Ear Hustle

“California Man who was declared dead tells New York judge; Give me my Pension benefits, I had amnesia”



A California man has three words for a New York judge who he says prematurely  declared his demise: I’m not dead.

Kwame Seku of San Diego says he is the former Winston Bright, a Verizon  worker and married father of three missing for two decades and deemed deceased  by a judge in 2000.

“My name is no longer Winston Bright. It is Kwame Seku,” the 65-year-old  former East Village resident wrote in a letter this month to a Manhattan  Surrogate’s Court judge. “And I am the same person.”

He claims in court papers a DNA test he took in New York with his mother,  Mary Bright, in December proves he is her very much alive son — and that he is  entitled to Verizon benefits because he worked for the company for 20 years.

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Verizon officials said they will follow the court order ruling Seku dead and  continue paying survivor benefits to his wife, Leslie Bright.

Bright, left with the kids, no money and too many questions all those years  ago, promises to fight her husband. She went to Surrogate’s Court in 2000  seeking a judge’s ruling that Winston Bright was dead. That was eight years  after Seku first showed up on public records in California.

Seku claims he has had amnesia for 20 years and adopted his new name while  wandering the streets of California.

The amnesia story doesn’t fly with Bright, who says Seku just left home one  day in 1992 and never returned. “He kissed me on the cheek, called me at  lunchtime like he always did and again when he was on his way home,” she told  the Daily News. “He never made it.”

Seku went to California and reinvented himself with an African name he picked  out of a magazine because he liked the way it sounded. He earned a master’s  degree, taught public school and worked with troubled boys, like he always  wanted. But while Seku was living the dream, his family was falling apart.  They lost their Stuyvesant Town apartment and moved into a public housing  project.

“We had it rough. We had no money,” Bright said. One son, Aaron, dealt drugs  and got arrested. Another, Eric, is still in prison.

Meanwhile, she said, she didn’t hear from her husband’s family for those 20  years, making her wonder if he had run off and was staying in touch with  them.

“I will go at him for back child support, cat support, everything!” Bright  said. “If he wants a fight, I’ll give him a fight!”

A woman answering the door at the Harlem apartment of Seku’s mother said she  would not comment.

Seku said he has had his own problems.

“I don’t care if she believes it or not,” he said of Bright’s skepticism. “Making your life without ID is a tough job, and I did it for years. I can’t  waste time entertaining her.” With Ginger Adams Otis

Source:  www.nydailynews.com

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