By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Meanwhile, despite the high bail, Luis is hatching a new plan to spring himself. It seems that a friend of a friend owns a local bond company called Ed Bails. Luis hopes to talk Eddie Gonzales, the owner, into putting up the bail money for an 8 percent fee — or $8,000 — rather than the conventional 10 percent. If the bondsman goes for it, Luis believes he can cobble together $5,000 in loans from various family members. The remaining $3,000 he could pay over time — presuming that Gonzales will agree to an installment plan. Yet, even if all three puzzle pieces fall into place, the plot is a risky one, since, if the worst happens and Luis loses his case, Frances will be left to shoulder the $8,000 burden alone — on top of everything else.
Frances and Luis fight about the bail issue. Luis feels let down by her reticence. Frances feels he doesn’t genuinely comprehend how hard she has to fight every day to keep herself and the kids on some kind of even emotional and financial keel.
Home again: Luis and Frances
Right now, 12-year-old Bola appears to be on the mend, at least on the surface level, from the shock of Magoo’s death. (Miguel Gomez, a.k.a. Magoo, was shot to death on June 24 while he removed graffiti for Homeboy Industries, under a contract with the L.A. Board of Public Works.) But as the new school year approaches, the issue of finding him a tutor becomes crucial. Frances talks to an elementary school teacher named John Bohm who sometimes volunteers at the Homeboy offices. Bohm agrees to tutor Bola every day at 2 p.m. for the rest of the summer. At first, Bola drags his feet — dog-at-the-vet style — at the idea of daily schoolwork, but when Frances won’t back down, he slowly settles into the routine.
The next trouble spot is Julian, the 9-year-old. Smart, computer-savvy Julian is usually the family’s sunny-natured, low-maintenance kid. But when Frances goes to pick up the four youngest children at day care — Julian included — the facility’s director pulls her off to the side and tells her Julian was crying during nap time. “I don’t know how to tell my mom,” he reportedly said to the teacher, “but some kids are hitting me all the time.” At home, the rest of the story tumbles out. Two older kids who live in the neighborhood regularly hold Julian while another, younger child slugs him. Frances talks to the kids’ parents, but comes away unconvinced that the problem has been solved. “More and more, I just keep my kids inside the house,” she says. “But that’s not a good way to live.”
And, as always, there’s the issue of money. Father Greg lent Frances $1,100 to cover her mortgage for another month, but it’s only a stopgap measure. “I have to find a way to earn more,” she says for at least the thousandth time. Matters look momentarily brighter when Frances gets a job offer from a former Homeboy staff member who has recently gone to work for Para los Niños. He says he wants Frances to work as his executive assistant, at a salary that’s significantly more than she is making now. After getting Father Greg’s blessing, Frances decides to go for it. Then, belatedly, the Para los Niños management declares the organization won’t hire anyone without a high school diploma — which Frances doesn’t have.
“So much for that,” she says gloomily.
As Luis’ trial date moves closer, Mark Overland works hard to ready the case. He intends to base the defense primarily on the contention that Officer Rudy Chavez lied about seeing Luis sell drugs on the afternoon of January 21, the day that Luis came home early from work on account of illness. Persuading a jury to believe the word of a former gang member/convicted felon over that of a police officer is an extremely daunting undertaking. To do so, Overland needs to show that Chavez had a motive and suggest that he has lied on other occasions as well.
In the preliminary hearing, Chavez admitted to knowledge of Frances’ complaints against him, which Overland thinks will provide a nominal motive. In addition, there was the night in May 2003, a month after Luis was released from prison, when Chavez stopped Luis as he was driving home from work and allegedly made a threat. According to Luis (and his younger brother, who was also in the car at the time), Chavez told him that if he didn’t get Frances to drop her complaints, he, Chavez, would see to it that Luis was locked up for a long time — or words to that effect. Luis told Frances about the encounter and halfheartedly attempted to talk her into dropping the complaints. “Hell, no!” she replied furiously. Instead, she marched down to Hollenbeck police station to file yet another complaint against Officer Chavez, this time for threatening her husband. (Luis first told the Weeklyabout the incident at the beginning of June 2003, two weeks after it allegedly occurred.) Overland intends to suggest that Chavez lied about Luis’ selling drugs to make good on the threat.
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