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Gary Cates


Life in Prison, Drug Conspiracy

My story is not unique. In fact, it's rather common now-a-days. I bought a small amount of drugs from a DEA agent/informant and sold an even smaller quantity to another DEA agent/informant. I refused to cooperate to the fullest extent, and relieved a virtual life sentence in a federal prison.

I am a 52-year-old American Indian from Southeastern Idaho. Three years ago, I was living with my now ex-wife and two children in a small town in Iowa. My son, now 13 years old, and I were in the starting our own business - an antique and classic automobile and motorcycle restoration company. Nothing would stand in our way - or so we thought.

Our home was paid for and our autos and boat. All paid for and I was not dealing drugs at that time. We were about to embark on the American Dream of our own business. My wife and I both worked long hours, a lot of overtime so that we could realize our future goals. We still made time for our children and for each other. We worked long and hard to pay off our debts and after eighteen years, we saw our dreams coming true.

I never considered that I was a pillar in the community, but I was active in my son's boy scout troop and my wife was a part-time volunteer in our local nursing home. We also participated in other neighborhood and community activities. We were always there to help anyone in our community with shoveling snow, mowing a lawn, fixing a car, or farm equipment.

I served in the US Army for four years in 1964-1968 during the Vietnam War.

I consider myself mild-mannered and even tempered. I don't even smoke cigarettes, an occasional alcoholic drink and some cannabis now and then. My wife and I were both well educated - she an electronics engineer with a major electronics firm. I have two college degrees. We waited to have children until we were sure we would be able to provide for them and their college education.

My kids now live with their grandparents. After my arrest - my wife fell apart. I am able to make a fifteen minute phone call to them once a month. I tell them that I love them and not to give up on me. They follow my case as I fight this seemingly losing battle in the courts and they do their best to hide their disappointment when we have been "shot down again" as my appeals are denied.

My daughter, Whitney is 12 and has immersed herself in school, community activities and going to church with Grandma. My son, Walker will be 14 soon and he broods. Walker writes me letters - they are long and filled with loneliness and hate. Hate for the school where he was once an above average student. Hate for his mother and her boyfriend and hate for the police.

I write them both faithfully as long as I have stamps. Their grandmother makes sure that they get my letters and I'm grateful for that. I try to keep their faith alive and encourage them to hold on to each other. I won't lie to them or make false promises.

I have tried to put the blame on me and shoulder the responsibility by telling the kids that it is all my fault, but they don't buy it. They know that I wasn't a drug dealer and so does the government.

Here at the prison I earn $5.25 a month working as a law clerk in the law library. I refuse to work in the UNICOR cable factory and participate in make weapons or parts that will be used by the military to kill innocent people. I also teach legal research classes to inmates and work night and day helping others litigate their cases. I don't charge a cent for this work - my conscience won't allow it.

As a result of my arrest and conviction, I have lost everything I have ever owned. They even took the money my kids had in their piggy banks in their bedrooms.

The only success story here is that the government has succeeded in destroying another American family. One more notch in "Peter Prosecutor's Pistol." One more victory for the DEA Hometeam. Four lives have been ruined.

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