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Dean Mancuso lost his passport, and with it his normal life

American's Trip to Life's Other Side on Phuket

Sunday, October 10, 2010
DEAN MANCUSO lost his passport in 2004, and with it went his life as a normal American. He never did replace the passport, choosing instead a furtive day-to-day existence on the Thai holiday island of Phuket.

Now he is in a cell, awaiting expulsion. As the 50-year-old former Army cook would quickly concede, his decision not to get the passport replaced plunged him into a netherworld from which he has yet to emerge.

For six years, rather than contact authorities, he begged from expat tourists, avoiding any other contact with Westerners, preferring to remain friendless as he struggled to support his Thai wife and their two daughters.

When we first meet at the police station in the sprawling holiday township of Patong, Mr Mancuso's eyes brim with tears, and his voice quavers.

''I have been so afraid,'' he said. ''Because I have my two daughters to take care of. I want to live as a normal person again.

''All this time, I have been fighting with the devil, and fighting with the good.''

For six years, he has been pursing what he calls his ''occupation.'' This has involved asking for money from Western visitors on Phuket. Sometimes, he negotiates a loan that is never likely to be repaid. At other times visitors take the view that ''there but for the grace of God . . . '' and hand over cash, with no strings.

''I don't want to call myself a scam artist or a con,'' he said. ''I wouldn't steal anything from anybody. I would give them a story that I'd lost my bag, or a lady took my bag, something like that.''

On October 5, it was all over. Staff at a beachfront resort called police when he pestered guests, having been warned off once. Although Mr Mancuso always managed to find food and pay rent for a small apartment, his fraught and friendless life leaves him glad now that his six years of deception is at an end.

''I wasn't trying to be a bad person, he said. ''I just lost my passport somewhere. Call me a coward, but I just didn't have the nerve to go to the embassy. I was ashamed.''

Mr Mancuso does not even know if his parents are still alive. His father's name is Alfred Rasario, his mother's name is Lillian, and he has a brother Bruce and a sister Susan.

He is originally from Hartford, Connecticut, where he was born. But the last time he was in contact with family, it was 2001.

His daughters Crystal Daisy, aged eight, and Daisy Maria, born on 9/11 in 2003, live in poverty with their mother Nong in a northern province of Thailand.

Another daughter, now about two years old, was adopted out to a relative in Norway, Khun Nong said over the telephone, because she could not afford to feed and clothe a third child.

Mr Mancuso sends them a little money when he can, and clearly dotes on his daughters. They do not have the money for a trip south to see their father, and he dreads the idea of being expelled from Thailand and never seeing them again.

Now he is in a cell with 10 or 12 others at the Immigration Office in Phuket City, the island's administrative capital, awaiting a decision on what might happen next.

Embassy officials are likely to be trying to contact relatives in the US this week to see if the family is willing to help. Once the fare is raised, he will probably be expelled to the US.

''I want to get my life back together,'' he said, ''to give my daughters what they really need. I want to come back here to Thailand.''

At the very least, he will finally get that lost passport replaced, and perhaps with it, a second chance at a normal existence.
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Comments

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''I don't want to call myself a scam artist or a con,'' he said. ''I wouldn't steal anything from anybody. I would give them a story that I'd lost my bag, or a lady took my bag, something like that.''

Cognitive dissonance

Posted by LivinLOS on October 10, 2010 14:58

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We all have our struggles but you have to start by being responsible...No excuses!

Posted by sky on October 10, 2010 16:00

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"He never did replace the passport, choosing instead a furtive day-to-day existence on the Thai holiday island of Phuket."

I guess that makes sense, for an idiot.

Posted by Lee on October 10, 2010 16:44

Editor Comment:

Lee, When you make your first big mistake, please let us know.

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Actually, i feel sorry for this guy. He sounds like he needs professional help. There must be more to the story than just that he was 'ashamed' to get a new passport after the tsunami. What's to be ashamed about?

I hope that when he gets back home, he gets the help that he needs. I've heard that people being kicked out of Thailand have to fund their own air fare. How is he going to do that if he has no friends of family or source of income.

Any expats wanna buy him a ticket...........?

Posted by Mr Man on October 10, 2010 18:32

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(moderated)

Posted by Name # 8 on October 13, 2010 11:12

Editor Comment:

Oh no, it's Horse Doctor using one of her aliases! Hey, you promised to leave PW for greener pastures

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You sort of get the feeling that he was already well into overstay when he lost his passport? When did he actually enter the country?

Posted by Harry Barracuda on October 17, 2010 17:08

Editor Comment:

2002

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Irresponsible xxxxxxxx, much?

Posted by Don on October 17, 2010 19:06


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