I’ve been thinking…..
And I have thought long and hard whether I should write this. Last week Thursday, I had this same conversation with a good friend, Sankar Nirahu. He challenged me into making this my next writing project. He died 24 hours after that exchange. This piece is dedicated to his memory.
We all wish to bounce around happily with our political correctness, filled with warm euphemisms, ready to hide our conscience, closing our eyes to the truth under the pretext that if we don’t see it then it doesn’t exist.
We want to be shaken and stirred – but not too much. We want to be guilt-schlepped – but not too much. We want to be provoked – but not too much. We want to be transformed – but not too much.
Yeah, I get it. But as an East Indian I have a compelling obligation, a responsibility to articulate what is in my heart, and what I passionately believe must be said and heard. And it comes with a good measure of soul searching.
And so I am guided not by what is easy to say but by what is painful to express. I am guided not by what is frivolous but by the serious. I am guided not by delicacy but by urgency.
East Indians are at war. We are at war with an enemy as savage, as voracious, as heartless as ISIS but one wouldn’t know it from our behavior. Evil – ultimate, irreconcilable evil has threatened us; and it seems that our pandits and imams have no moral clarity nor an exquisite understanding of what is at stake.
We are at war. Yet, too many of us stubbornly and foolishly don’t put the pieces together and refuse to identify the evil in our midst. We are circumspect and disgracefully politically correct.
Let me mince no words in saying that from Hillside Ave to Jamaica Ave, from Liberty Ave to Atlantic Ave, the bandits, the culprits, the outlaws are the many East Indians disguised as businessmen. To camouflage their identity is sedition. To excuse their deeds is contemptible. To mask their intentions is unconscionable.
A few years ago, I followed the “murder-for hire” case of Richard James, an East Indian with a cultural TV show on local network and a kind, generous donor at the mandirs. It was a stunning journey, and a very personal odyssey into the depths of depravity, the making of a criminal mind and the spiritual pilgrimage way back home. For Richard James, he was lucky to find his way in a “life without parole.”
The Richard James’ trial, though a powerful experience of evil, greed, law and order, was an example that spoke to no one. The race to the bottom has become more competitive, with creeps after creeps taking the spotlight in their own way.
This week, I have had to confront with the Albert Baldeo drama. It was a long time coming. Word on the street is that very, very few people are dismayed with his 18 months prison time for obstruction of justice and scam scheme in his 2010 campaign for City and State office.
Albert Baldeo is of East Indian descent, a lawyer who boasted immigration credentials in an East Indian enclave with a sizeable undocumented population. It is unfortunate that many who had applied for his help and got stiffed are now confessing their vulnerabilities. It is sad, too, that many wished him bad.
Like it or not, Baldeo is getting put away for the good, albeit leaving a trail of dissatisfied, angry clients, none of whom created his anti-climax. His personal ambitions and drive to break the law became his own undoing. He has run out of time; he has run out of tricks.
Let me get this straight. I am not anti-Indian. I have no pathology of hate nor am I a maniac for riches, for local celebrity status, for ill gotten fame, thus running scam after scam in the real estate offices, medical clinics, etc.
And I have no bone of bigotry against my own kind, but what I do have is hatred for those who hate, intolerance for those who are intolerant, and a guiltless, unstoppable obsession to see this madness eradicated.
Which brings me to Ed Ahmad. Who doesn’t know Ed? It turns out that Ed Ahmad is the poster boy for breaking bad in Richmond Hill. A powerful, slimy realtor with friends in American politics, Ed Ahmad too, has had his rendezvous with the feds. We are talking about millions and millions of dollars in mortgage fraud. And to make his reputation more disgusting is his unseemly relationship with the Guyanese ex-president Bharrat Jagdeo.
Add to the cynicism, his messing around with the edifice of Islamic school in the community. Every imam knows this unadmittedly: no amount of whitewashing his evil, and the damage he’s done to so many people is going to clear his transgressions. Federal Judge Dora Irizarry doesn’t buy that; she’s reviewing sentencing guidelines. But frankly, Ed is looking at 10 to 13 years ….. in prison.
Again, how many are excited with this outcome? Too many to count. Ed Ahmad knows that too.
But so it was also with attorney at law Cheddi Goberdhan. Guilty on charges of mortgage fraud, Goberdhan is doing 5 years in a gated community with armed guards 24/7. Why? Because he took advantage of some of the poorest people in his community.
Many others like Cheddi Goberdhan have had their sit downs with the authorities. Most notably: attorney Michael Gangadeen and his sister Savitri Gangadeen in $3.3 million mortgage fraud scheme; attorney Ravi Persaud; loan officer Peggy Persaud; attorney at law Shawn Chand; part time fugitive Ishwardat Raghunath in a $7 million mortgage fraud; Anand Bharrat, Inderpaul Sookraj, Mangal Singh, Prahalad Mahadeo, Aneesa Mohamed, Krishna Ramroop, David Sookdeo, etc. The list is endless. All of them East Indians ….. like you and me!
Yes, there are lowlifes all around us. Even in the churches. Hindu priest Ramlal Ramadhar also had his sexual appetite curbed when he was slapped with charges of statutory rape after having conned an underage girl into having sex during a bogus “cleansing” ritual.
The sleaze these people perpetuate is not only confined to the real estate industry or places of worship. You can find these scum bags everywhere. Even at art auctions. Brian Ramnarine used to be a prominent man there. Today he has traded his bronze sculptures for steel bars in a prison somewhere only God knows. His art was con artistry: peddling fake sculptures to unsuspecting buyers for millions of dollars.
And how can you forget the tragic death of Natasha Ramen? It’ll break your heart. Natasha did nearly everything she could to stop the man from hurting her more than he already did. Hemant Megnath, a real estate agent tricked her into his apartment on a pretense, and raped her. Just one month prior to trial, Megnath stalked Natasha, plunged a knife into her neck and drew it across her throat.
Then there was the “Ramsundar Gang” – real wild west crime family that operated in Richmond Hill, scamming people in a brazen immigration and real estate outfit. Master mind and father Shane Ramsundar, wife Gomatee and daughter Shantel will serve a combined 418 years in prison. It’s all in the family.
How about Deonarine “Lloyd” Persaud, the Long Island juror in a medical malpractice lawsuit who tried to sell a verdict for a cut in the payout? He made one for the books; it was the first time in the history of the state of New York that such an incidence became public. How did a man so high in religious sensitivities stooped so low? It’s pathetic.
Wait, there’s more. Remember Amar Singh? Yeah, he was the leader in an identity theft ring, manufacturing thousands of bogus credit cards and using them on massive shopping sprees and luxury vacations. His girl friend, Neaj Punjani Singh, was his top lieutenant. It took a two year stake out to take them down.
The mystifying litany of our foolishness continues. The story of Dr. Anand Persaud is one of abuse and violation of professional responsibility. Dr. Persaud wasn’t going to stop; he developed an addiction to selling prescriptions for oxycontin (a highly addictive opiate) without medical documentation. He was milking the Medicaid programme, somewhere to a tune of $1.4 million. The Medicaid Fraud Unit had to bust him. The “feel good” doctor faces 15 years in prison if found guilty.
Of late, EZJet boss, Sonny Ramdeo became a sort of tabloid jokes regarding his motions to change his guilty plea to wire fraud overturned. His flight of fancy have come full circle: rags to riches, riches to rags plus jail time. According to court proceedings, Ramdeo is alleged to have embezzled several million dollars from a hospital chain with which he worked, and plugged some of it into EZJet, a charter that he ran from JFK airport to Guyana. He’s a one hop, not stop to jail.
But so it looks like for the “money jet” guy also, Khamraj Lall, who was flying too high, too fast. US federal agents in Puerto Rico detected a large sum of cash, totalling more than $600,000 in plastic bags during routine investigations. His woes have just begun; US investigators are finding out more and more questionable money transactions that suggest he was going around money laundering laws. Now we know about his secret airport hangar at Cheddi Jagan International airport …his secret entrance and exit bypassing customs in Guyana.
He has to thank the PPP government, in part, for inculcating the brazenness and big headed-ness in him. Look where he’s at now.
Moral confusion is a deadly weakness and it has reached epic proportions in the East Indian community. We have lost our moral compass. Community leaders, like religious clerics, have failed to speak out boldly, denouncing unequivocally the onslaught of unwitting victims. Brutal acts of commission and yawning acts of omission both strengthen the hand of the devil.
Is it that bad? Hell, yes. And before I sound like Glenn Beck, let me tell you, this problem is real. So is jail time.