Just in. . . 88-year old American & his grandson held in jail in a “shake-down” in Mexico… no end in sight, despite “INNOCENT” verdict, and U.S. protests
Sunday a.m.. I just received this incredible news from Dianne, a friend in Oak Harbor, WA. Since I know Dianne personally (we’ve had a lengthy friendship), I guarantee you, this story is a true & on-going one! —–Ed
“Ed Chrisman (below) is my sister-in-law’s (Tracy’s) grandfather. Gary Chrisman Jr. is Tracy’s cousin. Gary lives in Yuma, AZ year-round, and Grandpa lives up here north of Seattle for most of the year and only winters in Yuma. They were arrested a week ago Thursday, just south of the border. They are still in jail. They’re both sick after getting dental work, Grandpa’s hearing aids have gone kaput, and they share a cot in a cold room with 50-60 other prisoners. There is only one community shower, with one handle, which sprays cold water only. Everyone in the immediate family has taken leave of absences from work and are going nuts trying to get them out by any means possible. No one can believe their still holding Grandpa, of all people. He’s 88 years old, for heaven’s sake!! He doesn’t belong there. The family’s focused on getting grandpa out first. Senator John McC ain’s office and the US Consulate have been the most help so far, but “our guys” are still sittin in jail. We have contacted various local and network news agencies, trying to put a spotlight on this story. If you can offer any help or advice, it would be most appreciated!!”
This is a synopsis of events that transpired up until Wednesday, January 14th when American citizens Edward Chrisman (born April 10th 1920) and Gary Chrisman Jr. (born July 19th 1968) were arrested and jailed in Mexico.
On Thursday, January 08, 2009, Gary Chrisman (age 40) and his grandfather, Ed Chrisman (age 88) drove into Algodones, Mexico to undergo dental work, where they were arrested by local Mexican authorities for ?intent of pornography?, of all things. The charges are ludicrous, considering that Ed Chrisman is a Senior Citizen and has attended church every Sunday for his entire life. Gary is a guard at a military testing facility. They are both fine upstanding citizens.
To continue, after Gary?s dental work, he and his grandfather drove to a local convenience store where Gary went in to buy a soda. Due to walking difficulties, Ed stayed in the car. Gary had a new camera that he had been using throughout the day to take cultural pictures, and asked a family in the convenience store if he could pay them $25 to take a few pictures. The mother gladly granted permission, accepted his money, and Gary snapped three face-only pictures of the mother?s two girls, ages seventeen and eighteen (one with a baby). More money was requested by the mother of the girls, but Gary declined and left the store. The mother then called the local police . Gary and his grandfather were arrested two blocks away.
During their arrest, the cash from Gary and Ed?s wallets were stolen by the arresting officers and their wallets, passports, and their personal belongings were confiscated. Gary and his grandfather were then transported to a holding cell in the town of C.D. Morales.
During the days they were detained there, they were denied the right to make a phone call, were not fed by the holding institution, and were not provided bathroom facilities. On Saturday, January 10th (after not eating for two days) a local charitable organization brought Gary and his grandfather food, blankets, and an old mattress to sleep on. During this time, Gary asked the man delivering the donated items if he would contact his family in Yuma, Arizona to let them know where he was.
After Gary?s family was contacted, they were advised by a local citizen fro m Mexico to hire a lawyer from Mexicali, Mexico. The suggested lawyer was hired for $300, and the family was told by the lawyer the charges lacked ?evidence of intent?. Based on evidence, the lawyer was confident that Gary and Ed would be released the following morning. They were not.
On Sunday night (January 11th) a citizen from Mexico, acting as a liaison, contacted the family and suggested a cash payment of $2,000 be paid to the prosecuting attorney, and the ?whole problem would go away?.
The family brought the money to Mexico as directed, prior to the court hearing, but the family was unable to reach the liaison. By this time, court proceedings were already underway. A local translator warned the family not to proceed with financial transactions because the court trial had begun. Gary?s father, Gary Chrisman Sr., attended the hearing with his lawyer and a translator, where Gary and Ed were found innocent of all charges (court case # 7-2009). During the hearing, Gary and his grandfather were required to answer several non-relevant questions, including the amount of their annual incomes, and the value Ed’s (grandpa?s) pension.
The judge told Gary Sr. that Gary Jr. and Ed would be released the following day (Tuesday, January 13th) at 12:00 p.m. Gary?s father arrived at the appointed time to take them home, but after waiting over three hours, the authorities told Gary Sr. at 3:20 p.m. that the verdict for Gary and his grandfather had suddenly been changed to ?guilty?.
Gary Sr. then requested court documents and statements from the hearing, but he was only given documents of the charges that were filed, and was denied any further paperwork.
Gary Jr. and his grandfather Ed were then transported in shackles to a jail/prison facility in Mexicali, Mexico where they currently reside.
Gary Sr. requested Gary and Ed?s personal belongings, including Gary?s vehicle. Personnel at the holding facility sent him to the Algodones Police Department, where he was told that Gary and Ed?s belongings could not be obtained because “the releasing official was unavailable”. The Algodones police department is currently holding all of Gary and Ed?s person al belongings including wallets, passports, credit cards, etc. The current location of Gary?s car is unknown.
On Thursday, January 15th, the following events unfolded: the family met with lawyer (Angelica Collazo Zavala) for the second time in Mexicali. No progress had been made by the lawyer as originally agreed. The lawyer requested an additional $1,000 to proceed. She was given $600.00 with an agreement the remaining $400 to be paid on Friday, January 17 th, and proof of further progress could be shown.
· A staff member (Josie Medina) from Congressman Grijalva?s office called to inform the family that the US Consulate was in route to the jail in Mexicali and offered additional phone numbers and websites.
· A representative from the US Consulate called and allowed a brief conversation with Gary and grandpa. The representative informed us she was opening an investigation and asked if she could give our phone number to a representative (Carlos Barrera) that worked for the Dept. of State, and also alongside the US Consulate office. She highly recommended his expertise.
· Received a phone call from Carlos Barrera who recommended getting a different lawyer. He also said he was going to speak with the current lawyer and request access to Gary and grandpa?s file. He was disturbed about the situation with grandpa and put in an immediate request for better and safer living quarters for him. He assured us he would speak to several very experienced lawy ers and refer one to us.
· A meeting was arranged for Friday, January 17th in Mexicali with the lawyer?s assistant (for $100) to take the family to the jail facility in order to obtain a one-month pass for visitation rights.
· The lawyer brought Gary and Ed their first change of clothes (after a week in jail!) that were provided by the family.
· The following Government officials/agencies were emailed of the injustice that is taking place: The Governor of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, and the Mexican foreign ministry.
· Followed up via email with Senator McCain’s office
· Martin Martez informed the family via an inside source that pictures of a girl/girls were now in Gary?s official file. These photos had supposedly been taken under a stadium by Gary and his grandfather at night. Gary and his grandfather were arrested in the afternoon, however, and no such pictures were in Gary?s file during his trial.
· Gary’s father, sister, and brother-in-law met with a lawyer in Mexicali. The lawyer was given $1,000 dollars cash to initiate the first stage of representation.
· A formal meeting was arranged for Thursday, January 15th, to be held in the lawyer’s office in Mexicali.
· A staff member from Senator John McCain’s office called to inform the family that the U.S. Consulate would see and hear statements from Gary and his Grandfather also on Thursday, January 15th.
By Saturday, January 17th, the US consulate’s office had arranged for Ed and Gary Jr. to receive medication for their illnesses. The “foreman” of the prison in Mexicali was also instructed to keep the other prisoners away from the Americans, Ed and Gary. The foreman let it be known that having the US Consulate involved made everyone at the jail very uncomfortable.