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Judge Reduces Sentence for Drug-dealing Dad After Radical Life Change

By Shawn Brown and Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club -Herman Mendoza was one of the biggest cocaine dealers in New York City.  And in his mind, it made him invincible. “I thought that since I had all this money and I had this power, I felt that nothing can touch me.”

One of five boys, Herman grew up in Queens. The streets were his playground and his influence. “I wanted people to look at me and say, ‘he’s a tough guy. We can look up to him.’”

At 14 he was a no-name, corner drug dealer. In a few years he started moving huge amounts of cocaine and had people working for him. By now Herman was married. His wife, Alexandra, says it’s not what she signed up for. “I’d rather be poor and be at peace and happy, than having you go out there making all this money and we’re not at peace.”

But Herman’s reputation was growing, and he wasn’t going to stop now. In fact, he went into business with his brother Eddie, and they soon rose to the top.  Even that wasn’t enough.

Herman said, “I was spending about $20,000 a day drinking, partying, going to different mansions of different celebrities. And so I was leading a crazy lifestyle. But there was this void in me. Nothing was satisfying me.”

He and Alexandra now had two children. The lifestyle was lavish but the stakes were higher and Alexandra feared for their lives. “I remember always living in fear. ‘Something’s going to happen to him. Something’s going to happen to me. They’re going to come in here and kill.’  It was always like a constant torture in my mind of what was going to happen. What was our future going to be like?”

Their future unfolded in short order. Herman and Eddie were busted and facing 20 to life in prison. Herman made bail, Eddie didn’t. Six months later, Herman jumped bail.

“The ordeal I was facing now; life in prison,” said Herman. “My mind racing saying, ‘What am I going to do?’ And so every morning I would drink. And I would pass out.”

One morning, Herman woke up to the feds breaking down his door. “I tried to jump out the window. And the cop points this gun at me. He says, ‘Freeze! Freeze!’ And so I went back in, I tell my wife, ‘this is it. My life is over.’ I said, ‘open that door and I’m going to surrender.’”

Herman was looking at 18 years to life.

“I was at the breaking point. I’ve tried all other recourse. My mind was racing and I was thinking, ‘what am I doing? Why did I sell drugs in the first place?’ And I started to cry.”

As he awaited sentencing, Herman was transferred to a prison where he met a Christian. It was, his brother Eddie. It had been over a year since they saw each other. “He embraced me and he said, ‘Praise the Lord!’ I’m like, ‘what are you talking about, Praise the Lord?’” I didn’t understand his language, his new language, and he was so happy.”

Herman saw a big difference in his brother. “He was in prison facing life too, as well with me. But he was happy. He had a sense of peace. And I wanted that.”

Herman went to chapel with Eddie. There he says God spoke to him.

“’What you’re missing is what I can give you; that peace that surpasses all understanding.  I can fill that void,’ He told Herman. “So I went up to that altar and I just cried and cried, and I gave my life to the Lord. I said, ‘Lord, I receive You. I want You in my life. I want You in my heart. I need You.’ I started crying and crying and crying.”

Meanwhile, Herman’s wife had decided to leave him. But when she went to tell him, she saw something about him had changed. “(I said) ‘Who are you?’ because I really didn’t know who he was,” said Alexandra. “It was like a shock to me.” 

Herman added, “I started sharing my heart with her, and telling her that I was so sorry, that to please forgive me for all the hurt, all the pain that I caused her and caused my children.”

Alexandra added, “And he even told me, ‘look even if you never come back to me, and even if you decide this is it and you’re going to get a divorce from me – which you have all the rights to do – you know, I just want you to be OK, I just want you to know the Lord.’”

Alexandra was so moved that she accepted Christ. She often visited Herman and their relationship grew stronger. Then after four-and-a-half years Herman stood before a judge to be sentenced. He braced himself for the worst. Then, the judge gave his decision; five years. “I looked at my attorney and I said, ‘did he say five years?’ He said, ‘yes, he said five years’ and I was just praising God.”

Herman served his remaining time and is now a pastor in Queens, New York sharing the message of God’s love.

“That day when I received Christ, He became Lord of my life. That day, I was born again. And this new life  transformed me.”

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