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Dean Mancuso on Phuket before before transferred to Bangkok

Phuket Visa Dodger Becomes Bangkok Detainee

Friday, October 29, 2010
AN AMERICAN who spent more than six years cadging a living on Phuket has been transferred to the Bangkok Immigration Detention Centre where he is expected to stay until the fare for his repatriation to the US is raised.

What will happen if the fare is not raised remains unclear. Phuketwan has heard reports of expats spending months or even years in limbo in detention in Thailand in cases where no financial assistance is forthcoming.

Dean Mancuso's circumstances appear to be in sharp contrast to the case involving another American we know only as ''Nick,'' who was arrested in Thailand when she went on a visa run from Phuket to Ranong and could not pay the overstay fine.

Indications are that ''Nick,'' a yoga practitioner and considerably younger than 50-year-old Mr Mancuso, has been repatriated. We cannot be certain because US privacy laws strictly control the amount of information released in cases such as these.

Envoys from other countries are also not always forthcoming about these kinds of visa issues. As a result, instances such as these two cases are seldom reported.

While ''Nick'' was a short-term visitor to Phuket who probably planned to leave but misunderstood visa requirements, Mr Mancuso consciously decided to lead a life begging handouts from expat visitors after opting to not replace the passport he lost some time in 2004.

When Phuketwan spoke to him at Kathu Police Station in Patong, he told us he had not been in touch with members of his family for close to 10 years, and he deliberately avoided making expat friends on Phuket.

Having been apprehended, he expressed a strong desire to return to Thailand as soon as possible after expulsion to the US and to ''make a new beginning'' to support his Thai common law wife and their two young daughters.

Mr Mancuso, at one time a cook in the US military, has very little chance of doing that because he has very little chance of raising the cash for his repatriation flight, let alone a return flight to Thailand.

His ''wife'' said by telephone from her home in northern Thailand that she was so impoverished and had such difficulties feeding their daughters that the couple's third child, also a girl, had been adopted out to a relative who lived in Norway at the age of two.

Many nations share this problem. While Mr Mancuso said he knew of no other expats on Phuket who followed what he called his ''occupation'' - begging from tourists - Phuketwan was aware of the activities of Gabriella Rose-Marie Strand, who became notorious as an expat cadger around Patong, Karon and Chalong, at first with her companion Bjorn Lennart Lundqvist and then alone.

Unlike Mr Mancuso, Ms Strand mostly begged from Thais who, in many cases, could ill afford to support her. Earlier this year the 60-year-old Swede died a lonely, sad death in Patong.

A cat, two Phuketwan reporters, the undertaker and the undertaker's assistant comprised the mourners at her funeral.

For years, she had been allowed to travel backwards and forwards between Sweden and Phuket, with authorities in both countries knowing that she would be soon be begging once again from Thais who could not really afford to help.

In the same way, authorities in Patong knew about Dean Mancuso but did not react until the management at a local resort, having warned Mr Mancuso once not to pester guests, called police when he persisted.

Phuketwan draws no conclusion from the cases of Dean Mancuso and Gabriella Strand, except to note that yet again, Thailand's tolerance appears to be both its greatest virtue, and its greatest vice.
US Woman Held for 'Visa Run' Overstay Blunder
UPDATE The US Embassy in Bangkok is investigating an alarming case in which an American woman on a one day visa run from Phuket to Ranong found herself under arrest.
US Woman Held for 'Visa Run' Overstay Blunder

American's Trip to Life's Other Side on Phuket
Latest A life in limbo has come to an end for American Dean Mancuso. His strange existence on Phuket has left him in a cell, facing uncertainty and worried about his daughters.
American's Trip to Life's Other Side on Phuket

A Phuket Death: The Abject Loneliness of Gabriella
PHOTO ALBUM Phuketwan has helped to farewell one of Sweden's notorious holidaying hobos but it was not the kind of sendoff that she, or anyone else, would relish.
A Phuket Death: The Abject Loneliness of Gabriella

Seventeen Deaths But Swedish Consulate to Close
Sweden's Consulate on Phuket is closing, emphasising the vital role that Acting Consul Christina Palm and other diplomats play in dealing with death, poverty and even madness.
Seventeen Deaths But Swedish Consulate to Close


Comments have been disabled for this article.


If Thailand has sensible citizenship laws, a man, married to a local, with children in the country, having lived here a decade, would not be in a detention centre being deported to a country he no longer has connections with. He would be a citizen, not living in fear, unable to get a job or report to anywhere.

Rather than claim this to be something born of Thailand's tolerance, its possible to view this 'problem' as being one derived from Thailand's reluctance to have a process of citizenship for 'foreigners' allowing them to join the community and legalise themselves within the country.

Posted by LivinLOS on October 29, 2010 12:26


I totally agree with your well constructed comment LivinLOS.

I would like to add that people who have lived here legally for many years should also be allowed extra rights and not have their stay here considered "temporary".

Posted by Mike Boyd on October 29, 2010 13:57


There is a process for residency here. You need to read up on this.

I think the big question is if the man was here before the tsunami and apparently supporting a family, how did he do that and cannot return to work after the tsunami? The main question is unanswered, what did he do for employment prior to the tsunami? I do not think he has stated what he did prior to the tsunami. The living in fear part is rubbish, after the tsunami, he could have contacted the Embassy and had his passport replaced, the "living in fear of embarrassment" is non-sense. (And yes, Editor, I know what you are going to say, when I have my first big mistake, let you know...)

Is it just me or do others possibly think that this is what this man did before the tsunami? Beg for money? There has been no mention if he was employed prior to, or by whom.

"Thai common law wife and their two young daughters." Thai common law marriages are not recognised in Thailand, a Buddhist marriage does not count as marriage unless registered. So that should read as "girl friend" not common law wife.

And I think six years begging from people after the tsunami, should not be any relevance in a residency case. He may have been here 10 years, maybe 4 legit, but he has not said what he did for those years either. Something to think about.

Posted by Lee on October 29, 2010 15:42


@Lee yes there is a process for PR and in turn citizenship, one that is murky and has many aspects requiring 'approval' rather than cut and dried rules which can be applied.

One of the very first steps is three years having paid income tax, an impossible task for those who do not work here. Effectively step 1 says 'we don't give PR to married of retired people'..

I would have no problem paying income tax to Thailand but when enquiring how to do so without a job, the basic answer is 'cannot'...

Posted by LivinLOS on October 29, 2010 18:47


We all know that Thailand as a set of very antiquated rules. How many Thais own property abroad without having to set up a company? How many Thais work and live in western countries and that have been naturalized by a rule of law.

The answers is thousands and they can because we have firm rules of law and a democratic system where racism and discrimination are illegal.

You won't find the Thais changing the law, they don't believe in anything fair.

I have to fully agree with LivinLOS.

Posted by Graham on October 30, 2010 16:24

Wednesday October 27, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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