The list of harms inflicted on Edmond Demiraj and his family for his decision to cooperate with federal prosecutors against a reputed Albanian mobster is long and growing.
Demiraj has been shot, three nieces were forced into prostitution, his family in Albania went into hiding and, recently, someone smashed every window in his home near Houston.
Demiraj says that 10 years ago, a federal prosecutor promised him a life in the United States and protection for his family in exchange for his testimony.
Instead, the federal government has declined to provide a security detail at Demiraj's home even after the broken windows and is planning to deport his wife and eldest son to Albania, where the family's lawyer says their lives would be in "mortal danger."
The Justice Department doesn't dispute Demiraj's story, including the risks awaiting Demiraj's wife and son in Albania, other than to say it is "unaware of any promises of physical protection."
The prosecutor, meanwhile, is in line to be a federal judge.
In 2001, a federal grand jury in Texas indicted the Albanian mobster, Bill Bedini, on charges of smuggling people into the United States. Demiraj (pronounced DEH'-meh-rye) used to work for Bedini and was, himself, in the country illegally, but when he heard about the indictment, he turned himself in and offered to help.
He was identified in court papers as a material witness in the case against Bedini, who fled to Albania before his trial began.
With Bedini gone, Demiraj said the prosecutor, Marina Garcia Marmolejo, reneged on their agreement. "Marmolejo told me, `I don't need you anymore,'" Demiraj said in an interview with The Associated Press. Marmolejo is in private practice in Texas awaiting a vote on her nomination by President Barack Obama to be a federal judge. She did not respond to requests for comment.
The Justice Department would say only that it has "been in active discussions with counsel for the Demiraj family for some time."
By 2003, Demiraj had been deported and returned home to Albania. It wasn't long before Bedini came calling, shooting Demiraj in retaliation for his cooperation with American authorities. After recovering, Demiraj again made it to the United States, where the government agreed not to send him back to Albania. He runs a painting business in the Houston area.
Bedini and his associates also kidnapped three of Demiraj's nieces in Albania and forced them into prostitution elsewhere in Europe. The three managed to escape and were given asylum in the United States.
But the same was not true for his wife, Rudina, and 19-year-old son, Rediol. They applied for asylum and were repeatedly turned down, despite the credible threat to their safety if sent back to Albania. The latest ruling came from a divided panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The Demiraj family now is asking the Supreme Court to step in, arguing that other appeals courts have granted asylum claims in similar situations.
The Justice Department has yet to respond, but former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh and former FBI Director William Sessions are among more than 40 onetime federal prosecutors and law enforcement officers who have weighed in on behalf of Demiraj.
They say that granting asylum to relatives of people who cooperate with international criminal investigations makes that cooperation more likely by assuring family members will not suffer retaliation.
Even while the case is on appeal to the high court, Demiraj's lawyers are trying to get the Justice Department to guarantee the family's safety in Texas in the face of increased threats.
"Every morning when I get up and go back to work, I go under the car and see if they put any bombs or something," Demiraj said. "They are very bad people."