The Christmas Gift
The other day I am sitting watching old cowboy movies when my phone rings. I love horses and the old western movies. As I have for almost 24 years I answer the damn thing and it is my old friend, Susan Wiesner, lawyer extraordinaire. Susan is one of those people that will call for dinner or if there is a situation that might need my attention. Well, all I can say is that Gunsmoke will be on hold for a few days, I am packing. It is December 20th, 2016. Note: I am told it is going to be cold where I am going, I had no idea what that exactly meant. Michigan, way up towards the Great Lakes Michigan and Canada.
There is a car waiting for me at my ranch and I am off to LAX it is 4:30 in the morning, December 21st, 2016. I have used the same car service for 10 years, always on time and always an appropriate vehicle, these guys know what I drive. I am sipping coffee as we head to LAX. The issue at hand is that a “mother” of a 3 year old boy has decided to take Ms. Wiesner’s client’s son (3 year old) to a far away place away from Dad. The abductor’s plan is to build a new life with a new victim and allow the “new” victim to become the father of the abducted child! Note: bottom line is this, the mother of the child, this couple have never been married. Thought it was OK to snatch the child after living with the dad’s family for almost 18 months? This young lady, “mom,” would tell me that a lawyer told her that “because she was not married, it was ok to take the kid and leave California, and then mail a letter to dad telling him that she would be in touch”…I smiled and thought “bullshit”.
This is a place in America that I have never visited before, Houghton, Michigan. When I say off the beaten path, it is, in a marvelous way. As I will be told by one of the local police officers “no one ends up here by accident.” I fly from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and then to Chicago, and then to Green Bay, all first class. Upon my arrival in Green Bay, I am shown orders signed by the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court, The Honorable Thomas Trent Lewis. Bottom line, the kid is to be returned to Los Angeles and now. For some odd reason I am humming and whistling Frank Loesser’s 1944 hit Baby It’s Cold Outside.
I am now standing with the child’s father and his “Bubbe,” aka grandmother. The family had tried in vain to get “mom” to not do this and to return the baby back to Los Angeles. The evidence was damning, those darn e-mails that people love sending to each other almost like “pokes in the eyes” for one parent or the other. In this case dad was being left in the rear view mirror and it was looking real bad! That is till Susan Wiesner and John J. Nazarian danced into the picture wearing snow shoes, for this assignment, well at least I am wearing them. The judges orders are as strong as it gets. I review the evidence and I am shocked that a women, a mother, an evil conniving female, would try and pull this off with the sole intent to screw dad and devastate an entire family. (just before the Christmas holidays) This is my opinion, and as you notice, I am not using the name of any of the folks involved in this “take the kid and run.” (On any story I do, I never ever name kids in any of our stories.) We head to our 2017 full size Chevy SUV, we are going to need it. That is another story, for another time. And I drive through snow, sleet and rain for the “Gift.”
Well, we are now looking at a 3.50 hour drive that would turn into almost 6 hours. The snow, the rain, the icy roads and then we arrive in Houghton, Michigan, December 22nd, 2016 around 2:30 A.M. Trump country, it is for sure. It is America at its best, snowy and cold, the Christmas spirit is alive and well here. The people here in Houghton even say “Merry Christmas” and Christmas trees are everywhere, decorated for the season. Unlike Los Angeles, too many are concerned about upsetting someone or some group by having a Christmas tree in a public building! Well, we settle in for the evening. I am beyond exhausted, I have been traveling for almost 24 hours, cars, planes and back to a car.
Upon our initial arrival in town we drive by the “house” that mom is staying with her fiancé. A local guy, if you will. The house looks “quiet/dark.” There is no tire tracks or shoe prints in the snow and one car is parked close to the street but still in the driveway plowed in with snow. There is no decorations and, as I said, it looks dark. We drive to the hotel we are staying and are welcomed and made comfortable by the staff person on duty.
We are up and ready around 9:30 A.M., 12.22.16, and drive a short distance to the Houghton Police Department. Upon our arrival the place is busy, a “dead body” call has come in and the officers are responding. I am wondering if this an omen? So we wait. It is not long before the Chief of Police walks in and we introduce ourselves. Chief of Police John P. Donnelly could not be more friendly and interested in the papers and listens to us. The chief takes them and looks them over and directs us to the courthouse. He makes a few phone calls for us and off we go to the building on the hill with the Old Glory flying from the top of a pointed roof. This building too would be walking distance if not for the snow and drifts.
This is small town America and the feel is great. Crisp cold winter air and people who like their jobs and want to help. Next stop, George Newman, mediator, 12th Circuit Court. We are taken right into his office and he tells us the whole place is closing for Christmas in a few hours. There are 3 judges in town and 2 are gone and the 3rd is warming his car, so to speak.
The people at the police department smile at us, the people at the courthouse smile and ask if they can help us this is incredible, I know I am not in Los Angeles! Helpful and smiling? For sure!
No worries. George gets the paperwork going to make the California court orders acceptable for Michigan. The city prosecutor is contacted and made aware of the situation and we go to Tracy L. Beauchamp, Probate Register/ Family Court Administrator. Again, we are treated with respect and understanding. For them, just doing their jobs. All of these people are moving the process along and after less than an hour we are on our way back to the police. Folks, when I tell you all of these people could have just told us to come back another day as it was a holiday and they were closing. The court staff knew we were from out of town and did all they could, we paid all the fees and we were in compliance with Michigan laws. I need to say again, for the three of us, this was a gift.
Upon returning to the police department, we are met at the window by Lt. Roberts. Lt. Roberts is a no nonsense officer of the law. He tells us that he needs to review all of these papers and to contact the prosecutor and get a complete understanding on what needs to be done. We talk to the young lady who works the front desk and the time flies by. The Lt. tells me that he thinks it would be smart to bring in Children’s Services, as this has potential to be traumatizing for the child and he is not going to let that happen. We are all agreeing with this as this is a serious concern for us also, and within minutes two Children’s Services Workers are on the scene, James Heinonen and Steve Pelli. These guys are all business, and with Lt. Roberts they all go to the address that we know is the home of the “mom” and our clients son. They return and tell us that they checked the house and the “mom” and child are not there.
We all take a break so that the Houghton Police Department and Children’s Services could figure out the next steps to locate and to get “mom” to bring the little boy to the police department so that Judge Thomas Trent Lewis’s orders would be enforced clear across the country. This is not easy folks, I have been doing this for 24 years and it is a process, a process with ups and downs, and in the end, you hope for the best, a gift if you will.
Patience, and listening to the authorities and not getting frustrated, things often work out. Just remember, it is the United States, but judicial orders from one jurisdiction sometimes are not taken very serious by other states and or jurisdictions. Amazing but true. Recently, I had a court order from a judge at the Stanley Mosk that two L.A. County Deputies refused to enforce. They actually made the situation worse. The lawyers had to go back and tell judge the orders were not taken seriously. So, when you travel around the country as much as I do, I take the advice and directions from those in charge very serious.
Finally the chief makes several phone calls and so does the Lt. and things are happening. Mom and the child are headed back to Houghton. They are several hours away and will meet us at the police department the next day. The next morning we return to the police department and the exchange is made and the little boy never stops laughing. All goes well. Mom has complied with the court orders and hands the child over to “bubbe.” It was actually a little more complicated then that. However, had it not been for the guidance of the Houghton police department, this would have been a disaster of confrontation, finger pointing and loud talking. I cannot thank all of these people enough. It was a gift that this family could only have wished for. There son and grandchild is going home for Christmas!
Well, it was going to be a long drive long to Green Bay, and so off we left for the return trip to the land of the rich and silly, Los Angeles, California. You know, I did not see any Mercedes while on this trip, nor did I see any Rolls or Bentleys, hell no. I was in the land were the values that people live by are different. Not saying these cars don’t exist in this part of Michigan, I am sure they do. It is just a feeling you get when you go to the store, to a restaurant, or speak with the local cops, do you understand? It is a life style that some get to enjoy and live. This, too, is a gift.
This is the America I grew up in as a kid outside Boston. Small towns with families who work hard and family values are important. People respect the police and work together, it was refreshing and made me think how nice it would be to live in this part of America. And then it hit me, Oye did it hit me. Would people here pay me $500.00 an hour in this wonderful land, and what do I sacrifice for my willing to compromise? In the end it was all a gift, the gift of me having a reality check during the Christmas season and a child being returned to his loving family.
Note: It is not my intention to say that the boys mother does not love him, of course she does. However, it was her hateful and deceitful behavior that put all of this activity into motion. Had she made the right decision and showed compassion and just a little gratitude and not tried to screw over the father of the child she will share for eternity, perhaps the Christmas Season could have been shared by all. Shared in a home that had been safe and giving to her and the child. However, this is another example of “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.” Oh before I forget, this child has only one dad, and that was the one that chased her across the United States. A court date in the New Year will make everything even clearer for all involved. Welcome back to California!
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By John Nazarian
©Straight Talk with John J. Nazarian, Private Investigator
December 28, 2016
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