One Alien Jams the Justice System for 22 Years with Eight Federal Court Cases

Why wasn't he put in jail?

By David North on July 28, 2022

Looking at DHS press releases, I noticed this one issued on July 26 from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: “ERO Los Angeles removes Armenian with multiple prior removals”.

ERO stands for Enforcement and Removal Operations.

As a writer, I would not have cited initials known only to insiders or used some form of the word “remove” five times in the headline and lede sentence, as ICE did in this case, but my curiosity was piqued by the unusual home country (Armenia) and this question: How many times was he jailed for repeated illegal entries? He was reported to have three of them. A second illegal entry can often lead to a jail sentence if the government feels strongly enough about it, and a third one could, and should, lead to more prison time.

The short answer is that I could not find any indication that he had been prosecuted for any of his illegal entries, but I did find that this man, Vigen Patatanyan, now 59, has spent most of the last 22 years living illegally in the U.S. and occupying much governmental attention. His PACER files (plural) are eight in number, as he had two cases in Federal District Court plus two appeals to the Ninth Circuit plus four bankruptcy cases; the total number of documents in those cases, a measure of how much government time he has used, was 238. These are petitions, rulings, reports, and orders, most taking up several pages. I did not look up his record, if any, in state courts, but know that in addition to his years in and out of judicial branch cases, he was busy in the immigration courts as well.

Patatanyan, in short, had ample use of what the lawyers call “due process”. There was no indication in the ICE press release, incidentally, of his four bankruptcy cases. In the one I examined, he had diddled nine different banks, run up debts of about $159,000 he could not pay, and managed to pay them off (with the court’s permission) at the $4,617 level. That works out to about three cents on the dollar.

Perhaps if he had been popped into jail after he being caught the second time as an illegal entrant, he would not have run up all those bills and created so much work for the feds, both in DHS and in the judiciary. It would have cost the taxpayers some initial money, but it might have saved a lot in the long run.

The other thing I learned from the press release is the spelling of, if not the pronunciation of, Armenia’s main airport. It is the Zvartnots International Airport, at Yerevan; that the name of the landing field was included in the press statement but no mention of his eight court cases is interesting in and of itself.