A high-ranking official at one of the nation's largest private prison operators has been accused by his daughter-in-law of intimidation and harassment in a Boulder domestic dispute -- including threatening to initiate a federal inquiry into her legal status by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) -- according to court documents and this account from Prison Legal News.
Thomas Wierdsma is a senior vice president for The GEO Group, which operates more than one-hundred prisons around the world, including the ICE detention center in Aurora and eight other facilities that hold detainees scheduled for deportation. More than half of GEO's contracts in the United States are with the federal government.
The allegations against Wierdsma stem from domestic violence charges filed against his son Charles by Charles's wife, Beatrix Szeremi, a Hungarian immigrant. The senior Wierdsma began eviction proceedings in Boulder to remove the couple from a house he owns. But in a counterclaim, Szeremi contends the eviction process is intended "solely to retaliate, intimidate, harass and distress Ms. Szeremi, who he knows to be a witness in a criminal case(s) against his son."
Szermi has alleged in police reports and in the civil case that Charles Wierdsma has assaulted her, attempted to drown her, choked her and falsely imprisoned her. She obtained a temporary restraining order against him last summer (made permanent in October) and is seeking a divorce. According to court records, Charles pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault in September and was sentenced to sixty days in jail and two years of probation.
Szeremi's complaint maintains that, despite a no-contact order for Charles and his family, Thomas Wierdsma has continued to contact her by phone and e-mail, seeking her eviction.
One e-mail to Szeremi from the senior Wierdsma, excerpted in the complaint, reads: "I understand that you currently have no plans to move out of our home. I will be copying the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement with this and other information. As you know, I funded the legal work and processing fees for you to become a citizen, but am now disappointed in your actions which now require legal proceedings."
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Szremi claims that Wierdsma's "attempts to trigger a sham deportation proceeding...are designed by him to interfere with her ability to testifty against his son."
According to the PLN report, Wierdsma's eviction effort has been dropped. The counterclaim is scheduled to go to trial next July.
More from our Prison Life archive: "Private prisons' blueprint for success: more lobbying, less security."