Skip to comments.Dishwasher gets cleaned
Posted on 01/31/2007 1:12:31 PM PST by primeval patriot
U.S. District Judge James Cohn has forced a Guatemalan dishwasher to surrender nearly all his life savings to the government because he didn't sign a declaration form before trying to board an airplane.
Pedro Zapeta of Stuart had $59,000 in his bag when Customs agents searched it and confiscated the money at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Sept. 18, 2005. Mr. Zapeta, a 39-year-old Mayan whose native language is Quiche, has said that he was unaware of the requirement to disclose amounts greater than $10,000. On Monday, Judge Cohn ruled that the $10,000 was all that Mr. Zapeta could keep. He must forfeit the rest - $49,000. Mr. Zapeta has no real option for appealing, and is likely to be deported soon.
"It is unconscionable for the government to take that money," said Robert Gershman, Mr. Zapeta's attorney. "They do it because they can. That's the only reason. It's just not right. He could have left with all $59,000 if he had signed the form."
In his six-page ruling, Judge Cohn said that the government had dropped earlier claims that the cash was drug money, and that prosecutors were accusing Mr. Zapeta of a civil currency violation, not a criminal offense. Mr. Gershman argued that Mr. Zapeta should pay a fine of no more than $5,000 for being negligent; he never had flown on a plane. "There is no rule of thumb in these cases," the lawyer said. "They shouldn't just rubber-stamp them with a decision like this."
Mr. Zapeta entered the country illegally 11 years ago and worked as a dishwasher for numerous Stuart restaurants, often holding two jobs at a time for little more than minimum wage. He intended to start a business with relatives upon returning to Guatemala. Mr. Gershman believes that the dishwasher's immigration and social status worked against him: "If Mr. Zapeta were a professional man, or more intellectual, or more mainstream, there's no question that he would not have been treated this way."
This is the guest worker President Bush has in mind when he proposes immigration reform. Pedro Zapeta didn't come to stay. He came to make investment money he can't make back home. Having done so, he was ready to deport himself. Judge Cohn had a chance to make sense out of this bureaucratic bungling. Instead, he displayed little logic and even less compassion.
Fair enough. I'm not a huge fan of this law, either. I just don't think many people realize that the fact this illegal alien did not pay taxes on his income is an unoperative fact in this case.
DEPORT HIM NOW!(and keep all the money)
Money was earned as the result of a crime (illegally entering and residing in the US). No reason he should be able to keep the $10,000 either.
If they did this to all illegal aliens apprehended I'd guess the number of illegals would drop dramatically. To bad they only do it in the name of the WOD and not to enforce more important laws.
OK, how do you know he is guilty?
Was there a trial? Was he given an attorney to defend himself against the charges?
No. This is an administrative punishment, meted out by the executive with no oversight, and no access to justice.
They should also confiscate moneys earned by employers of illegals, right before the jail sentence starts.
Then the money still would have been confiscated. Next question?
He is here illegally. He is a CRIMINAL period. Nothing past this poing matters.
Maybe he didn't want to live in a country where the courts can confiscate the life savings of the citizens
"He's "illegal". FOr many here, that means he got off lucky -- he should have been shot in the back. "
Don't forget to mention they'd kill all the jews just like the real nazis they are!
Moreover they are posted in Spanish as well, which is why this guy is now claiming his only language is Quice.
So why did he?
True enough. I was just making a statement about the general state of our system.
you're talking to a bleeding heart - don't waste your time with logic.
Other than social security, he might not have made enough money to have to pay taxes. In fact, his salary might have been so low that he would have qualified for earned income credits to offset his social security.
And I oppose these laws which allow administrative "seizures" of property, simply on the basis of possession. The government should have to prove you violated the law in a COURT, with a trial. They shouldn't get to just call you guilty and exact punishment.
That's the kind of "justice" you expect from some puppet dictatorship, or two-bit shakedown town.
How many of you know any legal immigrants who have worked 11 years at minimum-wage jobs and managed to "save" $59,000...? Anybody?
As for that loudmouth lawyer, can he actually cite any case where a similar person was deprived of his cash where he could prove within reason, bank accounts, income vs. expenditures, by whatever means, that it was all money legally and honestly earned?
For whatever its worth, if any version of the criminal's story might be true, I think this illegal might have worked the system for living expenses, healthcare while he stashed his under the table earnings...
It's possible, but very unlikely.
If he was paid minmun wage he may have paid for taxes. But tell me what services he got. Did he get welfare? Illegal, I doubt it. He probly shared floor space and took a bus to work. Just because he was frugal we do not own his money. He earned it. He should keep it. I personally think the requirement to declare any amount over 10,000 a sign of a police state. I understand they watch for drug and now terrorism but still the amount I have in cash and plan to take home is not a free persons obligation to tell the state. However if I am not free then it is my obligation.
I see too much of automatic govt is right here on Free Republic. The government is the one entity that can take your life , property and freedom. That is why we fought to be free. However even the English back then had more freedom than this.
Just because he came here illegally does not give me the right to steal his money, nor does it give the state that right in my name.
The judge should have just had him shot, it be a perfectly fine penalty if we're using the rationale that "he shouldn't have been here in the first place anyway." Being an illegal basically invalidates you as a human being in our country.
What ever happened to "allowing the punishment to fit the crime.
The man was going home anyway! We should thank him, not steal his money!
oh and He probably made somewhere around 6 thousand a year. So it's perfectly possible he could have saved up that much money.
Obviously, he didn't read it. He didn't have a clue.
Just as I suspected. Thanks for playing.
Show me a seizure that has not been subjected to judicial review.
In other words, both my points went right over your head.
Right on. Ignorance that they made something that should be legal a crime SHOULD be an excuse.
Reminds me of the star trek where Weasley is held for the "crime" of stepping inside a forbidden boundary while catching a frisbee. THe penalty is death, and in the end the captain decides that ignorance of that law WAS an excuse.
He could have walked back across the border the same way that he came. Then he would not have had to declare it.
What a dope this guy is.
Well, there is judicial review, just not a trial.
If it's his money, he shouldn't have trouble proving it. There should be a paper trail of employment.
After all, all we have is his word that it's his. What if he's laundering cash to drugrunners in Central America?
Why didn't he wire it through Western Union? Carrying that much cash is dangerous. Even if he had no fear of US law, (for some reason?!), he still has banditos to worry about.
Maybe you don't like the law, but you either follow it or you break it. If you break it, you can get caught and suffer consequences.
How much in back taxes do you think a guy working as a dishwasher will have? If he was legal, he probably would have gotten earned income tax credits.
Some of you folks think illegals live and earn money in a vacuum. What if his entire family was here going to school on my dime? Do you know that in Florida the children of illegal migrants get in-home tutors paid for by the state of Florida. In-home tutoring for God's sake!
I consider the $59k a down payment for every dime stolen from Americans by their very nature of being here.
What about the Kingdom of God?
That's your problem. You don't make points, you play "What if" games.
Are you trying to say it was OK for this economic terrorist to invade our country?
Are you an Al Qaeda fan, too?
Yes, but he likely would have been robbed by bandits at the border without the protection of the US legal system. That's so ironic...
That really gets to the heart of the matter. I think you're exactly right about that, and it would make good political sense for one of the parties to do something about that.
I won't hold me breath, though.
GO read ANY thread about the BP agents. Within the 1st 10 posts, SOMEONE will say "what's the problem with shooting him anyway, he was an illegal".
Someone later will say "their crime was that they were bad shots".
How are you, by the way? I hope everything is well.
My comments on this thread stand for themselves. Not my problem if you do not understand them . . . others did.
Say this again, I don't think anyone else heard you. You can be against asset forfeiture laws but I would think it would help to make your case if you tell the truth.
legally robbed vs. illegaly robbed [chuckle]
I wonder about all the laws you may have broken. Now hand over all your money until you can prove that it is yours!
Oh come on! If he had earned it legally, I could see letting him go with the entire stash. But he's an illegal who had no right to be here, no right to work, no right to earn that money to begin with. He took a job that should have been filled by a legal American citizen! I say send him home naked and penniless!
Careful. You don't want to stir up the FR "lawandorder" swat teams : )
You are right, it was "reviewed", but he didn't have a trial to prove his guilt. Seizures do go through judicial review, but at the review you don't get to argue the crime, because it's not a trial.
I did misspeak though saying there was no judicial review.
IF he was a smart illegal immigrant, he would have simply wired the money home.
What? Even an illegal alien dishwasher gets more than minimum wage?????
I would think that the gubbmint needs to bust Stuart restaurants!!!!!!!!!
How long does an illegal alien dishwasher have to work to save $59,000? Very suspicious.
It is the frugality of these people that sets off the BS meter. He worked two jobs for minimum wage to save up this amount of money, and he flies home?
No, if Mr Zapeta had learned to read and understand English in his 11 years here illegally he wouldn't have this problem.
And of course, they didn't take his money because he was illegal, they took his money because he didn't declare it on his forms.
Of course, being illegal, he was probably worried about what would happen if he declared it.
We are usually happy with this, as it's an easy way to get drug dealer money without the hassle of a trial. And if you declare the money, it causes you all sorts of trouble, which is why people don't travel with more than $10,000.
His family was not here.
Well, walking back was not an option. at least while carrying the money.