This next letter of Noah’s is the one that literally took my breath away. I enjoy revisiting the past, but this journey back wasn’t that fun because it was also a time in my life that was supposed to be happy, but instead it was full of anxiety and the unknown of whether or not I was about to say goodbye to my brother for 20 years or life in prison.
If you’re new here you can rewind to catch up on the stories, my brother’s life in prison:
To my Greyson, my Promise to you
A letter from a Prisoner
A letter to a Prisoner, My brother
Q & A at Prison with Noah
Thought Process from an Addict, the Why
Thought Process from an Addict, my Background
And now Noah’s 3rd letter within the series of an addicts thought process, his mindset during his pretrial…
- Turning myself in
- First mindset
I have never been big on regrets, but I will agree there is always room for improvement.
When I look back on my pre-trial period, I wish I would have done a few things differently.
Overall, I think I did pretty good during pre-trial, considering six months before my indictment, I was homeless, living in motels, and smoking crack and meth.
By the time they indicted me, I was sober-ish, living with my daughter’s grandpa (so I could hang with my kid), and working as a lead for American Crystal Sugar. In hindsight it was a drastic improvement and I thought I was “doing good.”
I got picked up with most of my co-conspirators in May of 2012, where I was arraigned on four charges, with potential sentences ranging from two years to life in prison. I met with an attorney who advised me not to speak to anyone because he was going to get me out.
I said, “I’m facing up to life in prison and you’re going to get me out?”
He replied, “Yes. This is pre-trial. I should have you out in three days.”
He was right. Within three days Dacotah (mother of my daughter), and her dad (Lynn) were there to pick me up.
I was originally picked up by the federal officers at work, at the end of my shift, and conveniently I had the next three days off. When I was released, it was about three hours before I would have had to start my next shift again, so I called my boss. I told him I was calling to apologize, but then mentioned, I was out, and if I still had a job, I would be at work on time.
He was, of course, surprised but he must have also been in desperate need for help because he said, I did have a job.
I headed back to work until the call came three weeks later while I was working a shift. The call was from the Grand Forks Herald asking if I had a comment for the story they were releasing. I said, ” I do not.” They then followed by asking if my recent charges had affected my employment. I asked when the story was being released, and they said, “tomorrow,” to which I replied…”call me back tomorrow and find out.”
My daughter’s grandpa, Lynn, woke me up the next morning and said…”your face is on TV and in all the newspapers.”
I looked at my phone and had multiple missed calls from Crystal Sugar; I was fired.
Out of work where my daughter lived, I had no option but to leave Grand Forks. I headed home back to my parents in Roseau.
My mom talked to a couple of friends, and there was some painting I could do, which is what I did for five years in college. While living back at my mom’s, I didn’t have many bills. I had caught up on my child support while working at Crystal Sugar, but money would be needed to stay ahead.
After I finished the first few jobs, news had spread fast around Roseau and many more followed to hire me.
Looking back now, I wish I would have saved some for myself, put some away for Melrose, and gave some to my mom instead of free-loading. Now I know, it’s something I plan to do differently after I am released in 2020 and will live with her. At least I stayed on top my bills and was spending quality time with my daughter. This is what I am most thankful for, the time that was guaranteed where I got to get to know my daughter. Even though she doesn’t remember those memories now, I do — her first step where she left Dacotah’s grasp and waddled over to mine, in Lynn’s living room. The many car rides going back to Roseau when I would go take my weekly UA (urine analysis). It wasn’t all fond memories because I would still plan drug use around my UAs. If my number came up Sunday, I knew it wouldn’t come again for another week. So I would sneak off to Warroad, do a little Meth or cocaine, and be clean by Sunday. Easy. They also didn’t test my urine for alcohol, so drinking was something I did four or five times a week. I was also sleeping with any women I could talk into bed.
I was not a role model for my daughter.
I wasn’t thinking about her as I should have, I was too busy feeling sorry for myself. So I continued to work, drink a six pack on the golf course after work. I spent time with my daughter on the weekends, and when I didn’t have her, I would go party like tomorrow might not come.
As long as I didn’t get caught or fail a UA, I was doing the right thing, in my view.
Looking back now it was a bunch of bullshit.
Of course, I liked to talk about the good choices I made during that time and to say I learned my lesson, or that I didn’t need to go to prison. But the truth is, if I would have gotten a slap on the wrist, I would have been right back at it. More invincible, bigger ego, and right back to where I left off.
Also, I faced with the hardest decision of my life.
Do I cooperate or not?
If I don’t, my time will start at twenty years with a possibility as high as thirty to life in prison. If I cooperate, eight to twelve years was the best case scenario.
When I was doing everything I was doing I knew I could go to prison, but twenty plus years on a first-time offense took my breath away. At that time I was 26 years old, no prior drug offenses, a college graduate, with a good work history, and I sold drugs for less than three years of my life and my life was over.
So I waited for the discovery to come out before I made my decision of what to do.
The discovery had everyone’s cooperation and interviews up to the present and let’s just say it was a pretty thick packet or packets, I should say.
The eye opener was the interviews I read that had a whole different perception of me. When I was high, I thought I was pretty sweet! And when you have the drugs, people tell you what you want to hear. Throughout this discovery period, I found out what people really thought about me.
I was described by many as a “piece of shit.” an…”arrogant asshole.” …and many other colorful words I had no idea people would use to describe me.
Let’s just say, I didn’t have the same perception of the incident described. Perception is reality though.
After reading this, I knew I was completely screwed. If I fight it over with a good lawyer, twenty of my “friends” will get on the stand and, well, I guess tell the truth and get 30 years. Weighing other options, if I take a plea, the best I can hope for is 20 years.
I decided to cooperate. I spent several weeks looking through texts, interviews, and the evidence presented in the discovery to counter mine. What they know and what they didn’t. I figured out who could be saved and did my best to save them and who was totally screwed. And I was totally screwed. Let’s just say; there wasn’t a ton of meat left on the bone. I also thought about people that did me wrong over the years, such as robbed me, and so on.
This was the hardest choice I ever made and I was scared because I knew I was gonna have to do at least ten years minimum in prison after the fact.
When people asked, I told them I was doing it for my daughter, but that was a lie. I was still in the wrong mentality and doing it for myself at that point. By the time I am released, I will have to be ready to put my daughter before myself. I’m not 100% sure I’m there yet, but I’m getting closer day by day and I will be there by release date.
Well, the rest is history, I’ve almost made it all the way to the end without getting in trouble here in prison (which is rare) and now realize my actions only reinforced my beliefs that rules don’t apply to me and I can get away with anything.
Two weeks before my sentencing the prosecutor offered me 12 years, and my attorney told me it was probably the best I would get. I told my attorney I would rather go to sentencing and get 14 then sign for a day over 10 years. A week later my attorney called and said the prosecutor agreed to 10 years. My mom was out of town and I threw a party, to celebrate what I considered a victory, I was still not thinking of all the people that would be crushed by this news.
The day of sentencing is something I will never forget. I was standing in front of the judge saying I am sorry for all the people whose lives I ruined and the judge graciously gave me 120 months in federal prison. Behind me over 20 family members erupted in screams or cries. I’ll never forget that sound and those faces of my family. It was probably the first time I truly felt sorry for the thing I had done.
The judge was also nice enough to give over a month until I self-surrendered, so I could be at my sister’s wedding.
My sister’s wedding came, and it was a blast!
Although I once again got completely wasted, showing little signs of sobriety. To top it off, I tried to leave with my sister’s co-worker. When I yelled out the car window, asking for someone to inform my mom I’ll be downtown at the Hyatt; I hear my mom’s voice. She was telling me I need to come home with her and Melrose, and that I need to be there when my daughter wakes up. I argued with her and begged her, and in the end, my mom pulled me out of the car from under this girls lap. I was embarrassed and pissed at my mom. How could she ruin my fun? I am going to prison in three days.
Looking back now, I am more embarrassed for a different reason, and once again I was so selfish. But guess what?
I wasn’t done yet.
I still had one more trick up my sleeve.
The night before my trip to prison in Michigan, my mom let me have one last night of freedom.
I’m not gonna get carried away with details and glorify behavior I would once gladly do but my last night involved ecstasy, cocaine, unprotected sex with a stranger, and I didn’t taxi back to Auntie Anne’s like I promised I would. Instead, I made my mom and aunt stress all night about why I’m not home yet when they chose to drive me over 13 hours to check me into a federal prison. They came to pick me up the next day at 6:00 a.m. at the same hotel they dropped me off at the night before. When they picked me up, I didn’t even apologize, because I thought the world should cater to me. I got in the car, broke down crying, and passed out.
I still remember pulling up to those prison walls back in 2013, with fences around and guard towers, wondering…what in the hell did I just get myself into?
From the inside