On June 16, 2010 I was indicted on multiple counts of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud stemming from a mortgage fraud case in the state of Connecticut. At that time I was 9 months pregnant with m y second son. Determined to go to trial on these charges, I spent the next 16 months committed to fighting the case. In the time I spent reviewing the “evidence” the prosecutors had, I realized that they could assert whatever they wanted, truthful or not, and I didn’t have confidence in a jury to have the right result. In my heart I believed the best thing to do was to take a plea and I was assured that I would be sentenced not only based on my “crime” but my characteristics as well. I was a mother of two young boys, had my own business for 10 years followed by a successful few years with Bank of America where I was praised not only by customers, but by my coworkers and superiors. Most importantly, this was my first offense. When I pled guilty in 2011, I was assured by my attorney that I would have an opportunity to make a case for a lower sentence based on the fact that I was the sole caregiver to my two small boys, and we were disputing the alleged loss amount, which is how he coerced me to sign the plea. I was also misinformed that a co-defendant was pleading to a lesser guideline range due to the statute of limitations running out. I couldn’t fathom how this attorney who had his hands in every aspect of the mortgage fraud scheme could be deemed less culpable than me. When I told my attorney I didn’t want to go forward with the plea, he used the statue of limitations to prompt me to move forward. Even though I was also promised a hearing on my children as well as the loss amount ( which dictates the guideline range which you are sentenced), those two things never happened. Instead, my judge misread my plea thinking I accepted a 41 month sentence. The prosecutors supported a 27 month sentence due to the fact that a co-defendant that was considered similarly situated had been sentenced to that time. The prosecutors issued a letter to probation stating this as well as stating it at my hearing . My judge asserted that although one of the sentencing factors he is required to consider is the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities, he does not have to and that my co-defendant just got a better plea. The judge went on to explain that he only needed to consider national disparities. The shame is, if he had, I would not still be sitting here at the Danbury Federal Prison Camp. I have been here since July of 2012 and I am due to be released in July of 2015. If he considered the national disparity as illustrated in the study recently done my CultureQuantiX, he would have seen that 41 months was a harsh sentence. Now I am at the mercy of the appeals court to undue this. The success rate in appeals court in my district is 3%. Not only that, but despite a 90 day window for the prosecutors to respond to my appeal ( largely based on a sentence that they themselves find unjust) I have been waiting 9 months for them to reply. Now the only hope I have to get home to my boys is for federal parole to be reestablished.
While my two young sons struggle without the mother who was with them every day. They are now 3 and 5 and I miss them tremendously. There are no words to describe the pain in my heart when I think of them missing me. They have been showing the damaging signs of separation , which is very detrimental in all children, but especially at their ages when they are forming bonds and their sense of security. I am heartbroken that this system did not consider the well being of my children when they sentenced me to this camp. I do hope however, that my time here can serve the purpose of bringing awareness to how necessarily it is to reform our prison system.
In the meantime, I’d appreciate if you would follow my blog, get active with Calls to Action to help Moms like me and women like me who are facing disparate and excessive sentences.
As of July 8, 2014 I have been in a community corrections facility in Columbus Ohio. In a rare move, the Bureau of Prisons ( thanks to the intelligent and supportive staff at FDC Philadelphia) placed me in the community – as my security and custody dictates- for the last 12 months of my sentence. The Bureau of Prisons is required to evaluate each inmate for a reentry period in the community for up to the last 12 months of their sentence. The BOP , however, has systematically defied this law and created internal rules that refuse consideration for most inmates, especially those that are minimum security – as if there are no reentry needs for that population. I will be in a halfway house until March, then on home confinement until July. Most recently I had my second request for appeal denied and I am working on my next steps to appeal my sentence.
I am currently enrolled in Capital University Law School as a student in the paralegal Studies graduate program. As I have worked through my reentry program, I am able to spend 30 hours a week out in the community. I chose to use those hours caring for my two sons, who are 4 and 6. The halfway house does not acknowledge parenting or caretaking as a job ( or else I could be home for up to 12 hours a day with my sons) , so I use my free time to try and reestablish our bond and work on the damage done to my boys by our separation.
There is so much work to be done in this system and I hope to be able to open the eyes of those who take the time to read this blog!
c/o The Alvis House
868 Bryden Road
Columbus OH 43205
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