Name: Elizabeth Marie Rushing
Children: 1 daughter – she was 18 months old when I came to prison and is now 16 yrs old
Charges: 24.5 years – 2 counts under 18 USC 1956; (Money Laundering); Conspiracy to Money Launder and Aiding and abetting etc.
Sentence: 293 months max 240 months for the first 2 charges 53 months run consecutive on the second for a total of 24 years 5 months
Served: 15 years
Sentenced: Dec 2000
Release Date: September 25, 2021
Prison Conduct: No incident reports – Clear conduct
Clemency Petition: Filed for commutation on May 28, 2014
Institution: FPC Alderson
Elizabeth’s Many Accomplishments in Prison:
- In addition to my prison job, during spare time I volunteer to help others, for example:
- In Tallahassee I taught a College English/Writing class so the women could get into college.
- In Alderson I have taken a lot of different pre-release classes.
- I taught knitting class for over 6 years until they changed the recreation schedule and that class interfered with another.
- I teach yoga 2 days a week (was 3 times a week until schedule had to change).
- I currently teach advanced beading and have been doing that for almost 3 years.
- I was in charge of Zumba class 5 days a week.
- Nutrition, Weight management and Pilates (3times a weeks).
- I changed jobs and gave these classes up. All classes are taught on a volunteer basis and we are not paid anything for our time. This is done on our off time.
- I am currently taking a Pest Management class throught Purdue University for my job at Safety. I currently spray for bugs in the institution and do pest management.
- I am in charge of the SDS book maintenance in the institution and make sure the correct/ current information is logged in and books are updated yearly – will soon take test to complete the course.
I have been a part of the Yarn Project at Alderson since May 2008 when I arrived.
- We make toys, hats, scarves, mittens and lap blankets for underpriviledged children from the area. We used to make sweaters but no longer do this.
- I co-ordinate with staff to give out the projects to the women that participate and log in/catalog the projects when they come back.
- I organize with staff supervision the projects so the Angel Tree participants(staff) can pick out the things to give to the children. We used to be able to go to the children’s party when the school children came to Alderson but are no longer allowed to attend. I went for 5 years and interacted with the teacher chaperones and the children.
- In the past I participated in making small toys for a church mission group to send to 3rd world countries for distribution with clothes and other items sponsored by churches. We no longer make these toys.
- While in prison I have learned how to paint, draw, crochet and knit. All this I have done on my own with books sent from home.
- I have won a couple of small art contests in Alderson. One of the men at church at home is an artist and he wants to give me lessons when I am released and get me active in the art community. I enjoy it but supplies are limited here. There is no way to paint here except basic painting (one stroke) to keep up your skills and improve your talent.
According to Elizabeth:
This is not a drug case – it had to do with a Ponzi Scheme, but I met the man responsible for this four months before everyone was arrested! I never profited from this scheme, yet I was added to a 42 count indictment. I was charged with 3 counts and found guilty of all three. I went to trial with 4 of my co-defendants. They were offered a plea agreement 2 weeks prior to sentencing. I was offered a plea agreement 15 minutes before sentencing. They all took the plea agreement. I couldn’t talk to anyone and did not sign the paper. I didn’t trust the men that came to talk to me and couldn’t talk to my family. I was without the benefit of counsel; one of my many mistakes in this matter. I went to trial without a lawyer. I was denied a public defender by the magistrate judge at a my arraignment. I was told I had to hire one and I thought I knew better and didn’t.
I was found guilty of the least amount of charges and a specific amount of money. They ran my counts consecutive against the PSI recommendation and sentencing guidelines. This added an additional 53 months onto my sentence. I did not argue against anything. I just let it happen and that is my fault. I did not file an appeal. Did not know how important that is. I listened to the wrong people and now I am paying for it dearly.
I got over double the time as my co-defendants received. Everyone is home and I am still in prison. They received many more charges and were found guilty but they got a plea bargain and therefore, less time. As AG Holder recently explained, anyone who goes to trial ends up with a lot more time and thats what happened to me. Not having an attorney worked against me because I didn’t understand the process, nor was given any advice.
If I was sentenced today, my sentence range would be category 34 which is 14-16 years. The sentencing guidelines changed in 2001 for money laundering. I have already done 14 years 5 months and earned over 2 years good time. If they seriously consider my application even though I am not a drug case, I have done the maximum amount of time in the current guidelines. I was sentenced pre-Booker when the guidelines were mandatory.
I don’t understand how one of the REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY, who was looking at 50 years in prison for tax evasion and bank fraud only gets a 15 month sentence because she is a celebrity. Those of us that are not high profile or wealthy don’t get that kind of treatment. And, we parents don’t get to stagger our time so that children will have a parent at home. This only happens to high profile cases which is very misleading because the public believes this is how our judicial system works for everyone.
ELIZABETH’S FAMILY SUFFERS WITH HER:
The biggest regret I have is that my stuborness caused my daughter to pay the ultimate price. She was only 18 months when we were severed – the worst nightmare for any mother. It’s like ripping your heart out of your chest. To have a mom that is alive and healthy but can’t be there for her in any capacity but what the prison system will allow is an indescribable pain. My parents (81 and 72) bring my daughter to see me about four times a year. If anything else happens to them and they are not able to travel, I dont’ know how my daughter will get to visit me. I missed her getting teeth, potty training, first day of school, losing teeth and the tooth fairy, christmas 15 times and it goes on. Sometime she was the only kid at school that didn’t have a parent at a function because her father wasn’t there. She has needed me over the years and I wasn’t there.
My dad had cancer in his kidney and lung a few years ago and I couldn’t be there for him. He had a kidney, his spleen and part of a lung removed along with chemo. He is doing good now but there was a rough patch there for a while and I was in prison. I found out last week that I have COPD but was not told by the medical staff here. They have known for 1 1/2 years that I have this condition and was only told because I asked a lot of questions at a routine visit.
I have worked really hard in prison to become a better person. I have a lot of responsibilities in here. I mentor some of the younger women and try to get them to change their unhealthy habits and become a more productive person. I talk to them about not getting into trouble here and staying incident free. That is so important in here if there is something that comes along you may not qualify for it if you get into trouble. Your history speaks for itself. I do a lot of yoga which is my sanity in here. I also knit a lot of charity. There is only so much you can send home to your family.
THey have more hats and scarves than they know what to do with