Unjust Cruelty Hidden As Dual Criminality – The Anthony Marino Story

By Annmarie Roberts

Edited by Clara A.T. Boggs, JD Editor in Chief

Justice:Denied magazine, Issue 24, page 8

My father is Anthony Joseph Marino. He is an American citizen who is currently being held prisoner in San Jose, Costa Rica in San Sebastian prison for over three years. He has been brought to trial in the last 6 months after being held in what Costa Rica calls “preventive detention” for 2 1/2 years. It is a term that is used very often to describe detaining an individual without formally charging them of any crime. He was brought to trial in March and April of 2002. The trial judges sentenced him to 18 years for a civil crime accusing him of fraud. He is awaiting appeal and has at least two other cases against him that never were investigated by any of his lawyers. These two cases have nothing to do with my father but are being put against my father because of his uncertain position to try to defend himself.

My father is an American businessman who went to Costa Rica to invest in local businesses there. His trip seemed very routine and he would be back in the United States very soon. Very unfortunately the nightmare began shortly thereafter. The start of my father’s incarceration in Costa Rica stems from an unlikely chain of events starting approximately in August of 1999. During this time a group of United States investors had filed claims against my father and his associate, George Polera for fraud. The investors who had been some of my father’s clients in the United States had started an illegal pyramid investment scheme with accounts overseas and had to quickly accuse someone of taking the money to hide what they had been doing wrong. They knew while my father was in Costa Rica they could persuade (with money) influential key Costa Rican government and high-ranking officials to accept charges of fraud against him in Costa Rica even though all of his business transactions were handled out of the United States. They hired a prominent Costa Rican attorney to falsify documents that showed that they had physically come to Costa Rica to file claims against him in the country of Costa Rica.

My father spent some time after they had filed their claims against him vacationing around Costa Rica with some of my family while he awaited finalizing his business matters that had brought him to Costa Rica in the first place. During this time, my father and visiting family were followed around by police guards from the SIP in Costa Rica. These men would show up and when my father would inquire who they were, they often tried to disguise themselves as bodyguards hired by my father’s associates in Costa Rica for his protection or even tour guides.

In July of 1999 the claimant’s case against my father brought him to court. He appeared in court after spending one night in jail and the Pavas Penal Court ordered him to check into court every week until such time as they could investigate the matter. He proceeded to check in as ordered for three weeks. The claimants who filed against him were very unhappy with the fact that he was then free to follow up with his good clients in the States to see who had defrauded them of their money. The claimants knew that their plan to target him as their fall guy would deteriorate soon if they didn’t get my father out of their way. They had him kidnapped by the same group of police guards that followed him around weeks prior. My father was held for over three weeks by the kidnappers who were hired by the attorney who represented the claimants against him. The attorney for the claimants sent threatening letters to my mother in the United States demanding ransom of 6 million dollars then 14 million dollars after we could not meet their demands. Finally when the kidnappers thought a bank had wire-transferred money to their account in Miami, Florida they released my father. He then fled to the Embassy for asylum from the kidnappers but the Embassy would not help him without his testimony against the kidnappers. He tried to explain that he could not testify to the same police force that had been part of the same men hired to kidnap him. He left the Embassy and was arrested as a rebel for missing his court check in times while he was kidnapped. Of course, it was the kidnappers who called the courts when they found out no money was transferred to their accounts and had my father immediately arrested.

The judges allowed phony contracts with my father’s forged signature as evidence but mysteriously all the rest of his paperwork that showed his innocence was missing after being placed in the court files ...

My father has been through six Costa Rican attorneys and not one has been able to fight the control that these claimants have had over the Costa Rican justice system at anytime. In fact, some of my father’s attorneys there have secretly worked with the prosecution for large amounts of money to purposely botch up or slow down my father’s clear evidence of innocence. He was held for the first 2 1/2 years without charges all the while my family back in the United States was receiving letters from the claimants against my father and their attorneys demanding money for his release. The letters explained that my father would be delivered back to the United States when money was sent to them. The letters also said that my father would die in prison if we didn’t meet their demands. They even said that if we went to the Embassy or the State Department that we would get no help. His court appearances were controlled the whole time by the prosecution’s power as they had done to him for the last 2 1/2 years. He was represented in court by Costa Rican attorneys who often spoke little English.

My father does not speak or understand Spanish and was never given a translator at his court hearings which is required by the United Nations. He was brought to trial in April of 2002 and was sentenced for 18 years. The trial was clearly run again by the prosecution paid well by the claimants. The judges allowed phony contracts with my father’s forged signature as evidence but mysteriously all the rest of his paperwork that showed his innocence was missing after being placed in the court files by my father’s attorneys. They even sentenced him under criminal codes even though this is a civil matter. It is not normal that a man get sentenced for 18 years for fraud by any country’s standards.

My father is now 64 years old and in seriously failing health. He has diabetes, high blood pressure with severe hypertension, and an aneurysm that needs immediate attention or he will die. His lungs have been weakened by the damp moldy conditions that the prison has year round in the human wet conditions that Costa Rica’s rain forest atmosphere constantly provide. We have had him in and out of hospitals for the past three years that have extorted thousands of dollars from my family for medical procedures and hospital rooms that my father never used or had preformed on him. We were constantly charged for the meals of the prison guards who stood over him at the hospital while he was chained to the bed and was so weak he could not lift the chains to eat his own meals. They even removed his perfectly good prostate to keep him in the hospital for more money in the year 2000. We have tried to keep up with his bills and medical attention but every time we could not meet the hospitals or the doctors’ demands for money then they would throw him back into prison.

The prison in which my father is housed San Sebastian in San Jose, Costa Rica is way under United Nations standards and has been cited by the United Nations for not meeting human standards many times in the past. The overcrowding has left inmates like my father to be forced to stand for hours and hours of time with nowhere to sit or lay down. My father has poor circulation due to his diabetes and loses the ability in his legs often because he cannot move around enough. If you are lucky you can buy a bed from another inmate for $200-$300 US Dollars. The filth there and the open like disease are immeasurable. The prisoners are not separated by their convictions and are not separated to individual cells. They are grouped together in quads and murderers and rapists are housed with my father. The food that is fed to the prisoners consists of rice with pieces of rancid meat full of salt or sugar to allure the smell and taste. My father being diabetic cannot eat this and we try to have food brought in for him but a lot of the times the meals are too attractive to the guards and my father never receives it and goes without eating. This is really bad on all his body because the medication that we have to pay for ourselves has to be taken with at least 3 to 5 meals a day. The prison system does not provide any necessities to the inmates. My father’s medication has to be purchased by my family and brought to the prison by his attorney. The prison doctors do not maintain his health or regularly check on his health. We have to pay a private doctor money to go to the prison and see him if we want to know if he is okay. We have to pay his attorney money to go in with a cell phone if we want to talk to him. The pay phone in the prison always has a line of prisoners at it and my father cannot wait that long in the lines without feeling ill. Also, to call the United States even with a calling card is very expensive. The prison is not enclosed the windows are not covered. The rains that come in constantly fill the prison with water and it is left there until it evaporates. The prisoners have to stand in this still filthy water or lie in it until it does go away. The area where my father is forced to sleep is directly under a window and he gets poured on by rain all the time. The dampness triggers his weak lungs and they fill up with infection cutting off his ability to breathe often or to lie down at all.

My family is in financial ruins paying the Costa Rican attorneys, doctors, and hospitals thousands of dollars in the past three years to keep my father alive. When we try to get help we get turned down because the people don’t believe my father is innocent or they are afraid to get involved. We continue to try to fight for his life. We regularly make phone calls to our government or to Costa Rica seeking help. All we ask for is for my father who has nine children and 16 grandchildren (one of which he has never met) to be brought back to the United States so we can spend what little time of his life he has left with him. We have all considered relocating ourselves to Costa Rica to help him but we have been threatened by the people controlling his case there that we would be kidnapped or murdered if we try to enter the country to help him. They want money and that is what they think we have. My father cares so much for his children and my mother that he has asked us to stay in the United States for our safety although he is dying.

This whole case that has unjustly incarcerated my father in prison over the last three years should have never been handled in Costa Rica to begin with. It is all United States jurisdiction and has been the whole time. The claimants that have filed against my father in Costa Rica are American citizens and have received their money from the banks overseas but they still have not removed their claims against my father. My family had been trying through all contacts of the United States government; The State Department, The Embassy, The Justice Department, numerous senators, numerous congressman, and even two letters to two presidents and his staff to get my father brought back to the United States. They state that they cannot interfere with foreign countries justice system. There is no real reason they cannot bring him back. They accuse him of being a United States civil fraud criminal as well. There is a warrant for his arrest from the United States. The United States SEC has a judgment against my father that was done so without my father ever having a day in court in the United States to defend himself. USA TODAY even published an article on on January 9, 2001, before my father’s trial, that tarnished his name. This has left a hard blow on our family to prove his innocence here in the United States to human and civil rights organizations for help because they believe that the article and the information that they get from the SEC is true. This is also why we have yet to get a publication or an unbiased news story done about what is happening to my father and our family. The people who we try to get to help us are afraid to go up against the United States officials and are afraid to get involved when there is a poor third world country involved. It’s the fight over Costa Rica’s greed to keep my father for money and the United States unwillingness based on the SEC’s branding of him as a criminal to bring him back.

I pray that no amount of money or pride to any person or government can determine whether someone lives or dies but the time frame for my father’s life is very short. I pray for the strength of our international attorney who has dedicated his personal time at no charge to my family that he gets the aid of the United States government that he has been pleading for over a year. I ask for anyone who reads my story to see that you lose your rights when you’re in a foreign government and it is very hard for you to protect yourself even if you are a United States citizen. I ask for help from anyone who can help me and my family bring our father home. We have all the evidence of correspondence with any of the contacts I have listed. We would very much like to get our story to the public without biased opinions but just to give us to set he truth straight once and for all. Our attorney can vouch for my story and dealings with the Costa Rican and United States Governments.

I pray that no father or family ever has to go through this situation and if anyone who reads this had a similar situation then I pray you get your family back together too.

You can contact Annmarie Roberts by email at: ARoberts@lvcm.com