My weekend home was restful, peaceful and an enjoyable one. I was glad to be back and looking forward to accomplishing the goals I set out to do. In truth, I had no idea how I would not smoke drugs again nor when I had the compulsion to expose myself, what I would do. I just knew I was willing to have this done. I also had a desire to be more affectionate with my wife, again, the will was there but how to go about bringing about my body to conform, I had not a clue.
When I returned to work Monday, I sent an email to my video contact and told him I left my apartment and returned home because my apartment had been broken into and I intended to restart my marriage and no longer wanted him to send me any videos. Shortly, I received his response,
“Don’t you hate when that happens?” which I thought was kind of strange to say. Most people would have responded, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that” or “What did they take?” or “Are you okay?” He mentioned he knew the video was sent and should be there waiting for me. Again a strange feeling entered because I thought by not responding to the letter requesting me to write back, he would not send the video until then; yet, he took it upon himself to have it delivered already. I ignored his message and proceeded with my day.
While making a visit to one of our locations I remember having this thought,
“Okay, my friend. I tried to give you a break deciding not to get the tape, but you have persisted and I was going to do you a favor and not report you, now I will.”
I stopped by my old apartment and checked the mail to see if it had been delivered, not finding anything there with my name. I did spot the postman’s truck but was unable to locate him, so I continued on to my job location. When I arrived home, I put it out of my mind not wanting to use Mayra’s computer to contact this guy, to have any further contact.
On Tuesday, September 10, 2002, arriving at work, I found another email practically begging me to go to the post office and retrieve the videotape, he being fearful it would be discovered and lead to police problems. When I got home I called my landlady inquiring if there was an attempt to drop off a package. I learned the postman did make an effort and “insisted” she take the slip with notice of package attempt being delivered. Not wanting to drive over I asked what the number was and where the post office was located. She didn’t know. She mentioned her conversation with the postman I moved and did not leave a forwarding address or a phone number and she believed she would not be hearing or seeing me again; however, this package deliverer “insisted” she take the slip in case I did call. I thought it was a bit strange for them to have done so. When I got off the phone, I asked Mayra if she knew where this post office was and she provided instructions which confused me so I didn’t think anything further about it.
In my own delivery of mail that day, I received a letter from a bank with a credit card. Since 1991 when I lost my job with IBM and maxed out all my credit cards due to drug addiction, I was proud to be the receiver of this card to inaugurate my new beginnings of responsibility. The timing was perfect because it would allow me to further plan for a nice dinner for Mayra the following day. It was her birthday.
Although the previous September 11th was a tragedy due to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, it was the birthday of my wife and I planned something very special for her. I willed myself to put behind all of my own personal struggles and wanted to be intimate with her ending fifteen months of my own frigid behavior. Like drug addiction, I was not sure how I would achieve this great step in my life, but I was willing and now determined to rise above myself and be a good husband.
The morning of September 11th, before leaving for work and while Mayra still laid in bed not having to go to work, I leaned over to kiss her good-bye, telling her to be ready about five in the evening when I come back to take her to a nice dinner.
My boss had two sales calls to make and requested I join him. I carried my laptop with me since having installed some of the company’s information making it easier for me to access while on the road, even then proving helpful, he driving and my calling up the various information needed. When we were finished and returned to the office, I gathered a few things because I had several calls to make out in the field that afternoon. That morning I asked an office associate about the location of the post office. He gave me easier directions to follow, in fact, not too far from one of our warehouse locations where I had to be that afternoon. Before leaving with my boss, I sent an email to my videotape contact informing him I intended to retrieve the tape that afternoon.
After meeting with a prospective client, I drove to a nearby restaurant to have lunch, bringing my laptop to plan the rest of my afternoon. While eating and reviewing my schedule, I thought I could make it an early day to spend more time with my wife. I would arrange to pick up this tape since it was further out in terms of my other appointments and work my way back towards home, stopping by the larger post office and turning the tape over to the postal inspector on duty there, or go to the headquarters of the police department across the street. These facilities were close to the mall which would be my last official stop for the business day to get a key made for a lock to one of the warehouse doors, and then I’d get a card and gift and head to the postal inspector’s office.
On my way to the post office, I got confused and lost. I stopped by a small store and found an English speaking person who was able to direct me and learned I was in the general area. On my way, I noticed the US flag outside, and at the same time a police squad car and thought it would be easier to get the tape and drop it with the officer and have him give it to a sergeant I knew since it was in the same precinct, who was already gone for the day and I would meet with him in the morning to discuss it. I figured even if I stopped at the larger post office and saw a postal inspector or next door to the police, it would probably delay me in getting home for Mayra’s celebration. So, my plan changed to hurry and get the tape and make it to this police on the side of the road apparently involved in a traffic stop and hopefully would still be there in the time it would take me to get back to him.
I found parking quickly and thankful there weren’t many persons waiting on line. When next, I was told to go to another window for packages and met by a young man who took my scrap of paper with the number written. He came back with a package and asked me for identification and I showed him my driver’s license. He noted my driver’s license address was different from the one listed on the package and I explained the discrepancy, the separation from my wife and moving to this location, but had since returned to the address on my driver’s license. After handing me the package I hurried back to my car, opened the door and tossed the package onto the passenger’s seat and about to stick the key into the car’s ignition is when I saw guns pointing at my head and a woman shouting for me to put my hands up! I looked straight ahead for a moment and the same thought, or voice I heard when Emma gave me her Crack-pipe, repeated in my thoughts,
“Your life is going to change today.”
I opened the door and shouted in the midst of about six Spanish speaking, plainclothes officers and all talking at the same time, I do not speak their language and requested everything in English. I was then helped from the car, made to lie down, face-down, on the parking lot ground, shoes removed and frisked. As I was helped up, handcuffs were placed on me with my hands being held behind my back. I looked directly at the woman I first noticed with the gun and said to her,
“You didn’t give me time.” She responded,
“Time for what?”
“To go to the police.” I said.
My remark was met with disagreeing and disbelieving sneers. A man approached me, now handling the package asking me if I knew why I was being arrested, and I told him,
“It’s because of this package.” He asked me if I knew what was in the package and I answered,
“I assume its child pornography.”
“You assume?” He asked. I looked at him and replied,
“I have to. I never opened the package.”
I didn’t recognize him until much later as the person who handed me the package inside the post office. He was a Postal Inspector. The female officer was an agent with U.S. Customs, and the others, about six, were divided between federal law enforcement agencies as the supporting cast.
I was placed in another vehicle while they searched my car, after they asked and I offered, somewhat surprised they bothered to ask since they were searching anyway. I kept having the thought, “this will all end in a few minutes and I’ll be having that dinner with Mayra very soon. Just be cooperative and truthful and everything would be okay.”
I was transported to an office and furthered questioned after being fingerprinted and photographed. My heart dropped when I learned I was going to be taken to the Federal Detention facility and meet with a Judge the following day. Having been arrested before, I knew this was not going to be a “quickie-in-the-office-to-be-handled-and-then-let-go” kinda thing.
During the interrogation I kept insisting I met this guy online after receiving an email for the sole purpose of providing the police with the video to affect an arrest. I could see I was not going to be believed. I explained how my apartment was broken into and my computer stolen, to explain the lapse in email responses and why I moved back home to my wife. The postal inspector asked me if the apartment was broken into, why “only” the computer stolen and not the television? Right then, something changed. The whole tenor of the meeting shifted. I answered,
“Is there something you want to tell me? How did you know I had a television? Let’s be honest here.” I noticed one of the other agents touching his arm in an effort not to continue the conversation. I was given a form to write my confession and wrote just what I said. The Postal Inspector disagreeing with what I wrote when I mentioned how the questioning stopped when I questioned them about breaking into my apartment. I told him, I wrote my confession as it occurred and what I believed, not caring if it was what he thought I should write.
We talked more and I was asked about my email account id which I thought was strange. Since if I was being tracked would they not already know it? When it was discussed, I was asked regarding the password. I hedged thinking not to give it, then decided in the effort of wanting to cooperate fully, gave it, then felt regret after having done so. They did not know I was able to contact the person further, by using my work computer, which I reluctantly admitted not wanting to involve my employment.
They seemed disappointed I was not involved with some type of organization, a “ring” for further conspiracy charges I learned later. It seems our government is pretty big on “conspiracy” cases. They could not accept a regular citizen having come across a bad person and wanted to provide them assistance. They verified my home address and asked if they could search. I only gave them permission to search “my” things in the home since the home was not legally mine, but offered them to contact Mayra, being a reasonable woman who would have no problem in letting them search without a warrant. That was when the shame and embarrassment occurred. Handcuffed in the back of a car, in a convoy of about four vehicles, showing up to my wife’s home, with me arrested and not there for dinner, on her birthday!
I watched as they explained to her what happened, only thankful it was relatively dark outside and I could be partially hidden from any neighbors wondering what was going on. I must have sat there for two hours while they searched and bagged her two computers, disks, cd’s and videotapes. Before leaving they allowed her to sit with me for a few moments. She was clearly hurt, telling me she now thought a divorce would be best for us. I tried to explain to her it wasn’t what it seemed to be and I now believed I knew where my computer was, but couldn’t say in front of her since they were listening to our conversation. When she got out, I was so hurt knowing I caused her great pain and embarrassment of having her husband arrested like someone on America’s Most Wanted.
We pulled away from the home and the federal prison building I passed daily on my way to work, wondering what it must be like inside, I was now going to be given a closer look. It would be where I would spend at least one night. Again, I was fingerprinted and photographed, boxing my clothing and shoes to be mailed home. Having been a veteran, I was thankful for my past experience, otherwise it would have been devastating, especially to be in what I considered a foreign country. Given a blanket roll containing two sheets, pillowcase and toiletries: soap, toothbrush and paste and not much else, my new prison uniform a brown kaki jumpsuit, white boxers, t-shirt and socks and a pair of canvas slippers, I was ready to rejoin a life I left behind several years ago vowing never to return. In fact, still in denial I had been returned to doing this again.
It was about 10:30 in the evening when I was escorted to my unit, housing 140 men, told my cell number and thankful the others were locked down for the night. Always better to just be seen in the morning. A few men were out, orderlies, who swept and mopped floors. One handed me a piece of candy since not able to communicate with me. I wondered if I might run into someone I knew who might have sold me drugs during my brief stay now made even briefer in Puerto Rico. I couldn’t communicate with my room-mate, other than the basics. This unit was where all new inmates were taken, unlike some prisons where everyone, new arrivals and already convicted are mixed. I, in trying to explain why I was there told my cellie I stole mail out of a mailbox, not wanting to tell the real reason, not wanting to cause further problems. Having been associated with prisons previously, rapist, child molesters or women abusers are not treated well inside and although I was neither, having the tag of “child” pornography, I’m sure would have been misconstrued and in here who would believe what I was trying to do?
In the morning I was called and met by my arresting officers who took me to court several miles away and met with a “pre-trial” officer who spoke with me about my life history and I think somewhat believed my story, but by then, I was looking for anyone to do so. I went to court and was told the magistrate would not see me because I had not met with an attorney but that soon changed when a member of the Federal Public Defender’s office agreed to represent me for the bail hearing. I spoke wishing to remain incarcerated, they agreed, because of the nature of the crime and drug history, along with weak ties to the community. What would I do out there now? No job, probably no wife, no money. No, I needed to stay where I was because depression would probably be right around the corner and I could see suicide becoming an option again and I did not want to be in that position.
I was transported back to the Metropolitan Detention Center at Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, a mere 2.5 miles from my home, where my bag of prison clothes and identification was already missing! Already I was experiencing problems. They don’t waste anytime here. After all the others were processed, I alone remained. After given a new issue of clothing, an officer asked me to put my hands behind my back and I was handcuffed, thinking this was strange. Where was I going to go?
We rode the elevator to another unit with a description written on the wall: “Special Handling Unit (SHU)”. I was placed in a small closet-like room, told to undress and given the same things back only colored orange now, again cuffed and escorted to Cell 106, placing my cuffed arms through a small opening in the door to have them taken off. There was a bunk-bed, one bed made the other left bare, cement shelf for a table and a cement stump for a chair, toilet, shower and sink. No roommate, no television, nothing to read. Just me and the only thing breaking up the quietness in the cell were my thoughts. And they were,
“Things are not looking too good.”