Another Long Day in the Land of the Free

This was already all over the blogs by the time I got up this morning, and Greg Freeman (that’s what you think) comments on another post about this bit of news.

For 11 years, Pedro Zapeta, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, lived his version of the American dream in Stuart, Florida: washing dishes and living frugally to bring money back to his home country.

Two years ago, Zapeta was ready to return to Guatemala, so he carried a
duffel bag filled with $59,000 — all the cash he had scrimped and
saved over the years — to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International

Nope; the mariachi band was not in attendance that day. No teary but joyful send off for a guy who’d worked hard and achieved something in 11 years that few do in an entire lifetime: saved the equivalent of five year’s pay, all together in one spot: a real American Dream for someone of his background. And yep; the federal government stole every last penny of it. And two years later, he hasn’t seen a penny, though the Feds did offer to "settle" with him by giving him back a fifth of what’s his, $10,000.

But, you know; rules are rules and the law is the law. Sure is. You’re getting everything you want, and you’re getting it good and hard, you freedom-loving Americans, you.

Billy has some good words on an awful thing.

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  1. Richard Nikoley on September 28, 2007 at 17:38

    "It's clear that laws were broken."

    And that's the point. Does everyone understand?

  2. Bob West on September 28, 2007 at 17:14

    If you were US District Judge James I. Cohn, what would you have done? It's clear that laws were broken. What penalties should Mr. Pedro Zapeta have had applied in the delivery justice for his failure to file the correct form and tax evasion infractions?

    In pursuing this case, Judge Cohn had a choice, a criminal or a civil proceeding. Clearly, everyone who feels like Mr. Zapeta is guilty of something here would agree this should have tried as a criminal matter. Had he been found for a criminal violation, the fine would have been up to $5000 on the matter of the form.

    Judge Cohn, however, instead chose to try this as a civil matter. What's the liklihood he knew enough about the case in advance to suspect Mr. Zapeta's guilt? Hard to say. We would like to beleive our federal judges are honest and ethical and are commited to delivering justice. What Judge James I. Cohn did know in advance, and very well to be sure since this is the essence of his job, was that the damages Mr. Zapeta faced as a civil defendent against the government were vastly higher.

    This is injustice, not justice.

    As to the taxes, an appropriate claim for taxes due could have filed by the IRS. Even the additional punitive charges for failure to file/pay could have been applied. Damages would still not equate to the justice Mr. Pedro Zapeta has received as a result of this civil suit.

    If anyone disagrees with this ruling of US District Judge James I. Cohn, they should let him know what they think. They should hold him accountable.

    After a quick google search, this is the phone number to his office. You can leave him a voice mail by dialing:


    and then pressing 6

    Or you could write him, this is his address:

    299 East Broward Boulevard, 203F
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301

    and his email is

    This is a federal judge, he works for you.

    Let him now how you feel.

  3. Matt on October 2, 2007 at 10:00

    This, from today's Detroit News…


    "Bailey is also accused of failing to report the theft of more than $300,000 from aliens housed at a deportation center in Monroe. Patrick Wynne, a former detention officer there, was sentenced to 57 months in prison in January 2006 for his role in those thefts."

    So, it appears that it's okay for a large group of people, i.e., "the government", to steal money from an illegal immigrant, but not okay for a couple thug cops to do it on their own.

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