Hartford, CT - 02/21/2015
Mark Vaynberg is a 32-year-old U.S. citizen of Ukrainian origin, who lives in Hartford, Connecticut. As soon as he graduated from the University of Hartford in 2004, he started serving in the United States Army and in 2009 he received an honorable discharge. During his 5 years in the army, he served two terms of duty in Iraq, defending his country over a period of 2.5 years. From 2008 to 2010, he had a relationship with Inna D., who lives in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
After the first year of their relationship, Inna started abusing him, asking him to give her money and to pay for her trips abroad, and punishing him if he did not act as she had told him to do. Mark had idealized Inna while being a soldier in Iraq, and he always tried to please her as much as he could. He didn’t realize he ended up being manipulated.
Inna decided to put an end to their relations in August 2010, since she apparently had started another relationship. Mark was very upset by the breakup, it was hard for him to accept another change in his life after getting back from Iraq, and tried to reconcile with her. However, Inna decided that it was easier for her to apply for a restraining order to prevent Mark from having any contact with her, which the Court issued without any pre-trial hearings. Mark was not informed of the restraining order, until the police notified him that he had broken it and that he was not allowed to contact Inna, even if she tried to contact him. Which she did on multiple occasions.
In November 2010, when they appeared in front of the Court in Massachusetts, Inna gave her testimony, stating that she simply wanted to be left alone and not to have any contact with Mark. Inexplicably, the judge voiced his concern and that he was “seriously troubled” by this case. Although Inna stated that she was not in fear of Mark and that he was not at all a person capable of violent acts, the judge dramatized Mark’s behavior, defining it “bizarre” and unacceptable, with “a potential for absolute catastrophe for her and for society as a whole”. Mark realized that there was a misunderstanding: he was innocent and wanted to clear the situation immediately, but he was not even allowed to tell his side of the story.
From the first hearing, the Court in Massachusetts started taking out Mark’s civil liberties, for example by put him under curfew in his home (in Connecticut!). Mark had a good work history, he had absolutely no criminal record, no history of psychological treatment or problems (as also proved by psychiatric assessment), no history of violence, and no desire to harm Inna whatsoever. Nevertheless, the judge ordered him not to have any contact with Inna, and instructed him to report to probation twice a week.
In the following months, a series of unfortunate coincidences trapped Mark in a Kafkian spiral of happenings that worsened his case. In November, while driving to Massachusetts to report to probation as ordered by the court, Mark accidentally passed Inna’s car in the highway. He didn’t want her to think that he was following her, so he pushed on the gas and went straight to the probation. Mark knew that the smallest violation of the restraining order could lend him in jail, but he preferred to be honest and immediately reported that he had accidentally passed her on the highway. The probation officer noticed that Mark was upset by the encounter and she exaggeratedly decided that it would be safer to issue an arrest warrant for him, as a consequence for an alleged violation of the restraining order. The judges issued the arrest warrant almost a week later, on probation officer’s claim that Inna’s life was in danger. Mark was thus called in to Court to address the warrant, but instead was immediately arrested and brought to the local Department of Corrections, without even having his memorandum rights read out to him. There, Mark witnessed the horrors of imprisonment for two weeks and was emotionally intimidated and physically scarred. He even lost a tooth due to police harassment.
Actually, Inna appeared in Court to ask for Mark’s release, but shortly after she filed all kinds of new charges against him. Mark was accused of violating the restraining order for writing about their past relationship on a Russian Facebook, for which translation into English was never provided and its content never confirmed. Inna’s son, a teenager born from her previous marriage, even reported that he presumed Mark came to their house in the middle of the night. This allegation implied that Mark had broken all of the judge’s and the Court’s orders, as the Court had previously ruled that Mark was not allowed to be in the State of Massachusetts. Actually, Mark, who didn’t leave his own home that night, was innocent. Nevertheless, with no evidence at all, Mark ended up in jail again. Only later, did he appear before the Court and was released under new probation conditions. Soon, Mark started losing not only his freedom of speech, but all of his citizen and veteran rights.
It was only at his sixth trial that Mark was finally given a chance to tell his side of the story, although the judge tried to prevent him from doing so. Mark explained that Inna abused of him during their relationship, asking him to give her money and to pay for her trips abroad, and punishing him if he did not act as she had told him to do. Mark explained that Inna had already filed restraining orders against other men in the past, but he also assured that he was sticking to all the conditions given by the judge. He also informed the Court that Inna had asked him to leave the country, but that he did not intend to do so; in fact, he expressed his desire to start a new life in Connecticut where he was living, away from Inna and from the State of Massachusetts. Needless to say, his words fell upon deaf ears.
In March 2011, one and a half years and ten trials later, the situation was still unresolved. In addition, prior to having his freedom of speech right taken away, Mark had written an article about the Court and his trials on CNN. As soon as Inna and the Court became aware of it, it was promptly erased and Mark was fired from his new job and arrested again. The judge complained that he now had problems sleeping at night because of this case; he could no longer stay impartial and was afraid that he had made a wrong decision. Therefore, he decided to remove himself from the case and hand it over to another judge.
It was perhaps this maddening feeling of inevitability that convinced Mark to finally leave the country in March 2011, starting a new life as a “Federal” Fugitive (as he was later defined by the Veteran Administration). He was afraid for his life and dignity, had several pending charges and arrest warrants in the US, based on alleged violations of the restraining order, which had never even been checked.
Mark decided to apply for political asylum in Germany on the basis of his arrest for writing the CNN article, asylum which was later denied to him. Meanwhile, his passport had expired and was taken away by State Department officials when he applied for its renewal in May 2011. At the US Embassy, two special agents informed him that the State of Massachusetts had issued a block on his passport because of his arrest warrants, and said that he could get a new passport only by going back to the US. In August 2012, when Germany denied him asylum and was ready to send him back to the US, Mark moved to Belgium and started a new life there.
In the fall 2013, Mark’s lawyer contacted the Court in Massachusetts asking to remove his warrants, so that he could apply for legal documentation to travel back to the U.S. to face his pending charges. The Court denied his motion. Mark appealed their decision in the spring 2014, but it was denied again.
In May 2014, Mark was stopped by the police in Belgium. Three months later, after having been held in custody first in Belgium and then in Germany, as the U.S. Embassy in both countries refused to give him assistance, Mark was deported to the US. Mark was held in the prison of Rikers Island (NYC) for two weeks, where he was denied to see his lawyer and was denied twice to retrieve his belongings, which contained evidence for his case, although the judge had twice given him permission to do so. After being sent back to the Springfield Court, Mark faced his pending trials, and finally settled his case. However, the only feasible option for Mark to close his case and be able to move on with his life, was to plead guilty, even if it meant agreeing to the alleged claims of the same people that he had already accused of wrongdoing in his articles. Inna, his accuser, did not even have to show up to Court. In addition, the jail in which Mark was detained in Massachusetts denied him proper medical treatment, and Mark was denied any type of parole rights, although he was eligible for it. He was finally released in October 2014.
After almost 5 years from the time this story began, having traveled extensively, and become the first Jewish person to be deported by Germany since 1945, Mark has moved back to the State of Connecticut, where he is fighting the Veteran Administration, as they do not want to recognize that Mark’s accusations were “misdemeanors” and not “federal felonies”.
Having read this story, it would be appreciated it if you could ask for further investigation of this case and help me obtain legal advice or representation.
Note: The sentences in inverted commas are literally taken from the Court hearings. All statement can be supported by physical evidence: documents and audio court hearings.
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