Name: JOANNE TRAGAS #51090-018
DOB: March 24, 1967
Born/Raised: Toronto, Canada
Will return: 1st to Canada, but hope to return to Sparta, Greece
Charge: Access Device Fraud & Various White collar crime charges (credit card fraud, bank fraud , wire fraud)
Tried: Eastern District of Michigan – Case No: 09-cr-20032
Length of Sentence: 25 years , appealed & won, went down to 16 years, 3 months.
Started sentence: July 21 2009
Served to date: 9 years in July, 2018
Priors: None in US, minor suspended sentence in Canada at young age
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: (updated 6/30/2018)
Administrative Assistance Apprentice (4000 Hours)
Trauma in Life
Intermediate Music Theory
Music Theory Beginners
Life Management skills I
Music Theory I & 2
Organize Your Life
Card Making Workshop
Fundamentals of Cosmetology in Spanish
Culinary Arts in Spanish
Electronic Law Library I
Woman’s Rest Based Fitness
Honoring Women Veterans
Vision board/ Goal setting
Institution: FCI Aliceville
PO Box 4000
Aliceville, AL. 35442
Celemency status: Filed clemency petition in 2016 – still pending
Supporters: CAN-DO, Families for Justice as Healing, The LOHM,
Sidenotes: Father died in 2014 during Joanne’s incarceration
Mother is elderly and ill in Greece, and may not live much longer
Joanne’s only son lives in Toronto and was able to visit her twice when she was in Danbury but not since she was transferred to FCI Aliceville
According to Joanna:
I was sitting in Sparta, Greece minding my own business running my family hotel… when I came across the wrong people online, started buying Gift cards at a discount price.. one thing leads to another , I’m in florida with my son in 2009 celebrating our first bought home since my divorce, I sold a property in Greece and added some of my own funds from my hotel business… and the Feds come in and sweep my life out from under me, I only owned my home in Cape Coral for 4 months, it was to be my son’s. it was paid off and I they took that, my bank account of over $60.000.00 my possessions and in domino effect lost everything – my house in Greece where I lived…. 25 year sentence.
To make matters worse, my father died last May when I was in Michigan getting re-sentenced…. but the worst have been the lawyers… the first one lied and deceived me because he missed the forfeiture deadline on the $60,000…he knew it was October 29th 2009 and didn’t tell me he missed the deadline.
According to Joanne – about the case:
From about 2000 through 2009, I, along with numerous other accomplices in the United States and Europe (none of them have been indicted) were involved in an international credit and debit card fraud conspiracy. The Government claims that I was the leader, when in fact I acted as a middleman, accepting wire transactions and forwarding the funds on to the leaders. I did participate in the conspiracy, but not to the extent that the Government claims.
After my divorce in Toronto, Canada, and then after a move to Greece, aside from being a single mother, I was the sole provider for my son. Whilst adjusting to a different culture and lifestyle I tried to be a good mother to my son and instill in him strong family values, morals, and respect and to focus on his education. I successfully ran and operated two hotels and a graphic arts business until a family squabble erupted in 2003 between shareholders. The issues landed in the courts, and all profits of the hotel were frozen until proceedings were resolved.
My divorce, my health issues – two strokes – family squabbles, a major move to another country in order to be close to my parents and family, the financial crisis, and my father’s heart condition caused me to spiral downward into a deep depression.
“Friends” online started to supply me with “free” gift cards for major department stores, and later offered them to me at 70% of the face value. (I did not know that they were purchased with stolen credit card information.) In order to meet my financial responsibilities and pay for my son’s private school and tutoring fees, I started doing favors to these “online friends” and other individuals for a fee, collecting and forwarding funds to the names my handlers would direct me to. I would also answer phones for their website and send e-mails with attachments.
Those e-mail attachments were always encrypted, but in the end I knew what was in these e-mails: fraudulent credit card numbers.
This is the entirety of what I did specifically. I am not attempting to make excuses, but rather explain the reasons I believe led to my incarceration.
Why I think I should receive clemency:
I have several reasons for requesting clemency, but I will mainly focus on areas of top priority, which of course is my family and friends who have been a great support system, which I belive is the basis of anyone re starting their lives from the ground up. During my incarceration I’ve lost my beloved father and would love to be able to go back home to Greece in time to see my ailing mother before she passes. I am 49 years old. aside from losing my father, I’ve lost everything I ever worked for. Including my only home due to forfeiture. I am eager to go home and work hard at building my life up dagain while I still have my health. Employment is not an issue as the Hotel is still in Business. There was a time when I was ashamed for being incarcerated. Now I’m not. Althought I am regretful and embarrassed for the wrong I have done and especially sorry for the harm I caused others, words alone cannot express how truly sorry I am for the Anxiety, frustration and financial losses that I have caused. Especially the pain I have caused my Elias, my son. He has suffered greatly for my actions. At the time, I didn’t stop to think that what I was doing was wrong or that I could hurt someone, I was so absorbed in juggling so much around my life that I didn’t stop to think about the consequences of my actions. I fully accept responsibility for what has happened, I allowed my deceptive tactics to continue when I realized that stolen credit cards were involved, instead of stopping my actions I allowed it to grow. An example of my commitment to psotive behavior is my prison record. I have completed 4000 hours of educational programming in administrative assistant apprenticeship as well as other programs. All work evaluations in Unicor (Danbury) were “Outstanding”, my most recent progress report describes me as mentally stable. I have received one minor misconduct write up as a result of sending mail to another facility.
I have curently served 84 months, I am a model prisoner, my present release date is 10/10/2023. My personal characteristics demonstrate that recidisivm is unlikely. I feel that my General and specific deterrence has been served.
My attention deficit disorder (ADHD), Impulsive behavior, Anxiety as well as my affinity to always keep moving has been difficult for me to deal with in Prison and without Medication. Yet it has it’s benefits, I have learned to slowdoen and think before I act. I have grown, learned, accepted and am much more tollerant, patient and understanding. I have learned that giving my time to help others is much more valuable than anything else, as well as the importance of Balance of all life’s offerings.
All I desire is to be with my family, to re unite with my son who has excelled in his education and career.
I know I will be a productive member of society again, and I just want to be able to make my wrongs, right and never take another day of life or my family for granted. I am asking for another chance.