Narrow Escape

Plus: Havard Pleads Guilty

In April, artwork by Grace and Jean Yves was included in an IRC fund-raiser called "Artvocacy," featuring art and photography by refugees, aid workers and missionaries in war-torn regions. The show raised more than $6,000, double the amount made by any previous IRC fund-raiser. (A significant part of the IRC budget comes from private donations.) Over spring break, the Komayombi children led art workshops in beading at the African Chamber of Commerce's Youth Summit.

"It's amazing how much they have achieved in such a difficult situation," says Katy Frank, public relations coordinator for the IRC.

The children give their verdicts on:

American public schools. Much easier than their private schools in Africa, but how do the students get away with kissing in the halls or being disrespectful toward teachers? "We would never do that in my country," Nadia says.

Texans. They talk very fast and don't sound like other Americans.

Music. Thumbs up for gospel, reggae and country, thumbs down on hip-hop.

Six Flags. "Too scary," Jean Yves says.

And homesickness. They all miss their grandfather and other family members. They don't know whether some are alive or dead.

But the best thing about America, Nadia says, is that the schools are free and safe. The Komayombi children think about returning to the DRC to visit, but Dallas now is home. --Glenna Whitley

Havard Pleads Guilty
Almost a year after he was arrested in the north of England, former SMU student and international fugitive Douglas Havard, 22, pleaded guilty last week in a British courtroom to two fraud charges.

"All I am able to say at this stage is that Mr. Havard indeed entered a guilt plea on Monday 9th May," Felicity Bull, spokesman for the United Kingdom's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, said in an e-mail. Havard pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to money launder. Each charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years.

Havard was apprehended on June 4, 2004, by the special unit and the West Yorkshire police in Leeds in connection with an international cybercrime and identity theft ring that targeted British banks. At the time, Havard was charged with possession of an illegal firearm, carrying a phony Spanish passport and possession of 17,700 euros in counterfeit traveler's checks.

The Winston School salutatorian had been on the lam since jumping bond in 2002 while facing charges in Dallas and Collin counties including aggravated robbery, counterfeiting drivers licenses and drug dealing. (See "Crazy White Mother," December 22, 2002, and "The Devil Next Door," October 21, 2004.)

Havard's sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 27 in Leeds Crown Court, says Paul Jennings, press officer for the Crown Prosecutors Office. What's next for the preppy fugitive?

"The U.K. has received a formal request for Havard to be extradited back to the U.S.A.," Jennings wrote in an e-mail. "These proceedings are still before the Bow Street Magistrates Court, which is located in the capitol London and they will continue until such time as our own 'domestic case' i.e. the matter in Leeds is concluded and Havard is sentenced. At which time Havard could ask that he be allowed to serve his 'English prison sentence,' should he receive one, in one of your prisons or simply remain here in our prison system. Then if the extradition request is successful, he would at the end of that sentence be made available to the United States for transportation back to the U.S.A."

Will Havard choose to remain in the U.K. or return to the United States to be near his Dallas family? If they serve marmite in English prisons, he may want out of the U.K. as soon as possible. --Glenna Whitley

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