Martin Luther King Day, no school or work for Billy and the kids and the first experience for the family to go with me to Federal prison to visit my cousin Mike whom I adore and admire.
A short, heavy, red headed lady sat behind a tall counter filled with forms. She didn’t crack a smile. Her job was much too important and didn’t allow her to smile. A man walked in behind us and waited in line as we filled out our forms. It was apparent that he hadn’t done this before. He followed her orders and went to fill out his paper work. A beep went off. “WHO HAS A CELL PHONE?” The mean lady screamed in the tiny room. We all looked at each other, it wasn’t us. It was the other man. “GO BACK TO YOUR CAR AND LEAVE IT THERE.”
Mean lady, we can all hear you, there’s no reason to yell. If you hadn’t noticed, people that go for visitations are heart broke so a gentle smile would have gone a long way. I know you can smile and laugh because I could hear you shooting the breeze and laughing with your co-worker.
Mean lady gave us the go ahead to go through the metal detectors after removing our shoes, watches, money and everything that rattled. We passed this time, no random pat down for possibility of “coming in contact with illegal substances”. That was special. We went through 2 more metal doors and Yay, the third metal door and we were there.
Mike was expecting me but not my family. His face lit up with the most beautiful and bright smile that he carries despite his hardships. We hugged, talked and laughed. A very nice visit cut too short.
“Visitation is over. Visitors on the right and inmates on the left.” The guard shouted.
As much as my daughter tried to hold it together, she broke down and cried. It was too hard for her to say goodbye. I looked at Mike as he watched us. The sadness was apparent. By now, I could see my son’s teary eyes. I choked up. I held Mariana and tried to console her.
“How do you do this Mom?” She sobbed then added, “Why did Moe do this?”
I ran out of words, excuses, and explanations. I don’t know the answer to my baby’s questions.
The two and a half hour ride home was long. I thought over and over again, Damn you cousin Moe, Why? So, I decided to write him a letter in hopes that he will read it and think about what he’s done.
Since your famous words in court were, “I don’t recall”. I will remind you of the shit you’ve done and conveniently forgot.
Do you remember why you helped the government set up your cousins and their friends. You sent them to prison for years to come. Do you remember how many times Mike gave you a job at his clubs but had to fire you because you didn’t show up to work, stole money and showed up on drugs. I believe in court, they said it was 5 times.
Cousin Moe, do you remember the reason why our cousins Mike and Hadi are in prison? Do you remember how many times you went to his office, begged and pleaded with him to help you and your dad? When he finally agreed, Mike told his assistant to give you whatever you needed. You then got your check and walked out smiling. As soon as you walked out of Mike’s office, you called the Feds and said “I got him, I got him.” Do you remember that cousin Moe? I do. I saw it on tape and I got sick for days.
Do you remember why you told the Feds that your own blood and cousins were terrorists, drug dealers, murderers and rapists? Those are the same cousins that gave you money, paid for your kids clothes and birthday parties. The same cousins that paid your wife’s car note over and over again while she was jet setting with her Australian boyfriend. The same cousins that paid your electric bill because they didn’t’ want your children to be without and the same cousins who baby sat your children while you and your wife went out and got wasted. The list goes on.
Do you remember that Mike employed over 300 people who had families? Thanks to you, they were out of a job overnight.
Do you remember when you called me 2 days after their arrests? You called at midnight and promised that you had nothing to do with their arrests. You said you were also arrested. You lied to me.
You had some nerves saying in court that family was very important to you as you looked at Mike, Steve and Hadi. You then stared at Steve and said, “Steve is my best friend”. Your reply in court to the attorney who asked you why your stories changed. You said, “I’m a fucking liar.” Need I say more?
Cousin Moe, In case you forgot or were too high on drugs to realize, you tore up our family from Lebanon to Africa to the US. You left these boys and supposedly family and best friends penniless. Whatever the government left behind, their best friends stole. You broke so many hearts and humiliated us. Do you remember how the media portrayed our cousins and our family?
I know how much you love your children and how you hate being away from them. Did you ever think about your cousin Hadi’s newborn baby boy? Hadi was forced away from his wife and baby because of your lies? Federal prison for five years so far away from his family. They sent him to Georgia Moe. Do you remember?
I could remind you and write pages about the things you’ve done for dirty money and revenge as was stated in court. You had so many opportunities over the years of the investigation to figure out what you’ve done and make it right. You didn’t. You watched our family get humiliated on TV, in the newspapers and the streets. You didn’t come clean. Cousin Moe, Do you remember WHY?
Life will go on for us and the truth will prevail because we believe in God. He never forgets the innocent. No matter the outcome, we have each other and God. WE ARE FAMILY.