April 13, 2010 – By Guest Blogger Frank Firek, Jr.

04/14/2010

I have 2 items of good news to report today!!  And, I must say, it is so nice to finally be able to report anything positive here!

ITEM #1: I visited my Dad on Monday with my wife Amy and our 7-month-old Ashton.  (Our 5-year-old Frankie hasn’t seen my dad, his grandfather, in the past 2 months, as we want him to preserve his positive memories of his grandfather.)  During this visit, my dad was the most alert I have seen him in about a month.  Usually when I go there, he just lies there and doesn’t get up or respond – and, if you can get him to sit, it is only for a minute until he tries to lie down again.  But on Monday, he was “awake”.  He actually opened his eyes some of the time, we went for a couple walks (more like shuffles) in the home, and when we put on some Motown music, he danced.  Now, his dancing is not nearly as energetic or entertaining as it was 2 months ago, but it was dancing none-the-less.  We then put him in a wheelchair and took him for a short walk outside.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t “awake” enough to see Ashton.  We put Ashton in front of him several times and told him his grandson was there, but his eyes never locked onto Ashton.

ITEM #2: Today was the sentencing of the 2 young men who robbed my parents back in December.  [Click these links to WATCH or READ original news coverage of the story]  They had stolen money and jewelry from my parents’ hidden safe while they were employed as in-home healthcare workers to care for my dad.

We were told to be at the courthouse today at 9am, which we were.  We waited there until our attorney showed up – our normal attorney was not available so she sent a replacement.  (I was a little nervous about someone coming on board so late in the game, but he proved to be more than capable.)  Once our case was finally in front of the judge (around 11am), our attorney started off by stating he did not agree with the sentencing guidelines on the court documents.  At one point our attorney had to look up some information in a thick reference book to answer the judge’s question and the judge reprimanded him for not being prepared (my heart sank a little at that time).  However, he convinced the judge that he was right and the judge changed the minimum sentencing quidelines from 0-9 months to 12-24 months (I was then feeling pretty good about him again).

Once they worked out the legal issues, my family was given a chance to speak in the courtroom before the judge made his sentencing decision.  The judge forewarned us that what we said would not effect his decision.  My mom went first – she was very emotional and tearful and told how her life was drastically altered once she could no longer rely on in-home help… how this led to us having to prematurely put my dad into a nursing home… how this led to him becoming angry and violent… which led his hospitalization in a Psychiatric Ward… which ultimately “turned him into a zombie” after all the radical medications they gave him.  She also talked about the betrayal she felt after welcoming these two men into her house–men who claim they love our family, and she spoke of the sentimental value of several pieces of the jewelry, including which pieces had been left in their Will to Todd, Joleen and me.  My mom did an excellent job of presenting the catastrophic emotional distress and disruption this initial event caused in her life and in my dad’s.

Next my Uncle Al Firek, my dad’s baby brother, addressed the court.  He talked about my dad’s loving character and lifetime achievements: serving in the U.S. Air Force, coaching his kids’ sports teams and being their Cub Scout Master, being an entrepreneur who had hundreds of employees over his career, giving back to the community and how he and my mom started The Firek Vision Council to teach inner-city Detroit 2nd and 3rd graders how to read.  He also talked about the disruption and pain that this theft had on the entire family.

Both Al and my Mom clearly stated that they did not want to ruin these 2 young men’s lives and that they hoped they would someday contribute to society.  But they also stated that because this was not their first run-in with the law that we would like them to receive at least 2 years in prison so that they would finally learn a lesson.

I was scheduled to speak next but then passed after hearing how powerful Mom and Uncle Al’s speeches were.  My sister Joleen then spoke on behalf of us children and she also did a great job, adding a very powerful point: that if the 2 defendants had simply approached my parents about their financial difficulties they probably would have “received 100-fold more” than what they were able to get by stealing and pawning off my parents’ jewelery.

Then the defendants had a chance to speak and they both appologized to our family for what they did, stating that they did love our family and they had been in bad spot and made a terrible choice.  They also both expressed an interest in joining the service when they were done with this, if they could still join the service.  This military interest is something they have expressed since the day we met them.

With barely a dry eye left in the courtroom, the judge and the attorneys from both sides left to deliberate.  When they came back, our attorney informed us that both young men would be getting a flat sentence of 2 years prison time with no chance of parole in a prison for 17-25 year olds who have sentences no longer than 3-years and that this prision offered a lot of rehabilitative classes and opportunities for the inmates to better themselves.  He also informed us that this sentence would be “under HYTA“, which means that if they behave themselves and successfully complete their sentence then they will not have a criminal record.

We were extremely happy with this result!!  This means that they get the 2 year punishment we asked for with no chance of parole (with 92 days of credit for time already served), and also that they will not have their lives ruined with a criminal record after that.  So they WILL be able to join the service, get a job, etc.  And hopefully they will have learned their lesson and will make a positive contribution to society in the future.  I am positive that my Dad would be very happy about that!  Even in his current deteriorated mental state, he is STILL helping people and making a difference for them!

One of the defense attorneys also approached us prior to the judge officially announcing the sentence to tell us that the men were getting 2 years.  He also mentioned that he has heard a lot of plaintiffs speak before the judge during his career and that we did one of the best jobs he has ever seen.  He said that our speeches caused the judge to change his mind and go from a 1-year to a 2-year sentence!

Once sentencing was over, my mom approached the mothers of the 2 men.  The mothers told my mom how sorry they were for us, and my mom told them how sorry she was that they were having to go through this with their sons.  It was pretty emotional and pretty cool to see.

We are all VERY pleased with the process and the results.  And now, of course, there is one less thing to worry about!

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2 Responses to “April 13, 2010 – By Guest Blogger Frank Firek, Jr.”

  1. Amanda Davis said

    Dear Fireks,
    I am so glad that the outcome of the trial was so positive, for everyone involved. You are all in my thoughts and prayers daily!

    Love you!
    ~Amanda

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