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Texas couple with 2 kids on old bus makes progress

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 21, 2013 at 8:39 pm •  Published: January 21, 2013

At the time, Shorten and his wife were in separate federal prisons both serving 18 months for convictions for conspiracy to embezzle money from victims of Hurricane Ike, which struck in 2008. They had arranged for their children to be supervised by an aunt, who told authorities she became overwhelmed between working 12-hour days and trying to care for them.

"There was a lot of emotional and mental anguish put on the kids," said Sherrie Shorten, who was released from prison several weeks after the children were removed. "And that's what we were upset about."

Her husband was released in July and their children were returned to them, under CPS supervision, in September.

"My main focus when I got home was getting my kids back home," Mark Shorten said. "And I did that. Life's as good as it's going to get at the moment but we're trying to make it better."

Despite its worn appearance, the bus inside had been renovated, furnished, had hot and cold water and a bathroom, and was air-conditioned. The family moved it from Louisiana after their home there was flooded from Hurricane Ike. It was intended as a temporary home until they could build on the lot, where the trash has been cleared and items outside, like a lumber pile, are neatly stacked.

"We'd still like to (build), but we have some restrictions," said Sherrie Shorten, who with her husband is on supervised federal release for three years and also looking at more than $100,000 in court-ordered restitution. "We have a lot of issues rebuilding our lives and getting back on track."

Mark Shorten maintains neither he nor his wife, an accountant, were guilty.

"I don't want to sound like somebody who is bitter and mad, because I'm not," he said. "We're trying to move forward."