Life for my family changed October 2010. I remember specifically being called late at night by my sister saying she needed to come over and talk to me immediately. It sounded serious and I could hear my mother weeping in the background. So they came over to my apartment and told me the news: Dad has been running some tax scheme for the past few years under everyone’s nose and it’s finally caught up to him. He’s got to “lawyer up”.
At first my reaction was “I’m not going to deal with this. I have my own life. I’ll move away with my boyfriend (at the time) and that’s it.” But after I slept it off, I realized how unreasonable that is and I decided to go talk to dad.
My mother was understandably furious and hurt… my sister was I guess the same. I kind of came to a place where I felt like this is my dad- he’s been there for me through all my highs and all my lows. I need to step up for him now. So I marched upstairs to speak to him. He was very calm, with very strong hints of shame, remorse, guilt and embarrassment. He told me that for a few years now, he’s been running his tax business and trying to get away with something big. He would go to his clients homes and front them their refund checks. In person, he would do their taxes correctly. Then he would go home and file their taxes incorrectly with the maximum exemptions and then have their refunds electronically transferred into one of his bank accounts. He was getting away with it for awhile… until the clients would go and try to get a loan or refinance their homes. Their tax returns wouldn’t add up with the ones that the banks would pull from the IRS. Dad got caught.
This was all very shocking because my family was always very comfortable financially, but we were not flashy people. We lived in 2 different homes my whole life, I personally always worked (since I was 16 years old) and never had new cars or designer clothes or went on vacations. I hadn’t even been on a plane until I was 21 and I paid for it. I had no idea how much money my dad had (neither did my mother for that matter). The interesting and maybe even scary part about this whole thing is that my dad never spent the money he fraudulently earned. So when it came time for him to confess to the IRS, he pretty much was able to write them out a check for all the money he owed, plus penalties that he took out of his own money… In the end, this scheme bit him in the butt financially… but it also came with a way bigger price.
Fast forward to October 2012. By this time lots has happened- my dad had this great lawyer (so we thought…), I met the man I would marry and we did marry on April 22, 2012 (dad was able to walk me down the aisle)… Ironically dad was supposed to be sentenced for his crime in May 2012, but at my wedding he ripped his achilles tendon, had to have surgery and therefore had his sentencing pushed back to October. We had all come to terms with the idea that dad would have an ankle bracelet on for a few years under house arrest. The federal prosecutors were asking for him to serve 36 months in federal prison, but with this great, fancy lawyer and the fact that my dad had paid not only every cent back to the IRS, but also penalties AND he’s also elderly, obese, diabetic with heart disease and walks with a cane, there’s no way he’s going to prison.
We were wrong. The judge had no mercy and was furious with my dad. Somehow he came up with an inflated sentence of 5 years in a federal prison. Shocked, terrified, saddened… those don’t even really effectively describe the emotions felt by our family in that court room that day. A week before, we all had written the judge character letters about my father. His lawyer suggested we do so JUST IN CASE the judge is considering a prison sentence. Here’s mine:
Honorable Stephen V. Wilson
Judge, U.S. District Court
Hello. My name is C******** K***** (S***** is my maiden name). My father is E****** S***** and I am writing you today to give you some insight on how I feel about my father and what he means to me.
There are only 3 people in the world who could bring me to tears when I speak of the love I have for them; one of the 3 is my father, E****** (the other two are my mother and husband). I’m not going to sit here and tell you “he’s the best father in the whole wide world!”, but what I can confidently tell you is that E****** is the best father for me. The crime he committed does not at all reflect the true person he really is… it does not reflect his heart.
My father is the most genuinely kind, loving and compassionate man I’ve ever known in my life. He loves to help people in need, even if they don’t want it. When I see him, I instantly smile. His laugh wrecks me in a beautiful way… I can recall times living with my parents and I’d be downstairs. Randomly I’d hear my father laughing so hard and loud. As I became older, I learned to cherish every laugh and smile that came from my father, even to the point where I’d either go see why he’s laughing or I’d just sit at the top stair and listen to the beautiful sound of his laughter. He’s such a lovely man, your Honor.
Putting this all into words in a struggle for me, as I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face. All I can do is be honest and what I have to say is that putting my father away would be the worst situation I can imagine, just short of his death. The thought of my father not being around is frightening. He loves his family, as we all love him very much. My husband and I visit my parents at least twice a week, with Sunday dinner being a weekly tradition. It wasn’t until recently that I noticed how rapidly my father seems to be aging and unfortunatly, it’s not a very graceful aging process. He’s unbalanced and walks with a cane now, all of his hair is completely white and his memory is fading.
My father is very supportive of the life my husband and I share. We all know it would be best for me and my husband to wait awhile before we start having babies, but I must admit while watching my father age I feel life puts pressure on me to have a baby sooner. Why? Because I cannot bear the thought of any child of mine to live a life not knowing E****** and feeling the love and warmth from him. I feel a sense of urgency to make him a grandfather because I know he will be a wonderful one. I see him with my cousin’s young children and family friends children and they all adore my father. Why wouldn’t they love him? He has such a comforting demeanor, children can’t help but want to embrace him.
Since day one, my father has meant the world to me. I can recall times when he was working as a truck driver and I wouldn’t see him often. When he would take the time to come home and visit during breaks, it was the high of my day. I was only 3-5 years old and to this day, my heart skips a beat thinking of how elated I was to see dad come home to visit. He always came through for me too. Anytime I made a mistake in life, instead of belittling me he was always there to offer support and help find a solution to any problem. Anything from forgetting something important at home that I needed for school or needing last minute car pool parents, my dad would drop what he was doing or happily rearrange his schedule to help me out. That’s why I say he’s the best dad for me.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on my father, E****** S*****. I sincerely hope you take in account all that he really is and all that he means to the people who love him in his life.
Apparently someone used these letters as toilet paper. The fact that my father is a lovely family man who has a stable home life, paid his debt back and more was not considered.
We surrendered dad to the MDC in Los Angeles December 28, 2012. It all seemed fake to me. I just kept thinking “this is a mistake… he’ll be home soon. There’s no way they’ll keep him there.” At this point, my dad wasn’t even assigned a prison to serve his sentence, so he was stuck in a holding cell for 3 months until they could place him somewhere “appropriate” for him and his needs (medical needs).
MDC stands for Metropolitan Detention Center. That was a rough place to say the least. Everyone working there, I guarantee does not have higher than an 8th grade education. And visitors are treated like we are true assholes. I’ll never forget the way they spoke to my dear, sweet cherub of a mother. One day they wouldn’t let her visit because she was wearing “capris” that ended right below her knee. They would yell at her that she took too long putting her shoes back on after going through security check. If she used the restroom between security check and being escorted to the visiting area, they would make her go through the whole security measures again and sometimes leaving her behind to wait longer than usual. This was no “federal institution”. This was a place where my dad’s room mate was a drug dealing murderer. All the guards yelled loudly at inmates and visitors alike. The last time we went to visit my dad there, he told us not to come back because of how atrocious the visiting situation was. Luckily, he was soon after assigned to his permanent prison- Terminal Island.
We were all relieved he was going to TI because of the reputation it has of being the cream of the crop of Federal Prisons. TI was going to be the place where all of dad’s medical needs would be met (seeing as though the MDC neglected giving him 7 of the 11 medications he needed on a daily basis). At MDC, my dad would get diabetic sores and there was no medical professional available to treat him. Inmates would visit him to clean his sores for him and bandage him up. What we came to find out is that TI is really just the “cream of the CRAP”. It’s a glorified first aid tent. More to come on that later.
What was interesting about going to see dad at TI versus MDC was at MDC, the inmates there in visiting looked hard and scary and like people you would never want to run into out in public, day or night time. At TI, all of the inmates looked like your next door neighbor, your friends dad, your OWN dad. Even your boyfriend or husband. Very normal looking men.
When my dad first got to TI, they kept him in the hospital unit for well over a week to observe him and run tests to seek out his needs. Meanwhile, his visitors list had not been transfered from MDC to TI so we couldn’t see him for over two weeks once he transfered. The system is very unorganized and not cohesive as we soon figure out (and continue to learn as the days go on…).
MORE TO COME… TBC