Longform

Shooting Star

Page 6 of 11

At the age of 18, she went to Paris and managed, all by herself, to find a job as film critic at Le Nouvel Observateur, a prestigious Paris magazine, which is no mean feat for a person of her age and background.

Her inquisitive mind has led her to explore certain forbidden fields which cannot, by any means, be approved of, but one thing is sure is that, given her zest for life, the wide range of her interests, she does not qualify as a habitual substance user. Her curiosity as a writer with a university training in literature may have led her to a "trip" she is not about to relive soon.

Being a well-adjusted person with a good and stable relationship with her husband, this regrettable incident in her life should serve as a reminder that nobody is immune to errors of judgment and this should serve as a strong deterrent in the future.

Simone T. Tardif
On February 21, 1996, Michelle pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of possessing drug paraphernalia, and was sentenced to probation. The Immigration and Naturalization Service was notified that she was a "criminal alien."

Court records indicate that less than a month later, on March 18, Michelle tested positive for opiates on her first court-ordered urinalysis. Her participation in required drug counseling was characterized as "sporadic at best."

On April 30, Michelle was busted again after police saw her leaving a crack house on East Garfield Street in Phoenix. According to a police report, she failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign and, when she was pulled over, consented to a search. The officer found six used syringes in the car, and noticed Michelle had fresh blood spots on her right forearm, on top of a vein. Michelle told him she injected heroin earlier in the day. She was arrested, and a later, more thorough search turned up a rock of cocaine hidden in her right shoe.

Michelle was released from jail the next morning.
On May 14, facing a new set of felony drug charges, Michelle entered the Chandler Valley Hope Residential Treatment Program. She was expelled two days later for using drugs in the program, and for possession of heroin and a syringe. Valley Hope transported her to Tempe St. Luke's Hospital for detoxification and treatment. Michelle was caught shooting up twice in the first 24 hours; she was kicked out of St. Luke's on May 17.

Three days later, Michelle's probation was formally revoked, and a warrant was issued for her arrest. It took almost two weeks to get her into custody. She was arrested the morning of June 4 at her home in Tempe.

This time, Michelle remained in jail.
A probation officer interviewed her there, and wrote in a presentence report dated July 8, 1996: "Despite her arrest for a new crime while on probation, this officer sees the defendant as an individual who has the capability of regaining sobriety, and again becoming a contributing and law abiding citizen." (Actually, she was a resident alien.)

The officer recommended a six-month jail term, with early release into a residential treatment program.

One week later, Michelle wrote a letter from jail to the judge who would decide whether to let her out for treatment, or lock her up for a couple of years. They are the words of a lucid, seemingly penitent Mrs. Meat Puppet:

From: Michelle Tardif A073849
Estrella Jail C-302

To: Honorable Judge Alfred Rogers
201 W. Jefferson, Superior Court
Phoenix, Arizona

Your Honor:
This is probably the most difficult task I have had to accomplish: instill trust and confidence in my good character, now that I am an inmate and a convicted drug offender. Having been an addict for the last 11U2 years, I lost my ability to convince anyone of the soundness of my judgment. I knew it at the time (before my incarceration) although I was quite powerless to change without a complete and utter turnaround, affecting every aspect of my life.

I must have undergone some measure of transformation in the meantime because I am now able to think and speak with a clearer conscience and a much greater sense of honesty, for the first time in so long.

I would like to express my profound dismay and disappointment with myself and how I (mis) managed this whole drug-induced nightmare that has landed me in jail. First I'd like to admit that from the time of my arrest in September 'til the moment I was put in custody, I had not succeeded in remaining drug-free. The several attempts I made to "kick" the habit on my own were fully of 2-day agony and horror. I tried Methadone, detox at St. Luke's, TASC--only to reuse, a veritable non-stop festival of stubborn, fear-based (and fear-of-pain based) avoidance of reality.

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David Holthouse
Contact: David Holthouse