In the middle of the night five years ago my little 2-year-old son and I fled our abusive home attempting to reach safety. We fled all the threats, beatings, explosiveness and severe neglect of John, or so I thought! What you’re about to read is only a small fragment, a glimpse, of what my son and I have endured.
John’s twin brother Tom documents in court papers that John had taken guns and gasoline to kill a client named Mr. Lee and that John stalked his clients before John and I even met. John was and is a Loan Shark, an unlicensed predatory lender, loaning out his millions at 22%-25% annual interest & point fees. That is when he's not hiding $250,000 here and there in numerous family members’ names so the IRS can't track his fortune. For the last 25 years John has also loaned out his money using family members' names as the bogus lender (e.g., d’arcy/heartmath), again so the IRS can’t track his money. John is my ex and my son’s father. Please don’t think my little son and I lived a life of luxury with a millionaire, we most certainly did not!
John threatened numerous times to cut my fingers off with his samurai swords. John would repeat “I’ll do worse to you than that cop Drew Peterson and they'll never find your body!" John held a loaded gun on me. John stalked us. As John lost more and more money his alcoholism intensified and he'd spit, hit, kick, throw things, slash our belongings and yell. His outbursts escalated into severe physical violence and verbal abuse which our little son witnessed when I couldn't secure him safely in another room. I was always the one to blame though I had nothing to do with his loan deals turning sour. John would repeat “my brother will find you wherever you go” referring to his reserve deputy sheriff brother that John always bragged “had connections.” John threatened to torch a client’s home after the client defaulted on his loan, and mysteriously that client’s home caught fire. John would sit up through the night plotting to get even with clients that lost him money. And, at times he’d leave the house in his truck in the middle of the night. He never said where he went and I was too afraid to ask.
There were only three times John watched our son. The first two times I came home to find our son strapped into his feeding table attempting to wiggle loose; John was around the corner, down the long hallway, in his office with the door shut. The 3rd time I came home to find our son hanging from his feeding table, screaming at the top of his little lungs, and John was passed out drunk 5 feet away from our son. Needless to say I never left our son alone with John again. When John slammed our son’s foot in the car door and I rushed our son to the emergency room; upon returning home I was blamed for being out with another man and John tore my rotator cuff as I tried phoning 911 while he battered my upper body. The months before we fled John repeatedly said to us "both of you get the f--- out and make sure you find someone right away so I don’t have to pay on either of you!” The last time John hit me was on October 19, 2009. John was arrested. The police photographed the bruises on my body; John had no marks or bruising whatsoever. The D.A. had the case thrown out. At this point I attempted to get my little 2-year-old son and me to safety. We ran a year earlier to no avail. But this time reaching safety seemed possible, almost tangible. But, little did I know the Real Nightmare was just about to begin!
We reached a Domestic Violence Shelter in southern California and I was granted a 3-Year Restraining Order against John due to the superb legal team at Latham & Watkins. They were provided to me by the D.V. Shelter but they weren’t able to handle my custody case Pro Bono. I graduated the D.V. program and my little son and I moved into a little apartment. In less than a week of moving into our apartment, at 4:00a.m. five police officers from two Police Departments in two different counties were at our door. They informed me John filed a stolen car/stolen child report. The officers surveyed the residence, seeing my son secure and sleeping in bed. The officers read over court papers including the 3-year restraining order against John. They apologized for waking me and the officers excused themselves from our home. Within a week John was filing a second stolen car/stolen child report with the same department, however that report went nowhere as the investigating officer noted John was more concerned about the thousands of dollars he had spent to manipulate the case.
Shortly thereafter I was subpoenaed to testify against John in a Fraud Lawsuit. John and a broker-client (straw man) were attempting to steal a Latino man’s sizable property, a home and two businesses that Mr. Vasquez had owned for many years. John made many threats of what he’d do to me and my son IF I testified in that Fraud Lawsuit. John would phone me, stalk us and put notes on my car. At which point the plaintiff and his family hid my son and me in various locations. During the two days I testified John would sneak into the courthouse, verbally assault me with threats as he rushed passed me in the hallway and quickly exit the courthouse. John lost the property. The Judge did nothing to John and his accomplices (the straw man George and the unlawful notary Riccardo). A witness named Kyle said “John was sure he’d get by with it just like his brother Tom did to Mr. Carrillo in 2006.” The day after I testified in that case I took my son and tried to disappear, again hoping of reaching safety.
We first traveled from southern California to central California, then into northern California. We went onto Nevada and passed through Salt Lake City. I had no idea where we were going. John could track us to family so I went the opposite way. As we reached Wyoming it was peaceful and quiet. We settled there and I hoped of finally reaching safety to rebuild our life in tranquil Wyoming. That hope was short lived.
The Domestic Violence Shelters in Wyoming tried helping us but told me "if you change your name and get a new social he'll be able to track you because he has money." Five months after disappearing the D.A. located us on Friday September 24, 2010. Police cars surrounded us in Wyoming, taking away my then little 3-year-old son. My son and I had been together 24/7 for the entire first three years of his life prior to being separated. On Monday September 27th I arrived in the Los Angeles Courtroom facing the horrifically angry Commissioner (presiding as Judge). No matter how many times I apologized for “being on the Lam” as he referred to us fleeing, he remained vehemently angry. He quashed the Warrant and fines; however the Warrant resurfaced a few years later.
For the first eight months I wasn't allowed to see my son at all, after which on May 11, 2011 I was given 2-hours per week Supervised visits with my son. Through each visit my son and I were thrilled to see one another and he always sat on my lap or right beside me. Every visit was superb! When it was time for him to leave me he’d cling to me and then get pulled from me. He’d be taken away from me crying into the Waiting Area and hide under furniture clinging to a chair and refusing to go with John. My son would scream “Mommy, help me, Mommy!” over and over as I stood in the next room until he was carried outside and driven away. During the visits the monitors and I would notice unusual marks and bruising on my son. The monitors and I noticed over and over again my son’s badly worn clothing was too small, and his shoes were falling apart as he played. John would badmouth me repeatedly to the monitors in front of our son. At several visits my friend observed, diagramming the scene, my son getting out of John’s truck and dashing frantically through the parking lot to get to the facility frontdoor where we had our visits; dodging moving vehicles while John was too busy on his cell phone to notice. In June 2011 John told a monitor “She better not testify in that new Class Action Lawsuit or she’ll be sorry!” The monitor said “I see that as a threat” and she suggested I move into a Domestic Violence shelter because of that threat.
John’s attorney picked the Court Evaluator which she happened to be in the building right next to his attorney’s office and it was said “They’re buddies from way back.” John’s loan clients wrote letters to the Court Evaluator pretending to be John’s friends and these clients were paid extremely well for this. John had a young woman named Heidi contact the Court Evaluator, telling some wild, untrue tales; and Heidi too was paid extremely well for this. Just 10 days prior to John contacting Heidi, this Heidi was Facebooking an Arizona news station crying out for help saying “I only have $0.40 cents left in my (SRP) M-Box and I can’t keep me, my kids (and my boyfriend Brooke) warm.” The Court Evaluator spent 25 minutes on the phone with Heidi and based much of her report on Heidi’s untrue testimony.
The Court Evaluator failed to note in her report John admitted to her in her office, in my presence, that he took guns and gasoline to kill Mr. Lee saying “I would have killed Chong Lee with the gasoline and guns I had in my car but all those Chinese look alike, unlike us Japanese.” The Court Evaluator failed to note in her report John admitted to her, in my presence, that he had a problem with alcohol, had driving infractions and if it wasn’t for the Freeway Pass his twin brother (a Reserve Deputy) gave him he’d have more infractions! The Court Evaluator failed to note in her report John repeated numerous times to her, in my presence, that “She’s is a really great Mom!” as John pointed to me. The Court Evaluator failed to note in her report the diagrams my friend had made of my son frantically running through the parking lot dodging moving cars. The Court Evaluator failed to note five of my ten collaterals’ paperwork. The Court Evaluator complained to me in her office that she’s gone through 3 secretaries during the one-month-period of our visits with her. The Court Evaluator and/or her secretaries lost numerous documents my collaterals and I had submitted to her and informed me that both she and her daughter spent a week during Christmas looking for many clients lost documents, but never found those missing documents. The Court Evaluator complained repeatedly her chair was uncomfortable and her husband was too ill to bring her “that new comfortable chair.” The Court Evaluator shared many times of her husband’s illness and how stressful it was on her. The Court Evaluator also shared many times that it was quite stressful on her to train these new secretaries. Excuse me, but was I supposed to be her Therapist?
One year after being in the Court Evaluator’s office we went to trial. I pointed out Heidi to the Court Evaluator in the hallway and asked if she had met Heidi? The Court Evaluator responded with “No, oh my God! - That’s Heidi?” The Court Evaluator stated in court she had only a 25 minute phone conversation with Heidi. The Court Evaluator based much of her report on the falsehoods she heard from Heidi by phone as she had never spoken to Heidi in-person. At trial the Commissioner (presiding as Judge) kept calling out “where’s that pretty little witness” referring to the provocatively dressed Heidi. My attorney found out Heidi was paid extremely well for her financially profitable moments of acting. Heidi was overheard asking John in the hallway when she’d be receiving the “final payment.” John’s sister-in-law Sue was seen taking notes in the courtroom and passing those notes onto Heidi in the hallway. Sue was also caught mouthing answers to John while he was on the witness stand. The Commissioner did nothing about it. The Court Evaluator remembered on the witness stand that one year earlier John had admitted to her about taking guns and gasoline to kill Mr. Lee, however she didn’t know why it was omitted from her report. The Commissioner stepped down off the bench one week after repeatedly calling out “where’s that pretty little witness.”
At trial the Commissioner said he didn’t review the records but did briefly review the Court Evaluator’s report. The Commissioner made it well known he was still extremely furious I had taken my son, running out of state, and he made that a primary focus. He stated “anyone that runs must have an anxiety disorder” and I was ordered to get psychiatric care and medication. I was ordered to have weekly visits with a psychiatrist and psychologist. Though the Court Evaluator had specified the “step-up” process of increasing my time with my son, the Commissioner stated that I would only get 2-hours per week of Supervised visits. He considered me a flight risk. The Commissioner also ordered that I pay for the Supervised visits and all psychiatric and psychological help. As I write this I have seen five psychiatrists and none of them want to put me on any medication whatsoever, nor do they want to see me again in their office. They’re quite amazed I have survived this so well. I have complied with all that was ordered and still I get only 2-hours per week with my son.
It’s my little son that I greatly worry about. My darling son is now 7 years old. What is my son enduring, hearing, seeing, and what abuse has occurred? Recently John’s attorney told me “Child Protective Services have been to John’s house numerous times.” John’s neighbor Ted had given John substantial pornographic videos and other material. John’s brother-in-law’s relative Tanioka took John numerous times to East Los Angeles to engage in sexual favors from prostitutes. Two months ago at a visit my son lifted up his T-shirt, touching and pointing to his right nipple he said to me “You can touch this.” I was startled and pulled down his shirt. Again my son lifted up his T-shirt and repeated the same. The monitor took me aside and told me to ask him if he had been touched. Upon doing so my son wrinkled up his face, nervously shaking his shoulders and head, not saying a word. As well, there was a large fire in John’s house where my son lives. My son told me a fireman rescued him, the fireman took him to the hospital and “I got some of your blood in the hospital, Mom.” My son told me all of his belongings were destroyed. John however describes it as a minor dishwasher fire. For the last several weeks my son says John tells him he's "70 pounds of blubber" and "fat" as my son hangs his little head. My son has repeatedly complained of unusual groin pain, though he's not involved in sports. What is my son seeing, hearing and enduring in those 166 hours each week he’s away from me? What abuse is he experiencing in those 166 hours?
Since our Supervised visits began on May 11, 2011 we have had phenomenally fantastic visits. I have never missed a single visit. My son undoubtedly knows just how special he is to me. As each visit begins he comes running down the hallway into my arms and gives a sigh of relief, as we hold on tight to one another. He gives a loud “Grrrr” to me and that’s my cue to “Grrrrrr” back, and I ask “Am I the mommy-bear or mommy-dinosaur today?” He touches my hair, starring at my face as he tells me how soft I am and how good I smell. We hug, kiss and tell how much we missed the other. During our visits we read his books and play with his toys. He never wants the toys there at the facility, only his own toys and books. I bring educational materials and we immerse ourselves into all of it; sharing, laughing, singing and learning. And, we snack on his favorite foods that I bring each week. We sing a new little song I just wrote for him and we read Easy Reader books I write for him. 10-minutes before he leaves my alarm goes off and he says “Mom I’m giving you more time.” I choke up wishing it was that easy! I pack up his left over food to take with him, we say prayers and sing a couple songs together and I give him my weekly ending phrase “Remember Darling, you’re good and kind, you’re smart and you’re strong” as he is making a muscle in his little arm. We tell each other how much we love the other, hug and don’t let go until we’re absolutely forced to pull away from each other. I give him a stuffed Bear at each visit because he calls himself my “Bear Cub” and he clutches that bear as he walks teary-eyed down the hallway away from me.
Some final details… I was arrested in August 2013 on a Quashed Warrant, three years after it was originally Quashed. It had been reinstated only in the county I moved to. I spent 12 hours being arrested and taken to two jails. The arresting officer said “Did your Ex have someone in law enforcement that could have reinstated that old warrant?” John’s brother is a Reserve Deputy and John repeatedly bragged about his brother’s connections, one connection being a best friend that’s a D.A. When I appeared in court on the reinstated warrant the new Judge and his clerk were stunned why I was there in the courtroom and they quickly cancelled the warrant and gave me a letter to carry with me in the event that warrant becomes reinstated again.
Through this ordeal I had two Pro Bono attorneys. The first pro bono attorney took my case after Latham & Watkins won the 3-year restraining order but she filed papers late and incorrectly stated facts. The second pro bono attorney took my case after my son was taken from me but he never filed any papers on my behalf. I asked him three times to take my case back to court after providing him with all the paperwork from the doctors, therapists and the supervised-visit facility, but he never did. Nor was he sending these documents onto my ex’s attorney as he was supposed to do. So, I substituted-in as my own attorney early this year. There have been no changes but I’m persevering on. There is a new Judge and I am remaining hopeful.
It has been the grace of God that has gotten my son and me through this ordeal. It will be the grace of God getting us through the rest of this journey. I cling to many quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My most favorite is “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was 50-years-old when I gave birth to my little son, just 7 years after having a heart attack . One day we’ll reach safety, whether that’s this year or eleven years from now when my son is 18, but my son and I will reach safety! Every day I awake I make it a point to move us forward toward Reaching Safety.