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Dishwasher gets cleaned
PalmBeachPost.com ^ | January 31, 2007 | Editorial

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.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS: aliens; assetforfeiture; dealer; drug; govwatch; hegeliandialectic; immigrantlist; wod
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1 posted on 01/31/2007 1:12:32 PM PST by primeval patriot
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To: primeval patriot
"Guatemalan dishwasher" " had $59,000 "

I call BS

2 posted on 01/31/2007 1:14:18 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: primeval patriot
Mr. Zapeta entered the country illegally 11 years ago and worked as a dishwasher for numerous Stuart restaurants

Damn, I'm fresh out of pity. Maybe the 49K will make up for any hospital visits he might have made.

3 posted on 01/31/2007 1:14:23 PM PST by Centurion2000 (If you're not being shot at, it's not a high stress job.)
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To: primeval patriot
I lost all sympathy at Mr. Zapeta entered the country illegally 11 years ago
4 posted on 01/31/2007 1:14:46 PM PST by Fierce Allegiance ("Campers laugh at clowns behind closed doors." GOHUNTER08!)
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To: primeval patriot

Yay!!
The War On (Some) Drugs claims another victory.

Git Some!!!


5 posted on 01/31/2007 1:14:47 PM PST by SJSAMPLE
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To: primeval patriot
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."

Sorry, Mr Attorney. That's a load of crap. In fact, we're damn lucky the law was applied in this case simple BECAUSE he is an illegal.

6 posted on 01/31/2007 1:15:03 PM PST by VeniVidiVici (Celebrate Monocacy!)
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To: primeval patriot

The dishwasher story doesn't hold water.


7 posted on 01/31/2007 1:15:16 PM PST by AU72
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To: primeval patriot
native language is Quiche

Is that a dialect of French?

8 posted on 01/31/2007 1:15:40 PM PST by Tijeras_Slim
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To: SJSAMPLE

ETA: If he was here illegally, deport him.

Arbitrary confiscation is pure BS.
Same with asset forfeiture laws.


9 posted on 01/31/2007 1:15:41 PM PST by SJSAMPLE
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To: primeval patriot
whose native language is Quiche


10 posted on 01/31/2007 1:15:56 PM PST by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: primeval patriot
Ignoranceing the law is no excuse. He was here 11 years and never learned the language or laws? My give-a-damn's busted.
11 posted on 01/31/2007 1:16:40 PM PST by Semper Vigilantis (The House side of the US Capitol Building is now the safest place to be when the terrorists strike.)
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To: AU72

Yeah,,, the Judge cleaned his clock.


12 posted on 01/31/2007 1:16:53 PM PST by Prophet in the wilderness (PSALM 53 : 1 The FOOL hath said in his heart , There is no GOD .)
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Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

To: primeval patriot
a 39-year-old Mayan whose native language is Quiche

Real men don't speak Quiche.

14 posted on 01/31/2007 1:17:01 PM PST by Alouette (Learned Mother of Zion)
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To: dynachrome
"I call BS"
As a first generation immigrant [of the legal variety], I could tell you that BS it is not. For those who come in with the clothes on their backs and not much else, frugality becomes a second nature, even at minimum-wage -type positions.
15 posted on 01/31/2007 1:17:42 PM PST by GSlob
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To: primeval patriot
Since he's got a lawyer who is making a case for him...is there any chance that we'll find out whether he paid taxes on that $59K?
16 posted on 01/31/2007 1:18:05 PM PST by Mamzelle
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To: dynachrome

did you actually read the article? He worked hard for years, saving up to open a restaurant. Because YOU DON'T BELIEVE it, means he should have it all taken away? Because he didn't fill out a form correctly, the government has the right to take away HIS money? You sure you want to stick with your opinion?


17 posted on 01/31/2007 1:18:16 PM PST by Hildy (RUDY IN 2008)
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To: primeval patriot

Don't care that he was an illegal. I don't like it when the Feds sieze money 'cause you have "too much."

At the very least, he should be allowed to wire it home or bank it.


18 posted on 01/31/2007 1:19:32 PM PST by Little Ray
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To: primeval patriot
Nobody owns money.

The government just lets us carry around varying amounts, until they decide to take it back.

19 posted on 01/31/2007 1:19:48 PM PST by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: primeval patriot

He should be fined for the currency violation (I don't agree with that law, but it's on the books) and for the immigration violation; however, I can't picture those fines totally $49,000. This judge is a thief with a black robe instead of a black mask.


20 posted on 01/31/2007 1:20:11 PM PST by Redcloak ("Shooting makes me feel better!" -Aeryn Sun)
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To: dynachrome

Hey, I had a low paying job for 2 years and saved some $15K. It can be done.


21 posted on 01/31/2007 1:20:15 PM PST by theDentist (Qwerty ergo typo : I type, therefore I misspelll.)
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To: GSlob

Agreed.
I've had immigrants work for me at a number of places and those from certain countries, especially Vietnam, are insanely frugal. They understand what it is to be poor. Not "American Poor", but poor.


22 posted on 01/31/2007 1:20:52 PM PST by SJSAMPLE
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To: primeval patriot
Where in the Constitution does it say that a person cannot take his cash with him when he leaves the country? This is another highwayman piece of crap just like the Kings and Dictators used to do. If it was his money and he earned it by working where the hell does the government get the authority to steal it?
23 posted on 01/31/2007 1:20:57 PM PST by YOUGOTIT
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To: dynachrome

After 11 years at minimum wage, probably a lot under-the-table, I can believe it.


24 posted on 01/31/2007 1:21:45 PM PST by Ditto
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To: Hildy

Illegal is illegal. He is here illegally. If he can prove the money is his, he can take it with him. I wonder what other laws he has ignored. Like paying income tax, SS tax, medicaid, unemployment insurance, etc.


25 posted on 01/31/2007 1:22:44 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: primeval patriot
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.

Apparently Mr Zapeta either could not read or could not understand the signs posted all over boarding areas for international flights stating that amounts over $10,000 must be declared or the feds will take your money and possibly throw your hiney in jail.

"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."

No, if Mr Zapeta had learned to read and understand English in his 11 years here illegally he wouldn't have this problem.

I personally have never been in an international boarding area where the requirement for financial declaration is not clearly and conspicuously noted.

Sheesh

26 posted on 01/31/2007 1:23:02 PM PST by A message (We who care, Can Not Fail)
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To: Izzy Dunne

LOL Exactly what came to my mind.

Now I'm hungry.


27 posted on 01/31/2007 1:23:11 PM PST by Bahbah (.Regev, Goldwasser & Shalit, we are praying for you.)
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To: GSlob

Same here. Tho, I do wonder how much taxes he paid on the money illegally earned during the 11 years.


28 posted on 01/31/2007 1:23:12 PM PST by farlander (Strategery - sure beats liberalism!)
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To: Hildy
did you actually read the article? He worked hard for years, saving up to open a restaurant. Because YOU DON'T BELIEVE it, means he should have it all taken away? Because he didn't fill out a form correctly, the government has the right to take away HIS money? You sure you want to stick with your opinion?

They should have just made the 59K subject to back Federal,State,local taxes (if not paid), and back social security payments (which were not made because he was illegal). He should have paid a fine for non declaration and then deported.

29 posted on 01/31/2007 1:23:57 PM PST by frogjerk (REUTERS: We give smoke and mirrors a bad name)
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To: Alouette
I think they mean K'iché.

Some reporter somewhere can't spell . . . or else the speel chicker got loose on this one.

"Though estimates vary, the official Academia de Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala (ALMG) finds 21 distinct Mayan languages (with others in Mexico and Belize). Mam, K'aqchikel, and Q'eqchí are spoken by, respectively, 700,000, 450,000 and 370,000 people; K'iché is spoken by more than a million. The firth largest, Q'anjob'al is spoken by just over 100,000 and other languages each by considerably less than 100,000." source

30 posted on 01/31/2007 1:24:41 PM PST by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: farlander
Same here. Tho, I do wonder how much taxes he paid on the money illegally earned during the 11 years.

Well, we know one thing for sure, he didn't pay any Social Security taxes.

31 posted on 01/31/2007 1:24:45 PM PST by frogjerk (REUTERS: We give smoke and mirrors a bad name)
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To: primeval patriot

The criminal fascist syndicate occupying Washington is simply creating more illegal precedent to steal your money if you don't have a note from mommy government to be carrying around cash in excess of 50 bucks.


32 posted on 01/31/2007 1:24:53 PM PST by sergeantdave (Consider that nearly half the people you pass on the street meet Lenin's definition of useful idiot)
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To: Ditto

"lot under-the-table"
That's my take. (off subject abit, but young dynachrome worked 9 months as a dishwasher and cook for minimum wage. Not much left over)


33 posted on 01/31/2007 1:25:10 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: primeval patriot
Fine him, deport him, but give him his money back.
34 posted on 01/31/2007 1:25:12 PM PST by AnnaZ (I keep 2 magnums in my desk.One's a gun and I keep it loaded.Other's a bottle and it keeps me loaded)
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To: GSlob

I agree with you that it is indeed possible. I teach ESL to illegals. They live together in large groups and conscientiously save money. They work as hard as anyone I've ever seen. Actually, this man is lucky that someone hadn't stolen it before then.


35 posted on 01/31/2007 1:25:20 PM PST by twigs
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To: primeval patriot

I remember a precedent where a legal immigrant borrowed lots of money from people in his home country to set up a business here (convenience store IIRC). He did well, and was about to fly back with the cash to pay everyone back when he was nailed under this law. I can't remember the amount, but they took tens of thousands of dollars.

The seizure was overturned on the grounds of "cruel and unusual punishment," in that losing tens of thousands of dollars because you didn't know you had to do some paperwork was out of proportion with the offense.


36 posted on 01/31/2007 1:25:36 PM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: Alouette
Or Q'eqchí.

Not that I'd know either one if you hit me over the head with a dictionary. Even my Spanish is pretty rudimentary (and thoroughly contaminated by Latin.)

37 posted on 01/31/2007 1:26:02 PM PST by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: dynachrome

Paid cash- No payroll records. Worked as many hours as he could stand up, and employer didn't care.
Lived with 25 others in 1200 sq ft of "house".
He was here illegally....period.
Employer needs to be punished, also, IMO.


38 posted on 01/31/2007 1:26:06 PM PST by ridesthemiles
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To: primeval patriot
Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse in any legal jurisdiction I know of.

Sorry, dishwashing guy.

39 posted on 01/31/2007 1:26:34 PM PST by wideawake
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To: dynachrome

These folks have minimal living expenses. They live very frugally and live together in large groups. Even many of those with families leave children behind to come here and work. Those people tend to send their money back to their families.


40 posted on 01/31/2007 1:27:21 PM PST by twigs
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To: dynachrome

No idea about this guy in particular, but large amounts of cash are common for new immigrants -- no bank accounts.


41 posted on 01/31/2007 1:27:42 PM PST by MeanWestTexan (Kol Hakavod Lezahal)
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To: Hildy; dynachrome

It doesn't matter.

Notwithstanding how he came up with the money, the law is the law. He came here illegally; ergo that money was illegally obtained.

The guy broke the law by unauthorized entry into the country. Next, his employers broke the law by hiring an illegal for 11 years.

Further, we really ought to be grateful the statute is actually being enforced, rather than just turning a blind eye to all immigration.

If he didn't know about it, or couldn't read the form, that's his own fault. The government is NOT under any obligation to make its forms understandable in every single language.

Oh, and if he was here 11 years, he couldn't find a free course to learn at least some basic English? Surely there had to have been some course that teaches English as a second language. Since the guy's from Guatemala (and even though he speaks Quiche), I would presume this dude could understand Spanish, and thus take the ESL course.

I have no sympathy for the guy. Not one iota.


42 posted on 01/31/2007 1:27:55 PM PST by rzeznikj at stout (Boldly Going Nowhere...)
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To: SJSAMPLE

I feel much safer now that the govt. stole this guy's money.


43 posted on 01/31/2007 1:28:08 PM PST by TheKidster (you can only trust government to grow, consolidate power and infringe upon your liberties.)
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To: Ditto

After 11 years at minimum wage, probably a lot under-the-table, I can believe it.

It's possible. Say he took home $250 a week over eleven years.

That's $143,000. If he was able to live on about $500 a month he could have saved $60K.


44 posted on 01/31/2007 1:28:11 PM PST by primeval patriot
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To: ridesthemiles

"Lived with 25 others..."
Happens here in Denver all the time. But, we are a sanctuarty city after all, thanks to the socialist scum who run the city.


45 posted on 01/31/2007 1:28:21 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: ridesthemiles

So if you're here illegally, all the money you ever made is not yours...it's the governments? The day they go after the employer is the day I'll agree with you. But give this guy back the money he worked for.


46 posted on 01/31/2007 1:28:51 PM PST by Hildy (RUDY IN 2008)
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To: Hildy

Fair enough, he worked. He worked illegaly. Did he pay any taxes for all the services he received during those 11 years ? Did he break the law ? Yes. On many occasions. I'm sorry. Not that much sympathy. I toiled away getting an education and working crazy hours to make it, and to contribute to this society. He broke the law to take the money out and contribute to another country.


47 posted on 01/31/2007 1:29:28 PM PST by farlander (Strategery - sure beats liberalism!)
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To: antiRepublicrat

I tend to agree with that, but I do think that ignorance of the law ought to carry a hefty fine. Even ignorance of the language. I truly admire the work ethic of these immigrants, but they live in their own shadow world which makes it dangerous for them and everyone else here.


48 posted on 01/31/2007 1:29:32 PM PST by twigs
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To: Hildy

did you actually read the article? He worked hard for years, saving up to open a restaurant. Because YOU DON'T BELIEVE it, means he should have it all taken away?

If it's illegal to carry money it should say so on each bill.


49 posted on 01/31/2007 1:29:43 PM PST by freedomfiter2 ("if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great"; de Tocqueville“)
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To: dynachrome

"sanctuarty"
sanctuary, too. Spell check broken again, I see.


50 posted on 01/31/2007 1:29:55 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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