LONG BEACH (WLOX) - The last time we visited Buds and Blooms flower shop in Long Beach in December of 2006, they were handing out free poinsettias to everyone living in FEMA trailers. That was the last happy holiday for shopowner Juliet Cruthirds Bolling and her 13-year-old daughter Jillian.
"Last year we didn't even have a Christmas," says Bolling. "We didn't have Christmas at all, and it doesn't look like we're going to have one this year. But maybe next year things will get better."
Bolling says she lost her business, her home and nearly her sanity after she was arrested in connection with a home repair fraud investigation in 2007. Her only connection was her witness signature on a contract drawn up by Dallas Eugene Frisbee.
"He was an acquaintance that I had known for a couple of months, and they asked me to witness and contract. And that's what I did," says Bolling. "I was doing him a favor."
And it was that short relationship with Frisbee that cost this widow everything.
"The whole year of 2007 I secluded myself. I couldn't go out in public because of the stares that I received from everybody."
Bolling's nightmare only ended last week, when the state Attorney General's office finally cleared her of any wrongdoing. But she fears the damage done to her family and her reputation will be just as hard to undo.
"I can't walk up to all of the citizens in Long Beach, and say, 'Hey look I didn't do this.' I want to walk in Winn Dixie. I want to be able to walk into the bank. I want to be able to let people know that never in my life or will I ever do anything to hurt anybody. If I'm not able to help the citizens of Long Beach, I'm darn sure not going to hurt them in any way."