Former inmate, boyfriend of Las Vegas attorney, seeks to turn life around

On this day in 2019, Andrew Arevalo sees himself waking up to an alarm at 4:30 a.m., a time he calls “dark thirty.” He goes for his morning workout.

He has completed the paralegal program at UNLV. He goes to Narcotics Anonymous to focus on his recovery. Before heading out the door for work, he tells himself his daily affirmations.

“I’m valued, I am successful, I make useful contributions,” the tattooed man in the dark suit told the crowd of judges, city officials and law enforcement at Metropolitan Police Department headquarters.

Arevalo, 27, was one of the current and former prisoners graduating Friday from Hope for Prisoners, a nonprofit organization that partners with law enforcement agencies across the state to give current and former inmates a chance to return as productive members of society.

But he also made headlines last year for being the incarcerated boyfriend of defense attorney Alexis Plunkett, who was indicted in July on felony charges and accused of improperly providing a cellphone to two jail inmates, including Arevalo. The charges were dismissed in September.

Plunkett represented Arevalo in his lawsuit against the Nevada Department of Corrections and others, including the former director of prisons, after he was shot in the face by a correctional officer in 2014 at Nevada’s High Desert State Prison in a shooting that left another man dead.

Adjusting his glasses Friday, he offered a few final words: “My name is Andrew Arevalo, and this is my vision.”

Since 2009, Hope for Prisoners founder the Rev. Jon Ponder and his team have given nearly 2,000 Nevada inmates skills they can use in returning to society.

Friday’s class was the largest class yet: 41 men and women. They will spend the next 18 months navigating the process of integration and finding employment.

“God wakes me up every morning to do everything I can to blow the doors off the hinges,” said Ponder, who spent years in federal prison himself. “You can see the eagerness in their face.”

Unlikely match

It was in a Las Vegas courtroom in 2012 when Arevalo met Plunkett. She had a briefcase; he was in custody on burglary charges.

He asked her for her business card, and they developed a relationship that flourished over the years.

He was attracted to her beauty: her straight, golden-brown hair, brown eyes and pretty face.

“He’s an interesting person, he’s loving, he’s fun, he’s amazing — he’s not at all how he’s portrayed,” Plunkett said.

It was June 2015 when they both knew they were in love. Plunkett said she saw Arevalo, a documented member of the Surenos gang who went by the nickname “Silent,” as a man who never had a chance at probation.

“I’m the inmate, I’m the criminal, I’m the gangbanger,” Arevalo said. “But we’re with who we want to be with.”

The couple’s legal troubles aren’t settled yet.

The decision to dismiss the charges against Plunkett was appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court last fall.

Arevalo was released on house arrest in October on a $250,000 bond for drug-related charges, firearm charges and charges related to the cellphone, but a judge could send him back to prison.

Hope for lasting change

On Friday, as Arevalo entered the room at Metro headquarters, his 4-year-old nephew jumped up.

“I love you, Andrew,” he squealed.

His father, Andres Arevalo, proudly sat next to Plunkett.

“I’ve waited for this moment since he was 14,” he said.

He said he thought his son’s problem was endless, with each charge mounting up since 2009. “Maybe one day you’re gonna die,” he once told him.

“If he doesn’t change, he’s going to lose his whole life,” he said. “This came from him.”

Andrew Arevalo’s mom watched her son embrace his family, tears welling in her eyes. “This is like a dream,” Anyela Arevalo said.

She remembered the nightmare of worrying about her son, day after day. The nights she took her car, alone, to parts of town “not even a man would go,” searching for her son.

“I know I tell you so many times,” he told his mom about making changes in his life. “This time, you’re gonna see it.”

“Yes, my baby,” she replied.

‘This is who I am now’

Andrew Arevalo has a plan for his life, and it started the day he was bailed out in October. Since then, he has completed the Foundation for an Independent Tomorrow program for job training and skills, attends church and Bible study on Sundays.

“This is who I am now. I’m not a monster,” he said. “I can’t hurt the ones that love me anymore.”

He also gets experience in law as Plunkett’s assistant and runner, as well as a runner for another attorney. He attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings almost every day and works with the Armed Forces Chamber of Commerce as a mentor for at-risk children on Wednesdays.

And he wants to get the tattoo on the right side of his face removed. It reads “Affiliated.”

“People are going to judge a book by its cover,” he said. “That’s not who I am.”

Sitting next to Plunkett at their home on Thursday, he squeezed her hand. “She’s a good, supportive, successful woman,” he said. “She’s an angel.”

Plunkett smiled. “I never wanted to be with someone who was in prison, but who he was as a person was worth it to me,” she said. “But I don’t want that for our future.”

During Friday’s ceremony, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman went to each prisoner, handing them her personalized poker chip.

“It has the belief in you; it comes with good health and good luck,” she said. “You have so much to give back.”

Ponder asked the graduates to put their hands in front of their face and look at the lines in their palms. They may represent gang activity, drug addiction, going back in “the fish bowl of High Desert Prison,” he said.

“With your hands in front of your face, can you see me?” he asked.

They responded, “No.”

“Neither can you see your future with your past in your face.”

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
The Mob Museum
Saddle bronc rider Joey Sonnier earns spot at NFR after overcoming years of drug addiction
Joey Sonnier started saddle bronc riding at 18, but at 20 he began using methamphetamine to cope with the work of the rodeos and became addicted. At 39, after years of addiction and a low point that pushed him to rehab, he's qualified for the National Finals Rodeo. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Core Arena opens at the Plaza downtown in time for NFR
Core Arena, downtown's first permanent outdoor equestrian center, opens to the public at the Plaza. The arena will be used for events throughout the year, including the 10-day 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas
MountainView Hospital celebrates the opening of the new Sunrise Health GME Simulation Center.
MountainView Hospital celebrates the opening of the new Sunrise Health GME Simulation Center. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
NFR Preps Livestock for the Limelight
NFR’s Jed Pugsley discusses the care that goes into preparing the rodeo’s livestock for Las Vegas’ big event.
Grand Menorah lighting begins Hanukkah
Rabbi Shea Harlig led the ceremonial lighting of the menorah to begin Hanukkah at the Fremont Street Experience. There were also performances by the Desert Torah Academy's choir and the Dancing Dreidels. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Perla Gumm has spent the past few years collecting toys for kids for the LV Rescue Mission
Perla Gumm has spent the past few years collecting toys for kids for the LV Rescue Mission. It's something she started even before the rescue mission was her beneficiary; she just felt a need to collect toys and teamed up with them later. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Marvin Menzies on Cincinnati
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about Cincinnati and his own program. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Joey Logano talks about Champions Week in Las Vegas
NASCAR champion Joey Logano talks about the future of Champion's Week in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Nov. 28, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rain hits Las Vegas Valley
Widespread rain hit the Las Vegas Valley on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Valley Hit with Rain, Clouds
Rain and clouds hit the Las Vegas Valley on Thursday afternoon.
Ducks have Lorenzi Park to themselves
Thursday’s rain kept people inside, leaving Lorenzi Park to the ducks.
Kyle Busch Reflects On Disappointing End To Nascar Season
Kyle Busch reflects on disappointing end to his 2018 season during NASCAR Champion's Week in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 28, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Animal Foundation's Lost & Found offers community options for lost pets
The Lost & Found at The Animal Foundation allows members of the community to turn in lost pets or retrieve them. They recently started using the Finding Rover app that uses facial recognition to find and report lost pets.
The National Atomic Testing Museum is a Blast
Brookman Elementary School sets world record
All 776 students at Brookman Elementary School helped set a world record by connecting a chain of pipe cleaners that measured more than 11 miles. Student got 10 pipe cleaners for every book they read. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV’s football players painted the Fremont Cannon red in celebration to their victory against Reno.
UNLV’s football players painted the Fremont Cannon red outside of the Student Union in celebration to their victory against in-state rival the University of Reno. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Barn Buddies Rescue
Barn Buddies Rescue is a non-profit dedicated to the rescue of abused, neglected or abandoned farm animals.
R-J's Mark Anderson on UNLV's victory
Review-Journal sports reporter Mark Anderson recaps UNLV's victory over Southern Utah. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Marvin Menzies on beating Southern Utah
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about the victory over Southern Utah. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Michigan State talks Las Vegas Invitational win
The Spartans defeated Texas 78-68 at Orleans Arena on Friday.
Three Square’s Maurice Johnson Talks About Food Waste
Three Square’s director of operations Maurice Johnson talks about food waste. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Armani Rogers on his return to playing
UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers talks about being back on the field. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Black Friday at Fry's
Shoppers line up for deals early on Black Friday at Fry's Electronics on Las Vegas Boulevard South. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Menzies on state of UNLV's team
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about where his team stands after four games. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Tony Sanchez on possibly changing the UNR date
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez talks about the idea of changing the UNR date to Nevada Day. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Women’s shelter gets $1.5 million dollar renovation
The Shade Tree, which offers food, shelter, facilities and services to women, gets a $1.5 million dollar renovation.
UNLV's Drew Tejchman on playing safety
UNLV wide receiver Drew Tejchman talks about also playing safety. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Hailey Dawson Day
Crime
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing - 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
The Mob Museum
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Man shot, killed by Las Vegas police after traffic stop
Las Vegas police give a briefing after a man was shot and killed by an officer following a traffic stop. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video of suspect in Home Depot parking lot shooting
A man who was injured in a Nov. 20 shooting in the southwest Las Vegas Valley died at a hospital Tuesday, the Clark County coroner’s office said.
Nevada Task Force 1 Dog Units Return
Four dogs and their handlers returned to the Las Vegas Valley on Thursday, November 29, 2018, after deploying to the Paradise, California wildfire last week. The dogs, trained in human remains detection, are part of Nevada Task Force 1, a Federal Emergency Management Agency urban search and rescue team. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police thwart brazen kidnapping attempt
Metro officers suspicious of woman claiming to be with Child Protective Services prevent possible kidnapping of three-week-old infant.
Shot Spotter technology used by Metro extended for another year
Gunfire location technology being used by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department gets extended for another year of evaluation.
Nye County pursuit ends in rollover crash caught by dashcam
A truck flipped twice before landing on its wheels as a driver tried to flee Nye County Sheriff's deputies on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018.
Nevada Highway Patrol stops wrong-way driver on Thanksgiving
The Nevada Highway Patrol has released dashboard and body camera video showing troopers deploying spike strips to stop a suspected impaired wrong-way driver early Thanksgiving Day. (Nevada Highway Patrol)
DUI sentencing
The parents of 8-year-old Levi Echenique speak after a woman who drove under the influence of marijuana and killed the boy was sent to prison.
3 Pahrump residents arrested on false imprisonment charges
James Thatcher, 28 of Pahrump, Chelsea Demille, 30 of Pahrump, and Sandra Wombles, 19 of Pahrump were all arrested after it was discovered that they were holding an adult female and male prisoners in their bedroom. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
2 kids struck by gunfire in North Las Vegas shooting
On Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, people opened fire into a residence in the 3600 block of Hamlin Place in North Las Vegas. Two kids were hit by gunfire and sent to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to North Las Vegas police. Anyone with information is asked to call the NLVPD at 702-633-9111.
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
16-year-old shot in North Las Vegas
A 16-year-old was hospitalized but was expected to survive after a shooting in North Las Vegas, near Centennial Parkway and Fifth Street, on Tuesday, November 13, 2018. North Las Vegas police spokesman Aaron Patty gives an update. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
3-year-old boy shot in North Las Vegas
North Las Vegas Police Officer Aaron Patty talks about an accidental shooting that left a 3-year-old boy “fighting for his life” on Nov. 10, 2018.
Senior Citizen Carjacking Attack -- 3 Suspects Sought
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police detectives are seeking the public's assistance in identifying the three attackers who carjacked and beat a 78-year-old man near Fremont and east Charleston on Tuesday. (LVMPD)
Henderson Police Department Chief Latesha Watson Talks Change
11-year-old girl shot, killed in North Las Vegas
An 11-year-old girl is dead after she was struck by gunfire Thursday night during a shooting in North Las Vegas
North Las Vegas police on deadly shooting
North Las Vegas police spokesman Eric Leavitt briefs the media about a shooting that left an 11-year-old girl dead on Nov. 1, 2018. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stephan Bonnar DUI Arrest
Stephan Bonnar arrested for DUI in Nevada.
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss. Susan Nash, 52, was killed in a shooting along with her daughter and one of her three sons on Sunday night. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Sayegh Cold Case Turns 40
Cary Sayegh was abducted from the playground of the Albert Einstein Hebrew Day School in Las Vegas in 1978. His body has never been found. (File Photo)
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like