Letter to the Editor

Release Sparkman during appeal

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

To the editor:

As friends of Greg and Lisa Sparkman for over 20 years, we are confused about his incarceration. Our federal judicial system has taken away a strong family, business and community leader for reasons I cannot fathom. Greg faces a minimum sentence of 15 years for a supposed 5-year-old arson case that had no apparent motive and no benefit to him, all based on the testimony of a convicted methamphetamine manufacturer who was released early for testifying against Greg.

I have spoken to Greg's attorneys weekly since his conviction, and they don't understand why federal agents chose to pursue this, as it was already cleared by local and state authorities. The only reason that seems plausible is some 20-year-old crimes that Greg was charged with and found not guilty. I have known Greg all these years, and he is one of the most compassionate, moral Christians I've ever met.

I believe Greg and his family have suffered enough. Christmas was the worst day of their lives. What kind of government takes such a strong leader away for petty crimes, when sentencing is the same whether it's a $1,000 loss or a $1 million crime? It's unfair and unconstitutional.

I have no doubt Greg will win his appeal, as our government did not play fair in his trial. Greg should be released for his sake and his family's.

We love you, Greg and Lisa, and so do all the others whom you have touched. Please hang in there.

MARK and KIM VanMATRE, Cape Girardeau