Victims of Circumstance

Daniel Snay, Timothy Elliott, Thomas Nierman and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula lived for days, weeks, months or perhaps even years in violation of the terms of the terms of their probation, until chance happenings put them in the spotlight.

Daniel Snay

In 1974 and again in 1976, Daniel Snay committed two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 years of age.  In 1987, he committed an additional four counts of indecent assault and battery on a person aged 14 or older.  Over the next 20 years, Mr. Snay repaid his debt to society and stayed out of any further trouble.  In 2008, he was gainfully employed as a truck driver in Mendon, Massachusetts, when he “won $10 Million in the Massachusetts Billion Dollar Blockbuster lottery.”  At the time he collected the first installment of the prize, it was discovered that he had failed to properly update his address, putting him in a status of “Not in Compliance-Failure to Confirm Address.”  Had Mr. Snay never won the lottery, it is likely that his probation violation would never have been discovered.

Timothy Elliott

Timothy Elliott also won the lottery in Massachusetts, purchasing his winning ticket in November 2007 while on probation for “unarmed bank robbery.”  The terms of his probation required that he abstain from gambling.  Had he not won the lottery, it would likely have never been discovered that he was playing.  Mr. Elliott’s story did not end too badly, as he was allowed to keep the $1,000,000 jackpot and was only “ordered to retroactively pay monthly probation supervision fees of $65.”

Thomas Nierman

Thomas Nierman was in a situation similar to Daniel Snay, a sex offender who had failed to keep his address up to date, when he appeared on a local news broadcast in Detroit in July 2012 to describe the beating he had received at the hands of homophobic thugs.  Unfortunately for him, several viewers, including state police, recognized Mr. Nierman and he was quickly arrested for violating his probation.  It is very unfortunate that Mr. Nierman was himself the victim of a crime, and even more unfortunate for him that this brought his failure to register his new address to the attention of law enforcement.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula

Mr. Nakoula, after committing bank fraud in 2009, was released on probation in June 2011.  Some of the terms of his probation included not using aliases and not using devices capable of accessing the internet.  On September 11, 2012, a “planned” and “complex attack” was executed against the US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, eventually resulting in four deaths, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.  Rather than acknowledging the nature of the attack, anti-US sentiments were blamed on an obscure film, only available on YouTube, called Innocence of Muslims, which has since been attributed to Mr. Nakoula.  Unfortunately, Mr. Nakoula’s work on the film was done under one or more aliases, thus violating the terms of his probation.

The Moral of the Story

Although many have been quick to assume the US government is attempting to suppress Mr. Nakoula’s first amendment rights by arresting him for violating the terms of his probation as a proxy for arresting him for blasphemy, he is not alone in having such a thing happen to him.  When a person is on probation and living outside the terms of that probation, he or she lives with the understanding that any chance occurrence can bring them to the attention of law enforcement.  And just like Colonel Sanders’ big head and tiny body, what has been seen cannot be unseen, no matter how much we wish it were so:

big head tiny body


4 thoughts on “Victims of Circumstance

  1. I have no problem whatsoever with the feds enforcing Nikkoula’s parole agreement. But I have huge problems with the timing. The parole violation in question — the posting of the YouTube video — happened in July. After the embassy attacks, Obama and Hilary issued apologies to Jihadis who claimed to be offended, when they should have stood up for the First Amendment rights of Americans to criticize Islam. Obama and Hilary also expressed support for global UN initiatives to criminalize “hate” speech that supposedly offends Islamists. They then arrested Nakoula and made sure that the world saw the picture of the arrest.

    The optics are terrible. It is as if they wanted to show Islamists that he was being arrested for making the video and not for unrelated parole violations.

    I would have liked to have seen them delay the arrest. Indeed, I would rather have the guy flee than to see our government appease Jihadists and fail to stand up for freedom of thought and speech.

    • The point is that they were likely unaware of the violation(s) back in July as they were only brought to light by the use of his video as the scapegoat in the embassy protests/attacks. Perhaps a better point would be to note the probation violation, let the attention die down, then (as it is a non-violent crime) arrest him for it at a much later date so the arrest does not appear to be connected to the film in any way.

  2. From
    vic·tim   /ˈvɪktɪm/ Show Spelled[vik-tim] noun
    1. a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency: a victim of an automobile accident.
    2. a person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or by some impersonal agency: a victim of misplaced confidence; the victim of a swindler; a victim of an optical illusion.
    3. a person or animal sacrificed or regarded as sacrificed: war victims.
    4. a living creature sacrificed in religious rites.

    Nope. Don’t see that it fits.

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