About this Episode
Episode 39: Erik Kramer
After a storied career playing American football, former NFL quarterback Erik Kramer’s 18-year-old son overdoses on heroin and dies, his mother dies of cancer, as does his father. Soon after these devastating family tragedies, and overcome with grief and debilitating depression, Erik meticulously planned his own suicide…
“I placed the gun under my jaw and pulled the trigger. The bullet went through my chin, up through my tongue, my nasal cavity, narrowly missed my optic nerve, through my brain and exited through my skull.”
Although he ultimately survived his failed attempt left him with massive brain injuries. Depressed and mentally incapacitated, he then met a woman named Courtney Baird who coerced him to marry her. Erik is then led into a conservatorship hoax, marriage fraud, the corruption of family law, and arrested for (ultimately false allegations) domestic violence that leave him homeless and facing a felony assault charge. You won’t want to miss this episode.
Erik Kramer was an NFL quarterback who in 1991 led the Detroit Lions to a 12-4 regular season record, their first playoff victory since 1962 and the NFC Championship game. He went on to set passing records with the Chicago Bears that stand to this day. Following his playing career, Erik become a TV sports broadcaster covering the Detroit Lions & Chicago Bears preseason games, NFL regular season games for Fox, as well as in-studio analysis.
Greg Ellis: This week's guest was an NFL quarterback, who in 1991 led the Detroit Lions to a 12 and 4 regular season record. Their first playoff victory since 1962. And the NFC Championship game. He went on to become a sports broadcaster covering the Detroit Lions as an in-studio analyst and then the Chicago Bears. Today he opens up about his career, the sudden death of his son Dylan from a heroin overdose, his own failed attempted suicide and the resultant conservatorship nightmare and the false allegation of domestic violence from the woman who coerced him into marrying her. This week, Erik Kramer is The Respondent. Erik Kramer, it's great to have you on The Respondent. How are you?
Erik Kramer: Great. Thank you for having me. I'm doing just fine thanks and excited to be here.
GE: It's good to have you, listen, it was Dr. Drew Pinsky, who introduced us. He said that you have an amazing and heart wrenching story to tell and he wasn't wrong. So thanks to Dr. Drew. How do you know and how did you meet Dr. Drew?
EK: He used to do a show with Adam Carolla called Loveline. And Adam Carolla and I played youth football together, so we'd lost touch over the years. But when I used to play in Chicago, after the games on Sunday, I would typically have like, a review of the game show right at night. So around 11 o'clock at night, and as I'd be driving home around midnight, I'd be clicking on to Loveline just to really listen to Adam. And so, as it turned out later in life, I had a son pass away. And a friend of mine, who I didn't know that day, but later came to know, he also had a young daughter of his own, who passed away. Today Griffin's buried about 40 or 50 feet from Hannah Davis. And Mark Davis is who I met. And Mark knew Drew Pinsky. And so Drew, after going down and meeting with Drew and hanging out for him with him a little bit, by that time Adam Carolla was doing his own podcast. And so Dr. Drew arranged for he and I, to go on to Adam's podcast. Anyway, I reached out to Dr. Drew again, based on the story you had just alluded to. And so he and I spoke over the phone, he arranged again for me to go on Adam's podcast and in the meantime, also introduced he said, hey, there's another guy that I think I'd like to introduce you to named Greg Ellis. And so here we are talking
GE: Here we are talking and I think the first message I got from you was really just kind of condensing of what had happened in your life personally. And it really I think, started on Mother's Day 2010. I think you just finished playing golf with your mom and her husband, and your youngest son, Dillon, right? Who was 12 at the time, and you'd finished playing golf and your mom sat you down and you had lunch together, I think was when you're walking to the car. Do you want to tell us what happened and what she told you?
EK: Sure. So, as I recall, I think this is 2011. So it was Mother's Day, as you mentioned, and the four of us, my mom, her husband, Doug, Dillon, and I were playing golf. And afterward, Doug ended up taking Dillon with him, I believe back to their townhouse. And my mom and I stayed by and had lunch, and really didn't talk about much of anything, or just hanging out. And so as I'm walking her to the car, she says, 'Hey, you know, tomorrow, I'm gonna get back some tests that I've taken recently' and I'm like 'tests for what? and she said 'oh, you know, just nothing, just haven't been feeling all that great. Well, the next day, she found out that she had stage four uterine cancer. So that was a bit of a shock. And then it was so everywhere in her body that she, they found an oncologist, a surgical one, he ended up performing just this, I don't even know what it's called some surgery, where they had to remove part of her, I think, a full gallbladder, part of her spleen, part of her liver. So she survived that somehow. And even as she was feeling better, she then had to go for some chemo treatments. So I go to take her. And those times were times where we actually got to, you know, just kind of, again, hang out, really not talk about a whole bunch. But it was just nice to have that time. Later that year in October, end of October, October 30th in fact...
GE: So it's about seven about five, six, seven months later. Yeah.
EK: Yeah. So Griffin, my oldest son, back when he was in, say, 10th grade, somewhere in the middle part of his 10th grade year, some of the earlier internal struggles he was having in life started to manifest themselves in not only poor behavior, as they were before, but now it was into drug use. And so to fast forward the story, my wife and I met at the time and entered him into a drug rehab program called Visions. This was an inpatient and outpatient program. So at first he was in the inpatient program for about three months. And we were allowed to go see him like once a week, and then eventually they allowed us to, we were separated at the time too, they allowed us to kind of take him because we're separated, she would have part of the day with him and I would have, and then eventually, after about three months that he transferred into their outpatient program where he lived at home, but then really would spend most of the day and evening in some form or fashion in Visions outpatient program, which, during the day, I think at some point, they started back in with school, they had a couple of teachers there. And Griffin went from being in the inpatient part, like what the hell am I doing here, don't want to be here, to by the time that outpatient program rolled around, they had kind of a once a week, parents could come and in this once a week, nightly, once a week, at night meeting, over time Dillon or Griffin began to open up a little bit. And it was very impressive to me how insightful not only him, but these other kids were of not only each other, but themselves a little bit. Eventually he came around to saying, wow, you know, thank you for being here, putting me here, because had I not had, you not, one of two things will be happening right now A) I'd be dead or B) I'd be in jail. So that was kind of the road he was on there for a little while. Toward the end, I want to say this is probably mid January, early February of 2011, he is about to, you know, he sees the light at the end of the tunnel and his mentality started to shift. Where I remember him saying one time, you know, whatever I said before, that was just them brainwashing into, you know, I would be dead or in jail. And really Dad, what I want to do now is just be a normal teenager, like I want to party with my friends. And I want to do what other high school kids do. And internally, I was thinking okay, so far Griffin, what about your life has been normal? But I didn't say that out loud. I could tell something was you know, we were going to now we were now going down... as he's getting out of this and now going to be going back to high school, his mentality was not going in the right direction, obviously. So he was he went back playing football and in the middle, towards the tail end of the season. After all that rehab and all that, he ended up relapsing. So I got a call one morning, the Friday night he had had a game. I think they played it out at Ventura College. So I remember driving him home to his mom's house. And on the way home, he's talking about, hey, do you think Jim Fenwick, that's the coach I played for at Pierce College, only now he was Valley College. Do you think Coach Fenwick would be okay with me, you know, going to play for him there? I said, of course. That was the first time Griffin had ever mentioned anything beyond today, or tomorrow, like, sure. So we probably sat talking a good 45 minutes, maybe an hour before he actually got out and then went into the house. So that was a Friday night, Sunday morning, I get a phone call from LA County Sheriff's Department, over at Lost Hills station over here asking me to come down. But wouldn't tell me why. So you know, this was not going to end... this morning was not going to go well. And so as I'm walking up the steps there, the officer came and met me out on the steps and told me Griffin had passed away. And it turns out, it was a heroin overdose. And so probably the saddest I've ever been in my life well the saddest I've ever been in my life. And it went on, it extended on for quite a while.
GE: No parent should have to bury their child. How did you cope with that? I would imagine almost at the time insurmountable grief.
EK: So again, I mentioned Mark Davis and really it was... Mark was just a friend of a friend who he said, you know, Erik, this is a friend of mine that's back in North Carolina, not Mark. He says, Hey, do you live anywhere near that school? Oaks Christian? I said, yeah, it's about a mile from my house. He says well, there's somebody that works for our company. They're a nationwide company, that he lives out there and is actually one of his daughters goes. But he also has, or had a daughter that passed away. I said, Oh, okay. And and so the next day, there was a knock at my doors, I'm eating breakfast. And I open the door and it's 'Hi, I'm Mark Davis'. And that's how Mark Davis stepped into my life. And so Mark helped me through that quite a bit. To this day, well as of this day, and back then, Griffin is now buried about maybe 40 or 50 feet from his daughter, Hannah. And so...
GE: And you stopped broadcasting, right? obviously when that happened. You stopped broadcasting, which you'd been doing. You'd been doing youth football I think as well. You stopped coaching privately with your Sunday passing camp. And...
EK: Yeah, so there was quite a bit that was going on. I was working, I started out working with one high school quarterback, and that blossomed into 40 or 50. And then this former teammate of mine with the bears Curtis Conway, we started this Sunday passing camp. And so in even from that, I started getting phone calls from college or agents of soon to be drafted quarterbacks. So began working with them a little bit. And all while that was happening, this was started back in like 2001, I also began coaching Griffin's youth football team. And then as a result of this Sunday passing camp, I would... we treated it like we had a morning, we had a part of the day, part of the two hours was spent in a classroom, where we kind of installed plays, right, and then go out and perform either the, well at first just the sort of technical part of playing as a quarterback or receiver and then we'd mesh it together throw routes, and eventually there was a seven on seven, because this Jim Fenwick, who's coach at Valley, he'd bring over some guys to play defense. And so we filmed the whole thing. It was a very cool experience for these kids. Well, somewhere along the way, somebody from Fox was in one of those classroom sessions didn't know that and I get a phone call from not him but somebody else at Fox saying 'Hey, would you like to come down for an audition?' Forget what the guy's name was, Chris somebody. Said this might be something you might be good at. So I did that. Only when I went down. I was my personal opinion, I was terrible. But...
GE: Well you were obviously good enough that that led to a professional career doing it but that all stopped right after Dillon's....
EK: It did. So I was doing some games and some studio stuff for the NFL. In fact, for a while I was doing I don't remember back then. But Fox jumped into NFL broadcasting in a big way. And back then there was something called NFL Europe. So they would send someone like me potentially or others to go over like two weeks' stints, you know, to cover one team for two weeks. And so I got a chance to do go to somewhere, Glasgow, Scotland and Amsterdam. And I forget one or two other spots. Anyway, so that was kind of a whole, that 10 year period included all of that. And I started to do some, in addition to all that do some NFL Sunday games. They had too many games for the broadcaster's they had, so I would get maybe three or four games a year that way. So that was all going along just fine. And then all of it sort of ended that day, Griffin passed away.
GE: And how long before you met? I think Dave Baird was a friend of yours. And it was his youngest sister, how long before you met Courtney Baird, who... she came into your life at a certain time. And this moves you to another chapter of your life, which, let's talk about that.
EK: So as I mentioned before, I was the only one in my house when I got the news about Griffin passing away. And from there, the first person over was Mark Davis. But I had some phone calls like with my sister and some other people around that lived in and around here. My sister lives in Vegas, but she came out to stay for a few days. And then not only were... it's a constant influx of people I know, it was Griffin's football team and their parents would come over every now and then. And then the moms started to see that, hey, there's all these people here. I'm really from around the neighborhood, but from out of state, Hey, can we make you some food. It was these trays, the stainless steel trays with the burners underneath would show up. And it was a constant stream of people all day and all night. And then it just sort of stopped. And when all that stopped, I can remember it was like a Saturday or something. And there was no one here I was sitting on the couch watching, I forget what I was watching. And there was a knock on the door. And it's Courtney Baird. Dave Baird's sister. And I had met Courtney, once or twice in the time that I knew Dave because they're from back east, like in Philadelphia somewhere. And occasionally she would come out. And so I met her on occasions just I think over Dave's house one once or twice. So, Courtney, at the time, like you said, How did you grieve yourself through this? Well, at one of the local churches, that Oaks Christian's on the campus of, in addition to all the Sunday Mass sermons. Not mass, sermons they have, they have some programs, one of which was about a 13 or 14 week, once a week grief share, right. So that was one thing, having my sister come out. And you know, some other friends just around that was another Dylan had been living with Griffin at his mom's house, which wasn't far away. It's about a maybe a half mile. He began, I guess, staying with me for a while. Again, like I said, this one Saturday, Courtney comes over and how she knew this, I don't know. But as I mentioned, Griffin passed away October 30. My birthday is November 6, so it wasn't that far apart. And she brought over some like cupcakes or something as not only in honor of Griffin, but knowing it was my birthday. So that's how technically I got introduced to Courtney on any sort of real basis. And by that time she had moved out here. So yeah, that so in from by her living here, and her young daughter at that time, was I think her daughter was born in like what 2005. So that would have made her about six or seven years old. And so it really was just occasionally Courtney would come by, and we'd sit and talk about Griffin or she would bring by a movie. I don't know if you remember that animated movie back then called Up that Ed Asner, I think was kind of the central character, this older man. And so it was a movie. It was a movie kind of about that passing. So it really developed from her and I's relationships sort of developed from there, just as a friend. And then I don't know how long ago after following that we began I guess informally dating I guess would be a good way to put it. But still it was, you know, she should have known that this was a very difficult time. And I'm supposing she did. But she also knew what things to say, to sort of get closer, I suppose. So one of the things that happened, as I said Griffin prior to him passing away is probably like April-ish of 2011. He first he decided to move back with his mom, Marshawn, not long followed by Dillon. And so when he died, I was conflicted internally, whether or not Griffin knew really knew how much he was loved by me. And so Courtney, prior to Griffin passing away, unbeknownst to me, would, I guess Marshawn reached out to her because Griffin, I don't know who started it. But she encouraged Courtney, to start taking Griffin at times to some local AA meetings. I don't know how that's formulated. So it was Courtney, that was telling me Oh, no, no, no, Griffin and I have talked about you. And he in fact brought you up. And so he very much knows how much you loved him, and so, or knew. And so that was sort of one of the ways Courtney sort of invited her way in. And again, we had a relationship that, for lack of a better word was destructive in a way. So she had a very difficult time, just listening, a very difficult time in communicating not being accusatory in some fashion. And so it made things very difficult. So it was kind of an on again, off again, probably more off again, relationship
GE: Had she moved in with you by this point?
GE: She never moved in with you. Okay, so then we go to 2015. You told me, the depression hit you, and it hit you hard, and you fell quick and hard into the quagmire of depression. The events of August, looking back, and maybe you can talk about what you thought, what you were thinking at the time and what you were feeling at the time, that led up to August, and that fateful day, if you will.
EK: I think the way to characterize is or go back to a little bit is in early January of 2015. As I'd mentioned, Courtney and I had, unfortunately, a destructive relationship, which was when you think about it, my son had just passed away. And in looking back, that's a relationship I never should have been in to begin with. But I was, and so I can't undo what was done. And in early January, I had broken up with Courtney for the last time, so it wasn't like this was the first time but in my mind, it was going to be final and I just couldn't take it anymore. So as I mentioned, my birthday was in November, so this I might have been well in 2015, I would have been what 51ish, then some time goes by and I had suffered anxiety and depression on a few other occasions in life. So this wasn't the first time. But it certainly was... see I've had like I've mentioned before, I've had sadness in my life, and certainly nothing even close to when Griffin passed away. But that did not feel like depression to me. The best way I can describe the depression, I felt was it was sort of a black cloud or a hole, that whatever ceiling, whatever floor you have, it goes it pushes you down through that floor, below several others. And I could feel this thing bubble up before it ever really kicked into high gear I was like, Oh oh, here it comes. And once that happens, it's too late to stop. Antidepressants don't work like oh, drop a pill and it's gone. So that's about a 30 to 40/50 day process where you even feel anything different. I got sort of pushed down this hole where I had anxiety, I didn't want to... It's like a combination, it's a dual feeling. It's like you don't want to be alone because you do feel isolated. Yet you don't want to be around anybody because that might invite a conversation, which you don't want to have. So eventually, I ended up calling a former Lions quarterback who by that time had become a friend of mine, Eric Hipple and not knowing what Eric was doing in this regard. Turns out Eric says hey, I've helped bring on to the University of Michigan a program that is technically a depression center made specifically designed for people like you and me. And former military that have been out of doing they're no longer because they've suffered, they do currently suffer from PTSD. I was like Oh, okay. So I jumped on a plane flew out there. It was supposed to be a 30 day program. And after about a day or two, I call up Eric. And this place is like on a farm. It's like a farmhouse. Right? So it's a long... it's a big expansive property. And Eric probably lived maybe 30 or 40 minutes away, I'm guessing. And so he came out. And as we're walking around this field, I said, you know, Eric, I don't know if this is the right place for me. Yet here it was exactly the right place for me. But I probably got there a little too late. And so I did stay for the 30 days. I don't remember much of it. At least not after the first few days. I don't remember how I got home, or who picked me up only now I do. And I don't know how much longer so I'm going to guess this was probably in June, or sometime maybe got home late, early July, I guess. And I just, at some point began planning my exit thinking... That's the best I could come up
GE: And by exit You mean...
EK: Killing myself. And so I had purchased a gun prior to going to Michigan.
GE: Was that your, gosh. Was that you're... when you thought I'm going to take my own life and I'm going to use this method. Was that... You just settled on that? It was the obvious...
EK: It wasn't so obvious, I just started like, I had a computer laptop back then that I still have. So if you look it up right now, there's gonna be a search history in there of the best way to kill yourself or whatever it was that I looked at, what I found was what I did only thankfully, it wasn't 100% successful.
GE: Had you had thoughts up until that day when you attempted it, that you were going to attend it on another? Or was it just this is the day? This is what's... I'm going to do this on this particular day at this time.
EK: So no, there was not I was gonna do this particular thing on this particular time on this particular day. Depression doesn't allow you to think that. And so in fact, I would say it's probably the, as a depressed person, you are the person that has the worst perception of you in your own life. You think you're isolated, but you're not, you think you're the only one that's ever had a doubt about themselves. But you're not. You think this is a permanent issue, but it's not ever. And so...
GE: Yeah, I've spoken with quite a few people who've been in the in the grips of not just depression, but existential angst, almost on the edge of existential terror and feeling like the only relief because you want relief, more than anything for this feeling that's happening is to end one's life. That will be the relief that one gets, and I've heard as well people talk about, sometimes they have thought that they are bringing everyone else down around them. So it's the kindest act they can do. Because a lot of information obviously this is very difficult to talk about and processes, and is a very individual personal experience, I really appreciate you sharing about it. For each individual, it has to be just a harrowing... I mean to get to that point where you want to end your life rather than continue it. I've heard people say it's the most selfish thing you could do. I actually think the opposite. I think it's I think the individual perhaps thinks it's the most selfless thing they can do, because they're taken care of themselves because they're in so much pain, and they want to end that pain, and there isn't. They've tried so many things. And what do you think about that?
EK: I agree with you. I don't think it's a selfish act because you have to be in your right mind to be selfish. In a way. I remember talking about this. During a you know, it was probably, oh, three years ago, right? And I was adamant about telling people, whoever would listen. No, this is something I chose to do. I actively chose to do this. Many people. Everybody would say it was my it was an accident. I say no it wasn't, I planned to do this.
GE: And do you remember that moment when you plan... I mean, you said that you didn't think a lot beforehand. You were just in this moment, where were you? What happened? You picked up a gun, you loaded the gun, you pointed it at your head. What were the details around that?
EK: So when I say I didn't plan, I planned financially, for where money should go and to who and for how much and in what way, mostly, obviously, around my son, Dillon. And so that took quite a bit of thought. It's crazy to think about, like, this is what people want money, no. So eventually, there came a time when there was nothing left to plan out other than the act itself. And I remember standing at the top of my stairs, thinking 'oh' and I remember feeling a bit of angst like 'but that means that there's one thing left to do'. So I didn't want to do what I did at my house, thinking that Dillon could walk in and be the first one here, somehow. And then so I literally went down the street packed. When I say pack probably put the gun in a duffel bag or something, obviously didn't take any clothes with me, other than what I was wearing, and went to, of all places, the Good Night Inn, which is about maybe two miles away. Apparently made a few text messages to people that I don't remember making. And one of them was to a friend of mine who I'd gone to high school with who was with LA County Sheriff's Department Lost Hills sheriff station, which is the one I found out about Griffin passing away. And I didn't know he was at that station. But it turns out he was in I want to say New Orleans or something helping to get his son moved in somewhere, didn't have his cell phone on him at the time. Called his cell phone... calling me on my cell phone from his cell phone. Apparently I didn't pick up that phone. So he called the... apparently I told him where I was and what I was gonna do. And Chris, then call the Good Night Inn. They patched me into my room. But apparently that phone I did pick up. And from there, I'm told by him what happened. I don't remember what happened. But apparently, I picked up and he said okay, well, I guess all he heard was gurgling. And he said okay, whatever you have in your hand, if you have something, drop it.
GE: At this point, you had already pulled the trigger. Although you don't remember pulling the trigger, you just have been informed since. So you, you'd shot yourself.
GE: Where had..?
EK: Right under my chin.
GE: Under your chin. The bullet didn't kill you. You were still alive. It went through your chin and I would imagine... did it lodge inside you or did it pass through or? Probably very, very serious injuries at the time, life threatening and...
EK: I literally just yesterday, saw some pictures that are horrific. And so apparently, Chris said, hey, there's some people at your door that are there to help you. And apparently I got up, went to the door, opened it up, and apparently walked out into the ambulance.
GE: And the bullet had gone through your chin and did it go into your brain?
EK: Through here, there's a little mark under my tongue, nasal cavity, didn't hit my optic nerve somehow. And then out it went. And so yeah, I mean, I was literally just talking to the plastic surgeon who did the cranial. So all... for a while this part of my head was not there. And talking to him yesterday. He goes, you know, Erik if that bullet had gone an inch or two, either side of where it went, you and I wouldn't be talking today. And another friend of mine is an optometrist. And he said how this thing didn't hit your optic nerve is crazy. So yeah, I'm somehow thankfully here, because Dillon, Dillon was 13 and in eighth grade when Griffin passed away. It was the day before his junior year of high school the day before, when I shot myself. So I didn't spend time looking at the calendar. So oh, how can I screw up Dillon's life the best? He was 17 at the time. So if you think back to Dillon's life, he's 13 when he loses his brother, he's 17 when he damn near lost me on purpose, then he has now lost both sets of grandparents. And he's only 23. So how he has continued to go on being the type of kid he is, to me is the story of all time. The fact that he's got a passion about anything, which happens to be baseball, and he's actually going to college now. And it's just so cool to see him and others but him especially. Whatever emotional tank he went into, it still amazes me that it didn't derail his life in some fashion, nothing has. Not that he hasn't been sad himself or bewildered by life's events. Because remember, when he was a young kid, as a young kid, he remembers his mom and I going through separations, which really were all my doing. So in a way, I feel I've had a, in some ways good effect on his life, but in other ways, very regretful things I've done to make his life more difficult.
GE: It's a triumph of well over adversity reminds me of how resilient we human beings are, and particularly, you know, the younger generation. We forget that carrying that that sense of regret that we may have done something to impact our child's lives. That's something that has to be worked through and processed. So you know, that's great that he's, I mean, he could have done football, not baseball, I mean, come on. So getting back to the story, you recover, I would imagine there's some kind of brain impact or injuries so you obviously go through some kind of therapy, you recover. And this Courtney Baird is still on the scene. And this is where I want to get to what happens with Courtney Baird? Because apparently she... financial irregularities and you start to hear or find things out over time, right?
EK: So you can imagine, fortunately, I survived. Okay, which was the miracle of all miracles. But surviving left me with what's called a severe traumatic brain injury. So the brain takes a little time to heal itself, that it can at all is amazing. But it doesn't happen overnight. I was living for quite a while. If I stood here from the side, my skull would end right here. So it was like half a head. And I was wearing a helmet, whenever I wasn't in bed, I had to have that on. And there were times I would forget. And the when I got out of the hospital, eventually I went to this brain rehab clinic that also had... they owned a couple of homes in which I stayed in one of those. I was also at that time, I would faint, have severe, like multiple, like eight or 10 times that I'd either faint or have a seizure. So that also pushed back the time period that the brain should heal. So the initial phases, as I'm told, takes about two to three years with what the episodes I just mentioned, that's going to push it back to about four or five years. Well here we are now about year six or so. And so it was really about a year and a half or so ago that I kind of feel like myself again. I'm told that I didn't have a feeling for being overheated. Part of this time of my recovery was spent back living with my sister and going to a brain rehab clinic there as well. And you can imagine how hot it gets in Las Vegas in the summertime or spring, anytime. And so I'm told there was a like a 98 or 100 degree day, we're out in her backyard they had one of these portable basketball hoops. And there was a several of us playing. They're all in T-shirts and tank tops. I'm in sweatshirt, sweat pants, head to toe on a 90/100 degree day. Sweating profusely don't even know that I am sweating profusely. It takes a while for your brain to catch up and be normal again. That doesn't mean you and I can't have a conversation. That doesn't mean you and I, that doesn't mean I couldn't drive, I just might not know that I did drive, there's sort of a lapse in, you're not who you really are, even though you might look like you are who you really are. And so Courtney somehow got back in touch with me, I don't know how, at a time when I had to leave CNS because my insurance had run out residentially, that's when this person Ana, this friend of mine, Ana had arranged for me to go. She'd found a new place where I could stay with my sister, but then a new rehab place in Las Vegas. And it was during that time, again, that I have no recollection of that Courtney began calling and texting me and eventually flew out drove me in my car back here. Well, that's a four and a half hour drive. So I guarantee you in that time, if not before, she had assessed me to not being with it. It was about four days after we got back now that I've had a chance to look at banking records. And so about four days later, she's stealing from me, and probably by then had already moved in. Because this friend of mine, Ana Daragan, who I'd gone to high school with, she was very much a part of my rehab process. She was there the night I shot myself, and was pretty much there every day. And even when I was at CNS, she would go back and forth between the house and the rehab place. So she was around a lot. And she would come by, just stop by and check in. And she sees these Amazon boxes at the front door, all addressed to Courtney. And I'd never ordered anything from anybody. And that's the first thing that tipped Ana off. So she began, you know, with my sister's permission looking into my finances. And then that's when she discovered all these forged checks and cash advance withdrawals and ATM withdrawals and charges for plastic surgery. And it was at a time when I didn't recognize. So she got in touch with this through Chris Garmin, he set her up with a detective who, a couple days later, after she explained what was going on, he comes to see me at CNS. And I'm told that there's a detective here to see me. So I go in and I couldn't tell you what he looked like or what was discussed, nothing. But apparently either I identified or had for me identified $13,200 in cash advances, about $17,000 in ATM withdrawals and a few forged checks. News to me, because now that I... took a couple years later, where I saw the initial police report, and in addition to what I just said was on there, apparently I'd also identified as unauthorized, several of my own legitimate charges. And when I said about driving, I thought, at the end of that day, Courtney picked me up, and I get in the car and say you're not gonna believe what happened today. So an investigator came in and saw me, blah, blah, blah. Well, that's not what happened. I drove myself that day. Courtney never went to CNS ever, not one day. And so that's my point is that's how out of it I was. And it wasn't until a couple years later, because Detective Lingshai had retired not long after this investigation had somewhat ended. And he retired, but it was some Christmas his wife was from here so I think they live now back in Missouri or something. But he flew out here partly in relation to her family, but also because I think he wanted to meet me again, because I'll set this up. We were back in the Chatsworth courthouse building in a conference room. And there's at the corner is me and talking to this new detective Alex Gillinnit. And there's Ana next to me, and she's talking to some guy next to her. And I'm looking over like…
GE: You were in the courthouse for what reason, what purpose?
EK: It was to meet Alex Gillinnit.
GE: Because they were investigating who had taken the money? Or they knew that it was Courtney Baird who'd taken the money?
EK: They knew all along it was Courtney, it was just at that time, Courtney confessed, like back in early January...
GE: Oh, she'd already confessed to it. So when the detectives got involved, she confessed. Okay. And then what happened to her? Was she prosecuted?
GE: Why was she not prosecuted?
EK: I don't know. That's the million dollar question. Because Bill Chen, the name of the district attorney or Deputy Minister at that time, despite Courtney being the lone witness, I mean, the lone suspect, and Detective Lingshai being...
GE: Who'd admitted to the crimes?
EK: Right. So...
GE: So no one ever told you? Did you ask… did Ana ask and say what's going...?
EK: Ana... when you say asked, Ana's the one who launched this investigation.
GE: So she must have been perplexed as to why there was no prosecution of her when she had committed to these crimes.
EK: There's... so no district attorney is ever going to reveal why. That's just not gonna happen.
GE: There's no explanation ever given to her or you and still hasn't been?
EK: And there's never going to be one because the District Attorney's Office protects its own. They knew they screwed up and not the rest of the court. They know it...
GE: So, because they'd made a mistake by not arresting her they then just wanted to kind of ignore it and hope it would go away. Because if it didn't, it would shine a light on the fact that they hadn't arrested her and they hadn't followed through and done their job. So at this time, you're aware that she knows she's admitted to the crimes, the embezzlement.
EK: I was unaware of that.
EK: I didn't become aware that until later
GE: Wow. So you were not aware of it but then you become aware of it and nothing happens to her. Are you and her not you're not together anymore? At this point. She's not contacting you?
EK: Not now. no. So here's how, if you want to know the timeline of what happened, okay, October 21 2016 the detective comes to see me. She could see that I could not comprehend anything. Two days later, I go to get evaluated by a neuropsychologist, Dr. Thomas Chetsky. He's in Chat. I want to gain control of my own money, because at this point, all my bills are being handled by Raymond James Trust department. Picture this, I'm in the middle of being stolen from, and I want to go get the right to control my own money. Who do you think propelled me to go get that evaluation? Courtney Baird. So I... after Ana Duragon, this is a friend of mine. He calls over to this woman Dawn, I forget what her name is. She's the one who ran the inset program back in Vegas. Ana calls Dawn to let her know this investigation's going on. And I just went to go see this neuropsychologist trying to gain control of my own money back. Ana knew I was getting stolen from. Now Dawn knows I'm getting stolen from and Dawn says, Ana, you call that detective and make sure he calls Dr. Thomas Chetsky and let him know that Erik's being stolen from. So Ana did that. And so Dr. Thomas Chetsky in his written report, I fail this all day exam that would assess me in gaining my capacity back to control my own money. Not just financially, but medically also. And he had identified after talking with Detective Lingshai, who the person was, Courtney Baird, stealing from me, my inability to comprehend that stuff. And so he, in a written statement declared me medically incapacitated and financial incapacitated, because I was subject to undue influence, meaning that medically, let's say I had cut my finger, and some doctor says, Hey, the best way to heal this is cut it off, and I would have said, Oh, okay perfect. And financially, obviously, I was incapacitated because I am being stolen from and I know who's doing it. And it would have been like, you could say to me, Erik, and this is what happened. My son once told me, this is on Christmas Eve, we got married, Courtney and I married me on December 22nd 2016. Three weeks after admitting her theft. And Dillon comes over on Christmas Eve with a friend of mine, who's his godfather, who's I've known for a long time, walks in the door and says what's that ring on your finger? And I'm like, Oh, Courtney and I just got married. As though it was no big deal. And then as Espo comes up, they're both like, you know, she's admitted to stealing $50,000 from you right? And it just washed over me like it was nothing. And Espo even accused her. Like, what are you doing? You're stealing from this guy, you know... set her off crying. She goes upstairs, her daughter Macy. And both of them come down crying. I have no recollection of any of it. So Courtney, in the course of all this, pretty much isolated me, from everybody I knew. Including Dillon, including Ana, including my aunt, including Espo, everybody. Later and talking to Detective Ligshai, he called to check up on me years later. And he's telling me that Courtney had forged a doctor's prescription. And while she's on probation, she's stealing from me. And he was like, Yeah, she's got a she's apparently got a drug issue then he was saying that, yes. This is what people like her do. They isolate their victims, from everyone around them. And it's just like a little bear like a bear, you know, kind of pawing at its prey. That's what she was doing here for years, because...
GE: So you're incapacitated at this moment. So who has control of your estate and decisions? Are you still in control of that? Or is she at this point got control of that?
EK: No. What happened was prior to this marriage happening, right? So Courtney, admitted to her theft on November 29 2016, let's say you were a detective on a murder case and I'm the murder suspect. And at some point, I come into your office, and I admit what I did. Do I walk out of your office? No. So Courtney went and admitted her theft to Detective Lingshai and walked right out.
GE: And at this point in time, she wasn't married to you. And then she marries you...
EK: But then three weeks later, she's still not arrested. So December 13, I'm told that I should go get I should sign conservatorship of my person over to my sister. So I do that. On that very same day, Courtney is applying for a marriage certificate in Santa Barbara. Then on December 22, we're married. I remember her telling me, I don't remember what I'm sitting. But I remember saying something to the fact of hey would you like to get married? The Santa Barbara courthouse has two available dates. One is next, whatever, the other one is six months from now.
GE: So you end up getting married. Now married to a woman who you know, law enforcement know, detectives know and she's admitted to embezzling, stealing from you and you know, theft. I would imagine that law enforcement, if they're now aware that you're married, they're gonna be like, Well, you know what? He's chosen to marry her. So it's up to him what happens. They're a partnership right? No?
EK: I don't know. I don't know. What I'm saying is the day Courtney admitted it, why didn't they arrest her then?
GE: I guess the question that I had was, if now you're married, what's it you know? It's community property, isn't it?
EK: No it's not. Okay, so I'll explain. So first of all, we back up and say if you admitted on November 29 and you're not arrested by December 22, what's wrong with you? So apparently, this deputy district attorney, Bill Chen decided not to prosecute Courtney. So there was a panel that Detective Lingshai took this to. And that entire panel all suggested to arrest Courtney. This was a slam dunk case, according to everybody. The deputy district attorney Bill Chen decided I think apparently she passed a medical license as well as her law degree because she said despite no other medical professional saying so I needed a round the clock caregiver. So who better than the thief to do that?
GE: So at this point, she's now she's now around the clock caregiving you, she's isolated you, she's married you.
EK: She's not a caregiver in any way.
GE: I mean, she said that she's going to round the clock... okay, right. So she's not but she's presenting that she has, convinced that she has. So at this point in time you are completely and utterly isolated. Married to the thief.
EK: Okay, think about this. The marriage itself was a crime. Courtney knew I was incapacitated. In a written statement. She says I was and she only got married to avoid prosecution. And it worked.
GE: It did? So what happened next?
EK: So Ana, my aunt and my sister knew I was being stolen from and knew I couldn't comprehend the theft. And so they are instructed by Detective Lingshai here's how you stop the theft. This is coming from Bill Chen. You get Erik conserved of his estate. Then you get Erik conserved of the person, then you annul the marriage. You have to have those two before you have the third. So in I go to the conservatorship court system, court appointed attorney named Michael Harrison is my court appointed attorney. Michael Harrison gets all this information the following: the court petition that identifies Courtney is stealing from me, the written report from Dr. Thomas Shesky declaring Courtney’s stealing from me, that I am incapacitated to even comprehend the theft, I'm subject to undue influence. And then Michael Harrison also gets the detective's contact information, he gets the contact information of my aunt, my sister and Ana. Guess who he called? No one. So he's in court three days later after meeting with Courtney and me. So he's my attorney. Yet he's meeting with me and the thief, and never explains that first of all, we shouldn't be meeting together, second of all, he should be looking me straight in the eye and going Erik, Courtney is stealing from you. And here's my conversation with the detective. Here's Dr. Thomas Shesky's written report. He does none of that. In fact, we show up in court on January 10, 2018. Detective Lingshai is called as the first witness in this conservatorship here. And he under oath states that Courtney Baird admitted to him for stealing $50,000. Later in that courtroom, Michael Harrison is fighting against me being conserved by my aunt. And the judge is saying, why would you be fighting...? Well, we don't really need a conservator. What we could use is a bookkeeper. And the judge is like a book... okay? But the bookkeeper is going to have no, he's going to have no accountability if this theft keeps going on. And he's like, Well, my aunt and my sister have left me in a tenuous position because I need $10-$15,000 a month for meals and incidentals. Do you need $10-$15,000 a month?
GE: He says his aunt or your aunt says that?
EK: Michael Harrison is calling out my aunt and my sister as though they're the problem. They put me in a tenuous position. The thief put me in a tenuous position. The one sitting right next to me...
GE: And they court ordered attorney who's supposed to be representing you is really representing some other dubious goings on.
EK: He's representing Courtney Baird. She should be going to jail.
GE: Did you find that out or you just surmise that given the fact that the testimony that he... the way he represented you was it was clear that he was trying to get her to be the conservator or...
EK: It was through reading the transcripts of that court date. That particular date, I didn't even hear or see Detective Lingshai.
GE: What was the ruling in that hearing?
EK: Well, so the judge did grant conservatorship of the estate to my aunt. It took about maybe a month for her to actually get all the paperwork required that would make her my conservative, right. So we walked out of that courtroom that day and Ana, and everyone else, friends of mine who were there, they're all thinking that I'm going to hear that Courtney stole $50,000. And I'm going to be just, you know, what are we doing here? Well, I didn't hear that. So I walk out. And Courtney and I are hand in hand. And the way we initially got in the courtroom...
GE: Hang on, why were you hand in hand with her after that hearing when she'd been trying to become the conservator of your estate and she'd been stealing from you?
EK: No. Courtney wasn't trying to be the conservator. My aunt, was, she knew I was being stolen from on the advice given to her by Lingshai, who got his information from Bill Chen. He's saying, look, you need to get Eric conserved.
GE: Okay. So Courtney wasn't trying to get concert get conservatorship of you. Okay. So the attorney that was representing you, what motive do you think he had to try to keep steering the judge away from granting from not granting the conservatorship to your aunt?
EK: You'd have to give... you'd have to ask him that. I do remember that Ana and I went to his office later, after all the theft was over. We went to his office to meet with him and he had another attorney sitting next to him that was trying to intervene. And I finally just said, Shut the F up. We're not here to talk to you. We're trying to talk to you. And why didn't you call any of these people? And Michael Harrison's response was, it was insignificant. So how is all of the information you would need to represent me, because what should have happened is in addition to everything I just said, he got the information, he got the sheet of paper that said, they were trying to get me my estate conserved conservative of the estate end of the person and to annul the marriage. The real goal was to annul the marriage.
GE: So at this point, your aunt is... she's the conservator of you. So four weeks go by the paperwork exists, what happens next?
EK: The next hearing is for me to be conserved of the person which is the next it's the second step in the line of getting the marriage annulled. So Michael Harrison that day prior to the judge getting up on the stand, comes and walks over to see Jonathan Cole, a lawyer that represents my aunt, and says to Jonathan Cole, enough of this working to get the marriage annulled, let's have them get a postnuptial agreement. So that's where Michael Harrison stepped in the way of the whole goal. How you allow lawyers to be the lead dog on a medical case is beyond me.
GE: But your attorney didn't have to agree with that. Did your attorney agree with that?
EK: Agree with what?
GE: What Michael Harrison had suggested to do a postnuptial rather than an anulment.
EK: My attorney was Michael Harrison.
GE: Oh, I mean your aunt's attorney didn't have to agree with
EK: Jonathan Cole. No, he didn't. But he did. Jonathan Cole made $43,000 on this deal. $46,000.
GE: Erik, this speaks to... this speaks to the churning and the the racking up of the billable hours and the, you know, the most unethical you know, I know a lot of attorneys. I only know a couple of really ethical, good, honest, noble attorneys who uphold the law. You know, K: That's two more than I know, right?
GE: So you're there in court. What happens next? Your attorney and your aunt's attorney who has been convinced that rather than annulling the marriage, which is the three step to get to know your attorneys, the people representing you are getting paid tens of thousands of dollars to represent you. Let's just deal with the client, you, and your now conservatives there. Your family members, your aunt... So I'm taking it they didn't come back to you. And you know, even if they did, they're probably going to advise you and say... So you're there. What's the upshot of that hearing? What's decided at the end of that hearing?
EK: There never was a hearing. So Michael Harrison stood up in front of the judge and said, we're good. We were going to have a postnuptial agreement. And we'll go to work on that. And then the judge said, Okay, we'll meet back in however many weeks, and we'll get a status conference for that. So it was just one status conference after another after another after another, and what you just alluded to eventually involved 5,6,7 lawyers. So at one point in time, Ana added up, and I'm paying, because remember, on a court date, I gotta pay for their travel time to the court, their time to hang around at the court do nothing.
GE: Their travel time to do nothing. That parking that the preparation of the papers and the hearings, it's literally writing it's like planting your own money trees.
EK: It was costing me it was cost me roughly $2500 an hour. So there's a docu series documentary called the Guardians Documentary.
GE: Yep very good and it takes place in Las Vegas. But it's more focused and more focused on all the you know... This is why your story is important, because it can happen to Britney Spears, it can happen to you, it can happen to anyone and it is happening to so many people.
EK: Right? Well, the point I was about to make was the conservatorship court system is the largest, fastest growing industry in America, you've got mentally disabled people, like myself, some of them have a bank account, the ones that do will be in the system I was in. And so they will deplete you as long as you have a bank account. And that shouldn't be a court system. Because it's legal theft.
GE: Get the bank account, then it's get the home, then it's get the possessions, then I mean, it's basically fleeced, I mean, you alluded to the Guardians documentary, it's really just, you know, remove the old person in the middle of the night or when family members aren't looking, get him in a mental institution, and then get the conservatorship from the judge. You know, and the attorney that are I mean, they're all, it's nepotism, they all know what's going on. It's a very, it's a brilliantly nefarious system. And then you have complete and utter control over someone's... and it's the same few people's names who keep coming up time and time again. Not dwelling on that too much, because, you know, in the interest of time to get through your story. So I'm fascinated. So you finish this hearing, which was supposed to be just to recap, it was supposed to be the second of three to move towards you annulling your marriage, and it's moving through conservatorship court. And in the second hearing, the attorney who's representing you and the attorneys representing your aunt decide, before the hearing begins, or just as it's begun, I'm not sure, that they say let's just do a postnuptial agreement. They say that to the judge. And it's... now we're in the churning of meetings, of meetings, meetings, letters, documents, and all of the tens of thousands of dollars going to the, as I call it, the cartel, in where I focus on family law,
EK: Yep, it's very similar, very similar.
GE: You know, the American divorce system, or machine or industry or industrial complex makes $60 billion a year. And it's no wonder this show isn't about that… it's on the conservative. I've been following the Britney Spears case. And just how easy this is and how corrupt these judges and attorneys are in this system. So here you are. You're now seeing all of your money being spent on a plan which you have. No, you didn't want in the first place. None of your family wanted. Your attorney wasn't supposed to be going down this avenue. So there's two attorneys representing your family who are spending, not spending, they're basically legally stealing your money.
EK: That's the best term for it. It belongs in the dictionary. So if I was to tell you, Courtney Baird stole $300,000 but legally, the court system cost me $400,000. And the only reason I was in that legal system was because of the thief. So you tell me who's the bigger thief.
GE: So what, well, what happens next?
EK: We go on and we're married and I'm incapacitated the entire time. Courtney continues her theft the entire time. And I eventually work Courtney into my will... I'm going to pay her a million dollars. Not tied into anything. I came to find out the state planning attorney who I used, Peter Wakeman, he didn't even know I was married. So...
GE: How could he not know that you're married if he's an estate planning attorney, the name of the person this should be left to, my executor is...?
EK: Well I'm the same. So he didn't know because I didn't say it. I just said upon my death, Courtney gets a million dollars. That's it.
GE: Why would you do that? I guess the question is, why would you do that? Because you weren't in your right mind still?
EK: I wasn't. Courtney Baird coerced to doing it. She also coerced me into... I played in the NFL. The NFL has a death benefit. I made her that death benefit.
EK: So, I took her off. Now, obviously,
GE: Did you discuss this with any of your family members or I guess... no?
EK: Nobody, nobody. Like I'm saying, Courtney did a very systematic removal of me from my life.
GE: When this was going on and you made these decisions. And again, there's absolutely no judgment on my part, some might say, well, you knew enough to pick up the phone and talk to the estate planning attorney and say, I want Courtney Baird to get a million dollars, you're at that point, making that decision but you what you're contending is, you weren't in your right mind which is why you were going through the conservatorship process in the first place. That three step process so that your aunt or your sister could make those determinations on your behalf, which is the whole point of how it should actually work although it doesn't actually work - in rare instances it works like that. Correct?
EK: Correct. Like what they wanted was for Courtney to get arrested. They didn't want to deal with the conservatorship court system
GE: So they didn't even know this was going on, there wasn't just stealing from you in life. It was preparation from stealing you in death. A man who had a successful career, and had some hardship and some issues and attempted to take your own life, and she's trying to put this plan in place to get your money after you're dead.
EK: So think about this. I broke up with Courtney, not the first time but for the last time in early January of 2015. If there's no brain injury, there's no Courtney Baird. Done. So she figured out by talking to me, texting me in whatever way she did, she realized that I didn't realize that we had broken, or that I had broken up with her. So, it didn't take her long to figure this out. And so this systematic approach of hers... Diabolical really.
GE: How did this all come to a head?
EK: Well, so, in June of 2018 or late May of 2018, I was looking to buy a house with Courtney, which would have only been my money. And it was up the street from where I live now, this was like in late May, maybe 25th/26th of May, and the owners of the house were needing one thing after another thing after another thing, when I had already exceeded their asking price. So eventually I called the realtor back and I said, they've got 10 minutes to accept this offer. Well they accepted. Couple days go by, the initial 10% isn't getting funded, but what the heck, why not? And the realtor didn't know. So I figured out I had remembered that I guess I was professionally conserved. Not my aunt any longer but this other person. And so...
GE: Wait a minute, you can't skip through that, you said not your aunt anymore but another person?
EK: So, my aunt was my conservator for a while. I don't know how long, maybe half a year or something. And she was getting... like my mom passed away back after Griffin past away. So, really, my aunt was the only family I had that was living here. So, she became my conservative, but during the time of her being my conservator, I still wasn't getting that Courtney was stealing from me.
GE: Yeah. How did she not... who's this other person is what I'm asking because you said that.
EK: So, so my aunt Patrice was telling me, Erik, Courtney is stealing from you, blind, and you're not getting it. I didn't... to this day I remember that. So, it was suggested by, I forget who it was suggested by. Anyway, Aileen Federizo was this professional conservator that I was somehow encouraged to go find or whatever. So she became my professional conservator because Patrice figured I'm not getting it, at least a professional will be able to either talk some sense into you or... Everything had to pass through Aileen Federizo. She's a professional conservator. She's a professional fiduciary. So, for my bills to get paid from Raymond James trust department, it had to pass through Aileen Federizo first. Before Aileen Federizo was brought on, there was a meeting that took place between my aunt and Ana Durgen and my sister sat in telephonically because she lives in Las Vegas and they explained to her that this marriage was a fraud. That Courtney had manipulated her way into my life. She began stealing from me from early on, there never was a marriage, she should have been arrested. She wasn't, and she's continuing to steal. Erik's been subject to unknown influence. She had all of Thomas Sheskis reports. She had everything you can have, yet she didn't stop one theft. Not one ever, she did stop the sale of that house. So that's what caused me to remember, I was professionally conserved. So about a week before going to Chicago to play in this alumni golf outing, it was starting to occur to me that, okay, it's really Courtney, that's causing this house not to be sold or bought. So I go away to Chicago, knowing that I am going to return home and get a divorce.
GE: Hang on... Courtney's causing the house not to be bought but I thought you said the conservator was the one that was stopping the money... Was it the conservator or was it Courtney?
EK: It was the conservator who was on board. her name's Aileen Federizo. The reason she was hired was to stop the theft of Courtney Baird. She could no longer like when...
GE: But why didn't the house get... What was stopping the 10% going? Was it the conservator?
GE: Oh okay, so it wasn't Courtney at that point. Okay.
EK: Courtney's only role in this was the thief. That's her only role,
GE: So it starts to dwell on you that this is... you know, wow she really is doing, like you're coming to your senses. As you come back from this golf tournament. Then what?
EK: Okay, so by this time Courtney was on my Bank of America credit card statement because that's all I had left was Bank of America card. Courtney had cleaned me out of Wells Fargo Bank, so Bank of America credit card would have charges on it like C. Baird $1,000, C. Baird PayPal, $1,000. Is that that difficult to see that Courtney's stealing? Yet she would approve those very charges to get paid by Bank of America credit card, but yet didn't stop any of those. Thankfully she stopped the buying of that house. But it wasn't like she called me up on the phone and said, Erik, Courtney is stealing from you, you can't buy a house with her. She went silent. So... and I really during this time had never met with her to begin with. So, it was her assistant that was doing all the talking. My point is, I come home from Chicago, it's about 11.30 at night. Courtney's up on the couch watching TV apparently, comes toward me towards the front door, she's like, how was your trip? I was like fine. How was golf? Fine. I felt like something's wrong. Well, nothing's really wrong. I'm just getting a divorce. I walk up, I go to bed. I fall asleep. Apparently she comes in and says, Oh apparently you don't want me sleeping in here? I'm thinking, You've never slept in here, so I guess no I don't. So she goes downstairs, and apparently goes to sleep. Well, I can guarantee you she didn't sleep. This is the first time I'd ever mentioned anything to her about a divorce or anything where I wasn't just floating along in life. So, I guarantee you she sat up that night wondering, okay, what am I going to do?
GE: Yeah, it's like game's up. He's really getting it. I'm not dealing with someone who doesn't get it, who's in an alternate reality. He's really starting to... the more he gets it, the more in trouble I'm going to be. Oh oh. What does she do?
EK: Right, so I come downstairs the next morning. It's about six o'clock in the morning, and she's up, which was weird. Remember at this time, I'm not the person I am right now. I'm just sort of coming to. I just got some coffee, got the paper went out in the backyard. And she follows me out there just to talk about this, like, talk about what? Oh, well you're getting a divorce - I told you I'm not getting a divorce. Then don't, but I am. Where are Mace and I going to go live? I don't know, you should have thought about that before you started stealing from me. I'm not stealing from you. And so, she stands up. I stand up and I said why don't you just go back inside, and I put my hand on the back of her shoulder. She kind of shrugs me off and eventually goes back inside. There's a sliding glass door, she shuts up behind her and the lock on the door doesn't work. So there's one of those wooden dowels. So I got my back to it and I hear this wooden dowell kind of clink back in. So now I'm locked out of my own house. I'm kind of contemplating well how am I going to get back in? Well a few minutes later I hear this thing come out. So I'm like, okay, at least I don't have to break myself into my own house.
GE: Yeah, I don't recommend breaking into your own house, it can have bad ramifications if positioned the wrong way.
EK: So I go inside, and she's not there. And I sit down and now I fix breakfast. I eat breakfast, I go back to reading the paper some more, I start cleaning up the kitchen, go back and sit down. Still in the kitchen. And I go there are some pictures of her that she's put up, of her and Macy. So I go gather them up, and I take them down I put them in a little stack, maybe 10 or 15 feet from the front door. Later she comes down, and she starts putting them back up and I go, What are you doing, she goes well I told you I'm not leaving. So I go, Oh, so I open the front door, and whatever she's putting up, I'm throwing out the front door and she scurries upstairs. Now Macy's, standing at the top of the stairs, I can only see her kind of from the waist down.
GE: This is her daughter?
EK: Her daughter. Yeah.
GE: How old is she now?
EK: This is 2018 or 16, or 18, so she's probably 13 years old 12/13 and she had been sleeping the whole time. And it wasn't like... there was no yelling going on. But now, Courtney's woken Macy, and now she's standing at the top of my stairs, I don't know what Courtney has told Macy at all. And I hear Macy saying Stop, just stop and she's crying. There was nothing left to throw out the front door. So I walked around I remember Courtney kept her dog food for her dog that I've no doubt paid for. In this Tupperware container, again that I probably no doubt paid for, and I take what's left of that and I throw that dog food and Tupperware thing down the bottom of the stairs. So where I live, it's kind of walk in on the mid level, there's a downstairs and then an upstairs. So Macy's on the upstairs, I throw this stuff on the downstairs. Around that time, Courtney says well I'm calling 911 from upstairs. Great. So I go back to eating breakfast, and I see like 10 cop cars pulling up. I open the front door and I'm waiting for them as they come up. And the one guy says, yeah, it looks like we're having a difficult morning here? I said yeah, we are. Because he could see all the pictures and broken glass or whatever. And he says... one of them says. So did you put your hands on your wife? Thinking back to that backyard scenario where I put my hand on the back of her shoulder, I say yes.
GE: You told the truth.
EK: And so he says, Oh, well, would you please step outside and put your hands behind your back. So now I am detained in a cop car. And as we're walking, he says, you know, you can thank OJ for this, meaning that domestic violence prior...
GE: What you mean prior to that it used to be discretionary and then it became mandatory it's actually a mandatory detainment or arrest these days. I talk about this a lot on the show. And, you know, I mentioned this before the right to remain silent is only useful if you shut the fuck up...
EK: After that I'm sitting in the car, and there's two officers trying to get me to talk about what happened. And I'm like, What's the point of me talking to you about what happened way I would eventually, I sat there for probably a good hour or more. And eventually I went away to the very Lost Hill Sheriff's Department, where I found out Griffin passed away, and into jail I go and I'm there now overnight. So during that day. Dillon comes by my house, wondering where I'm at. Opening the door is Courtney Baird behind her is her daughter Macy and he's like, where's my dad, knowing full well where I was both of them, they go silent. Dillon goes from looking at Courtney to looking at Macy going Macy, please, where's my dad? She flips around and walks away. Eventually Dillon puts out a wellness report or wellness alert or something, finds where I am, comes to see me at the jail. So now my son is seeing me in jail for something I didn't do. And I didn't know there's such a thing as visiting hours. But there are. And so, they allowed him to come after and stay a while. And eventually, they say okay, you gotta go now. Well he picks me up in the morning, and as we're walking away I'm like looking at those very steps. And so from there, I couldn't go back to my own house, because now there was a restraining order on me,
GE: Silver bullet number two. I talk about this. Number one is the incarcerating incident, the false accusation of domestic violence, then we go to Silver Bullet two which is the order of restraint and emergency protection order, a temporary restraining order, TRO or EPO that forbids you from going into your own house. And how egregious, is that, that you, having been through what you've been through, recovering from the suicide of your son, the death of your mother, you survive the attempt on your own life because of the horrific depression and having to deal with that, cope with that grief of what you've been through I think particularly with your son. Then through all the court cases the conservatorship being stolen from, embezzled from. And the woman who has perpetrated much of this unfortunate, particularly in the, in the preceding few years, recent few years is now living in your home, has control of your home she's married you, and you are not able to go in your own home. And you haven't even done anything, there is no evidence. That's the thing that's so egregious, it's hearsay. The only evidence they have in your case, was you telling the truth, and just saying I put my hand on her...
EK: But they didn't ask me the context in which I'd done it.
GE: They don't care at that point, it's mandatory You're going away, you are getting arrested or detained and you are not... she's then been advised to she's doing herself, getting a restraining order, and you have lost your home. You've lost your life as you knew it, you're homeless,
EK: To that point, I end up having to go live in a hotel, which I am paying to live in the hotel. She is living in my house, I rent my house, so I'm having to pay her rent, and all the utilities for her to stay in the very house that is not hers but mine. So then she also files for divorce. Then, hold on. It gets better.
GE: Well, that's what I was going to say to the audience today, anyone who's read my book that's silver bullet number six, legal retention. So she's done probably she's done one and two, she's got involved in three and four and five, well definitely four and three before then. So the silver bullet six, the legal retention, she's becomes the petitioner, you're the respondent. It's all over before you... I mean I want to hear the details but it's all over for you. But go ahead.
EK: It is. So, so, eventually, the family so now we're actually seeking a divorce, so I have to hire a family law attorney. So then, the evidence is presented to him by Ana Duragan that, hey, they never should have been married in the first place. So here's all the evidence of what happened before the marriage. Here's Dr Thomas Shesky's written report, they never should have been married, then there was a bifurcation where the annulment took precedence over the divorce, but prior to that, Courtney, goes to an imparte. ex parte motion.
GE: Ex parte, which for those who don't know is an emergency hearing. Normally, if you're applying to a court, well you or your attorney is, it usually takes a few weeks before you, or sometimes even months; many times, many months to get a hearing on the docket or on schedule or on calendar and ex parte you can get before a judge. Next day,
EK: So Michael Frawley, my attorney, leaves town. Once he's gone, Courtney's attorney files an ex parte motion in front of the judge, so that she can get funds from me to move out. So, the judge has all the evidence of Courtney's theft, forged checks, everything, and he grants her $30,000.
GE: This is the ex parte hearing?
EK: $10,000 that I have to pay her lawyer, and $20,000 for her to go find a new, like she had told the judge I've paid six months’ rent in advance. I need to be reimbursed by that, for Erik from Erik. He grants it.
GE: Were you at that ex parte hearing? I'm just curious.
GE: You weren't there. Was your attorney there? He was out of town because they waited probably as a strategy, you know, you have to serve for those who don't know, you have to serve notice for an ex parte hearing you can't just suddenly... just go to court, you have to let the other side... So the petitioner, in this case that would be Courtney, lets the respondent, you or through the attorneys, know. Okay, we're filing ex parte, we're going in ex parte is the terminology they use, and then you're supposed to both go into court and any self respecting judge, not seeing one side there, particularly when it's not a true emergency because it's what I hear from many judges it has to be a true emergency, ie., there is real danger, like someone's well being, physical or mental health is at stake imminently. This was a case where that wasn't the case. This is a case where the judge could have said, We're adjourning this, we need to get the respondent the other party need to be in here. Many judges, one would hope would say, you're wasting the court's time. Get out. You knew they weren't going to be here. They're not here, where are they? Why aren't they here and the fact they're not here, just like process serving, to a lesser degree, would be like, You know what, you need to prove to me you've served, you've processed served. And if no one's there on the other side, red flag everyone. So, okay so carrying on, here you are...
EK: If you don't mind me going backward just for 10 seconds. Had Courtney been arrested when she confessed, would there have been a marriage? No
GE: No there wouldn't.
EK: Would there have been a domestic violence false claim?
EK: This all falls on Bill Chen. So, Michael Harrison is just ignorant and he's negligent.
GE: I don't know about that. I don't think it all falls on one person. I think they're all part of the system. And, you know, Michael Harrison...
EK: There never should have been a conservatorship system. In my case, there should have been Courtney getting arrested. Period in the story, and that's Bill Chen's fault, Michael Harrison was next in line. So I filed a complaint against California State Bar against him, he knows this. There's a, there's a legal malpractice claim against him, he knows this. The other one who's not going to get any retribution or any punishment of any kind is Jonathan Cole. Jonathan Cole who's represented my aunt...
GE: During the conservatorship hearing when Michael Harrison...
EK: Yes. Jonathan Cole is who told my family that once you get the Dr. Tom Shesky's written report, this whole thing was just boom boom boom boom boom. Annulling the marriage, done, over with. Well guess who participated with Michael Harrison in, not going that route? Jonathan Cole. As soon as Jonathan Cole figured out, oh, Erik's family... Michael Harrison, same thing. As soon as they both figured out that I had a family that cared and that they would fight to keep me conserved.
GE: They needed to get you out of the way.
EK: They had the perfect scenario, they both could make all the money they could, they could make money for each other. They knew this process how it would take place. And so, Jonathan Cole is, as you said, this is a very small community. Jonathan Cole operates on both sides. What he did for my aunt and he's also a Michael Harrison type, he's scum. Michael Harrison, as well. Jamie Gonzalez, as well. Aileen Federizo, the professional conservator/fiduciary as well.
GE: I'm not surprised. Unfortunately and tragically... but what still surprises me is the lack of accountability, but then when you actually look at these systems, I call it the you know the Wild West, if you will. These attorneys and judges are the State Bar Associations, there's no oversight, they're not answerable to the Supreme Court, no one's looking over them, they write the laws, particularly in family law. They write the family law codebook, which used to be thin and is now very thick, and that's the very law it's the playbook they're writing their own playbook they're planting grown money trees, and they're all in it together for the most part and the tragedy is it's zero sum. Meaning that you know, I spoke with Alan Dershowitz about this, he mentioned conservatorship law, as you know it's commonly known in the in the legal industry that the dregs of the legal industry, the dregs of the legal industry. They are the people who couldn't work hard enough didn't want to put the hours in the time in to get a great law degree and go into a part of the law, branch of the law that was ethical, so where do they end up? In the sewer of the quagmire of family law and conservatorship law, where they can band together and just make money like rats, and that's what these people are. And they're aided and abetted by a system and these judges, and the system above and beyond that. So, at this point, you're homeless, you're in a motel, you're paying for the rent of your house that she's living in, you've just been ordered by a judge that you're not there at the hearing and neither is your attorney at this ex parte hearing, you got to pay 10s of 1000s of dollars to her. What next, because we're going to get to that like, I want to get to the you know, what happens.
EK: Well, so that all has to run its course. It then shifts to the annulment. And so, Courtney is made aware of the annulment that it's going to happen. Here's the date, here's where it's going to happen. Courtney Baird doesn't show up. Because the once there was no more money to gain by this false domestic violence claim, then she quit showing up for everything. So...
GE: And there was still a restraining order at this point was it a one year restraining order or...
EK: It was it was a temporary one so eventually it had to get negotiated from my lawyer to her lawyer that eventually Courtney would get out of the house. So how crazy is that? So you've got, you've got the thief that's orchestrating all of this. And eventually, the marriage is annulled, due to her fraud in my unsound mind, which is what it should have never turned into to begin with. Courtney only used it as a way to stop the investigation, and somehow it worked. But I think what she did in the process is she uncovered flaws in the system that I am now working, along with Ana, to change these laws. So we've got the ear of Senator Robert Hertzberg and others in the California judicial system, and we are currently getting ready to do, I guess you'd call it consult, on new laws for next year that will address the Michael Harrison's of the world. And when there's a firm standard of care established, people like Michael Harrison who don't meet it will end up getting prosecuted. So when you want to change something and these very lawyers are the ones who you said didn't have any accountability and they don't. When they start going to jail, that will be accountable. When the, when the California State Bar, who is ridiculous in all of this, like lawyers policing lawyers, that's not going to work...
GE: Well the State Bar is complicit in a way the state bars are the ones who've created this bloated system where people get lost in it, and hopefully your case and people like you know Britney Spears and others can highlight, and the documentary, The Guardians, you can highlight this area of the law because, you know where I focus on is family law that's my main focus the one branch of the legal system that doesn't provide a presumption of innocence. And what's interesting is where your situation kind of became embroiled in that system. With the false allegation of domestic violence, and the majority of allegations of domestic violence are false, but we hear from the domestic violence abuse groups and organizations, there's a couple that are decent and fair but many of them skew these statistics, it's all men are the violent ones and we believe all women. There's no me too dialogue going on it's a me too monologue and in your case and in my case, you know, these false allegations have very drastic, catastrophic lasting ramifications, to the point that when they go away, the damage, the collateral damage it's caused you in your life, you are the one picking up the pieces for this dastardly individual having made a false accusation. And, domestic violence, I talked about this a lot, Erik. If this were tried as it should be and it's part of what my organization's trying to do with getting into criminal court because domestic violence or any kind of violence are very serious events, you would have had your rights on that day. They couldn't have just removed you mandatorily from your home, from your life, put you in jail. She wouldn't have been able to get a restraining order, you would have had your Miranda rights, you would have had your human rights which were trampled on on too. And you would have been able to go through a system where you have had your day in court, you would have had presumption of innocence, the very thing that criminals get which you didn't get, I didn't get, and so many parents and partners in America in family law don't get because there is no presumption of innocence in family law and by de-facto when it goes into other court systems or other branches of the legal system like conservatorship. It can be used as 'well look he's clearly incapacitated. Now he's violent, now he's just a danger not just to himself he's a danger to everyone around him, you know, you were fortunate to a degree, and I can't believe that I'm saying this... that your temporary restraining order wasn't made permanent. That she, she didn't follow through with some heinous accusation. You know and self harmed herself in that moment too...
EK: But she did self harm herself.
GE: But to say that you were the one that had harmed her.
EK: She took some time to forge out a little red mark on her inner arm as though I pushed her into a barbecue, that was her story.
GE: Oh that was her story. And we see this so.... Amber Heard with Johnny Depp who I've talked about a lot... the moving bruise. You know, around the face, like how can a bruise move around the face?
EK: She said also that at one point, she acknowledged that Macy she was asleep during all this. Then later she, in a written statement, said that I threw a knife block at Macy just nearly missing her head. Well, how is she gonna be asleep, and the knife block. And when the police come and investigate and I get arrested, isn't there going to be a knife block on the floor? And then another written statement is I threw a bunch of utensils at Courtney, nearly missing her head. Wouldn't there be utensils on the floor?
GE: You got arrested? You weren't detained you were arrested? What we were arrested for?
EK: I spent the night in jail.
GE: I know I understand that but you can spend the night in jail only having been detained. What were you arrested for? What were you charged with?
EK: I was charged because of a $50,000 bail, I had to pay. it was felony domestic violence. It was later dropped to misdemeanor, why I'm not sure. The fact that I even had to have a criminal defense attorney was a joke. The criminal defense attorney I had, Michael Norris, himself was a joke. Because during all of this, he knew exactly what I'm telling you. He knew it. And yet, along the way, he gives me up to the prosecution attorney the prosecutor says, in front of the judge that I'm guilty.
GE: What your own attorney said on the record that you were guilty?
EK: That I was guilty yep. Went back in the judge's chamber, told the judge and the district attorney that I was guilty, and that could the judge just this once, if I was willing to go to domestic violence counseling for 52 weeks and therapy for a year and a half, then the judge would drop this case.
GE: So he did it but it was kind of a plea deal in the judge's smoking gun chambers as I call them.
EK: But he did it with me telling him, don't ever accept any deal on anything. I want to go to trial.
GE: The question is when they come back out and you're told that there's a deal being made, do you not do not speak up and say, Your Honor, I don't agree to this, did you not mention any of it?
EK: I probably should have. But when the judge came back, and based on what Michael Harrison told him to say, Norris. What I told Michael Norris, never to agree to, Michael Norris proposed. And so the judge comes back and says, Okay, first asks Michael Harrison, Michael Norris sorry, do you agree that that Erik should, you know, serve, whatever. Do this domestic violence therapy, agree, ask the attorney, the district attorney. Do you agree? Well, not really, because but only because Courtney is trying to get her life back together then. Okay, I'll agree to it. He wanted to prosecute me based on what my own attorney told him I was guilty. So then the judge says, okay, Erik, Mr. Kramer, are you willing to do X, Y and Z counseling and therapy and I say, regrettably, yes,
GE: It's a tough call at that moment because you're at the mercy of the justice system.
EK: So my own lawyer, wouldn't my own lawyer have consulted with me after coming back in? Judge can I take 10 minutes, and I go explain to my lawyer, my client, what I just did that he did, he asked me specifically 15 times not to do. Can I go explain to him what I just did against his wishes? Before you ask him anything?
GE: It seems that there was so many the so many people in your story, so many people in your story, who have taken advantage of us since that fateful day when you put the gun to your chin. That it's hard to find forgiveness and redemption. This system, the legal system seems out of control, because there was, there's no checks and balances along the way so many people from detectives to judges to attorneys in one branch of the law to another branch of the law to individuals... so many people had an opportunity to do the right thing. It sounds like people were driven by cowardice, or greed, or one of the other seven deadly sins.
EK: I would say more greed. Greed drives more things and anything but the way I would characterize my last several years would be Courtney's the fly, right, the ointment is what needs changing. Courtney exposed how bad the ointment is, she's gonna go to jail, and she's gonna pay whatever restitution or she's not. But the bigger picture is revamping and reforming. Reforming what is now currently broken. And it's not just for me. You mentioned Britney Spears, but in all honesty I don't know much about her case, what I do know is that according to what I've read, she could get out of the conservatorship if she would only go back and have, be re-evaluated in the way in which she was evaluated to be concerved.
GE: If that's the case I don't know that is the case, Erik, but I'm with her on that. There is a tremendous amount at risk when you place yourself in the hands of an evaluator within a system that you and I both know isn't necessarily either aware or if it is aware it's on the side of how can we churn this, how can we keep this going? That case is a prime example of so many millions of dollars being used and abused and there are people mad literally millions of dollars off her back,
EK: Let me just step in. I agree with you. The conservatorship court system itself is flawed, extremely far. Her case is exposing it. The problem for her is that the neuropsychologists are not part of that system. You go to any neuropsychologist and be given an all-day evaluation, just like I was there not for or against anybody. That's the medical profession of the neuropsychology, that's the only profession, in medicine...
GE: Well with the legal maneuvering of an attorney who's representing you and as your conservator, you can't go and see anyone you can't choose those two choices are often made like in your case they're made without you being aware. They're made by attorneys who are supposed to be representing you and keeping you in the loop so that you the client can make the decision and determination. I think she's in a horrific situation and the quicker they get a new judge on that case because they're judges... she's made some determinations on that case that are extremely, highly questionable, but I think it's..
EK: Yeah, I'll leave it at that.
GE: I think it's really important to you know, have conversations like this. So your story which is... Gosh, fascinating, deeply disturbing and here you are though. I mean here you are living your life, where are you at now and what's next?
EK: Well, so, thank you. Yes, I am here living my life and that's the beauty of all this is that now, not only legally but just in other matters where I was getting strung along by the criminal court system, the conservatorship court system, the family law court system, all that crap. Now I get to be in the driver's seat. And so the very people who were stringing me along. Now they're going to get strung up. And along the way, I'm going to do something that Britney Spears is not going to do. And that is, she's not talking to any senators or trying to change any laws, she's just trying to get out of what she could get out of.
GE: Well she might do once she gets... I mean she can't right now. I mean, she's got literally so maybe once she is... Look how about you and I joined together and call to Brittany right now Britney Spears, if and when, and it's gonna be a when you get out from this horrific conservatorship, you get involved in social change, social impact, policy change, and speak out about this. Maybe she'll do an album or a song or maybe that'll be her first song back. Anyway, go ahead Erik.
EK: I've heard she's gonna... she's retiring from the music business, according to her. So we'll see about that. But my point is that when you ask what am I doing now, there are some programs that I'm actively trying to usher forward, one of which would be, that currently exists, is it's just not mainstream yet, but it's going that direction. It's school programs, a school program that is designed to, it's a kit, and it basically starts out with how to empower kids to start making good choices and identifying when others, their friends potentially, are making questionable choices that eventually lead to, how to identify good qualities in people, including yourself, and then building a sort of a support system with a team around you. So that when young people encounter things like cyber bullying or face to face bullying or in some way where they're getting isolated, potentially creating some anxiety situations for them before depression or any of that ever sets in, they have a team to go to that they've put together themselves that they start talking these matters out where they head off. Proactively going down the rabbit hole, so to speak. And then they grow up in that environment where life issues as they grow, the gravity of situations and challenges kind of grow up and out. And now you're equipped with the tools to kind of coordinate and how to handle and communicate your way through that so that maybe later in life, you avoid things like isolation, and anxiety and depression. And so that's the program I'm currently involved in. There are others within the NFL, that I'm trying to usher in that have been programs that I've been exposed to along the path of Griffin's trials and tribulations that are some very good family programs that I took part in that I'd love to see become a part of... Now that the NFL is diving into the behavioral health world, it would be nice to have, to effectuate a program like that into, for players and their families even former players, and they're so...
EK: Things like that.
GE: Well I think that is so important. I need to my friend D’Angelo Williams who’s always getting in trouble on social media. I mean I talk about with my charity, family champions, and the partnerships and allyships and friendships and mentorships. We need an armada of family champions and I think what you’re doing by telling your story, truthfully, authentically and very vulnerably is so vital and so important. Because I mention this all the time to my audience and my listeners and viewers, is that it’s really important to have empathy for self and forgive yourself the mistakes that you make because we all make them. We’ve all made them. Realize that we’re all human. We’re all part of one big complicated, colorful human race and how we can champion the most vulnerable among us but at the same time, call out the most despicable among us. And it’s that duality I think that’s important. How we can support those people, parents, family, players, whoever those individuals are in that family. How we can be the champion in that family that maybe needs some help and at the same time, how we can bring about social policy change and change legislation and the hearts and minds of politicians. So I commend you for sharing your story. It’s been a fascinating couple of hours hearing what you’ve had to say and just amazing that you are still here. I hope you continue to share your story and turn these tragedies, which you are doing, into something good, and positive. And to be able to be of service to others is wonderful Erik. I’ve really appreciated you being on The Respondent
EK: Thank you. Thanks for having me. I appreciate, obviously, the work you’re doing as well. I think that there’s a lot of us out there that are looking to shine a light on not only things that are going well, but things that could probably be improved and I think that’s where the future lies is younger people coming up, at whatever age they’re coming up at, helping the systems that they’re growing up in, be a part of, work better then than they do now.
GE: Yeah. Well said. And anyone struggling or going through any mental health, or mental wealth sas I call it, challenges become more mind-well. If you’re having challenges, and I think it’s more difficult for men. More so for men and boys. I talk about this. We need to de-stigmatize it. Talk to someone. And if you know someone who you think might be socially isolated, hasn’t been as receptive or just someone that you know who you haven’t spoken to in a while, that you haven’t checked in with by text or email or phone, do it. You know, we need to be connected. This whole time, the last 18/19 months we’ve been told to socially distance, well socially isolated. It should be physically distanced but socially connected. So I thank you for your connection to the show and maybe you’ll come back on down the line and share with us and give us an update of what’s going on.
EK: I would love to. Things as you might imagine are moving in that direction so they’ll be a lot to talk about as this year and others move on. So yeah, it’ll be a lot of fun.
GE: Looking forward to it. Well thank you for being with us Erik Kramer.
EK: Thank you.