Free At Last

December 18, 2008 by  
Filed under News

For the first time in 35 days, I can catch my breath. The news that my father would be released left me elated and excited. I didn’t know what it meant, when it would happen, or how, but I knew it meant good news. I can not tell you how it felt to know that after all of the struggle, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

I raced home from work to begin preparing a welcome home dinner and make a huge sign. I jumped around like a wild woman and screamed at the thought of seeing my dad again. There are no real words to describe the heartbeat I felt in my stomach or the nervousness that ran through my brain. All I could focus on was that our day had come to be reunited again.

As I heard the garage door open, my head raced with excitement. I waited as I heard footsteps up the stairs and began bursting at the seams. The living room door opened and I leapt from my seat to be at my dad’s side. I screamed, “Daddy!” and raced for his hug. Finally, after these painful weeks, I could rap my arms around him again. I squeezed tighter and tighter, not wanting to let go, for the fear of losing him again. When I looked up, I saw the tears in his eyes and felt those in mine.

It’s a moment that I will never forget. I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for all that you have done for my dad and my family. My mom and I could never have gotten through this without the generousity and kindness people in this town and across the world have shown us. For my dad, the letters of encouragement, books, and visits meant the world. He proudly told me that his Corrections Officier commented that no one receieved anywhere near as much mail as he did and that he must have a lot of support. That is indeed true. From the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank you enough.

I am truly humbled at how much people open their hearts, and even their wallets, for a family in crisis. I feel as though I owe each of you something that I can never fully repay. My dad would not be home with my mom and me without the perseverance and strength of the people that surround us. Your advice, encouragement, support, research, letter writing, strategies, and all have been the most beautiful gifts I will ever receive.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays to you and yours. 🙂

Clem Says Thank You To Everyone

December 10, 2008 by  
Filed under News

Sunday, December 10.

I’m passing on this e-mail from Clem’s VP….Robin
————————————————————————————————
I had the opportunity to visit with Clem and John David today.

Clem got two of us for the price of one and fortunately, John David and I were both on the “visitor “side of the glass!

Clem wanted me to convey his great appreciation for everything everyone is doing on his behalf. The cards and letters, the books, the letter writing campaigns, the visits, and the things he says he’s sure he doesn’t even know about.

He says he’s run out of envelopes and could never keep up with all the “Thank You’s” but he asked me to please let all of you know how deeply touched he’s been and his inability to thank each and every one of you himself is no reflection of the love and gratitude he has for his amazing circle of friends and family.

You could see when he walked into the visitor area he’s a bit down, but as Joe Volpe pointed out from his recent visit, when he sees a few buddies standing there you see a smile come to his face and you know in that moment he can turn off his troubles and he knows people miss him and are thinking about him.

His spirits remain high given the circumstances, and knowing that were all out there pulling for him, makes all the difference in the world.

He asked me to make sure I share his thanks to all of you.

Mike H.

Shattered Optimism

November 25, 2008 by  
Filed under News

Sunday, November 25.

A late night email to thank everyone for supporting us and evaluating what we can do.

First, thanks a million to everyone for showing up for Clem. It warmed his heart to have everyone show up and despite the dismal outcome ,it DID lift his spirits. It certainly made Mackenzie and I feel as if we are not alone.

I, too am outraged and couldn’t believe I wasn’t allowed to speak. You saw how quickly the judge and lawyer shut me up when I asked if I could say anything in Clem’s defense. Being completely ignorant of the proceedings that apply in a court room is extremely intimidating. You are absolutely correct when you speak of the feeling of helplessness.

I’m glad you wrote to Senators Lautenberg and Menendez. I already have my foot in the door with Senator Lautenberg’s office and must follow up in the morning . As you can see by the posting of this e-mail, it’s the middle of the night and big surprise, I can’t sleep. I know that Senator Menendez is a champion of Immigrants rights. I just hope the marijuana charge,(as minuscule as it is ) does not put him off from helping. I have zero connection to Governor Corzine, but a friend of a friend worked for him so I must pursue that lead now that this unbelievable situation has transpired. I was really optimistic after I hired “the pit bull “ .He seemed more like a cocker spaniel in court, but again that may be standard operating procedure in front of a judge . I really just don’t know.

I know there is a college professor and groups of his students who have overturned sentences of inmates who were wrongfully convicted. They’ve received national press and I saw a news clip on T.V. Perhaps we could do some research on them and find out how to get in touch with them.

I was very moved and humbled by all the support Scharff Weisberg staff has given us. It makes me cry just thinking about it. Please let each and every one of them know how grateful I am. Mackenzie and I will thank them as soon as we’re able.

We can only hope that the appeal will work. I’m looking into getting the 2002 pot conviction removed/expunged from Clem’s record. This could provide a completely different avenue for Clem’s defense. Some attorney friends from Clem’s soccer team are advising me and may be able to help me so I don’t have to hire another expensive lawyer. Hard as it is for me to believe, my current attorney, Michael DiRaimondo, said I could get a criminal attorney friend of his to do this. I would have thought that he could do it, but he doesn’t practice law in New Jersey. Could it be the same as the medical field where everyone has their own niche specialty?

This has really turned into a nightmare. Mackenzie’s sobbing just broke my heart. I wish she didn’t have to go through this, but she wanted to be there and the lawyer thought it a good idea for the judge to see her. Seeing your father in handcuffs has got to be shattering. Not to mention how it must have made Clem feel. The 3 kid’s nickname for Clem is GPD…great and powerful dad. Well that’s just another heartbreaker.
The bleak reality is setting in. We really thought he’d be home for Thanksgiving.

I will send the prison visiting hours. I think it’s important for Clem to have visitors so he doesn’t feel forgotten. It also will break up the extreme tedium of the day. I guess everyone has to go and send him those Amazon.com books that I thought , so optimistically, he wouldn’t need.

As we said in the 70’s “Keep the Faith “.It’s hard to believe this is happening…

Warmly, Robin

The Unfortunate Outcome

November 24, 2008 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Today was the court hearing on Varick Street, as many of you already know. I was absolutely delighted that when I arrived several member’s from my dad’s work had already arrived. As we continued to wait to go into the hearing room, more and more people showed up to support my dad. We filled up the waiting room and the benches in the hearing room and totaled twenty people! (Many thanks to those who showed up as family, colleagues, soccer mates, and concerned friends) It was a great feeling to have people there with us and I know my dad was very touched by the turnout. Despite our “large” turnout, we met some very unfortunate news today.

My dad was denied to post bond to get out of jail. According to the judge, it was not in his jurisdiction to decide that. The judge did, however, listen to the case and said that the offense is not deportable, unless my dad does not show up to court on January 20, 2009. The lawyer is appealing for parole/posting bond which he estimates will take 3-4 weeks. For now, we must sit tight… If posting bond is denied, my dad will be in jail till March when the hearing can come before a judge who can really decide his fate.

My mom is inundated with phone calls, emails, and paper work so she will get back to everyone as soon as she can. Feel free to email me or my mom, we are open to any suggestions you may have. It’s time to put our heads together.

Here Comes The Judge!

November 21, 2008 by  
Filed under News

Friday, November 21.

Good news has landed on our doorstep!
Clem will be going before the judge on: Monday, November 24 at 1 pm.
The address:

201 Varick Street
11th Floor
Room #1140

Entrance to the building is on West Houston Street.
If coming from the subway… Red Line Houston Stop or #1 Train Hudson Street.

Please do not feel obliged to attend, especially if you have to be at work.
According to the lawyer, though, it is always good to show the judge that there are people in the defendant’s corner.
Coming before the judge, we are hoping to get Clem out on bail. This is not the actual hearing of the case, but it is the first step.
Hopefully, Clem can go back to work and can share his “cell” with me instead of the bald guy from Romania!

Many thanks to all.

Cautious Optimism

November 18, 2008 by  
Filed under News

Tuesday, November 18.

Dear friends and family,

Thank-you so much for your help and support.

I just felt like our lawyer was not being aggressive enough. While he knows and specializes in Immigration law, I don’t think he is conversant with the criminal side. Thanks to Mike Halper at Scharff Weisberg (Clem’s employer ) I was given the name of one of the 4 best Criminal /Immigration lawyers. Yesterday, Becky Thomas ,who graciously offered to accompany me, and I went down to Wall Street to meet with him. Within the first 2 minutes we knew he was our man….a confident, aggressive “pit bull” of a guy who was a prosecutor for 7 years, worked inside the government, and knows the system from the inside out.

I cut to the chase and asked if he could “jump the queue “. Apparently the NYC term is “push the ticket “!!! And he assured me he could. He said the charge against Clem was absolutely ridiculous. He interpreted the law differently than my previous lawyer and felt Clem ‘s case could be looked at as that of a permanent alien rather than as an arriving alien. Clem was classified as an arriving alien because he was “nabbed” at Kennedy airport upon returning from a business trip to Italy. For those of you who don’t know, in 2002 Clem was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance. This was.8 gram of marijuana, which is approximately one third of one joint. My new attorney says that the deportation law should not apply to an offense of under 30 grams. I, personally am not a smoker, so I can’t really visualize, how much pot that actually is. I know it is never the less illegal and I’m not excusing it, but surely your tax dollars could be better spent on more pressing issues.

In any case, I’ve signed on with the new attorney and just as soon as I can come up with money for his retainer, the wheels will start turning. The next step is bail and hopefully in 1 week or a bit more, Clem can be released. He can then return to work and await his trial date “on the outside “. The lawyer says he will go before one of two immigration judges. One judge is apparently a good guy and the other one is (and I quote ) “ a real bastard who makes my stomach turn. I don’t even like to say his name.” Obviously, we’ll keep our fingers crossed for Judge A as the ruling with aliens is totally up to the discretion of the judge.

This whole experience has been a real eye opener into the system . Supposedly we’re “the land of the free and the home of the brave “ but innocent aliens are considered guilty until proven innocent and are locked up accordingly. The lawyer told Becky

and I of a recent case where an innocent man, who was illegally selling “knock off designer bags “ ( a non deportable offense) was held for 4 months . Let’s hope he really can get Clem “sprung “ in a week.

For those of you who have already sent Clem books, thank-you very much. Others of you who have inquired but have not yet sent them, please hold off. If Clem is released those books will get lost in the system. Most of the prisoners don’t speak English and there is no library there. Clem says one poor inmate is from Jorje or Kazachskaja and since nobody speaks his language he is completely silent and stuck.

Thanks especially to Mike Halper, Martin and Becky Thomas, Keith Howson, Andy Buchanan , Steve Hespelt, and Ricardo Levit. You soccer mates have been great…long live “The Sparta Old Farts Football Team “

Much love,

Robin xoxo

Update

November 16, 2008 by  
Filed under News

Sunday, November 16. This letter was sent out to family & close friends informing them of the terrible news.

To All Those Interested And Concerned:

I’m not sure what my mom has sent to you or said, but I thought it was best to send an email to keep everyone updated and to say hello. On Wednesday, November 12, my dad went to JFK Airport to meet in front of the US Customs & Border Patrol for his immigration hearing with his lawyer. Several hours after they had arrived, my mom found out, much to her surprise and dismay, that my dad was being handcuffed and taken to jail. Previously, my dad’s case had been considered more of a “slam dunk” and the chance of being detained seemed slim. Sadly, the grimmest of realities has come to our doorstep. After being processed on Varick Street in Manhattan, my dad was taken to Monmouth County Correctional Institution in Freehold, NJ. Right now, he is being held as an entering alien which means he is not eligible for parole and bail can’t be posted to get him out. He is under the jurisdiction of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and without citizenship in this country, he has different rights than a citizen of this country. Until the case comes before a judge, he will remain in prison. My dad seems to think from his experience there thus far that he may be there around a month or so.

Here at our end, the phone has been ringing off the hook from concerned callers, lawyers, and the like. My mom has been fighting things from all ends the best she can and we have scouted out some potentially good connections to hopefully affect change. Thank you for your concern and support, it really does mean a lot. I know my mom is worn down though. So should you have any questions that aren’t pressing feel free to drop an email her way or to email me, rather than call, to get updates and ask anything you want to know.

I spoke with Dad yesterday on the phone and unfortunately, he does not seem to be in good spirits, understandably so. For me, it’s quite a shock because I never hear my dad with a waiver in his voice or a lack of confidence. It shows me how truly worried and saddened he is by the circumstances. Mom went down to see him today with one of Dad’s good mates and were only permitted 20 minutes with him. Unfortunately, I can never go because no visitors under the age of 18 are permitted. Rules at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution are strict and all the same rules pertain to everyone regardless of the severity of their case. Therefore, nothing can be brought into him when people have visited, not even a pencil, a stamp, or a piece of paper. Money has to be wired or sent via money order. Even for things such as underwear, my dad has to buy them from a commissary stand at the facility. Dad said the food is bad and he has already used some of the money to buy snacks from the stand too. As far as mail material goes, he may receive books from amazon.com and Amazon only. I was thinking of finding some used books on there and putting in an order as soon as possible. He doesn’t have much to fill the time and would like reading material. He sleeps in a small cell and the lights are on 24 hours a day. I feel that already, he is wearing down and his spirits are low. I know that everyone has rallied around us and showed great support, but I ask that you write to my dad and keep him company in this time of need. My mom and I will manage as we are, but my dad is the one who needs us.

I’ve tried to ascertain whether or not we can enclose paper, stamps, or other things in the letters, but so far I have had no luck. The website I have found for Monmouth County Correctional Institution does not work and when I called their number, none of the menu options seemed to be the one I was looking for. My mom couldn’t seem to find too much out either. Tomorrow I’m going to send a letter to him and another one that also has blank paper in it for him to use and see what happens. Sometimes I find it hard to be positive about the situation, but everyone is fighting for him and we’re doing the absolute best we can. Thank you, again, for all your support.

Best wishes.