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Jose Fuentes #08991-040

September 14, 1998

To whom it may concern,

My name is Jose A. Fuentes, and I was set up by a man that was plea bargaining to reduce his time. It worked, he was reduced to only 22 months. On the other hand I was given 51/2 years for a crime that I didn't commit. A real short version of my story is this: I found my brother after 22 years of not hearing from him and not knowing if he was even alive. Well, I was so happy to find him, that I arranged to take a little time from work to be reunited with him. I drove from my Michigan home to Texas to see him, and a man that I was trying to help by letting him live at my home free of charge, asked me if he could ride along. I agreed and off we went.

We got to Texas and I was reunited with my brother, who agreed to return to my home with me for 2 weeks. Just before we were ready to head back to Michigan, this man asked if he could borrow my car to run and see his mama and tell her goodbye. I agreed to lend him the car on the agreement that he was going to return in one hour.

Well I didn't hear from him in three days. First I was upset and then worried that maybe something bad had happened to him. So I reported the car and plate number to the U. S. CUSTOMS at the border and asked that if they happened to spot this car to contact me. They then found the car attempting to cross the border. They busted him with 3 1/2 kilos of cocaine. They brought me in for questioning and released me.

I didn't hear any more about it until one year later, when I was arrested at my job in Hart, Michigan. That's when the real nightmare began.

For the first time in my life I was arrested and put in jail. Now I am 40 years old and a Christian man with a Christian family, behind bars. I was so shocked and confused that I didn't know what to do. I was released on bond under the terms that my probation officer agreed to take full responsibility of the case. He also told me and my family that this sounded like the most unfair, unjustified case that he ever heard of.

Well, the people of the state of Texas were not as caring. The family of this man went to my lawyer and tried to bribe him, and he said that he would use this in court. Well it turned out that he might have taken the bribe, because it was never mentioned in court. All the evidence and lab work from the evidence were destroyed. There was one judge that heard the first three days in court, and on the last day there was a new judge.

Now I'm spending 5 1/2 years for something that I didn't do. This has had a terrible effect on my family. I have a 17-year-old son and he is the son that every father would be very proud of. He was very involved in sports and always telling his friends to stay away from drugs and alcohol.

He now tells me that he feels numb and doesn't care about too much of anything until I return home, and that he prays with my family every day for me. He will be graduating next year and I won't be there.

My 10 year old does not know how to deal with this either. My 5 and 6-year-old daughters are always crying and sad. I am a Christian and understand that GOD does some things that we don't really understand sometimes, but how can it be that these little innocent children have to be the ones to suffer the most from our government insane war on drugs?

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