The story I’m telling is true! Since no one else will tell the truth, then I have to. It started in November 2000, when I was working for a roofing company, and I got hurt about two weeks into the job. I hired a law firm to sue for workers’ compensation and have my medical bills paid. My doctors put me on Oxytocin. I didn’t know at the time just how addictive the medicine was, and I trusted that my doctor had my best interests. Naturally, I became highly addicted, but workers compensation stopped covering my medical bills after two years. I still couldn’t work though, because of my injuries, and now had to pay for my medication out of pocket. The price of the drug often varied, so I could not afford it, and had to use street drugs, which were less expensive. I didn’t know what else to do since the withdrawal was so terribly painful. Eventually, my girlfriend at the time, Susan, realized she could sell my prescription and make more money, and I could just take drugs instead. She was caught for this in a drug sting in early 2004. Police entered my apartment without a warrant because Susan was there. They took 850 dollars because they claimed it was drug money.

Later, in the middle of 2005, I finally settled my lawsuit. After the lawyers and the bills were paid, I was left with 800 dollars. I went to a dope home with Susan to feed my addiction, but it was being raided. The police came outside and took my money. I tried to tell them that it was settlement money, but they did not believe me. They told me I could get a lawyer to prove the money was legal, which the lawyer would take anyway, or I could get 40 percent then. I chose the latter.

I ran out of money in two months and was suffering greatly from withdrawal. I knew the only way to end my suffering was with the drugs, so I decided to rob a bank. I went before my scheduled doctor’s appointment, so I could pay for my prescription, and I pretended I had a weapon. I was arrested for it shortly after.

I didn’t get another chance to see my mother, my father, and my little brother, who all died after I should have gotten out.

I was assigned a case number and a public defender. I could have taken a plea deal and only gotten 12 years, but the lawyer said they could get me a shorter sentence if we went to trial because I did not have a weapon. I still did not want to, and wrote to a judge, who was my lawyer back in ‘85. I told him that if he could get me a better deal than 12 years, then I would not go to trial. But my lawyer made sure it didn’t reach him. I didn’t know at the time that my defender had an arrangement with the prosecutor to help him win cases, and that was the real reason he wanted me to go to trial. The judge told us that the law changed in 2004, and now pretending to have a weapon was the same thing as armed robbery. I ended up being sentenced to 25 to 50 years.

My corrupt lawyer was eventually caught with embezzlement and wrongfully advising clients to go to trial and was fired from his law firm. The police officer who took all of my money was also caught and charged with 55 counts of embezzlement. He pleaded down to one and got one year in prison. My doctors were also caught for overprescribing pain medication and were sent to prison. So I was made to be addicted to drugs, my means of paying for them legally was taken, and I was forced into serving more time than I should have gotten. And that’s not even all of it. 

As it turns out, there really wasn’t any evidence of my crime, but another man with the last name Rey committed armed robbery that same day. So I was actually charged with his crime. He was later caught and sentenced to 17 years less time than me. And even though all of this is known, I am still in jail today and won’t get out for another nine years.

In prison, I have been beaten and mistreated by inmates and guards. I have been moved far away from my loved ones. I didn’t get another chance to see my mother, my father, and my little brother, who all died after I should have gotten out. I’m still in pain from my accident, but I keep getting denied treatment for it. I tried to get a commutation, and I told them that I have completed many programs. I have been addiction-free for 13 and a half years. I also have friends in Ohio and Tennessee who would give me a job upon my release. But they denied me earlier this year. The system fails poor people like me.