Prior to the publication of our September 10 cover story "Trailers Are for Travelers," reporter Kara Platoni wrote a letter to imprisoned scam artist John Patrick Hay. The itinerant Scottish ex-con is one member of a criminal troika that officials believe defrauded Home Depot of as much as $1 million. Officials also believe the three are linked to the Irish Travelers, a shadowy ethnic subculture with a reputation for conducting home improvement and shoplifting scams.
Hay's response, in which he denies several of these claims, did not arrive until after that story's publication deadline. Here, in edited form, we reproduce the more relevant questions and answers from this exchange.
Q: Are you, Mr. Davenport, or Ms. Broderick members of the Travelers? If so, can you tell me what the life of a Traveler entails? If you are Travelers, have you ever experienced any discrimination as a result?
A: None of the three of us are travelers, nor have we ever been, so all I know of their lifestyle is what I have seen on TV.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your personal history -- for example, what kinds of jobs have you worked, where have you traveled, where are you from originally?
A: I was born in Glasgow, Scotland, but moved to the northwest of England around 1968. ... I have been self-employed most of my life and at one time I ran a large bingo hall -- once in Manchester, once in Liverpool. I also retailed and wholesaled watches and jewelry for many years. While in America we made and sold bracelets and earrings from semiprecious stones -- and loved doing that.
Q: I understand Mr. Davenport was once a civil engineer and Ms. Broderick was a hairdresser -- can you tell me anything else about their lives?
A: Mr. Davenport (Tony) worked in construction all over the Middle East and worked in Iraq for about four years, constructing the bunkers for Saddam Hussein (when he was considered to be one of the good guys). Linda was a hairdresser and went to people's houses and did their hair in their own houses. They came to America around 1991.
Q: I understand you were deported in 2000 -- can you tell me why?
A: I was arrested in 1993 going back to England from Las Vegas and in possession of 1 kg of cocaine. Instead of smuggling, I was charged with drug trafficking and received ten years' imprisonment in Nevada state prison. Upon my release I was deported.
Q: When, and for what reason, were you allowed to reenter the United States?
A: I came back to the US illegally in 2001.
Q: You mentioned that the government had seized more money than was due to Home Depot. What is the true amount of money you believe you gained from the Home Depot, and what should be the full amount of your restitution?
A: We took about $350,000 from Home Depot -- but probably spent about $100,000 to obtain this -- so, in all, the restitution should have been around $250,000.
Q: You mentioned that $500,000 of your money had already been in the bank for several years -- how was that money earned?
A: Tony was paid $25,000 per month tax free in the Middle East in the early '80s, and around 1986 or so he applied for a permanent visa for the US. This was granted by the American Embassy in Athens. At the time he had to show proof that he had funds of over $1 million.
Q: How did you plan to spend the money taken from the Home Depot?
A: We just wanted to retire and live the rest of our lives, knowing we would get no benefits of any sort as we were illegal. We knew we would need a good nest egg just to survive.
I mentioned in my first reply to you that since being incarcerated in June 2002, we have had no money of any kind, and asked for the odd $10 or $20. I note that no mention of this was made in your reply to me asking for this further information. It would appear to me, that while we are in prison for our action, that we are not the only people who want something for nothing.
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