Full text: Moonda nephew's letter to court tells depth of loss
Dr. Faroq Moonda, nephew of slain urologist Dr. Gulam Moonda, submitted the following letter to Judge David Dowd of U.S. District Court, Akron, today for the sentencing of Damian Bradford. Bradford, 26, was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in federal prison for the doctor’s shooting death, which occurred May 13, 2005, when he pulled his car over on the Ohio Turnpike. The doctor’s widow, Donna, was convicted last week on murder for hire charges after a jury determined she masterminded the plot to have Bradford, her lover, shoot her husband so they could split Dr. Moonda’s millions.
Dear Judge Dowd,
I would like to take this time to explain to you and Damian Bradford how the murder of my uncle has affected me and my family.
Dr. Gulam Moonda came from very modest means. He rose from poverty and his drive for education and self-improvement pulled him through medical school. He was the first man in my family to attend college, let alone complete a doctorate. Like so many others, he saw America as the land of opportunity and relocated to the States in order to complete his residency in urology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His hard work and diligence brought him to western Pennsylvania where he lived and worked until his death.
My uncle began his practice at a time [when] the medical field was even more lucrative than it is now. He realized that his family in India continued to live in impoverished conditions and sent a substantial amount of his earnings to his parents and siblings. He basically brought a family at the verge of poverty into riches that they had never imagined. Our family members are all living good lives with successful businesses that were single-handedly built by my uncle.
Uncle’s generosity did not end with his family. He contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout his lifetime to many charities and Indian schools. In fact, he was known throughout this community and in India to never turn down a person in need. He contributed money to build the mosque where he prayed at every Friday in Youngstown, Ohio. He also helped establish an Islamic studies position at Youngstown State University.
His patients remember him as the “gentleman doctor,” a man who helped them through medical and personal difficulties. Although he was well past his retirement age, he refused to give up his urology practice. This was his hobby, his job, and his passion. Nothing fulfilled him more than helping a patient. He also worried about what would happen to his patients if he retired, since there was no other urologist in the area. So he continued to work up until the day he died. Since his murder, so many of his patients have come to me or his close friends to say a kind word and a prayer. This is the legacy that he has left behind.
My uncle felt that education was the foundation of success and encouraged all of my cousins to pursue a college degree. Having no children of his own, he allowed me to move to America and live with him as his legally adopted son in order to pursue a career in medicine. I was so inspired by my uncle that I wanted to follow in his footsteps and help people the way he had his entire life. He offered to pay for my entire education, but I resisted and instead took loans to achieve my goals. In 2005, a month after his murder, I graduated from my residency in anesthesiology. My uncle looked forward to that day for many years and could not attend what should have been one of the proudest days of my life. No one can understand how his absence affected me that day and the two years since. Everything I am today, each patient that I am able to help, and my morals and values are all due to his direct influence.
The day Damian killed my uncle, he took away the most influential person in my life. My whole family in India mourned with disbelief. Even two years later, the family speaks of uncle with sadness, regret and pain. They speak of Damian and Donna with a hatred so deep that words can not even begin to explain the magnitude of their loss.
In the end, it was Donna who plotted to kill the man she had spent her life with, the same man who had established her and other members of her family. Uncle took care of her every need and gave her full liberty to live as she desired. She, in turn, coaxed Damian to commit this murder for the very money that she never lacked for the duration of their courtship and marriage. The biggest tragedy is that the man who helped so many was deceived by the woman he helped the most.
With all of this said, we are pleased that Damian was able to help the prosecutors and investigators, regardless of his motivation. He should also realize that he is genuinely lucky to have received such a generous plea bargain from the U.S. Attorneys. Although he contributed to Donna’s eventual sentencing, we still hope that he received a punishment fitting for a murderer. Whatever the outcome of Damian’s sentencing, we hope that he can take this time to reflect upon the havoc he had caused in so many lives. This one, seemingly unimportant life was linked to so many others who continue the journey of life without him. We hope that Damian can understand the impact he has had on Uncle’s family and friends and pray for his rehabilitation. We will never be able to forgive him or forget the damage he has caused, however, we hold Donna more accountable for Damian’s actions.
Thank you and good luck.
Faroq Moonda, M.D.