A felon, his father, and U.S. immigration law

Disappointed by the decision, yet encouraged by a spate of favorable decisions in the lower courts, Salvator and Rabinovitz are preparing for another hearing before the Tenth Circuit Court. They also intend to ask that Nguyen's bond revocation be stayed until the matter is settled. (Because Nguyen turned himself in, Salvator believes the court and the INS might not view him as a flight risk.) "We'll see what happens," Salvator says. "If all else fails, we'll petition the Supreme Court."

Rabinovitz and Salvator doubt it will be possible to keep Ho out of INS custody if he's found. And both attorneys have little doubt that if their client is alive, he will be found. "I think the authorities are going to be very aggressive in this case," says Salvator. "It's a unique case. It's become a high-profile case. He's not the only one who has been released on bond through the federal district courts in Colorado. So I'm sure they want to somehow send a message that these bonds are important and have to be complied with."


Loc Dac Ho knows he lost his son a long time ago--now he might lose his house, too
Michael Dvorak
Loc Dac Ho knows he lost his son a long time ago--now he might lose his house, too


In St. Paul Duy Dac Ho's father waits by the phone. Sitting at the kitchen table of his small, tidy home, Loc Dac Ho drums his bony fingers and nervously adjusts a baseball cap emblazoned with a single word: love. He's hoping to hear from Duy or from Salvator, whom he calls "Mr. Jim." But he doubts the news will be good.

"He never listens to what I tell him," Loc says softly, shaking his head as he speaks of his son. "He's just nasty." Three years after coming to the U.S., at the age of 18, Duy was sentenced to 33 months in prison for assault. When he got out, his father says, he pleaded with his son to get a job and walk the straight and narrow. But Duy and his friends preferred to spend their time making trouble in outstate casinos.

According to Syl Schwartz, deputy chief of the Edina Police Department, it was at one of those casinos that Ho and his accomplices hatched the idea of their brazen jewelry heist. Schwartz, who was a detective at the time, recalls that the 22-year-old Ho was the crew's most notorious member: "People we talked to on the street characterized him as crazy. When we were serving warrants on that case, I remember he was the one guy we were most concerned about turning violent."

Last spring, when Ho needed collateral for his $20,000 bond, his sister Nhu Dac Ho, who now lives half an hour south of Chicago, persuaded their father to put up his one-story bungalow as collateral. Now, if Ho remains at large, the $72,000 property might be lost--another tragedy.

Loc Dac Ho is no stranger to misfortune. After fleeing South Vietnam for the Philippines in 1970, he and his four children made their way to the U.S. in 1985. For ten years the family lived in government housing; he was never late with the rent, Ho says proudly, because he always dreamed of someday buying a house. In 1995 that dream came true. Now, in addition to a stable job on a Honeywell assembly line, Ho has a home to call his own. A place to decorate with ivory statuettes, bamboo plants, and yellowing family portraits. And now, just like his son, he might lose it all.

"If Duy doesn't show up, then the house is forfeited right along with the bond," acknowledges Nhu Dac Ho, adding quickly that she doesn't believe her brother deserves the notorious reputation he has acquired. "It's just not like Duy to run off," she says. "We don't know if something happened to him on the way down to Colorado or if he's just scared."

Her father, certainly, is scared--for his son and for himself. "If you had kids, would you want them behind bars?" Loc Dac Ho asks rhetorically, standing forlornly in the entryway to his home. "Me too. That's why I signed the bond. I don't want my son to die in jail."

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