On This Date in History: When Stanton Lee Powers went to a County Bank branch in Santa Cruz, CA he had but $1.17 in his account. The 40-year-old artist had a tough time making ends meet on his Social Security disability payments and the few pen and ink drawings that he managed to sell. He said that when he went to the automatic teller machine on that early fall evening, he began to pray. As he told the story, when he finished his prayer, he checked the account balance and the machine said he had $1600. Two days later, on this date in 1982, he returned to the same machine and prayed again before checking his balance. This time, his account balance had mushroomed to over $5 Million. Powers then made a withdrawal.
But, he didn’t just take the money and run. Instead, he contacted a lawyer and his counsel did a brief analysis of the facts. Needless to say, the lawyer decided that more research was in order. But, before he got too deep into the case, he had Powers sign an agreement that stated that the lawyer would receive a third of the proceeds of any future movie, book or tv deals that may come about in relation to the “Miracle of the Automated Teller.” Then, the lawyer had the artist take him to the teller machine in question. A balance inquiry revealed that over $5 Million was still in the account and so the lawyer told Powers to withdraw some cash. They went to another machine and repeated the procedure and they continued the process over the next few days. A total of about $2000 was withdrawn from the miracle account.
They say that glory is fleeting and, in this case, the miracle didn’t last long either. The bank froze Powers’ account and the next time that he tried to withdraw money, the machine ate his card. The counsel responded by demanding that the bank prove that the money in the account had not appeared due to Divine intervention. He argued that if the Lord could turn water into wine and feed 5000 people with a basket full of bread and fish, then putting $5 Million into Stanton Lee Powers’ account should not be a problem. But bank officials weren’t about to give up $5 Million on Faith alone. One banker said, “It’s the first time I’ve heard of God being active in this type of thing” while another noted that, in order for the deposit to be valid, then there had to be wire transfer or check from God in the record. Stanton Lee Powers was charged with grand theft.
At the trial, Powers changed his story. He explained that he met a psychic named Fortune who told him things about his past life that he had told to no one. She told him that she could rid his life of all obstacles. Powers told Fortune that he had “visualized the color green flowing into my (Powers) aura” and she told him that was the color of “self-love.” The fortune teller suggested that, since he was in touch with his aura that he should turn up his “shock roots” and “experience a havingness machine.” I’m not sure if Powers told Fortune or not, but the state of transcendence felt by Powers may have been helped just a bit by 16 Ritalin pills, a few codeine tablets and 10 or 12 wine coolers. It was after having popped the pills and visiting Bartles and James, as well as Fortune, that Powers visited his “havingness machine” which just so happened to belong to County Bank. Powers shared the story of his windfall from his “havingness machine” with some people who told him that no one would believe the story and he should merely claim that it was cash from God instead of advice from Fortune.
I guess that Powers first lawyer got out of the game when he found out that the cash machine was empty because he didn’t represent the starving artist at the trial. But, his new attorney thought that the truth would set Powers free as he surmised that no jury could hold Powers responsible for his actions. However, the prosecutor showed how Powers had actually entered large deposits on the cash machine keyboard without actually depositing much money at all. Because there was a bank holiday, the bank had not reconciled the account, thus, the phoney deposit amount remained in the machine when Powers made his withdrawals. He then blamed a glitch in the computer for having deposited over $5 Million into the account without putting a hold on it.
In the end, one might say that justice was passed out in the court of state as well as a higher judging authority. In spite of what Powers’ trial lawyer thought, the artist was found guilty. However, the sentence was lenient as the court took his mental condition into account. He had to pay the bank back the money and peform 750 hours of community service, which is did by teaching art classes to senior citizens. Power said that he lost all of his money and all of his friends. He also suffered the indignity of being rear-ended by hit and run drivers four times. I guess God doesn’t take kindly to those who fraudulently use his omnipotence as much as banks don’t like defrauding their teller machines.
Nevertheless, it brought to mind an experience that I had when a very devout lawyer that I met told me that he had prayed for a new car and he wanted a Triumph TR 6 but he didn’t have the money. Then one day, the money appeared in his account and that is how he came to own the snazzy sports car. I told him that I thought that he should have notified the bank because it was obviously a mistake. But, he said he did all of that and the bank let him keep the money. I asked him why God would provide him with a fancy, somewhat expensive car and he said it was because He wanted him to have it. Now, I certainly do not claim to know the Will of the Almighty and perhaps He really did want this young lawyer to have a sports car and maybe He did, in fact, put money into his bank account. I never knew what happened to the lawyer I knew 30 years ago. But, after learning how County Bank reacted to the miracle money of Stanton Lee Powers and his ultimate fate, I wonder how the young lawyer has faired and if he’s been rear ended a few times in his life. For me, honesty and integrity is all that I have and if I scuttle that then, I am nothing.
Weather Bottom Line: Temperatures warmed up on Labor Day but it was still rather dry and that lack of moisture will most likely limit our rain chances on Tuesday as a cold front slips through. Compression may work with a southwesterly flow to take us up to 90 but I doubt if we’ll get much in the way of rain. If memory serves correctly, September is climatogically the driest month in Louisville so that’s not too surprising. The front will overnight lows for the rest of the week in the low 60’s and highs in the low to mid 80’s with relatively low humidity so you can probably save on your air conditioning bill. But, our much needed rain is not in the cards at this time except for maybe some help from Tropical Storm Hermine that came ashore late Monday night south of Brownsville. That moisture may eventually work its way up through Texas and into the Midwest and then eventually into the Ohio Valley but that is several days away if it does occur. So, while we need some rain, you may as well enjoy the nice stretch.