May 3: Jeff Dietrich and David Omondi have self-surrendered to federal authorities and are now being held at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC). It is still unknown if this will be the facility where each will serve their sentence (Jeff – 4 months, David – 2 months). It is possible that one or both will be transferred to another facility. As soon as we know more it will be posted here. Dennis Apel of the Guadalupe Catholic Worker will self-surrender on Monday, May 9, also to serve a four month sentence.
You can check Jeff, David, and Dennis’ status at this LINK. For Jeff enter: Robert J Dietrich (#81196-012), for David enter: Michael David Omondi (#94638-020), for Dennis enter: John D. Apel (#26142-112).
UPDATE MAY 23: This LINK is to Dennis’ second reflection published in the Santa Barbara Independent.
Below is a reflection David wrote for The Nuclear Resister.
While writing this I am continually lifted by the support and prayers of so many on the outside, inspired by the appearance of the Full Moon, Mars, and Sagittarius in my cell window over the last three nights, and encouraged that the forces of Love and Life will prevail over our many perversions of justice. It has been my great pleasure to meet someone here on 6 North MDC LA who has quite a storied relationship with VAFB. Using the alias “Kempachi”, we both would like to share some of this story with you:
“YOU! DON’T MOVE!” Yelled the Lieutenant at a bewildered Kempachi. “Get him out of here, NOW! Didn’t you check his file?!” And the confounded CO’s in VAFB’s “work factory” begin to escort him back to his unit at Lompoc Prison as he feigns a lack of English skills. The astounding levels of incompetence that allowed Kempachi into the factory in the first place are not surprising, considering the ease with which he had hacked into the base’s supposedly impenetrable mainframe computer system not too long ago. His incredible acumen with electronics and ability to encode and decode complex software with rudimentary appliances should have been a red flag to anyone on VAFB who might have perused his background.
These were pre-internet times, but the Video Cipher 3 security system on VAFB poised no challenge to Kempachi, who was able to penetrate it quite easily – on a dare from a fellow tech wiz – and send the base a message: “STOP KILLING CHILDREN.” He was not an activist or social justice advocate, just a jet-set, genius playboy carrying out an entertaining ruse. But when a third party heard of a reward for information on the transgressors, it wasn’t long before the federal security apparatus located the co-conspirators and found whatever charge that would stick, tax fraud, in order to lock them up. During his 18 months of incarceration at Lompoc, Kempachi spent a significant amount of time in the hole for refusing to work for the base in any way.
Now, over 20 years later, Kempachi is convinced that the same levels of incompetence still exist on VAFB and warns that it’s just a matter of time before their irresponsible practices precipitate an epic disaster on a nuclear scale. He is well aware of their use of depleted Uranium in the testing of nuclear weapons and finds their target practice exercises quite despicable as they contaminate the waters of the Pacific Ocean and wreak havoc on the people of the Marshall Islands. Not only is the term “depleted” a serious misnomer – the stuff still has a half life of 10,000 years – the B5 rockets used in VAFB’s launches are well known for having seal problems, and he warns that the base is courting serious catastrophe in their employ.
Further, VAFB possesses both the depleted and active variety of Uranium, both of which have to be cooled constantly. Situated on the coast, the ocean is the most convenient source of water for this purpose, which is either expelled back into the ocean or into the ground. In his words, non-contamination of this water is simply impossible. Although base officials claim that the levels of radiation escaping their facility are “safe”, Kempachi has learned through his own explorations that most of the patients treated at Lompoc General Hospital suffer from cancer of the kidney and liver. Meanwhile, the base is highly secretive about the ailments treated at their own internal hospital.
Now on trial for charges that include fraud and manufacturing of an illegal access device, he once again finds himself the victim of a snitch who was caught using one of his complex encoding devices to commit bank fraud. And despite dedicating the last 15 years of his life to voluntary service projects in places like Kenya and El Salvador, donating thousands for free water and education projects, the Assistant DA in his case is on the record as saying “Whatever charge I give you will be equal to life because you have to be locked up until technology changes,” and the judge too has declared “I know who you are and I wish I could give you life.”
Kempachi can go on unceasingly about the pitfalls of the nuclear age – over budget power plants constantly leaking, the military’s inexplicable use of Uranium tipped anti-aircraft bullets, the disposal of Thryntium into the environment (which causes kidney/liver damage and other untold ailments) – the list is quite lengthy. With VAFB’S adjacency to the ocean and proximity to extensive field agriculture and livestock industries, his warnings are indeed foreboding. His story is a real testament to the indiscriminate violence of the nuclear empire, and lends great credence to the acts of vigilers, protesters, resisters and truth-tellers all around the world. This insanity must end. Now.
KEMPACHI, and David Omondi
UPDATE MAY 21: Jeff is doing good. He spends most of his time either reading, writing, exercising, or in prayer. The next Agitator will include some of Jeff’s writing.
This is a LETTER from David. David is still trying to deal with a mix up between the court’s sentence of two months and what the B.O.P. computer lists as six month sentence. An attorney friend of the LACW will again attempt to get this mix up corrected.
This LINK is to the first in a series of reflections by Dennis published in the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper. Below is another note from Dennis:
Dear family and friends,
I have “served” ten of my 120 days. If I can do that another 11 times, I will have made it. By some extraordinary stroke of luck or grace, I have ended up in a cell with my long-time friend and co-defendant Jeff Dietrich of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker. If all goes well, we will be spending most of our 4 months of custody in each other’ company. What a gift and a miracle!
After about four days here my mail began to filter in. Thank you if you have written. I am only allowed to purchase 10 envelopes per week, so apologies if you have written and not gotten a response. Know that your love and support mean the world to me.
I can now communicate with Tensie and the kids by phone. That too is limited to 15 minutes per call (5 minutes to talk to each of them) and 300 minutes per month (a little less than 10 minutes per day). I’ve had word from some who have shown Tensie and the kids incredible kindness, especially those in the Beatitude Community. It brings me so much comfort and gratitude that good friends and family are supporting them. It’s not easy for them either.
Please know that I hold you all in my prayers of gratitude.
UPDATE MAY 18: At 9am today, Jeff was moved to the fifth floor and is now cellmates with Dennis. Rumor has it that David too will soon be moved to the same area. All will remain there for the duration of their sentence. Jeff is doing well, even better now that he and Dennis are reunited. David said he yearns to be with them. Jeff sent Catherine the signed form for her to be able to visit him; and he finally has the phone voice recognition issue resolved and is now calling on a regular schedule. He still has not seen the dentist for his toothache, but he has plenty of pain meds, which has helped a lot. He wants everyone to know he is safe and comfortable and is grateful for all the love and prayers.
UPDATE MAY 17: David lost his cellmate this morning (transferred to another floor), which allows him space and quiet, which is what he needs at the moment since he is having major lower back pain. He asks for prayers that the pain will subside.
Dennis Apel sent the following note:
Today marks one week (is that all?!!) since I arrived at MDC. It’s been quite a transition. Every time someone asks how long I’m in for and I respond, “four months” I get a reply something like, “Oh man! That’s nothing. That’s a breeze!” But THIS breeze is movin’ real slow.
It’s a difficult environment (I’m not complaining, that’s just the reality). There is a common area with 7 tables of eight (steel seats bolted to the floor), 4 TVs going simultaneously (no sound…you have to get a radio receiver with headphone to hear them), a microwave, and ice maker and a hot water dispenser. Most guys make meals from food they buy from the commissary (paid for with money on their books). Off the common room are 4 halls with cells lining both sides of them. Each cell has 2 bunks, a sink, a toilet and a locker. Everyone has a cell mate and there are 130 guys on the floor. All inmates are locked in their cells from 8:30 pm till 5:00 am when we are awakened and have about 60 seconds to get to breakfast. The cells are open most of the rest of the day and time can be spent in the common area or in the cell. Since there are 130 of us and only 56 seats, we are called to meals by “ranges” 4 ranges matching the four halls. By unwritten agreement, the 7 tables are assigned by race, 1 table for whites (the race with the fewest #s), 1 table for the “ChoMos” (the child molesters) and the other 5 divided between Blacks and Latinos. There are 8 common showers. There is a small outside deck for exercise or getting some fresh air.
The hardest parts are the constant din of 130 men yelling, guards yelling, the explosion of testosterone (I am by a long shot the scrawniest one here), the racial divides and sometimes tensions, and more than anything, the separation from family and friends.
So……why am I here???? I’m here because of a combination of conviction and stubbornness. Before I got here I would have told myself it’s mostly conviction, but the transition is so stark (scary even) that the whole environment conspires to convince me that conviction had less to do with this than stubbornness that my ego has betrayed me.
so….here is where you come in. You hold me. You support me. You hold my family and we all hold each other. Once I was able to communicate with them, my family brought me back to myself. Because, there IS a conviction, one that comes from faith and a desire for discipleship. Nuclear weapons are an atrocity beyond measure, and we cannot look the other way. I am not here for myself but for all of us. You are not there for me, but for all of us. We all have a role to play in the struggle to rid the world of nuclear weapons. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your prayers, your love, and your support for me, Tensie, the kids, Jorge, and Beatitude House. We are the Body of Christ, we all have our part, and we all have each other, and I am grateful.
I am praying for you daily. Thank you, thank you. Love is the answer…
UPDATE MAY 11: Catherine received a letter from Jeff today since he is having difficulties with the voice recognition system involved with the phones. He is well, has a cellmate, whose name is Wolverine, with a heart of gold and loves to share all that he has, however, he likes to talk–unceasingly. Jeff enjoys solitude while in jail, so they are trying to strike a balance. He is on the ninth floor, which is puzzling since that floor is normally for hardcore felons.
Have yet to hear from Dennis.
David is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. He has taken to e-mailing a few of us, but more so his family in Kenya. He is on the sixth floor and has a window where he can see us while we are on our Wednesday vigil, although we were unable to see him.
All three cannot have visitors except for immediate family. Once transferred to the fifth floor, that will change. The fifth floor is minimum security, where the other floors range from low to maximum security. Hence, they would love to receive mail from all who would care to write. If you have some time, please sit down and write to them, the address can be found below. Thank you.
UPDATE May 9: Guadalupe Catholic Worker Dennis Apel has now turned himself in to federal authorities and is also being housed at MDC Los Angeles, the same facility as Jeff and David. If you care to check on Dennis’ status, enter: John D. Apel #26142-112 at this LINK. To write to him use the same address listed below.
Jeff was able to make a very brief phone call this morning. He had enough time to say he has tooth ache and has yet to see a dentist with no indication when that will happen. His publisher sent him some books last week, but he said he received a notice saying they were returned because she sent more than allowed and thus all were considered contraband. The call then was cut off.
David again called and said that he again briefly saw Jeff this morning in passing and Jeff looked well. David also asked for more money to be deposited in his account to help his cellmate, who is in a state of depression. He has no money and has not had contact with family in several months, and David wants to help him.
UPDATE May 5: We found out why Jeff has not yet called. They have yet to give him his “PAC” number, which allows an inmate to access the phones, purchase items from the commissary, and access the computer to see how much money is in their account, among other tasks. Our attorney visited both Jeff and David today to see how they were and if all was okay. He agreed to push the BOP to get Jeff his PAC number, which he should have received on the first day within four hours after being processed in.
David called and said he is okay, getting settled in, and was able to purchase long underwear because he has an A/C duct directly above his bed, which makes it exceedingly cold between midnight and 5am.
If you care to write a letter of support, follow this guideline:
INMATE NAME & REGISTER NUMBER
MDC Los Angeles
METROPOLITAN DETENTION CENTER
P.O. BOX 1500
LOS ANGELES, CA 90053
You can read the rules for sending items at this LINK.