Husband. Son. Brother. Musician. Songwriter. Producer.
These words aptly describe one man, James “Jimmy” Vincent Wilgus, an American citizen. Sadly, another descriptive word is applicable: victim. Jimmy is a victim of an unjust legal system and a prisoner of Russia. He needs the help of his country.
Jimmy developed an interest in music at the age of three. He learned the basics of piano from his mother then continued on his own. He taught himself drums and developed his skills further with the guidance of Joe Morello, drummer of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. His talents and interests found him forming bands, playing music professionally and writing music for commercials, motion pictures and a TV series.
Opportunity struck when Jimmy joined a Russian guitarist he knew professionally to form a band—Wicked Monkey. The band gained popularity while performing in Eastern Europe which led them to Russia. While in Moscow he collaborated with a couple of noted Russian musicians to build a state-of-the-art recording studio for music and video production.
Jimmy achieved success and notoriety throughout his career. He has written and published more than 100 songs, released four albums and was in the process of finishing three additional albums, all with original music, when his freedom was taken away.
On November 7, 2016, Russian police wrongfully detained Jimmy. They coerced him into signing a confession. The Russian judicial system tried and convicted Jimmy in a closed door trial where neither his wife nor a representative of the U.S. Embassy was allowed inside. Now serving a 12.5 year sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, Jimmy suffers from declining health after a grueling 6 years of incarceration and doesn't feel he will survive another 6.5 years in prison. He has experienced a stroke and suffers from a spinal issue as well as a failing liver.
Life in a Russian prison takes its toll. Imprisonment has impacted his physical and mental wellbeing. He has experienced a stroke and has other serious ailments that affect him. He needs medical attention now. He needs freedom.
There are roughly 20 American citizens suffering in the Russian prison system. The release of Brittany Griner and Trevor Reed gives us hope, but it must be understood that neither of them encountered any greater injustice than the majority of any American incarcerated in Russia. Fair and unbiased treatment does not exist for any American detained in Russia. We are all subjected to human rights violations and illegal abuses in serious violation of Western standards. Now with the escalating conflict in Ukraine, we are in added danger as President Putin can and will do anything he wants with his prisoners. Many have already been sent off to the war in Ukraine. All Americans must be brought home as soon as possible. We all need your help.
Thank you, Jimmy Wilgus - January, 2023