When Odlion Celestin, 43, sends money to his family in Haiti from his residence in Miami, he always believed that the $1.50 wire transfer fee enacted by former President Michel Martelly in 2011 would help pay for his family’s education.
However, on a trip back to Haiti since leaving for the United States in 1998, he saw that nothing had changed. The school he once traveled to for three hours after work growing up was gone.
“I said: ‘god, what do we have to do to change something in Haiti?’” he recalls.
Wanting legal advice on the matter, Celestin reached out to Brooklyn-based, Haitian-American attorney Marcel P. Dennis through a radio show where he got his phone number and eventually flew up to New York to pursue the lawsuit.
“I asked him: how could we come together to be the change, to find a way to help me out with this,” he says.
Celestin’s testimony is one of a few that’s stated in a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit filed on Dec. 24 that accuses Martelly, Jocelerme Privet and current President Jovenel Moise of pocketing money that came from wire transfers companies like Western Union, Unitransfer, Natcom and CAM that were meant to fund education in Haiti.