The Plea – Chapter Nineteen When I Die

My brother is serving a twenty year term in federal prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He suffers with Parkinson’s Disease a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. His arms, legs, and head shake continually and there are many days when he can’t feed himself. Rick will die in prison. I’ve spent more than ten years investigating Rick’s case and since becoming a private investigator more than eight years ago I’ve worked on many cases just like his. This particular addition to the book The Plea is not about the specifics of my brother’s case. I’ve already written about it in some length and all the chapters and evidence can be accessed through my site This entry is about extortion.

On July 29, 2014, my brother was served with a restitution bill of $140,570 from the federal government. The letter was issued by Department of Justice in Kansas City, Missouri. The very court where my brother received his long sentence. The Department of Justice strongly urges in the letter that my brother pay the debt immediately or suffer the consequences. I’ve included a copy of the letter in this chapter.

As my brother is ill and cannot use a phone I contacted the Department of Justice to discuss the matter. I was connected to a M. Carlson and was promptly informed that if my brother couldn’t pay the debt “his family should take care of it.” “We had nothing to do with this,” I told M. Carlson. “It would go better for your brother in a parole hearing if the restitution was paid in full,” the government official advised. It took me a moment to process what was being said. “Are you telling me that in order for my brother to be released I would or my parents would have to pay a debt we don’t owe?” I pressed. I waited for M. Carlson to make mention of the fact that there is no parole in the federal system. You do the time you were sentenced and there’s no relief, but she never broached the subject. “That money has to be paid,” M. Carlson firmly announced. “How can my brother pay restitution when he is in prison and dying,” I asked? “You’ll have to work something out,” she snapped back. I had three follow up questions. “If the family is being pressured into paying my brother’s restitution can I serve out the rest of his sentence so he can die in hospital or care facility?” “If my family and I were only able to be pay half of the restitution would my brother only have to serve half the time?” “What exactly is the going rate for parole?” Flustered, M. Carlson told me she could no longer speak with me about the matter unless I had written consent from my brother.

I’ll send written consent to the government this week and then follow up with a call. I will record the conversation just like I did the one with M. Carlson.

Webster defines extortion as the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats. Extortion is generally associated with organized crime.

  I can’t help but wonder how many people with family members in prison are emotionally manipulated into paying restitution? I bet the numbers are staggering.

What the Department of Justice is trying to do is wrong. The system is corrupt and I’ll die saying just that.