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.
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