A Denton County family, rocked by the crimes and federal conviction of a former insurance agent named Vincent Bazemore, now believe the federal government shutdown is effectively turning his sentence for white-collar crime into a death sentence.
"It was shocking," Angelee Bailey said of her now ex-husband's decisions and his 2013 conviction for mail fraud. "Just couldn't even wrap our minds around what was happening."
According to federal prosecutors, Bazemore, between 2007 and 2009 "engaged in a scheme to obtain substantial commissions by inducing life insurance companies to issue policies on applications of individuals who appeared to be wealthy and seeking insurance for estate planning purposes, when in fact, the applicants were of modest financial means, and the policies were intended to be transferred to investors."
Plainly stated, Bazemore was convicted on four counts of mail fraud for selling expensive life insurance policies to people who would never see the money. Insurance policy payoffs went to investors instead. And he received inflated commissions.
The original sentence was 292 months in prison and he was ordered to pay more than $4 million in restitution. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the conviction but later reduced the sentence to 188 months in prison with three-year supervised release and $2,685,574.00 in restitution. But now, nearly six years after Bazemore's conviction, his family has a new concern.
"It was obvious that something was very, very wrong," his daughter Kennedy Bailey said.
It took his family a month to find out that at a medium security federal prison in Victorville, California that the 44-year-old suffered a brain hemorrhage in early November. Emergency surgery to save his life came with a deadly diagnosis.
"They say that he has stage 3 brain cancer with 6 to 12 months to live," Angelee Bailey said of the astrocytoma diagnosis. Allowed to visit him at a hospital in Victorville for only a few hours in December, the family was not allowed to take photographs. But they say he is paralyzed on one side of his body, is unable to speak, and that while armed guards stand nearby that his feet are shackled to the foot of the bed and the one arm he can move his handcuffed to the hospital bed rail.
"We're still trying to digest it. It's really too much to process," Angelee Bailey said.
And, because of the government shutdown, the process of getting a compassionate release, so he can die at home has slowed to a crawl.
"They've already used up two months of his six months left," his ex-wife said. "And we don't have time to wait."
And evidence of that slowdown that the Bazemore/Bailey family fears is now at play, came in a simple email. I reached out to the Bureau of Prisons for more information. This is the email I got in return.: "Due to the partial government shutdown, responses to inquiries will be delayed. We appreciate your patience during this time."
The federal inmate's family says that with his terminal cancer diagnosis that they have neither patience nor time. "This was not his sentence. His sentence is not to die in prison," Angelee Bailey said. "And his sentence is to not be allowed the medical care he deserves in the end of life."
"But from us looking it, this is our dad," Kennedy Bailey said of the stepdad who has been in her life since she was a young child. "And this wasn't his sentence and he was serving his sentence. But yeah, it's hard."
Hard knowing that without help from lawmakers, or from attorneys his family cannot afford, that the government shutdown could effectively make it a death sentence instead.