Please sign and share Elizabeth’s Change.org petition
Name: Elizabeth Marie Rushing #18715-056
Children: 1 daughter – she was 18 months old when I came to prison and is now 18 yrs old
Charges: – 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: 18 years
Sentenced: Dec 2000
Release Date: September 25, 2021
Will Live: Charlotte, North Carolina
Priors: First Time Offender
Prison Conduct: No incident reports – Clear conduct
Clemency Petition: Filed for commutation on May 28, 2014 – still pending Case #C154911
Institution: FPC Alderson Federal Prison Camp, Glen Ray Rd. Box A
Alderson, WV 24910
Elizabeth’s Accomplishments in Prison
Pest Management Certification through Purdue University
10 hour OSHA Industrial Training Class
FPC Alderson Operating Permit to drive 3 different vehicles on the compound.
Forklift Operation Permit
Mentor younger inmates
Taught knitting class for over 6 years
Advanced Beading Instructor
Zumba Exercise Class Instructor
Nutrition, Weight management and Pilates
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 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. 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 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.
I was sentenced Pre-Booler when the sentencing guidelines were mandatory. Since I was sentenced, the guidelines changed but were not made retroactive just 11 months after I was sentenced so I could not file to ask for a sentence reduction based on guideline changes. In 2005 the Supreme Court decided on the Booker case and they did not make that case retroactive either. Although the Supreme Court ruled that the mandatory nature of the Sentencing Guidelines was a violation of out 6th Amendment rights anyone that had a final sentence before this ruling was not able to get back in court and have their sentences reconsidered. The Supreme Court ruled that sentencing enhancements that were not included in the indictment, that you did not plead guilty to or a jury did not find you guilty of was a violation of you Constitutional right to know your charges and possible length of sentence prior to pleading guilty or being sentenced. This is what happened to me but since my sentence was already final and the case was not made retroactive, I could not seek relief to be re-sentenced.
ELIZABETH’S FAMILY SUFFERS WITH HER:
The biggest regret I have is that my stubbornness 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. I missed her getting teeth, potty training, first day of school, losing teeth, and all the other milestone’s children experience. Ive missed 18 Christmas’ with my family along with all the other holidays, birthdays, and occasion’s that only happen once in life. Sometime my daughter was the only kid at school that didn’t have a parent at a function. She has needed me over the years and I wasn’t there. My daughter is now 19 years old and is able to come see me on her own. She is attending college this year and has only been able to come one time in the last 10 months. This makes me sad but I understand that she has a life to live and I made the mistake, not her. We have a great relationship even though I am in prison and can’t be the mom she needs or wants. I am grateful for the relationship we have maintained through the past 19 years while I have been incarcerated.
My parents are 75 & 85 years old. 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. My parents have spent the last two decades coming to visit me in prison, and bringing my daughter to see me. It is my hope I will be home with them soon so they don’t have to travel anymore, especially with their age & health it is extremely hard on them.
Elizabeth While being in Prison
I have worked really hard in prison to become a better person. I have been working at Safety for 5 1/2 years. I do pest management for the prison as well as maintain the SDS books and fire extinguishers and chemical inventory. The Safety Data Sheet books are updated each year and I am in charge of that.
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. I have taught yoga for over 10 years, which helps me stay healthy not only physically but mentally too. I have organized with the staff supervisors the Angel Tree program at Christmas, which of course is rewarding but also so painful since I am not with my own child. I have also learned to paint and draw since coming to prison and even won some contests. Ive been asked to make several props over the years. Some of them include props for the local area high school 4 separate times over the years. This is for Project Graduation that the parent of seniors have on graduation night so the teens are not drinking and driving.
I have done some projects for a local church which included props for vacation bible school for 5 years and also painted a wooden manger scene for the church to display in their yard at Christmas time.
I painted a large banner and picture backdrops for the town of Alderson’s first Strawberry Festival in 2017.
In 2017 I also painted two banners for FPC Alderson’s 90th Anniversary Celebration. These were decorations for the visitors when they toured.
For the last several years I have painted picture backdrops and made cardboard props for the staff to use during their annual Correctional Workers Week celebrations to highlight their week long events and meals.
I have also worked at the prisons Safety Department taking care of the flower garden for the past 3 years. Last year I expanded the garden and planted more flowers, which gave a variety and beauty to the garden. The flower garden is a place I love to go when I want to be alone. I enjoy watching the birds and praying mantis in the garden. The wildlife here at Alderson is amazing.
My parents live on about 18 acres of land. They currently rent it out to a local farmer for cattle grazing. We have talked about starting an organic micro farm. Its not flowers but vegetable and honey bees to pollinate. This will be a huge undertaking for me so I will have to take is slow.