Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Whoops, My Bad

I read the article below today after reading Radley Balko's column in the Washington Post, about this man who was convicted and tried and whoops wrong guy. He personifies the perfect trifecta of erroneous prosecution - "light" knock warrant, charged/convicted of a crime he did not commit and nearly lost his job if it was not for the evil Union! It was as if they now have the perfect prototype of utter incompetence and idiocy. And then as it began it was over without even an apology.

I think this was a perfect story to start the day. After yesterdays utter bullshit column by Andrew Ross Sorkin, claiming we are now an apology nation, I had a laugh as when it comes to apologizing the only way for the 99% to get one is to sue.

I have always contended that my prosecution for a crime I did not knowingly and willingly commit was due to the fact that I was drugged and propelled into behaviors and acts I would not commit, such as drive drunk and have sex with random strange men. The Prosecutor disagreed but in her carefully worded summation, ensured that the "unsatisfactory" sex came first and my drunken driving in despair was the result. In other words had I been drunk prior to the sex, then I would have been raped (lack of consent and all that, being drunk as I supposedly was but again have never been able to substantiate either thanks to that mysterious blood draw) as I have believed but again never proven.

Charming woman, as I referred to her and the Police officer who arrested me in a coma and who sat next to her during my trial, as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. As anyone given the name and phone number of my date/perpetrator yet oddly not call that number or run a trace has to be utterly dumb or maybe there is a Brady violation there?

And like this gentleman in the article, much of my problems I have believe are tied to third parties, and  had Harborview Hosptial not thrown me into the street like a wild animal in full blown Traumatic Brain Injury with Post Traumatic Amnesia I would have healed and informed them of what transpired that night and possibly get drug and sexual assault test that might have been able to support my beliefs.

But again who needs an apology or any type of resolution when you are nothing but a worthless member of society's poors. Lock us up, criminalize us, label us and let us crawl back under the rock from which we came. Or at least sue the bastards. Then we get can more bastards in the mix because who doesn't need more Attorney's to do absolutely nothing in pursuit of wronging a right and collecting inordinate fees as a result. And yes I am suing, but I am going alone. Goliath meet Davida.

I still rage about Attorney #2 who refused my request to hire an Investigator to find the scum who did what he did to me as that too might have been useful but there were so many other things he did wrong I can't actually say that was the only thing I rage about him. Which lead Lawyer number 4.5(there was a half lawyer in there another asshole) who actually did graduate from Harvard (which meant overcoming my loathing of that institution), goes: "You had bad legal advice." Yes, Harvard, I did. It is why I hired you. Do you need a Harvard degree to figure that out? I didn't and I knew that much. And yet we still lost to the Dum twins. This is also to prove the point that you can buy all the Attorney's in the world and they still can lose in the system of corruption and malfeasance. It has a lot more power and muscle even when stupid.

There is comfort in knowing you are not alone. Ironic also that the number of exoneration's are up from previous years. I am not sure what that means as frankly I suspect they are also too low. But it is a clear sign that there are a lot of people who deserve a second chance and more importantly a second look.

And on that note, when cops start wearing Google glass and mini cameras, maybe the truth will be less likely to hide. Currently some cities in California are implementing this idea as an experiment. That is if they remember to turn it on and if they allow it to run. They have mics now which they can turn off and edit to of course comply with their memory. Memories like the corners of your mind, misty water colored memories of the way they think they are. And by they I mean the cops. Funny how their memories are always utterly complete and never questioned. Just a thought. I have those but in our ever increasing state of paranoia and suspicion I am sure those won't last for long or be private ones.



Banking bad: One man’s ID-theft nightmare
 By Jay Weaver The Miami Herald

Fighting a bad cold, Carlos Gomez had decided to sleep by himself that night so he wouldn’t expose his wife.

He awoke to a nightmare. Just before dawn, insistent pounding on the front door jolted the ex-Marine and young father out of bed. Federal agents poured into his Kendall home, pushing his wife aside and rushing to his bedroom. They held guns to his face before slapping him in handcuffs.

“I kept asking, ‘What is going on?’ ’’ recalled Gomez, who works as a UPS driver. “I was scared for my life.”

Gomez, busted in a money laundering scheme, would spend nearly two weeks in a federal detention center and another seven months under house arrest.
It took 222 days before federal prosecutors realized it was all a terrible mistake: A rogue bank worker had stolen his identity.

Thanks in part to Gomez’s own sleuthing, prosecutors eventually discovered he had been wrongfully charged. The Wachovia Bank employee had stolen $1.1 million from customers, then swiped Gomez’s identity to create a checking account under the pilfered name to launder portions of the embezzled proceeds.

Now, nearly three years after the ordeal, Gomez is suing Wachovia for “malicious prosecution.”

Gomez was among 13 co-conspirators named in a 2010 indictment, a list that included the shady banker’s own grandmother. He was charged with participating in a money-laundering conspiracy and structuring withdrawals from his checking account in 2006 to avoid detection by bank regulators — offenses that carried up to 20 years in prison.

But Gomez, whose federal case was built on information mainly provided by the bank to federal authorities, refused to acknowledge a crime he did not commit.

“They say you’re innocent until proven guilty,” said Gomez, 36, a U.S. citizen who was born in Colombia. “In this case, I was guilty until I proved my own innocence.”

Gomez’s criminal defense attorney, Joel DeFabio, said he and his client had to persuade the U.S. attorney’s office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to acknowledge that they had the wrong guy — an admission that rarely happens in federal court.

“We never gave up, we never stopped fighting, we never stopped believing, and we told the United States government we were going all the way to trial unless they realized the mistake they had made,” DeFabio said. “And it worked.”

The U.S. attorney’s office and ICE declined comment.

Gomez’s civil lawyers, Jermaine Lee and Eric Hernandez, claim in a lawsuit filed in September in Miami federal court that Wachovia officials were reckless when they failed to protect Gomez’s “confidential” account and to provide “accurate” information about him to federal authorities.

In a key ruling last month, U.S. District William Dimitrouleas rejected the bank’s bid to throw out the civil case, saying Gomez had “sufficiently alleged” that Wachovia violated its “fiduciary duty” to him by allowing an employee and others “to misuse his private and confidential information to launder monies.” As a result, Gomez’s case is headed for mediation and, if still unresolved, trial.

During roughly the same period as Gomez’s case, North Carolina-based Wachovia was found in violation of major anti-money laundering laws in Miami and agreed to pay $160 million to the U.S. government for failing to block drug-trafficking profits from passing through the bank between 2003 and 2008.

But a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo, which absorbed Wachovia at the end of 2008 after the nation’s financial crisis, said the bank intends to “vigorously’’ defend itself against Gomez’s allegations.

“This is an unfortunate situation, and Wells Fargo regrets that it is in litigation with Mr. Gomez,” said bank spokeswoman Michelle Palomino. “We don’t believe the facts we have and the applicable law support the claims made regarding the role of Wells Fargo and the circumstances that preceded his arrest.”

Before his Kafkaesque journey through the U.S. criminal justice system, Gomez was a typical young immigrant trying to work his way into a better life.

He dutifully opened his first bank account after he graduated from high school in Stamford, Conn., where he spent his teenage years. It was with First Union, which would later be acquired by Wachovia. He kept the account active until he joined the Marine Corps in 1997.

After a four-year stint in California, he moved to Miami to live with his mother, attending Miami-Dade College and getting a part-time job as a driver for UPS. In 2001, he reactivated his First Union account but then permanently closed it and switched to Washington Mutual.

He married Shelithea, who worked at South Motors, in 2006 and they bought their first home in Kendall. She had a young daughter from a previous marriage and they would have two more girls themselves, a brood that the in-laws would gladly help babysit.

“We were moving forward,” Gomez said. “We were happy.”

Then, early one spring morning in 2011, a cop came by his house to inquire if he had called Miami-Dade police to report something. The officer asked for his ID and verified his name and address. Gomez said he and his wife had not called the police. Both were “unsettled” by the cop’s visit, he said.

A week later, on April 6, before the sun rose on their modest three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, a squad of ICE agents arrived, forcibly knocking on their front door.

Gomez said he was whisked away so quickly that he couldn’t even talk to his wife. “They separated us right away. They threw me in the car with handcuffs.

“I was thinking that these two guys could take me somewhere and kill me, and nobody would know about anything,” he said during a recent interview at his lawyers’ downtown Miami office. “That’s how scared I was.”

Gomez said he didn’t have a clue as to why they arrested him, thinking to himself that his name was so common in Miami that “they’ve got the wrong Carlos Gomez.”

He asked one of the agents why he was arrested. The answer: money laundering.

During an interrogation, Gomez said the agents urged him to “work with us. We already know what you did. We know someone who can point you out.’’

When they flashed Wachovia checks at him, Gomez said, he told them it wasn’t his signature. “You have the wrong guy.”

It began to dawn on Gomez, who saw other suspects being rounded up in his same case, that he was not going to be released. He also realized he was late for his job at UPS and would probably get fired because he couldn’t contact his boss.

He was transferred from ICE’s holding facility to the federal detention center in downtown Miami, where inmates are held before trial. Stuck behind bars, he said he was so depressed that he couldn’t eat. Three days after his arrest, he finally got to talk with his wife, but still didn’t know what to tell her. Through a family contact, Gomez hired DeFabio to represent him. His lawyer told him that the prosecution had a “solid
case” and that he could be facing a long time in prison.

“I was devastated,” Gomez said. “The reality was hitting me hard.’’

After nearly two weeks in detention, Gomez was freed on a $100,000 bond he got with the help of family members. He also regained his UPS job with union assistance. But he remained largely under house arrest with charges still over his head. Under the bail terms, he could work during the day but had to be confined to his home at night. The Feds would make random calls to see whether he was there.

Gomez then began trying to clear his name, starting with a polygraph test on the advice of his defense lawyer. He passed.

Next, after a discussion with his lawyer, Gomez went to a local branch of Wells Fargo, which had acquired Wachovia. He told the branch manager that someone had stolen his identity and asked her if she could look up the address on his checking account number — the fabricated one that had been used to withdraw $135,000 of stolen money from bank customers.

The manager wrote down a Hialeah address — a place Gomez had never lived.

“I started to sense this was a real breakthrough,” he said.

He dug up his old First Union check card with the original account number. It did not match the newly created account number used in the money-laundering scheme.

He also compiled his UPS pay stubs to show how much money was actually deposited into his real bank account during the period that the money laundering was going on.

In August 2011, Gomez and his attorney finally secured a meeting with the federal prosecutor in his case, Dwayne Williams, and ICE agents. Though it was risky as a legal tactic, they showed all their evidence to the prosecution. The prosecutor grilled Gomez, showed him pictures of other defendants and asked if Gomez had sold his identity to the ringleader: Wachovia bank employee Noel Abraham Mendez.

“Of course not,” Gomez said.

He and his lawyer felt more confident after the meeting, filing a motion to dismiss the charges. But still no word came from the U.S. attorney’s office.

“People were telling me it was going to be OK, but it didn’t feel OK,” Gomez said. “The reality of having to do time in jail for something I didn’t do was unbearable.”

Finally, on Nov. 14, 2011 — following guilty pleas by Mendez and the other defendants — U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke signed an order submitted by the U.S. attorney’s office dismissing all charges against Gomez.

Gomez was on one of his UPS routes in Miami when he got the call from DeFabio. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I broke down.”

It was a nightmare, Gomez said, that no one should have to endure — and that could have been easily thwarted by diligent bankers.

“I blame the bank because they started the whole thing,” he said. “They were so clueless about what they did. They should have called me in the first place to verify my account and signature and none of this would have ever happened.”

1 comment: