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.
Not "POSSIBLE" but "PROBABLE".
In Guatemala, which has about 3 million Maya Indians, the big four languages are Quiché (1 million speakers), Cakchiquel (500,000), Mam (250,000), and Kekchi (250,000). Kekchi is also spoken in southwestern Belize.
None here either.
Quiche??? He speaks QUICHE??? Real men don't speak quiche!
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.
You got it right!
I SWEAR I didn't read your post before I did mine...I SWEAR!!
What happened to him is just BS. It seems these days they can take whatever they damn well please.
I bought a Vette a year ago - cash. I so wanted to take actual cash to the dealership, However, I was afraid if I got stopped for any reason on the way it would be confiscated so I opted for a check. I so wanted to buy a car with real cash just once in my life. Oh well.
I can't imagine what this guy feels today as his dream and 50K was confiscated over a piece of paper.
"I teach ESL to illegals"
So you turn a blind eye to criminals?
I have seen signs warning about this all over international departure areas in every conceivable language, except maybe Quiche or whatever it is but I am pretty sure that a person would pick up enough English and Spanish over 11 years to get the drift. They rigorously enforce this law which is why whenever I take my cash offshore to safeguard it beyond the reach of Uncle Sugar and his jack booted thugs I am careful to ensure that no one has even close to $10K cash on them. I go about $8500 just to be sure.
He broke the law getting here, and he knew it. He tried to break the law getting home, and he got caught.
Now he'll get to spend his money on a lawyer. LOL! How ironic for these break-your-heart lawbreakers, to spend their money on the law.
I'm very curious as to whether this guy paid taxes on this wad. Who hired him? The lawyer knows he'll have to prove ownership of the cash, which means we'll get to know who the crooked empoyers were.
So many rich people love these semi-slave servants and start needing to justify their own lawbreaking by sweetly sympathizing with their humble and hardworking Dilceys and Porks. I know rich ladies at a resort development who even think they're some kind of Great White Mother (Oh, Miss Scarlett!) when they exploit black market maids and yard help.
I have an friend who was born & raised in the US, is over 70 years old who went to the Bahamas and got lucky in a Casino to the tune of about $25 k. He flew back to the US with 250 $100 bills in a money belt around his waste and luckily did not get caught by Customs. When I told him about the $10k limit he was shocked. He had no idea what the law was.
The guy is no dummy and he is definitely not poor. He owned his own construction business all of his life and has tons of rental properties in several states, but he was never an "international traveler" and never had any reason to be aware of such a law.
It's too bad that that line is so horribly abused. It was originally meant to refer to not knowing that there were actually laws against an immoral act undertaken. It was *not* meant to imply that everyone needs to be an omniscient lawyer.
Well, he was deporting himself. And paid for the plane ticket.
No. I began to teach before I realized that they were illegal. I teach for an organization that gets state money and I assumed that they would check all this out. When I figured out the situation, I still believed that illegal or not, they need to know the language. I share the streets with them and it is to my advantage and my community's that they can read the road signs.
"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."
If Mr. Z were a "professional man", he'd have had the proper documentation allowing him to live and work here. H1-B visas as much as I detest them at least give the person a legal right to work.
"What if he was legal and paid his taxes?"
Straw man. He was not legal and we have no idea whether he paid taxes. Maybe we can check with whomever's identity he stole?
This is who lazy Americans are supposed to emulate in the new global economy.
Never mind that 59K will go ten times farther in the third world than over here.
I will put up a grand right this minute that there are many laws on the books you haven't a clue that exist.
Ill gotten gains are Ill gotten gains and they should be snatched from the grasp of every proven criminal. Every penny was gained by illegal means. That being working here illegally. Anything beyond that fact right there is spin and is avoiding the basic truthful premise that exists.
One question, how exactly does one get on a flight as an Illegal Alien? Identity theft or what? Am I missing something there?
But, he could read the customs form they gave him on the plane, and, it is *CLEARLY* stated on it you must declare cash or securities carried on your person in excess of 10K. It's not like you learn this in lawschool. It's says so on the damn form.
How about online wagering? ;)
"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?"
THANKYOU. YES, I thought there was a ban on cruel or unusual punishment. Taking away his money, is "unusual," it's not a regularly enforced penalty.
"I realized that they were illegal"
When you realized they are illegal for sure, you should be turning them in to ICE. Otherwise you aid and abet their crimes. Illegal border crossing, identity theft, theft of gov't services, etc.
Member of the NEA are you?
It doesn't mean I'm allowed to break them, however.
If people were allowed to plead ignorance, then every criminal would and it would be the state's burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they really were aware of the law.
Considering how convoluted our legal system has become, I would submit that we're all ignorant of many laws. It's the nature of government to seize freedoms, and they're doing just that by creating statutes that are impossible for any person to actually understand.
I was in an international boarding area in the U.S. on Monday. If you had sight and were not blind one could not miss the signs posted requiring the declaration.
The signs are very, very clear, without a proper declaration of funds over $10,000 leaving the country the government clearly states they can take every last drop of cash you are taking and possibly take further action against the offender.
Ya, but I bet your kid spent more on soft drinks at the video arcade than this guy spent on food. ;~))
It's amazing how much hard working people can save if they are really thrifty and have never gotten into the spending habit.
Not a strawman in the slightest, apart from the fact that to some on FR, saying "strawman" means "I am incapable of addressing your point." I was responding directly to a comment that claims the law was correctly applied. So is it correctly applied to all of us, or not?
America, what a country!
Well, he didn't actually leave with the money...
OK, to rephrase, common among first generation immigrants.
Actually I meant myself. I used to choose cigarettes over food, so maybe not the best example! LOL
No, actually. I volunteer my time to teach ESL in the community. I spend money on it, but have never received a penny for it. No. I will not turn them into the ICE. They work in plain view--in all the restaurants and hotels in our city. If the ICE wants them, they're not hard to find.
Yeah--he's got a lawyer who has lots of 'splainin' to do. To get the cash back, he'll have to prove the money is actually his. For that, he needs things like tax returns and pay stubs, or sworn testimony from employers--LOL. Something tells me this lawyer is not getting his fee.
He's "illegal". FOr many here, that means he got off lucky -- he should have been shot in the back.
And people wonder where some get the idea that conservatives have no soul.
Not a good conservative among them to recognize that you shouldn't have to declare your personal possessions in order to get on an airplane, unless those posessions are dangerous.
Unless someone thinks he was going to hijack the plane by bribing the employees, the money was no danger.
BTW, the idea that "simply declaring the money" was an option is hilarious. The reason the law exists is to raise flags. If he declared $59,000 in cash, he would have been detained, and his life investigated.
The government has the power to take your stuff now, WITHOUT a trial. They can take your car by claiming you are driving slow to solicit prostitutes. They can take your house if your neighbor plants pot in your woods. They can take your money if you forget to tell them about it.
All without judicial review, or any trial. Punishment without justice.
I think we can separate THAT discussion from the discussion of whether a person here illegally should have to forfiet every dime he made while he was here.
Troy: Hi I'm actor Troy McClure. You might remember me from such self-help videos as "Smoke Yourself Thin" and "Get Some Confidence, Stupid!"
"correctly applied to all of us, or not?"
Yes. Whether I agree with the law is a whole 'nother thing.
The example here is an illegal immigrant, not a legal immigrant, with 59k in cash. I doubt said cash is all legal because of his criminality.
That's egg pie!
LOL. True dat.
So fine him, and send him on his merry way. (I really feel badly for this guy...)
Better yet pay the back income taxes due.
He can work hard enough to save $50k but it was too much work to apply for citizenship
I agree, deport him but they shouldn't have stolen his hard earned money. Thevin' bastards.
The second the ICE starts to enforce the law, I've got a long list of Nice White Ladies in golf attire for them. What fun it'd be to see them in the fresh air picking up trash along the Blue Ridge Parkway in natty orange suits.
When I lived in El Paso and Jimmy Carter was president, it was considered low-down and exploitative to keep a "slave" in your spare room. This was the liberal attitude of the day--you hire legal help for a legal wage, or be considered a lowlife exploiter. The Migra liked to stop Nice White Ladies when they drove their maids to and from the Rio Grande--they'd confiscate the cars.
#89 is a pretty good discussion of that law about cash.
Yes! I love "what if's".
What if he claimed married on his tax returns with 5 kids so was getting about $8k from the government free and clear every year?
DEPORT HIM NOW!(and keep all the money)