Love, American Style

Illegal immigrant Jon Vaupel is not from Mexico, but he's a borderline case.

When Vaupel asked his wife about the calls, he says, she told him that he'd better not give her any grief because all she had to do was make one phone call, and his ass would be on a plane back to Australia. (Asked for an interview, Schwab told Westword, "You really cannot call me; it's not wise," and then hung up.)

In May, Vaupel was stopped by the cops again, this time for driving under restraint, fictitious plates and failure to provide proof of insurance for his Ford Bronco. He told police that he had insurance on the couple's other car, a Cadillac, and thought it applied to the truck as well.

On June 13, 2004, it was Schwab who called the cops for a domestic disturbance. Vaupel was downstairs reading to his son when he heard a racket -- his wife throwing stuff around to make her call sound legit to the 911 operator, he says. When Jeffco deputies arrived, the baby was calm in Vaupel's arms. They left the house without making an arrest, but Schwab ran out after them. Then one of the officers followed her into the basement, where she showed the officer a blank Australian driver's license with a picture of Vaupel, as well as another license with a picture of someone else. Schwab told the deputies that Vaupel was selling fake Aussie licenses, birth certificates and business-registration cards, making up to $2,000 per falsified document. The deputies found a high-tech printer alongside the computer, as well as a laminator.

Stacy Schwab
Stacy Schwab
A private eyeful: An investigator caught immigration 
official Mario Ortiz with Stacy Schwab.
A private eyeful: An investigator caught immigration official Mario Ortiz with Stacy Schwab.

Vaupel told the deputies that he was just "playing around," and that it wasn't illegal to make fake documents in his homeland, just illegal to use them. They didn't buy it. Vaupel was taken into custody in Jefferson County, where he was charged with two felony counts of forgery, one felony possession of forgery devices, misdemeanor harassment and misdemeanor menacing.

When he bonded out two weeks later, his wife wouldn't let him back into the house. He moved in with a friend.

On July 2, Vaupel heard that his wife would be appearing in a Jeffco courtroom. She wanted to move to Texas with her son but would need permission to leave the state because of her deferred sentence. Vaupel got to the courthouse as fast as he could, but he was too late: Schwab had already gotten permission to leave.

Vaupel said the judge told him that the only thing he could do to try to stop her was file for a legal separation, which would make his wife subject to custody arrangements. Vaupel says he still thought they could reconcile, but he filed for separation anyway.

When he got back to his friend's house, the police were waiting for him: Schwab had called in a report that he'd been harassing her that morning. Vaupel told the cops that it was a lie, that if they called the courthouse, they would find out that he'd been there all the time. The deputies did, and Vaupel's alibi checked out.

When the deputies confronted Schwab about her call, she changed her story. She was confused, she said. "I don't know, I'm sorry," Schwab told the officers.

Vaupel had neighbors keeping an eye on the house. A friend told him that both a white BMW and a Toyota Land Cruiser had been parking there overnight. Another friend ran the plates for Vaupel. Both were listed as belonging to Mario Ortiz, district director of the Denver office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Vaupel hired a private investigator to get pictures of his wife and Ortiz.

Vaupel would soon see that name again. Later that month he learned that his wife had revoked her sponsorship of his petition to become a permanent U.S. resident. The revocation was confirmed with a letter to Schwab signed by Mario Ortiz.

In October 2004, Vaupel was back at the Jeffco courthouse, this time for a hearing on the June harassment, menacing and phony-document charges.

That's when his public defender, David Jones, told Vaupel that federal agents were there to take him into custody. "All of a sudden, and this is rare, you show up for court, your client is out on bond, and federal agents are waiting in the courtroom," Jones says. "Something was expedited. Those orders came down really fast."

The next day, at the federal immigration detention facility in Aurora, Vaupel received a formal deportation order. Because of his illegal status, he was facing an expedited removal and wouldn't even have a deportation hearing before a judge.

But then Vaupel's immigration attorneys went to the media with photos of Schwab and Ortiz, pitching the story of an immigration honcho deporting a man while having an affair with the man's estranged wife. Denver television picked up the story, as did newspapers here and in Texas and Australia.

Ortiz was "under federal investigation for allegedly having a relationship with the estranged wife of a man his agency is seeking to deport," the Rocky Mountain News reported on October 23, 2004.

In the midst of the media furor, Vaupel filed for a visa reserved for victims of domestic violence at the hands of U.S. citizens. "Stacy has punched me in the face, slapped me, shoved me, thrown objects at me and falsely imprisoned me," he said. "She has called me a plethora of abusive names, including, but not limited to: fucking dickhead, asshole, moron, stupid, deranged and demented, and fucking loser."

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