Here's an important plea for help for a Houston family. This is a letter from a very good friend of mine, a local musician here in Houston:
My aunt is in jail!

Back in 1989, my aunt and uncle moved from Houston to Puerto Rico to work for my other uncle's company. They lived in Puerto Rico until about 2000 or so...when they moved to Tampa, Florida.

Well, Dec. 24 (yes, Christmas Eve) my aunt and their 3 children were driving around looking at Tampa's Christmas lights when she was pulled over because she accidentally went down a one way street in a neighborhood she was not familiar with. The officer was super friendly, and even joked about the whole one way street being particularly confusing. But, upon running her DL #, the officer came back andpromptly arrested my aunt- in front of her kids! Handcuffs and all. And took her away. The 3 kids were taken, I assume, by another officer back to the station.

So what happened? Well, back in 1989, a arrest warrant was issued for my aunt because the state has on record that she had a few bad checks written, and for substantial amounts. No one had any idea of this. The bad checks has been returned well after my aunt and uncle closed their bank accounts in Houston. Even well after they moved to Puerto Rico. So, it can be safely assumed that this is a case of identity theft dating back to 1989. Where someone managed to get a hold of some old checks of my aunts (which she may have disposed of improperly, i.e. didn't destroy them) and made purchases with these fraudulent checks. The checks were in her name. Thus, my aunt was considered a felon, since hot check writing is a felony.

As of today, Dec. 29, my aunt is still in jail. The court set NO BAIL since they called her a "flight risk" since "she had left Texas in 1989 right after the bad checks". They assumed "she fled Texas to escape prosecution." So she's stuck in the jailhouse.

My aunt and unclebought a house in Puerto Rico, and a car, and never had heard of any kind arrest warrant for my aunt when the credit checks were run. They were approved for all major credit apps they tried for, so why didn't the warrant show up on any credit checks? This is one way the police and FBI make it hard for criminals on the loose to live a normal life. They should have "caught" my aunt after the first credit check in the early 90's. Nonetheless, she is in jail now.

Some Christmas for my law-abiding aunt huh? She is still incarcerated and will remain there until something can be figured out between my uncle, my mom, and my other uncle, to get her out.

We are pulling out all our resources here in Houston (where this case originated and is still open), seeking legal counsel to help my aunt. Any leads, tips, or resources you can suggest would be great, as every day that goes by my perfect citizen of an aunt sits in prison.
So, as far as I can see there are two main ways you can help.

  1. Important: If you are a lawyer or know any lawyers who are looking to do some pro bono work in the name of justice, please contact me and I will put you in touch with my friend. I know there must be organizations out there for this purpose, but I don't know who they are.
  2. If you have a few minutes, it would be a big help to write a letter to the editor of the Houston Chronicle and let them know about this, and try to attract attention and help for the case. Email me and I'll give you the specifics on the case (names, precincts, etc.). (I'm not posting them here to preserve my friend's privacy.)

We're not seeking monetary donations at present, but we may in the future if her bail is set and is high. Thanks for your generosity and help!

(Update, 1/3/03 - She has been released from jail. No word yet on the next steps.)


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