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December 21, 2005 - Capital Times (WI)

Christmas Letter To A Prisoner

By Doug Moe

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Robert F. Schuh #04698-090
Federal Prison Camp - Atwater
PO Box 019001
Atwater, Calif. 95301

Dear Bob,

Thank you for your letter of Dec. 14. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, too.

I appreciate that after everything, you are able to write a funny, upbeat letter, one that looks to the future.

You mention that you now have the same personal trainer as Barry Bonds, the baseball star. While you didn't mention him by name, I note from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that you're referring to Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer, who began a three-month sentence at Atwater on Nov. 30 for his role in the BALCO steroids scandal.

You said you asked him how you, too, can one day be a great home run hitter. He must have laughed at that. But he gave you two workout schedules - one for now, one for when you get out - and I'm glad to hear you think it is going to add 20 yards to your tee ball.

Anyway, Bob, I'd been thinking about you lately, even before I got your letter. I'll tell you why in a moment. First let me say I'm glad to see you've dropped the "Boot" nickname.

"Boot" was funny -- a play on your last name, of course. I think you had the nickname when we first met, at the Sigma Chi fraternity on Langdon Street, even before you had Jocko's. You were a legend at the frat, a real life version of John Belushi in "Animal House." You'd spent a season as Bucky Badger and were threatening Belushi's record of "seven years of college down the drain."

"Boot" was perfect later, too, when you were running Jocko's Rocket Ship, the Gilman Street bar that eventually got you in so much trouble. I remember you telling me once that you got the name of the bar from an East Coast disc jockey, Douglas "Jocko" Henderson, who hosted a show called "Jocko's Rocket Ship."

Jocko's was a lot of fun, until it wasn't. As you know, I was never a regular, but I stopped for a drink from time to time. I liked how - as somebody said of Ted Cosmides and the Salad Bar - you never had to worry about saying, "Have a nice day." I don't know exactly when the cocaine, which I suppose was always there at some level, eventually overwhelmed both you and the bar, but clearly it did.

The indictment in March 2000 probably saved your life. I think, reading between the lines of your letters, that you feel that way, too.

What I admire is that in all of the dozen or so letters you've sent me from prison, you've stressed the positive things you've been doing.

I remember, Bob, one early note you sent saying you had learned to type because nobody in Madison could read your handwritten letters.

Then I remember a letter you sent me in March 2002 that came under the letterhead of the November Coalition, a Washington state-based organization that, among other things, has argued against unreasonably harsh sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

In that 2002 letter you didn't mention your own sentence. You didn't have to. On Oct. 11, 2000, U.S. Judge John Shabaz sentenced you to 19 years in federal prison. There is, of course, no parole in the federal system.

Nineteen years.

Your lawyer was able to convince an appellate court to knock your sentence down a bit in 2003. But 12 years, seven months is still a long time. I note on the Federal Bureau of Prisons Web site that your release date is now July 6, 2011.

Like I said, Bob, I couldn't help but think of you the other day, when the former state legislators Brian Burke and Chuck Chvala were sentenced for their roles in the State Capitol corruption scandal.

The Capitol scandal and the Jocko's scandal broke about the same time.

The bar was just a few blocks from the Capitol dome.

If you haven't heard, Burke and Chvala got less than a year in jail.

I don't disagree with their sentences. They've suffered. Their reputations are in tatters. It's just that I find myself comparing those sentences with yours, and wondering if something isn't seriously out of whack.

You haven't dwelled on that in your letters, Bob, and I applaud you for that. I make you for 55 years old now, which means, especially now that you're taking care of yourself, you can still have a lot of good years when you get out.

I remember a letter where you said you will probably stay in California after your release. You have friends who would like to see you back here, but I understand.

There are a lot of good golf courses in California. And with all those extra yards you're going to be getting off the tee, who knows? Look out, senior tour.

Sincerely, Doug Moe

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