FARMINGTON, Mo. -- When Dow Boyer was caught skimming money from the restaurant where she worked as general manager, her crime led to a chain of events that has left the wife and mother battling to stay in the country.
Boyer was convicted in December of stealing proceeds from vending machines and daily deposits at CiCi’s Pizza in Farmington. She did this in part to pay bills after her husband damaged both his legs in a work accident and required 12 surgeries, The Daily Journal in Park Hills reports. She was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to repay nearly $51,000.
“I wanted to make things right and I have been working hard to do that. I know what I did was wrong,” Boyer said.
But the arrest had far-reaching implications for Boyer, who did not know she was in the country illegally. Boyer arrived in the U.S. at a young age after her mother married a military man she met in Thailand.
Now, Boyer is being held at the Lincoln County Jail in Troy, awaiting deportation. She said she hasn’t been to Thailand since she was 10 and doesn’t speak the language.
Immigration officials declined comment. Her husband said deportation could occur within a month.
“My stepfather was in the military so I always thought I was a citizen. I have lived my life as a citizen. I pay taxes. I have a Social Security card, and had a military I.D.,” Boyer told the newspaper.
Boyer has a 27-year-old son serving in the military. Her second son, an 18-year-old high school senior, has already enlisted. Boyer also has a 5-year-old daughter.
Debbie Peterson, co-owner of CiCi’s Pizza with her husband, said Boyer is a good person who made a mistake and took responsibility for it. The Petersons and others in the community are doing what they can to make sure Boyer stays in the U.S., including an online petition urging Gov. Jay Nixon to step in.
“She is a good mother and we don’t want her away from her children. They are just taking her over there in an airplane and dropping her off with no money and no place to live or anything,” said Peterson.