Ruling allows southeast Missouri woman to avoid deportation to Thailand

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FARMINGTON, Missouri — A year ago, Komdown "Dow" Boyer of Bonne Terre, Missouri, appeared headed for deportation to Thailand after she was convicted of stealing from the pizza restaurant where she worked, even though prosecutors and her employers fought on her behalf.

But the Daily Journal newspaper in Park Hills, Missouri, (http://bit.ly/1MrAKbq ) reports that the immigration case was dismissed Monday, and that Boyer can stay in the U.S.

Boyer, who moved to the U.S. as a child after her mother married an American soldier, was convicted in 2013 of stealing money from the Cici's pizza restaurant where she had worked for a decade. She was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay about $51,000 in restitution.

Officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement put her in jail in March 2014 and said she would be deported for the crime. An hour before her plane was to take off in June, she was allowed to return home pending an investigation. ICE officials allowed her to keep her green card.

Boyer's problems began when she started skimming money from Cici's to pay medical bills after her husband's legs were crushed in a work-related accident. The theft was discovered and charges filed in 2012.

Boyer admitted to the crime immediately and agreed to pay back the money she took. It was during court proceedings that she discovered she was not a U.S. citizen as she had believed. She also learned that the charges and guilty plea would result in her potentially being deported to Thailand, a country where she was born but hadn't visited since age 9.

Her worst nightmare almost became a reality in June when she was awakened in the middle of the night and driven to Chicago to await a flight to Thailand. The plane was literally on the runway when the order came in that she would be freed pending further investigation.

Her attorney, Javad Khazaeli, filed a joint motion with St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Jarred Mahurin to set aside the judgment and conviction and withdraw the guilty plea. The order setting aside the guilty plea was approved in December, allowing an immigration judge to dismiss her case.

"She is once again a lawful permanent resident, a status she has had for the last 30-plus years," Khazaeli said.

Boyer's husband, Justin, said the ruling came as a huge relief.

"I feel like I can make plans for my family's future and I haven't been able to do that for quite some time," he said.


Information from: Daily Journal, http://dailyjournalonline.com

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