Initially, the young lady with the lead foot identified herself as Leila Lopes, 17, of Brazil. She had entered the country illegally less than two weeks, and was driving a borrowed car when she ran down Patrolman Michael Shea, who was working a traffic detail in Peabody, MA.
It turns out that she is actually one Nilma Figueredo and she’s 22. Somehow she figured out that she’d most likely get into less trouble if she said she was a minor. It turns out that “Leila Lopes” is an actress of moderate fame in Brazil.
Nonetheless, the local Brazilian community sprang to her defense. They raised the $10,000 cash bail for her, and got her out of jail. And when people raised a stink about all this support for her and none for Officer Shea, they raised more money and took out a newspaper ad offering their sympathies. I think they also started raising money for his medical care, but it seems to have come in a distant third behind protecting his assailant and their own PR.
Now it’s when things get really, really interesting. Once Figueredo was released from local custody, she was arrested again by federal authorities, who began deportation proceedings.
This might seem like a double-whammy to you, but that’s because you aren’t well-versed in the fine nuances of being an illegal alien in the US. Figueredo’s supporters are, however; after all, their own representatives admit that about 70% of the Brazilians living in Massachusetts are here illegally.
In most cases when an illegal alien is arrested for a serious crime (and if nearly killing a police officer while driving without a license isn’t, I’m not sure what is), their deportation is put on hold until the criminal case is settled and any sentence is served. In her case, though, there are fears that the feds (who get first access to her if they want it) might fast-track her deportation and bypass the state charges against her.
Which is exactly what her backers want. They want her deported back to Brazil immediately, before standing trial for nearly killing Patrolman Shea. That way, if she likes, she can sneak back across the border to the US, assume yet another name, and live free of ever having to face justice.
And what is the biggest concern weighing on the mind of those backers, who raised ten grand to free her in such rapid time? They want to make sure they get their money back if she’s deported.