FIRST STEP

August 29, 2019

Thursday, Day 268

Dear Friend:

Today I filed my reply to Judge Arcara in response to the government’s response to my request for the trial judge to vacate (set aside) my sentence or resentence me. Next week I will have served nine months in federal prison.

I owe much to your prayers and the prayers of so many others that God has surrounded me with, and his angels for protecting and helping me find favor with other inmates and even some of the guards. Being here away from my wife, children, and grandchildren is not easy, but through God’s grace and mercy, He has not only helped me to endure but to encourage others here to also endure the trials they are going through. I praise God for the tangible difference God has enabled me to have in the life of other inmates and from what I hear from people, even those on the outside.

The fact that I filed this brief to begin with is due to the persistent nagging of my fellow prisoner, “J.” He kept telling me that I have nothing to lose. I really didn’t know how to go about it, and asked for help from my Buffalo trial counsel. He said there were no grounds to file for a resentencing. But “J” persisted that I do so anyway, for which I’m grateful. I sat down one evening after that in my cell, at a loss, and prayed. If I were to do this, God Himself would need to reveal to me how to go about it and on what grounds. Only right then did God remind me of the fact that Bill Olson, an attorney friend who filed several amicus briefs on my behalf, uncovered the applicable statutory defense of abuse in the law under which I was convicted.

It suddenly hit me that the clear evidence of the abuse that young Isabella endured was something I had insisted to my attorneys must be brought out at my trial, for what juror wouldn’t have compassion on a five year old child and her mother whether or not the allegations could be proved? Yet my attorneys adamantly insisted that using the alleged abuse in my defense would establish a motive and would be a grave mistake. This, I suddenly realized that night in answer to my prayers, was significant grounds to have my sentence looked at once again by the trial judge!

The government’s response to my request to Judge Arcara I received on August 12, which I had no idea was coming, seemed like a lot of double-speak. They said Judge Arcara needs to find out if indeed my attorneys knew of this affirmative defense, and merely chose not to reveal it to me, or if they had indeed revealed it, which I stated already, they had not. They also said that the attorneys had in their possession the “evidence” of the abuse. But they had in fact showed none of it to me.

Furthermore, the U.S. Attorney told Judge Arcara, the evidence could not be proven, nor could my motives.

However, court procedure says that such alleged evidence need not be proven so long as there is a reasonable basis for me to believe it.

So today in my reply, I told Judge Arcara this, and that there indeed is no other explanation for providing my assistance to Lisa Miller.

Hence, both justice and reason demand the relief I, the petitioner, am seeking. I reiterated that whether or not my attorneys knew of the affirmative defense for the suspicion of abuse, they did not inform me of the statute. The government in their arguments seemingly aided me in my position.

So please keep praying that Judge Arcara will indeed send me home immediately. Pray also that this will positively impact the civil suit, causing it to be withdrawn, and that the indictment against Lisa Miller be dropped.

Today I once again thanked “J” for continuing to persist I file that motion. He said, “Well, it’s you I need to thank, because without you I would have never gotten my life straightened out.” “J” is determined to follow the Lord for the rest of his life, praise the Lord!

Once again, thank you for your prayerful concern and support, and for so many of you who have helped us financially to affect the legal fees which continue to mount. I’m also very grateful to Janet Stasulli for providing this opportunity for me to communicate with so many of you at one time and everything she does. I thank God for you all, every day!

In Christ’s Service,

Philip Zodhiates

SPLC

July 25, 2019

Thursday, Day 233

I would like to address this letter today to Sarah Star, Frank Langrock, Beth Jacob, Diego Soto, J. Tyler Clemons, and the other attorneys and legal aids from Southern Poverty Law Center. There is a host of you, I understand, and I know that you must be reading this website in order to glean something you can use in court against me when and if the civil suit ever goes to trial.

And, if perhaps Janet Jenkins is reading this, it is for you, as well.

I want you to know that I do not hate you. In fact, I love you, in the name of Jesus Christ. He in fact tells His followers to love their enemies, do good to those who hate them, bless those who curse them, and pray for those who spitefully use them and persecute them. And so, I have been praying for you in this same way for years. I still also pray for the prosecutor and Judge Arcara in this same manner. If you have been reading this journal, you have learned my heart.

I want you to know that I forgive you, and I wish you no harm. The blessings I pray for you are that you will find peace in your heart, peace in fact with God Almighty. I myself have found this peace, knowing that I no longer have to bear any guilt or shame or penalty for sinful past.

You see, when God sent His only Son into the world as God incarnate, living a perfect life, unstained by sin – something that cannot be said of any of us – He was accused and falsely condemned on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin – and yours! The guilt of our sin and shortcomings become more than we can bear, affecting our relationships and stripping us of our happiness. But God provided a way for us to have peace with Him, if we confess our sin, ask Him to forgive us through His blood shed for us, and then embrace Him as our Lord and Savior. It is as simple as that! The peace and happiness you will find is unparalleled to any satisfaction you have previously encountered.

This is how I pray for you each and every day — that you will indeed be blessed in this way, and find the joy that you have been missing in your life; that the emptiness you have will be filled to overflowing. I do not proclaim curses on you, but blessings immeasurable! The peace you find will make everything I have been through worth it to me. That’s how much I love you!

Philip Zodhiates

Urgent Need

UPDATE:  WE REACHED 67% OF OUR GOAL. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO DONATED!  WE WILL KEEP YOU POSTED.

**********

On another note, Philip has reapplied for early release under FIRST STEP. Please pray for all involved in this process.  His paperwork was sent to the wrong address by the government last time.

***********

WANT TO HELP PHILIP ZODHIATES REDUCE HIS OUTSTANDING ATTORNEYS’ FEES BY $81,000?

IF WE CAN PAY $42,000 BY SEPTEMBER 1ST, THE ATTORNEYS WILL CUT $39,000 OFF THE REMAINING AMOUNT OWED!

If you have ever thought about donating to Philip’s attorneys’ fees, now is the time to maximize your donation!

CLICK HERE TO DONATE: https://419fund.com/projects/philip-zodhiates/

Short version: Philip is in prison for giving a ride to Lisa and Isabella Miller from Lynchburg, Virginia to Buffalo, New York!

Lisa was in a lesbian relationship, got a civil union in Vermont, had Isabella in Virginia, got gloriously saved, dissolved the civil union. Janet Jenkins filed in Vermont for parental rights and visitation. Judge granted both, although a Virginia judge had declared Lisa Isabella’s only mother.

Lisa allowed the visitation for a while, but discovered Isabella was being sexually abused. After years in the court system (from 2004 – 2016), Lisa had no choice but to flee the country to save her daughter from the abuse by Janet Jenkins and the court system.

The sexual abuse was never allowed to be presented in court; thus, Philip was convicted of Aiding International Parental Kidnapping. Mind you, Lisa had full custody of her daughter and their passports, and she was under NO travel restrictions.

NO CRIME WAS COMMITTED!

We are a 501(c)(3) and your donations are tax deductible.

Janet Stasulli

Co-Founder and President, 419 Fund

“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:19

“You are here for me!”

July 17, 2019

Wednesday, Day 225

Today is my 64th birthday and I’m not in the least bit discouraged or depressed. The Lord God Almighty has provided me with the best birthday gift imaginable.

I began my day, as usual, awakening between 7 and 7:30 am, walking downstairs to fill my “whirley” with hot water for my morning instant coffee, and then went to send Kathie my ritual good morning email. I had six emails by 7:30 this morning – two emails from Kathie telling me happy birthday, and an email from my sister Lois, my daughter Victoria, and one from Janet Stasulli of the 419 Fund, all telling me happy birthday. But these emails are not what I’m referring to. “E” got on the terminal next to mine and said good morning, and that he’s trying to “figure out” his girlfriend. I asked him, “What do you mean?” He accepted Christ not long after I arrived, and has been faithful never to miss a Bible study or prayer ever since. I’ve seen a remarkable change in him, thinking back on it.

“E” replied to me, “She’s become all ‘Christian-y.’ I talk to her on the phone, and she’s different. She doesn’t curse anymore. I’ve changed, and she’s changed. I’ve said I don’t want to be unequally yoked, and so she’s changed. Maybe my daughter will change too. It’s a really good thing.”

These few words made my heart leap for joy. Because I am beginning to see the multiplying effect I’m praying will happen through the lives of these men I have befriended. Who knows what God might do!

I got back to my cell, rejoicing in the Lord, and picked up “The Daily Bread” devotional, which I get from the chapel. Today’s Scripture was from II Corinthians 2:1-17, “But thanks to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and MANIFESTS THROUGH US THE SWEET AROMA OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM IN EVERY PLACE. FOR WE ARE A FRAGRANCE OF CHRIST TO GOD AMONG THOSE WHO ARE BEING SAVED AND AMONG THOSE WHO ARE PERISHING; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the Word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak Christ in the sight of God.”

This has been my prayer since I arrived in prison: that others would want what I have – the peace that surpasses all comprehension (Philippians 4:7).

The Holy Spirit then instantly reminded me of two other encounters I had yesterday, where God was subtly trying to tell me my time here at FCI Ashland is not for naught. The first was around 1:00 pm when I was walking the track in the rec yard with “Texas,” who’s been “dumping” on me about his significant anger problem and being constantly bothered by the numerous demons flying around this place. He’s angry because he says he doesn’t deserve to be in prison, nor do I, and that we are both here because of political vendettas. I always just listen to him but tell him when one gives his life to Christ, He will remove the anger and make him a new person. At one point he said, “You never get angry about anything, do you? Not even about having to be in this place?” I said, no, I know God has me here for a purpose, and I need to make the most of it. I used to have an anger problem when I was a young boy but realized when I became a teen that my anger was always getting me in trouble, and it was something I could not control. So, I told God it was something I couldn’t deal with and asked Him to take it away. And He did! This morning, “Texas” told me that he indeed asked Christ into his heart. He’s been telling me for weeks that God put us both here in this prison for him, so he can get his life right with God and turn it around.

Then I also remembered what one of the Christian brothers who is living in “C’s” unit told me at supper yesterday when I asked if “C” found out when he is leaving for the camp in Indiana. He told me it won’t be until August, but then he told me, “You know since ‘C’ moved back to R unit, I’ve seen such a big change in him spiritually!” “C” is another who has told me over and over again that God allowed me to come to prison so I could meet him and be friends with him for the rest of his life. The fact that this brother would tell me how changed “C” is now thrills my soul!

My current cellmate, “JB,” also just told me this week that God keeps bringing people in his path here in this prison he can learn from. He found out today he is leaving soon for a camp. I had prayed over him for that!

Today my class was canceled, so I went outside to do my 2 ½ mile fast-paced walk and ended up walking about 3 ½ miles with “J,” my former cellmate. He, too, reminded me today that God brought me here to this prison just for him! I said that’s what “Texas” keeps telling me, too. But he retorted, “Yeah, but I told you that first!” “J” is even fasting now two days a week!

So, I praise God today that despite the fact I sometimes get discouraged, apparently the sweet aroma of the Lord is manifesting itself through me to others around me and is even beginning to spread to others outside these prison fences. To that, I just praise and rejoice in the Lord. God has given me the greatest gift I could ever imagine – His sweet aroma manifesting itself through me!

To top it off, “C” made me a delicious cheesecake in celebration after chow tonight, and “J” gave me a leather cover he had made for my radio in hobby craft. They and a handful of other men, including “E,” sang happy birthday and we enjoyed the cake and fellowship. I had two pieces!

In His service,

Philip

 

Could this nightmare finally be over?

June 30, 2019

Sunday, Day 208

Dear Friend,

“Therefore, I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you” – Jesus, in Mark 11:24.

After visiting with Kathie, William and Josiah today, they encouraged me to write you to pray with me earnestly for my immediate release come August.

Earlier in June, as a result of the recently enacted First Step Act, I sent a motion to my sentencing judge pro se to request him to vacate or re-sentence me based on two reasons.

First, there was an “affirmative defense” included in the law under which I was prosecuted which allowed for a parent to remove a child when there was an incidence of abuse. This means I should never have been convicted based on the merits of the law.

Secondly, affidavits verifying evidence of such abuse had come into my hands within several months of coming to prison, which I have subsequently forwarded to Judge Arcara.

This past week, Judge Arcara requested a response to my motion to vacate or re-sentence based on my motion to the U.S. government. The prosecution has until August 3 to respond.

Keep in mind that the alleged abuse of Isabella Miller was never brought out in my nearly two-week trial. The jury only heard it alluded to in passing perhaps one time, but it would have been easily missed. Many of the hundreds of people who wrote Judge Arcara prior to my sentencing alluded to it, however, as did I at the day of my sentencing. This judge, from what I was told, has never allowed anyone convicted in his courtroom, in approximately 30 years, to go free on bail pending appeal. The probation officer was asking for an eight-year prison sentence and a $50,000 fine.

But on the day of the sentencing, it was very evident God had moved on his heart. My sentence was three years (the minimum), and the fine a mere $200. He several times mentioned the hundreds of letters and the fact that he had read many, if not most of them, twice. Then, on the next day, he allowed Timo Miller, my co-defendant who had already served eight months in prison, to go free at his sentencing, rather than making him serve more time. He then explained to Buffalo News in an interview something to the effect that we were good people who got caught up in something we shouldn’t have.

In light of my motion, and these two issues I’ve brought to his attention, please pray with our family diligently that God will indeed speak to his heart once again, and send me home in August. I will be in my eighth month of incarceration.

Pray that he will recognize the injustice of my case, which would have never happened had it not been for the political nature of it. I am asking God to speak to his heart and that he will heed God’s nudge to say, enough is enough.

I do not regret this opportunity to spend these months in prison. I believe God has used it in my life and others. Has it been easy? No. Was it as bad as I expected? No. Am I glad for the experience? Yes. Did I learn a lot from the experience? Yes. Would I have chosen to go through it in hindsight? Ask me in a year or two or three. Has God used it to His glory? I believe so, particularly if it encourages others to stand firm for Christ and not cower in the face of persecution.

Please pray with me and believe in faith, that God will once again touch the heart of Judge Arcara, and not just vacate my sentence, but also dismiss the criminal charges against Lisa Miller, who certainly does not deserve to be a fugitive.

Thank you so much for your many prayers and support up until this point. God has been moving. Two weeks ago, a judge in the western district of Virginia threw out the lawsuit against us filed by Janet Jenkins. Judge Arcara’s favorable ruling at this time would definitely assist in aiding us in winning the civil lawsuit filed against us by Janet Jenkins in Vermont.

I know that my God is mightier than all the lawyers of the Southern Poverty Law Center combined. In Him alone there is victory!

Please pray with us diligently over the course of the next month for Judge Arcara to allow me to go home in August.

In His Service,

Philip

P.S. Many more pages of my daily journal have been posted at http://www.romanseight28.com.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PHILIP!

Today is Philip’s 64th Birthday! And, it is Day 224 in prison.

He has 872 more days to serve his prison sentence.

In 284 days, Isabella will be 18 years old. Wouldn’t that make all this a mute point?

You would think with all the underage sexual abuse going on in this country, that the courts would have stopped all proceedings against Lisa and would have protected Isabella from the abuse she had been suffering at the hands of the “other mother.” But NO!

Lisa, Philip, Ken Miller and Timo Miller did what they had to do to protect a little girl from a runaway court system.

Continue to pray for Philip and Kathie as they endure this injustice.

You can donate here: https://419fund.com/projects/philip-zodhiates/

Prayers Needed!

After 217 days in prison, Phillip is very ready to go home.

The judge in Philip’s case, Judge Arcara, may either vacate his sentence or reduce it. The judge has given the government until August 3 to respond.

If Judge Arcara denies the request, Philip has a request for clemency ready to file with the D.O.J., but it cannot be filed while anything is pending in the courts.

The prayer request: JUDGE ARCARA WILL VACATE (OR AT LEAST REDUCE) PHILIP’S SENTENCE!

Please pray now and spread the word for others to join in this prayer request.

ONLY JESUS!

Day 106

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 –

One thing I’ve grown to understand is that our present prison system is highly inadequate when it comes to prisoner reform. Statistics prove my point, as a 2005 study by the federal Bureau of Statistics showed 76% percent of inmates are re-arrested within five years of release. This confirms my own observations from discussion with other inmates. The vast majority I meet seem to be repeat offenders. So what’s the answer?

Admittedly, there are some good programs within our prisons primarily providing a high school education and trade vocation training, as well as drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

However, another of my observations, backed by statistics, is the fact that the recidivism rate will never truly be reversed unless criminals have a change of heart. Yet by-and-large, that’s simply not happening. Reformation of the heart is definitely not something evidently being promoted successfully. Prison life seems to foster the opposite, at least according to my brief time behind bars. There may be many reasons for this I will not go into.

Yet I also understand that only Jesus Christ can truly change a heart – whether it is in prison or outside of prison. Those who have come to know the Lord in prison truly have been transformed of the heart. According to a May 2017 World Magazine article, independent studies have shown the percentage of inmates who have graduated from a Prison Fellowship program and have been re-arrested within a few years was as low as 14%. I know of no Prison Fellowship program in Ashland FCI, but I do know the men who have gone through significant Bible correspondence courses and it does seem to have an impact.

So what’s the solution? I have thought a lot about this and brought this question to the Lord. I am the type of person who likes to find a solution to what seems like impossible problems.

I know the government won’t condone full-fledged evangelism within the individual prison units, as I understand some guards don’t even allow group prayer meetings within the individual units, stating that all religious meeting must take place within the confines of the chapel.

Teen Challenge, however, a former client of Response Unlimited, has developed a model for the type of program that’s needed to turn prisoners into productive members of society. Few who enter Teen Challenge’s substance abuse programs do so as born-again Christians, but the majority who leave have given their lives to Christ with nine in ten having been set free from their addictions permanently. It’s all voluntary. A similar program that’s highly successful for teens is that of Freedom Village USA, and I’m certain there are others. But they’ve got to be residential programs run by churches or Christian organizations, which also provide job training.

These programs would be voluntary and would reduce the length of the prison term by the length of the program, with an understanding that if a person leaves the program, they straight back to prison with no chance for even a halfway house. Halfway houses run by the government, or government contractors can continue as an option for those who don’t want to go through a Christian-based program. But to continue as a faith-based center, it must maintain a recidivism rate below a certain percentage – say half the current rate of government-run programs. You and I know only Christ can change hearts to this degree. This would also cut the cost for the government tremendously. Basically, the churches would step up to the plate and take responsibility for their own communities. These “Christian halfway houses” would provide employees for local businesses, create numerous opportunities for local believers to do volunteer work, disciple new believers, and help churches truly transform their local communities. It can be a win-win situation.

The point is, the system is broken and needs fixing, beginning with the perceived value of a sinful man whose heart can change.

Philip Zodhiates

Victory!

One small victory, but it is a victory!  The Virginia civil suit against Philip Zodhiates, Linda Wall, et al., has been dismissed by the court!

The Vermont case is still set for hearing in December.

At least there will be no more attorneys’ fees for defending litigation in Virginia.

The irony of all this is that on April 16, 2020, Isabella will be 18 years old and all this civil litigation will be a mute point. That’s 10 months from now.

Why 419 Fund?

Why should Christians support 419 Fund?

  1.  It is Christ-centered.
  2.  “419 Fund” was derived from Philippians 4:19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
  3.   419 Fund was created to counter the big crowdfunding site, which discriminates against Christians and their struggles against the culture.
  4.  Our core values are: Sanctity of Life, Defense of Marriage as one man-one woman and Religious Liberty.
  5.  419 Fund is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.
  6.  Donations are tax-deductible.

If you agree with the tenets of 419 Fund, you can help us by:

  1.  Spreading the word – tell 10 friends.
  2.  Praying for this ministry.

If our mission echoes your values, please consider supporting one of our Funding Opportunities with a tax-deductible donation. The easiest way to do that is through online giving. It is easy to use and is secure.

https://419fund.com/projects/