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Pedro takes your tax dollars and makes a run for the border

Pedro takes your tax dollars and makes a run for the borderPedro, Pedro, Pedro.  U.S. customs took $59,000 from Pedro Zapeta.  To be honest though, it wasn’t all his money.  When the government attempted to give him some of his money, he refused to accept it.  Now this mess has evolved and you and I are paying for it. 

Pedro Zapeta worked hard for three years, saving all his money until he had enough to attempt to sneak it across the border, out of the United States.  Unfortunately for Pedro, he decided to leave the U.S. on an airplane, which I’m positive is not the way he got into the U.S. several years ago.

Zapeta, who speaks no English, said he didn’t know he was running afoul of U.S. law by failing to declare he was carrying more than $10,000 with him. Anyone entering or leaving the country with more than $10,000 has to fill out a one-page form declaring the money to U.S. customs.Pedro also apparently wasn’t aware of other laws, like paying taxes.  Zapeta earned $5.50 an hour at most of the places where he washed dishes. When he learned to do more, he got a 25-cent raise.

Robert Gershman, one of Zapeta’s attorneys, said federal prosecutors later offered his client a deal: He could take $10,000 of the original cash seized, plus $9,000 in donations as long as he didn’t talk publicly and left the country immediately.

According to Gershman, the Internal Revenue Service wants access to cash that has been donated to Pedro in order to cover taxes on the donations and on the money Zapeta made as a dishwasher. Zapeta admits he never paid taxes.  Wow… what a surprise, don’t you think?

On Wednesday, Zapeta went to immigration court and got more bad news. The judge gave the dishwasher until the end of January to leave the country on his own. He’s unlikely to see a penny of his money.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Zapeta was given official status in the United States — voluntary departure — and a signed order from a judge. For the first time, he can work legally in the U.S.

By the end of January, Zapeta may be able to earn enough money to pay for a one-way ticket home so the U.S. government, which seized his $59,000, doesn’t have to do so.


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Posted By: Michael Sharpe

News Category: News, Rants


One Response to “Pedro takes your tax dollars and makes a run for the border”

  1. If you were US District Judge James I. Cohn, what would you have done? It’s clear that laws were broken. What penalties should Mr. Pedro Zapeta have had applied in the delivery justice for his failure to file the correct form and tax evasion infractions?

    In pursuing this case, Judge Cohn had a choice, a criminal or a civil proceeding. Clearly, everyone who feels like Mr. Zapeta is guilty of something here would agree this should have tried as a criminal matter. Had he been found for a criminal violation, the fine would have been up to $5000 on the matter of the form.

    Judge Cohn, however, instead chose to try this as a civil matter. What’s the liklihood he knew enough about the case in advance to suspect Mr. Zapeta’s guilt? Hard to say. We would like to beleive our federal judges are honest and ethical and are commited to delivering justice. What Judge James I. Cohn did know in advance, and very well to be sure since this is the essence of his job, was that the damages Mr. Zapeta faced as a civil defendent against the government were vastly higher.

    This is injustice, not justice.

    As to the taxes, an appropriate claim for taxes due could have filed by the IRS. Even the additional punitive charges for failure to file/pay could have been applied. Damages would still not equate to the justice Mr. Pedro Zapeta has received as a result of this civil suit.

    If anyone disagrees with this ruling of US District Judge James I. Cohn, they should let him know what they think. They should hold him accountable.

    After a quick google search, this is the phone number to his office. You can leave him a voice mail by dialing:


    and then pressing 6

    Or you could write him, this is his address:

    299 East Broward Boulevard, 203F
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301

    This is a federal judge, he works for you.

    Let him now how you feel.

    Bob West on 28 Sep 2007 at 5:53 pm

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