Back in BrooklynJimmy
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Thank you for your interest in Jimmy.

  "It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it." - Benjamin Franklin

We don’t ask for anything from Jimmy’s friends, only from our government. Our focus is to do whatever we can to help our son and to keep you and other interested parties abreast of Jimmy’s status as well as any progress we make in getting him home. That can be done by visiting this website occasionally and look at the UPDATE and PRESS tabs for the latest.
If you feel the urge to do something, you can contact the President, Sec. Blinken, your Congressperson or, write to:
Wendy R. Sherman - Deputy Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 'C' Street, N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20520

Jimmy has been wiped out of his finances and will need help getting back on his feet when he returns. His father, author "Uncle Jim", has decided to donate all profits from the sale of his children's books to the fund created for Jimmy. If you want to help, you can buy his books at the Store on this website, Dorrance Publishing, Amazon KDP,, or, you can always contact for the latest outlets to buy his books.  All proceeds will be donated to Jimmy when he returns home to the USA. If you want to donate, please go to: The Jimmy Wilgus "GET BACK ON YOUR FEET" Fund



April 27, 2022 - RIA Novosti Moscow; Finally, there is positive news regarding a prisoner exchange. "Russian Konstantin Yaroshenko was exchanged for a US citizen Convicted in Russia Trevor Reed, the Foreign Ministry said." That is the headline in Russia and Putin is taking a bow for negotiating a one for one exchange of prisoners. We are delighted for Trevor and his parents, Joey and Paula. Jimmy did not get a chance to say goodbye to Trevor as he was rushed out of prison with no advance warning, but Jimmy, as well as his cell mate Thomas Stwalley, are delighted for him and wish him well. We pray that these negotiations will continue, and the next round will include all Americans being held in Russian prisons.

April 24, 2022 - Moscow: There is a slight correction from our last update. Jimmy did not file an application for a transfer, his wife did so before he could get an appointment to see the warden. Nonetheless, a request for a transfer has been filed and Elena has been told she could expect a response in about 1 month. Things at the prison are not going well since the invasion into Ukraine. Jimmy recently went to the prison store to buy provisions and they have no milk, fresh fruits or vegetables. The cost of everything at the store has at least doubled. Since the prison gives prisoners necessary supplies only twice/year, he has to buy things like toothpaste, toilet tissue, vitamins, soap, etc. from the store. There is "bartering" going on at the prison. Russian prisoners are allowed packages from home 2-3 times/month. Jimmy is allowed only 1 package/month which his wife sends to him. It will include mainly food, OTC medicines like aspirin and ointment for his legs, and cigarettes. Jimmy trades the cigarettes to other prisoners for the things he needs. His uniform is quite worn, and a little oversized since he has lost weight, and he requested a new uniform. They will charge him for it and the cost is more than he receives in a month. The cost to make a phone call to his wife or the Embassy has more than doubled. He uses a phone card which his wife pays into and after a few calls it's out of credit again. Due to the sanctions against Russia, there are no institutions that will allow us to transfer money to Elena or Jimmy's attorney. We have set up an account with the USDOS whereby we can send money to the US Dept. of State in Washington, DC and they will transfer it to our account at the US Embassy in Moscow. The Embassy in turn will transfer the money to Jimmy's account at the prison for use at the store. He has no way to get the money to his wife to purchase supplies for him. Jimmy has been wearing the same reading glasses for more than 7 years and the prison will not give him new ones, not even an eye examination, unless he pays for this himself. The cost to hire an optometrist to come to the prison is outrageous. His friend Tom has broken his last contact lens working at the factory and the prison will not replace them. This is nothing like an American prison. With the detaining of Britany Griner, the Embassy has warned any Americans in Russia to get out before they are also arrested. Putin is determined to build up an inventory of American prisoners for leverage in negotiating their release. The Embassy has declared all Americans as political prisoners and will work on that classification to gain release of all Americans being held in Russian prisons.

April 18, 2022 – Mordovia: A fellow inmate of Jimmy, a Russian young adult who speaks good English, was recently transferred to a prison close to Moscow so he could continue his sentence close to his family. Upon his arrival at the new location, he advised his mother to call Jimmy’s wife in Moscow to tell Jimmy about this new law and this new prison facility.

Apparently, in April of 2021, President Putin signed an Amendment to the Penal Code allowing eligible prisoners to file an application to be transferred to this new location, if they have family in Moscow, they want to be transferred, and they did not commit a crime that would make them ineligible.  

Jimmy believes he will qualify and has filed a formal request for a transfer. Now all we can do is pray as we wait for a decision from the Russian Federation.

This new prison is a prototype to mimic prisons in Western Civilizations. Prisoners will be fed 3 nourishing meals a day, there are no labor camps, supplies for good hygiene practices will be supplied as needed and the environment is much more social. Prisoners will spend their day learning vocations that will rehabilitate the prisoners in preparation for life after prison. Jimmy will be allowed to participate in a music and cinema program where he can work on recording and filming videos. This is exactly what he needs and looks forward to this happening.


March 22, 2022- Mordovia; Pursuant to our previous report, Jimmy was sent back to the hospital for treatment of his legs, feet and whatever other medical problems ha may have, on March 15, 2022.

With the help of a friend in Russia, a call was made to the prison authorities instructing them that Jimmy be sent to the hospital and remain there until he is cured. We are quite pleased that Jimmy might finally get cured.

 Today we received a diagnostic report on Jimmy’s condition. “Examined and consulted by specialist doctors.  The diagnosis was made; Hypertension 2nd stage, risk 3.  HSNO.  Varicose disease of the lower extremities. Eczema of the lower leg and Onychodystrophy of the feet.

 The big surprise here is the high blood pressure. For this he is being given a pill to address his HBP. After all the mistreatment he has been through over the past 5 years and the constant disappointment of being led to believe he will be included in a prisoner exchange, only to find out that negotiations were terminated months ago. With the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, any hope of a prisoner exchange was out of the question.

 Based on a reply from the US Embassy in Moscow, even the possibility of a prisoner transfer has been quenched. There is no prediction as to when Jimmy, or any American prisoner, will be released from prison.

 In a phone conversation today with Jimmy, he is feeling depressed. He has come to the realization that the Prisoner Exchange negotiations have ended and there is a slim to zero chance he will be coming home before 2029.

 We believe that the future of all American prisoners depends on Putin's future. If Putin remains in power no Americans will be released, even if their sentence is over. The rumor is that all sentences of foreign prisoners are being reviewed and there may be extended sentences. Putin’s autonomous power was confirmed today when it was reported that Navalny, Putin’s political rival, had his sentence extended another 9 years. This was a warning to the US that Putin has this power and is not afraid to use it, even against a Russian.


Jimmy advised us that there is an Italian in his camp who will be released by the end of this month even though his sentence is not over.   Right now, it looks like Putin is in control of everything and may be seeking revenge against Biden and the U.S. Things may get tough for American prisoners.

 Jimmy is also upset that his friend Trevor Reed, who was in the hospital with Jimmy, is being sent back to the prison with aspirins even though he has a cracked rib. Aspirin was all they gave him while in the hospital about a week.

 It is now impossible to get any funding to Jimmy or his wife in Russia since all transfer of funds to Russia has been discontinued by the U.S.. Fortunately we anticipated this might happen with the invasion of Ukraine so we sent sufficient funds to carry Jimmy through the end of 2022. Unfortunately prices have more than doubled at the prison store and he may run out of personal hygienic and other personal products by years end. So much depends on this war. Something drastic may have to occur to bring it to an end. There is so much to pray for and we appreciate your support.

March 10, 2022 - Mordovia Prison, Russia:  Jimmy called today to advise the warden is sending him back to the hospital with instructions to the hospital staff to fix the disease in his legs and the persistent pain in his foot once and for all. Tom Stwalley, a fellow American prisoner who speaks Russian will accompany Jimmy to act as his interpreter to make certain the Doctors understand Jimmy's condition. Tom was sentenced to 11 years because the police found marijuana plants in his apartment and accused him of selling drugs.

Jimmy was advised that Trevor Reed, an American who was found guilty of fighting with a policeman, has contracted tuberculosis and has been sent to a special hospital in Russia. Trevor was in a different building and the rumor is that TB is common in that building.

There is also news circulating about a black female basketball player who was sentenced to 15 years for possession of drug paraphernalia. 

We don't know how these events will impact on the American prisoners, but hopefully the USDOS will be more aggressive about the treatment of American citizens in Russian prisons.

February 25, 2022 – Mordovia Prison, Russia:  Today Jimmy’s life in prison has changed dramatically. An anonymous and influential friend made a phone call to the Warden at the prison and Jimmy was advised by the Warden that he will personally take care of Jimmy. There will be no more unwarranted visits to solitary confinement and the Warden will take care of Jimmy’s medical problems personally as well as his safety. He will not be sent to the hospital because they are too busy to give Jimmy the attention he needs. The prison medical staff can provide whatever is required to cure Jimmy’s leg and foot issues and he is finally getting the medications he needs. 

All your prayers have helped to bring this Guardian Angel to Jimmy’s aid and his life in prison has become bearable. Our sincerest thanks and GOD BLESS all of you.  


February 20, 2022, Mordovia Prison: On Jan. 14, Jimmy was sent to Solitary Confinement on charges that he did not address a prison employee properly. No one heard from Jimmy for 1 week, so the attorney visited him on Jan. 21. He was surprised to find Jimmy in solitary again. He reported that Jimmy’s legs had a serious rash that seemed to also be ulcerated. The attorney requested that Jimmy be given medical attention and the prison officials agreed to send him to the hospital. They took no action for 5 days. Jimmy was finally admitted to a hospital in a town outside the prison called Barashevo on Feb. 4, after he served his punishment.

The attorney visited the hospital on Monday, Feb 7 and Jimmy had not received any medical attention over the weekend. The attorney insisted on speaking with a doctor. She was a Lieutenant Colonel in the military and did not seem very interested in the American. She ordered the nurse to take Jimmy’s vitals and a skin sample. The nurse gave Jimmy 2 pieces of glass and told him to scrape tissue from the rash onto the glass slides.

This is Jimmy's 4th time in the hospital for the same condition, psoriasis. Since the Russian doctors have not been able to cure this disease after 3 attempts, it may be a perpetual problem and we recommend he be sent back to the US where US doctors can monitor and treat his psoriasis properly. The attorney said releasing Jimmy would be impossible unless he was terminal. Thank God that is not the case.

Jimmy remained in the hospital for 12 days, during which time the attorney visited twice more. The legs were not getting better, and nothing had been done, not even an ointment to relieve the itching. The doctor told him that they are waiting for the test results of the skin samples before they can treat him. That never happened and as of Feb. 18 there has been no notice of test results.

On Feb. 14 Jimmy was returned to the prison and was immediately sent to the factory. He became dizzy and his blood pressure systolic was 160. On Feb. 17 he was allowed to call his wife who emailed a message that Jimmy needs help. His legs are getting worse. The lawyer was contacted, and arrangements have been made for the lawyer to visit Jimmy on Monday, Feb. 21, accompanied by a private dermatologist. A follow up on Jimmy's condition will appear on this Update page after an assessment is received from the dermatologist.

Jan. 21, 2022 - COPY OF LETTER JIMMY GAVE TO HIS ATTORNEY TO PASS ON TO HIS FAMILY (Click heading to read letter)

Mordovia Prison, IK-17; January 21, 2022 – EMAIL RECEIVED FROM JIMMY’S ATTORNEY.

Hello! Today, January 21, 2022, I was at Jimmy's. He is in the punishment cell, but this has nothing to do with a criminal case on drugs or with any new criminal case. Let me remind you that the criminal case on drugs was suspended in April 2021 and since that time Jimmy has not been of interest to any of the investigators. Jimmy has been in the punishment cell for 7 days. For the first time, he was given 4 days in the punishment cell for breaking the daily routine. The second time he was given 14 days for the fact that he incorrectly greeted an employee of the colony. Jimmy has been in the punishment cell for 7 days and will stay there until February 4 if he is not sent to the hospital by that time. His legs are in a terrible state, they've never been like this before. The legs are swollen like an elephant's and all in ulcers. I think that besides psoriasis, Jimmy has problems with the cardiovascular system, which cannot pump blood from the lower extremities. On this occasion, I will write an appeal for staging to the hospital. Jimmy complained about poor nutrition in the colony. He is fed only pasta, potatoes and bread. Sometimes they give a little meat. And MORE and more no other food. Jimmy hasn't seen vegetables in 5 years. Jimmy asked me to tell you that Elena is all he has. He knows everything about the operation and is very worried. He regrets that he can't call her. He is alone in the cell. Jimmy asks to inform John Sullivan, Luke Davis, and Geoff Martineau about his illness. Jimmy said that an employee of the colony named Kazakov was hunting him. Jimmy also complained that he was not allowed to wash because of this he developed a foot fungus. On my own behalf, I will write brief complaints to the authorities. The head of the colony is on sick leave, so I couldn't talk to him. The deputy head of the colony, Shukshin, was afraid to talk to me, said that he was not authorized to conduct such negotiations, that this was the case of the head of the colony. I would also like to add that in Russia, lawyers have been banned from using Dictaphones on dates with convicts and bringing cameras into the colony.

01/18/2022 09:25 AM EST - Secretary Blinken’s Call with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov

Office of the Spokesperson Ned Price

"Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. They discussed the January 10 Strategic Stability Dialogue, January 12 NATO-Russia Council, and January 13 OSCE Permanent Council meetings. The Secretary stressed the importance of continuing a diplomatic path to de-escalate tensions surrounding the deeply troubling Russian military build-up in and near Ukraine. The Secretary reiterated the unshakable U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and underscored that any discussion of European security must include NATO Allies and European partners, including Ukraine."

It looks like priorities have shifted and there is no longer any talk about the prisoner exchange. Jimmy is still optimistic because he doesn't know how bad the relationship is between Russia and the USA. This exchange should have been done months ago if Biden had accepted Putin's offer last summer. We will keep exploring other avenues to bring him home.

By the way, Jimmy was placed back in solitary on January 14, for reasons unknown yet. We have requested Jimmy's attorney to visit the prison on January 18 to discover what happened and when Jimmy will be released from "Shizo".

Washington, DC - January 10, 2022: A letter to the USDOS referencing a meeting between the US and Russia 

Dear Secretary Sherman;

With reference to your recent meetings with Foreign Minister Ryabkov, see below, we are disappointed there was no discussion about the Prisoner Exchange promised by President Biden last June 15, 2021.

Please advise if this subject is still on the table. We would hope that the Americans wasting away in a Russian prison, working 6-7 days a week in Russian sweatshops, would be a priority in all negotiations. We expected that after 7 months of a promise by President Biden, the Americans would be home by now. Can you promise these American prisoners, and their families, that you and the Biden Administration will not abandon them and the State Department will work toward the success of this promise?


Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov - 01/09/2022 04:17 PM EST

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov today in Geneva. Deputy Secretary Sherman was accompanied by Lt. Gen. James Mingus, Director of Operations, Joint Staff, and Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov was accompanied by Deputy Minister of Defense Col. Gen. Aleksandr Fomin. The Deputy Secretary and Deputy Foreign Minister discussed the bilateral topics both sides would address during the extraordinary meeting of the Strategic Stability Dialogue (SSD) January 10.  The Deputy Secretary stressed the United States’ commitment to the international principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the freedom of sovereign nations to choose their own alliances. The Deputy Secretary affirmed that the United States would welcome genuine progress through diplomacy. The United States will discuss certain bilateral issues with Russia at the SSD, but will not discuss European security without our European Allies and partners. The Deputy Secretary underscored that discussion of certain subjects would be reserved for the NATO-Russia Council meeting in Brussels on January 12 and the OSCE Permanent Council meeting in Vienna on January 13.