Borderland handyman faces prison term for removing illegal aliens from neighbor’s property

Billy Grossman (left) greets Derrick McCoy outside Grossman's house after McCoy was arrested for removing illegal aliens from his property. [Photo by Huey Freeman]

PORTAL — Derrick McCoy, a 20-year-old handyman who moved to the southeast corner of Arizona in July, was planning to spend his Saturday hiking and cutting firewood with his girlfriend.

But when his neighbor sent him a text message at about 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 11, asking him to respond to a call from a local woman who spotted four illegal aliens dressed in camouflage gear near her home, McCoy put on his boots and drove to the scene.

The four men had been spotted in front of the home of Billy and Anna Grossman, his nearby neighbors who had asked McCoy to watch their property while they were out of town.

A short time after McCoy had a brief encounter with the four men, he loaded them up in his medium-sized SUV to turn them over to Border Patrol. As he tried to complete this action, he was taken into custody by Border Patrol agents, interviewed at the Douglas station, thrown into solitary confinement for two days, then held in federal custody for three days in crowded, inhumane conditions in Tucson and Florence.

McCoy is facing federal charges of Transportation of Illegal Aliens for Profit. An assistant federal public defender told him shortly after his arrest that he will likely receive three to five years in prison if convicted of the felony charges.

The heart of the case against McCoy is that two of the illegals allegedly told Border Patrol that they offered him “$200 to transport them to a town where they could get food, and he agreed” and he told them “to get down” when they “passed Border Patrol.”

These allegations are stated in a criminal complaint filed by the Border Patrol Monday, Nov. 13, in U.S. District Court, Tucson.

McCoy denies that he ever told the illegal aliens to “get down.” He said his only intentions in putting them in his vehicle was to remove them from his neighborhood and turn them over to Border Patrol as quickly as possible.

Although he also denies that he specifically agreed to accept $200 from them, he admits that he pretended to be driving them to Tucson, in order to keep them calm and protect himself as he drove them to the Border Patrol.

The complaint relies on the testimony of two of the illegal aliens for the majority of its evidence.

They were in his vehicle for a total of about two minutes. During that time the illegals — which apparently included only one English speaker — told Border Patrol agents they heard several things that McCoy said. Most of their allegations defy the common sense of anyone who heard McCoy’s side of the story.

David Robinson texted McCoy, sending him to the scene where illegal aliens were spotted by a female neighbor. [Video by Huey Freeman]

When McCoy asked the illegals where they were going, while holding them at gunpoint, the man who spoke English responded.

“They said they were going to Tucson,” McCoy recalled. They were about 100 yards away from McCoy’s house at that time. “I told them to get into the vehicle. I was going to take them to Border Patrol in Rodeo. They got in the very back of the vehicle and laid down. They kept asking me if I was going to take them to Tucson. I kept telling them, ‘yeah, yeah, whatever.’”

After he drove about a half mile, turning westbound onto Many Wells Road leading to State Highway 80, a contingent of Border Patrol agents sped toward him on the dirt road. McCoy said he stopped as soon as possible, exited from his car, and told a female agent that illegals were in his vehicle.

Border Patrol agents reported a different story, in which McCoy tried to conceal the fact that four grown men were sitting in his cramped vehicle. This allegedly occurred in broad daylight, in the presence of many agents.

Although McCoy insisted that he was innocent of the felony charges, his Tucson-based lawyer, an assistant federal public defender, sent McCoy a plea deal from the U.S. Attorney’s Office one week after he was released on bond. The plea offer states that he would receive four points out of 12 for pleading guilty and accepting responsibility for his crime.

There is no mention in the eight-page plea agreement as to what the four-point offer means in terms of an actual sentence.

However, it clearly states that he is facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

On Thursday, Dec. 7, the assistant public defender came to McCoy’s house to try to persuade him to plead guilty, in exchange for a possible sentence of a three-year probation term and a felony conviction. McCoy insisted that he is innocent and rejected the offer. He is in the process of seeking another attorney to represent him.

About Huey Freeman 15 Articles
Huey Freeman was a reporter at the Herald Review in Decatur Illinois. as a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois. He is married to Kate Freeman, with four grown children. His books include: Who Shot Nick Ivie? Legendary Locals of Decatur