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John Bolaris: Let the truth set you free

It’s been nearly three years since I was victimized.

It’s been nearly three years since I was victimized — along with 88 others — by a well orchestrated international crime ring operating out of Miami. I’m not going to go through all the details as media outlets from print to web have already sensationalized the story with a mix of absurd misrepresentations.

My life has since spiraled downward. I was fired from my job, lost credibility, been humiliated, seen my daughter in tears. I will never forget how at 4:45 p.m. on Dec. 23, 2011, I was escorted out of the building of Fox 29 -- 15 minutes before the start of the newscast, treating me like some sort of criminal, not even allowing me to retrieve my daughters pictures. Then Christmas Eve began with a hand delivered letter (in front of my daughter): Fox's letter to terminate; followed up by Christmas Day, my now fiance Erica rushed me to the hospital in fear I was having a heart attack. I spent two days in the hospital.

Fast forward to Nov. 14, 2012. I'm sitting in a federal court in Miami, huddled in what the feds calls the war room. I'm with U.S. attorney Richard Gregorie (the man who took down drug lords Manual Noriega and Pablo Escobar), three FBI agents and two of Gregorie's top aids. I admire these people as they still believe in truth, justice, and doing the RIGHT thing. I have extreme anxiety as I'm getting ready to testify in "United States of America v. Alec Simchuk, et al, defendants."

I look at my phone. A voicemail appears at 8:22 a.m. from a reporter at Philadelphia magazine. I play back the voice to the feds. They have a complete look of disgust on their faces as this reporter states I have 30 minutes to respond. I try desperately to refocus, luckily for me, my testimony gets delayed another day. The next day: delayed again, not today.

Finally on Friday, this is the day I've been waiting for. It's been two years, eight months since the crime. Four defense attorneys will be coming at me. They will be throwing everything at me, doing their best to discredit me. My guys ask, "Are you ready to get beat up?" I laugh saying, "I've been beat up for the last three years." And I'll always remember the last thing Richard Gregorie told me before I walked through the courtroom entrance to take the stand: "Tell the truth. That's all you need to do."

During four hours on the the stand, you know what I did? I did the right thing. I told the truth. Time to move forward.

— John Bolaris, one of Philly’s best-known news personalities, will appear every Monday. He’ll give advice on life, weather and any topic in between. So let’s start the dialogue. E-mail John at letters@metro.us



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