Jr. in a photo shown on the CNBC documentary.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo from CNBC

Bliss pleaded guilty in 2010 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Three others also pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme.

Authorities said Trudeau and his co-conspirators submitted false mortgage loan applications to fraudulently obtain more than $4 million in loans to purchase six properties in Westport and Newtown.

In 2011, Bliss and her husband were caught using a false address to send their 7-year-old daughter to Westport schools. They were fined $14,000 by the school system—about the cost of tuition for the past school year, according to court documents.

According to a statement during a court appearance, Bliss volunteered actively in her daughter’s first-grade Westport classroom. She said she and her husband, who moved to Westport in 1999, were forced by economic conditions to lease their home on Sylvan Road South and move to Norwalk.

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Posted 04/23/15 at 06:58 PM  Permalink



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We send the swindlers to a tax funded spiritual retreat? We bail out bankers and ensure their bonuses? We villanize public employees and fail to fund their contractual pensions? We give away public land? What a sorry state we are in.

Posted by werner liepolt on April 23, 2015 at 08:34 PM | #
 

Cork it lady!  You and your hubby should be in general population at Cheshire C.I., receiving three squares a day and one hour recreation time.  Instead, you’re living the high-life at our expense while thugs and rapists roam our streets under the so-called “watchful eye” of the system.  Yea, glad to pay my taxes each year.

Posted by Raymond E. Finkle on April 24, 2015 at 09:52 AM | #
 

I rarely have the urge to comment on these articles but holy sh*t this takes the cake.  This B deserves to be serving 15 years just like her crook husband.  You’re welcome for your “spiritual retreat.”

Posted by Katie Marchi on April 24, 2015 at 03:07 PM | #
 

Have to go w/ Katie on this one. While our roads are falling apart, etc., there’s an alphabetical list of “needs to be done,” this individual has the audacity to laugh at, us, the foolish taxpayers? Nice to know where my tax money isn’t being correctly implemented-the judicial system who wasn’t using their collective wisdom when this sentence was handed down.

Posted by Jean Marie Wiesen on April 24, 2015 at 03:14 PM | #