What happens over there doesn’t stay over there, unless you pay the money
Written by Dalbert Sanchez
When I first heard about the US Secret Service agents debacle, and these top cops refusing to pay the Colombian hookers after sleeping with them, reminded me of the story where the husband of a powerful Canadian senator went to the Dominican Republic and did the same thing: He refused to pay a hooker after she spent the night with him in Puerto Plata. Unfortunately, for one Dominican mother, the senator and her husband were Canadians and not Americans. Susana Rodriguez is the name of the Dominican national, who has not seen her daughters in almost ten years. They are in Canada and the mother believes they were legally kidnapped by a higher power. Susana met her husband (Keith Hamilton) in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic in 1997, while she worked as a bartender in Costambar where he owned a small hotel. After getting married, they had twin daughters that were born in Puerto Plata in 1998. A year later, Susana's husband adopted her daughter from a previous marriage.
Susana traveled to Canada for the first time on a visitor visa in May of 1997, a visa that was issued for two years. However, after she came to Canada for a visit, she went back to the Dominican Republic (voluntarily) eight weeks later. A couple of years after they were married, a man by the name of Douglas LeBreton, a friend of Susana’s husband came to visit for a week. Susana didn’t know who Lebreton was until later, when something happened. “I will pay a price for the rest of my life,” she says. As he bragged about his influence, Mr. LeBreton gave her a business card from his wife: Canada’s Senator, Marjorie LeBraton. At the back of the card, he wrote his residence telephone number in Ontario.
Just as the US Secret Service agents did in Cartagena, Colombia, the day, Mr. LeBraton arrived in Puerto Plata; he went out looking for prostitutes. He asked Mr. Hamilton to call him a cab: “I’m going for a drink,” he said. He ended up at Amadito, a well-known prostitution bar, south of Puerto Plata City from where he took a young escort service home. According to the prostitute, Mr. Lebreton offered her 3000 pesos for her services—the equivalency of approximately $70. As the US Secret Service agents did, the influential tourist refused to pay her after spending the night with him. “I am not paying you a dime; I was too drunk, there was no sex between the two of us,” Mr. LeBreton said. His sense of entitlement got him in trouble so to speak.
“Yes, we did have sex; I don’t care if you didn’t perform. You still have to pay me; this is my job and I stayed with you all night,” the young companion argued. Several employees and Susana heard them arguing. Susana did what she thought was right to diffuse the situation and help Mr. LeBreton. Just like some of the employees of the hotel, where the US Secret Service stayed in Cartagena, she went over to the room and gave the young prostitute—a person she did not know—the equivalency of fifteen dollars and asked her to leave. The hooker left, but she came back in the evening. According to a security guard, who worked at the motel, it would’ve been around 9 p.m. when he saw her arrived with two beers in her hands.
Allegedly, the she went up to Mr. LeBreton’s room and knocked on his door, and stayed with him all night. In the morning, it would’ve been around 10 a.m. when Merecia, one of Susana’s female employees, went and knocked on Mr. LeBreton’s room to get him up for breakfast. According to the employee, the guest looked very sleepy and expressed that he wasn’t feeling well. “He was shaky and having problem walking.” In the evening, Susana told her husband that she was concerned about Mr. LeBreton. “I don’t want to go to bed and leave your friend like that.” Mr. Hamilton asked her to call a cab and take “Doug to the hospital.”
At the clinic, they took his blood pressure and advised him to come back the next day, because the doctor had gone home. The following morning, Susana and her husband, took Mr. LeBreton back to the clinic; he ended up staying there for a couple of days. The official diagnosis from the doctor was that “something was put in his drink that made him sick.” This was likely done by the prostitute when she came back for a second time. It is possible that she did it to get even and rob him but this is unclear.
“Please, talk to the doctor and ask him not to send the records to Canada; I don’t want my wife (Marjory LeBreton) to find out about this," begged Mr. LeBreton. "This is going to cause me problems with my wife.” The doctor said it would be unethical to withhold the hospital records. "I need to get paid.” Eventually, Senator LeBreton found out about it after Mr. Hamilton called to let her know that her husband was ill. It is worth pointing out that Mr. Hamilton worked for Senator LeBreton for many years, including during the Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s area.
Senator LeBreton paid to have her husband flown to Canada and she also paid for Susana’s husband as well, to accompany him. It is unclear whether the Canadian government covered the cost, as the senator got the Department of Foreign Affairs involved. If the Canadian government did pay for her husband’s flight, it begs the question: Does the government use taxpayer’s money to have citizens flown to Canada after they travel abroad on personal trips?
Leader of the Conservative Government in the Senate
It was in 2003, when Susana’s daughters travelled to Canada to visit their father and that was the last time she saw them. Shortly after what the mother thought was a short visit or until she rendezvoused with her husband, he took her to court in Canada. They sent her court documents, giving her a couple of weeks to come to court. Did the senator push him to do that? It is unclear. Distraught and feeling betrayed, Susana ran to the Canadian embassy in Santo Domingo and applied for a visa. She was denied one because according to Canada Immigration, she had a criminal record in Canada. As a result, they awarded full custody to her husband and she has not seen her daughters in almost ten years. Despite being in Canada three times and leaving the country voluntarily, she has repeatedly applied for a visa and the Canadian government always turns it down.
“You have not satisfied me that you would leave Canada at the end of your stay as a temporary resident. In reaching this decision, I considered several factors including: You are a member of an inadmissible class of persons described in the section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. As a result, you are inadmissible to Canada,” the last rejection letter from the government said.
As part of my investigation, I contacted the Court in Canada and tried finding out if in fact, Susana had a criminal record in this country; I have not found any evidence to support that claim. While there is a possibility that this mother won’t leave the country willingly if the Canadian government grants her a visa, she believes that her husband’s powerful friend in Ottawa used her influence to basically separate her from her daughters. "[Marjory] blames me for what happened to Douglas, but how can I be responsible for something that I could've not controlled?" she asked. "He was a guest; I diidn't even know him...he knew what he was doing."
She has not been the same person ever since her daughters were taken for her. Why is the mother so concerned? “My husband is an old man,” she says. “If he passes what is going to happen to my daughters?”
While third world countries citizens opt to appreciate the business when tourists come to visit, there is much abuse committed against them, because they are too vulnerable. But sometimes, the tourists’ arrogance and sense of entitlement comes back to haunt them and hits them like a boomerang. If the US Secret Service agents would've paid the Colombian hookers after spending the night with them, they would’ve not brought so much shame and embarrassment upon the White House and their families; the same could be said about the Canadian senator's husband.
Till Senator Do Us Part?
In all indications, Senator LeBreton, have used her influence to make her former employee [Keith Hamilton] leave his Dominican wife. “If you come to Canada, you are going to cause me problems,” Mr. Hamilton told her. Ironically, although, it was under different circumstances, the senator lost a daughter; she knows what is like to lose a child. Susana knocked on many doors. She visited the Catholic Church in Santo Domingo several times and spoke to the Dominican cardinal; she contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Santo Domingo and the Dominican Embassy in Ottawa; she has told her story to the Dominican media, and even visited the office of the Dominican’s First Lady, but to no avail.
After the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested the involvement of the Dominican Embassy in Ottawa, the embassy played the role of a defense attorney on behalf of Susana’s husband. “Those girls are better off with their father than with Susana; she cannot offer them anything,” Glenys Guzman, an aide to the Dominican ambassador said. During a telephone conversation, Mrs. Guzman went on say, “She [Susana] was poisoning her husband in the Dominican Republic and making him sick. I visited his house and the twins are happy.”
When I brought up the age of the father and how concerned the mother was, Mrs. Guzman said, “If he dies, his older daughter is going to take care of them.” This does not address the fact that the mother has as much right to see her daughters. In 2009, the mother contacted the National Council for Children and Adolescents in the Dominican capital. In a letter, the Council alluded that it was unlikely for her to ever see her daughters, again.
“Your case has very little chance of ever changing, because of the strong opposition that you have to enter Canada, especially now that that lady (Marjorie LeBreton) has more state power, as she was appointed Leader of the Government in the Senate. What nobody can take away from you is the right to have your daughters, to be with them. You have to talk to your husband and make him understand the situation. Failing to make him understand and you could start a process with CONANI (National Council for Children and Adolescents) by its call letters in Spanish. This is a special procedure that might help with the return of your daughters to the Dominican Republic. Do not forget that the best place for a child is to be with their parent and nothing would compensate your love.”
I was sceptical when I first heard about Susana’s story, especially, when she talked at length about intimate details of Mr. LeBreton’s private life and his wife. “I felt bad for him after he showed me his dirty hands and fingernails,” she pointed out. “He said that he cooks at home and does all the chores, because his wife is too busy, as a government official.” He implied there was no intimacy between he and his wife, which is why Mr. LeBreton went looking for prostitutes. He was so appreciative, Susana said that he bought her a dress and flowers for taking care of him. "The next time you come to Canada, call me if you need anything; my wife is very influential and would help you with anything you need."
It wasn’t until she provided me with documents, including photos to back up her story. She even had Mr. LeBreton’s telephone number where I called, hoping to hear from him about whether Susana’s allegations were true, and to get his side of the story. When I introduced myself as a reporter, Senator LeBreton refused to allow me to speak with him and instead tried bulldozing me with her threatening tone: "If you ever call here again, I will call the police; be very careful what you write; you don't know who I am; I can get you in a lot of troubles," she said. However, after I communicated that I was recording the coversation, the senator changed her tone and admitted that she got the Canadian government involved. “They poisoned my husband over there and I had to get the Department of Foreign Affairs involved.”
Tourists are like God
When tourists visit the island, they are treated like royalty. If you interfere with the enjoyment of their holidays, you get in trouble; it’s like committing treason. Susana didn’t even know the prostitute. How can she be responsible for what happened to Mr. LeBreton? It is unfair to hold her accountable and a clear abuse of power. While the US Secret Service agents paid a price, because they thought—that as Americans—they were entitled to sleep with the Colombian prostitutes for free, Susana is a victim, a woman without voice. Sadly, in Canada, we don’t hold politicians accountable as the gringos do. Susana remains in a depressive state and is hopeful that she would some day see her daughters, again. You have to be fair and impartial; but it’s difficult to do that when you don’t have the other side of the story. I thought that contacting the senator’s husband was the right and fair thing to do. I never tried to contact Mr. LeBreton again.
The innocents always pay for the sinners.
A graduate from the School of Broadcast Journalism, Fanshawe College, London, Ontario
Postgraduate in Investigative Journalism and Television News
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