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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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To: twigs

Not "POSSIBLE" but "PROBABLE".


51 posted on 01/31/2007 1:30:02 PM PST by GSlob
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To: Tijeras_Slim
Quiche

Maya, the language...

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.

52 posted on 01/31/2007 1:30:14 PM PST by DumpsterDiver
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To: rzeznikj at stout
I have no sympathy for the guy. Not one iota.

None here either.

53 posted on 01/31/2007 1:30:54 PM PST by primeval patriot
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To: primeval patriot

Quiche??? He speaks QUICHE??? Real men don't speak quiche!


54 posted on 01/31/2007 1:30:56 PM PST by Suzy Quzy
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To: VeniVidiVici
What if he was legal and paid his taxes? Ok to confiscate the money, or not?
55 posted on 01/31/2007 1:31:21 PM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: sergeantdave

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!


56 posted on 01/31/2007 1:31:48 PM PST by TheKidster (you can only trust government to grow, consolidate power and infringe upon your liberties.)
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To: Alouette

I SWEAR I didn't read your post before I did mine...I SWEAR!!


57 posted on 01/31/2007 1:32:00 PM PST by Suzy Quzy
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To: Little Ray

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.


58 posted on 01/31/2007 1:32:06 PM PST by RadioAstronomer
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To: twigs

"I teach ESL to illegals"
So you turn a blind eye to criminals?


59 posted on 01/31/2007 1:32:36 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: primeval patriot

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.


60 posted on 01/31/2007 1:32:55 PM PST by atomic_dog
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To: Hildy
You've never noticed those signs about carrying cash onto international flights? We've got three stores in my tiny litte town with "Envios Dinero" on the door--this kind of money can be wired safely.

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.

61 posted on 01/31/2007 1:32:58 PM PST by Mamzelle
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To: primeval patriot

Exactly...


62 posted on 01/31/2007 1:33:39 PM PST by rzeznikj at stout (Boldly Going Nowhere...)
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To: Semper Vigilantis
He was here 11 years and never learned the language or laws?

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.

63 posted on 01/31/2007 1:33:55 PM PST by Ditto
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To: wideawake
Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse in any legal jurisdiction I know of.

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.

64 posted on 01/31/2007 1:34:18 PM PST by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: AnnaZ

Well, he was deporting himself. And paid for the plane ticket.


65 posted on 01/31/2007 1:34:28 PM PST by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ("Don't touch that thing")
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To: dynachrome
So you turn a blind eye to criminals?

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.

66 posted on 01/31/2007 1:35:34 PM PST by twigs
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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."

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.


67 posted on 01/31/2007 1:36:33 PM PST by kalee (No burka for me....EVER!)
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To: 1rudeboy

"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?


68 posted on 01/31/2007 1:36:33 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: ridesthemiles
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".

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.

69 posted on 01/31/2007 1:36:47 PM PST by primeval patriot
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To: wideawake
Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse in any legal jurisdiction I know of.

I will put up a grand right this minute that there are many laws on the books you haven't a clue that exist.

70 posted on 01/31/2007 1:36:51 PM PST by RadioAstronomer
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To: primeval patriot

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?


71 posted on 01/31/2007 1:37:49 PM PST by Just sayin (Is is what it is, for if it was anything else, it would be isn't.)
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To: Ditto

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.


72 posted on 01/31/2007 1:38:08 PM PST by farlander (Strategery - sure beats liberalism!)
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To: RadioAstronomer
I will put up a grand right this minute that there are many laws on the books you haven't a clue that exist.

How about online wagering? ;)

73 posted on 01/31/2007 1:38:08 PM PST by frogjerk (REUTERS: We give smoke and mirrors a bad name)
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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?"

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.


74 posted on 01/31/2007 1:39:27 PM PST by LauraleeBraswell
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To: twigs

"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?


75 posted on 01/31/2007 1:39:37 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: RadioAstronomer
Of course there are.

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.

76 posted on 01/31/2007 1:40:24 PM PST by wideawake
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To: wideawake
Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse in any legal jurisdiction I know of.

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.

77 posted on 01/31/2007 1:40:47 PM PST by NittanyLion
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To: Fierce Allegiance
He comes in illegally, washes some dishes, and leaves 11 years later with 60k.

America, what a country!
78 posted on 01/31/2007 1:40:54 PM PST by Vision ("Delight yourself in the Lord; and he will give you your heart's desires." Psalm 37:4)
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To: MeanWestTexan
" new immigrants " 11 years here as an illegal immigrant. Not very new.
79 posted on 01/31/2007 1:41:06 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: lepton
It was *not* meant to imply that everyone needs to be an omniscient lawyer.

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.

80 posted on 01/31/2007 1:42:07 PM PST by A message (We who care, Can Not Fail)
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To: dynachrome
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)

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.

81 posted on 01/31/2007 1:42:28 PM PST by Ditto
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To: dynachrome

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?


82 posted on 01/31/2007 1:42:48 PM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: Vision
He comes in illegally, washes some dishes, and leaves 11 years later with 60k.

America, what a country!

Well, he didn't actually leave with the money...

83 posted on 01/31/2007 1:43:13 PM PST by frogjerk (REUTERS: We give smoke and mirrors a bad name)
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To: dynachrome

OK, to rephrase, common among first generation immigrants.


84 posted on 01/31/2007 1:43:16 PM PST by MeanWestTexan (Kol Hakavod Lezahal)
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To: NittanyLion
True, but the law about declaring currency is pretty well known.
85 posted on 01/31/2007 1:43:17 PM PST by wideawake
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To: Ditto

"your kid"
Actually I meant myself. I used to choose cigarettes over food, so maybe not the best example! LOL


86 posted on 01/31/2007 1:44:07 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: dynachrome

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.


87 posted on 01/31/2007 1:45:38 PM PST by twigs
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To: Just sayin
re: One question, how exactly does one get on a flight as an Illegal Alien? Identity theft or what? Am I missing something there?)))

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.

88 posted on 01/31/2007 1:45:42 PM PST by Mamzelle
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To: Hildy

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.


89 posted on 01/31/2007 1:47:23 PM PST by CharlesWayneCT
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To: dynachrome
I used to choose cigarettes over food, so maybe not the best example!

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!"

90 posted on 01/31/2007 1:47:36 PM PST by frogjerk (REUTERS: We give smoke and mirrors a bad name)
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To: 1rudeboy

"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.


91 posted on 01/31/2007 1:47:56 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: Izzy Dunne

That's egg pie!


92 posted on 01/31/2007 1:48:11 PM PST by irishtenor (Save the whales. Collect the whole set.)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra
Well, he was deporting himself. And paid for the plane ticket.

LOL. True dat.

So fine him, and send him on his merry way. (I really feel badly for this guy...)

93 posted on 01/31/2007 1:49:06 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: Centurion2000
Maybe the 49K will make up for any hospital visits he might have made.

Better yet pay the back income taxes due.

94 posted on 01/31/2007 1:49:32 PM PST by Ouderkirk (Don't you think it's interesting how death and destruction seems to happen wherever Muslims gather.)
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To: dead

He can work hard enough to save $50k but it was too much work to apply for citizenship


95 posted on 01/31/2007 1:49:36 PM PST by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: SJSAMPLE

I agree, deport him but they shouldn't have stolen his hard earned money. Thevin' bastards.


96 posted on 01/31/2007 1:50:13 PM PST by Raymann
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To: twigs
re: If the ICE wants them, they're not hard to find.)))

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.

97 posted on 01/31/2007 1:50:31 PM PST by Mamzelle
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To: 1rudeboy

#89 is a pretty good discussion of that law about cash.


98 posted on 01/31/2007 1:50:32 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: 1rudeboy
What if he was legal and paid his taxes? Ok to confiscate the money, or not?

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?

99 posted on 01/31/2007 1:51:58 PM PST by VeniVidiVici (Celebrate Monocacy!)
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To: primeval patriot

DEPORT HIM NOW!(and keep all the money)


100 posted on 01/31/2007 1:52:04 PM PST by Buffettfan (VIVA LA MIGRA! - LONG LIVE THE MINUTEMEN!)
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