"The action I am taking is no more than a radical measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice. I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then, to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in broad daylight!" - Emile Zola, J'accuse! (1898) -

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cheney, Gonzales Indicted By South Texas Grand Jury For Engaging In Organized Criminal Activity Updates And Continuing Video From Texas.




Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have been indicted on state charges involving federal prisons in a South Texas county that has been a source of bizarre legal and political battles under the outgoing prosecutor. 



The indictment returned Monday has not yet been signed by the presiding judge, and no action can be taken until that happens. 


The seven indictments made public in Willacy County on Tuesday included one naming state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and some targeting public officials connected to District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra's own legal battles. 


Regarding the indictments targeting the public officials, Guerra said, "the grand jury is the one that made those decisions, not me." 


Guerra himself was under indictment for more than a year and half until a judge dismissed the indictments last month. Guerra's tenure ends this year after nearly two decades in office. He lost convincingly in a Democratic primary in March. 


Guerra said the prison-related charges against Cheney and Gonzales are a national issue and experts from across the country testified to the grand jury. 


Cheney is charged with engaging in an organized criminal activity related to the vice president's investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds financial interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees because of his link to the prison companies. 


McALLEN — A South Texas grand jury has indicted Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on state charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County's federal detention centers. 


The indictment, which had not yet been signed by the presiding judge, was one of seven released Tuesday in a county that has been a source of bizarre legal and political battles in recent years. Another of the indictments named a state senator on charges of profiting from his position. 


Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra himself had been under indictment for more than a year and half before a judge dismissed the indictments last month. This flurry of charges came in the twilight of Guerra's tenure, which ends this year after nearly two decades in office. He lost convincingly in a Democratic primary in March. 


Cheney's indictment on a charge of engaging in an organized criminal activity criticizes the vice president's investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees because of his link to the prison companies. 


Megan Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Cheney, declined to comment on Tuesday, saying that the vice president had not yet received a copy of the indictment. 


The indictment accuses Gonzales of using his position while in office to stop an investigation in 2006 into abuses at one of the privately- run prisons. 


Gonzalez's attorney, George Terwilliger III, said in a written statement, "This is obviously a bogus charge on its face, as any good prosecutor can recognize. Hopefully, competent Texas authorities will take steps to reign in this abuse of the criminal justice system." 


Willacy County has become a prison hub with county, state and federal lockups. Guerra has gone after the prison-politician nexus before, extracting guilty pleas from three former Willacy and Webb county commissioners after investigating bribery related to federal prison contacts. 


Another indictment released Tuesday accuses state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of profiting from his public office by accepting honoraria from prison management companies. Guerra announced his intention to investigate Lucio's prison consulting early last year. 


Lucio's attorney, Michael Cowen, released a scathing statement accusing Guerra of settling political scores in his final weeks in office. 


"Senator Lucio is completely innocent and has done nothing wrong," Cowen said, adding that he would file a motion to quash the indictment this week. 


Last month, a Willacy County grand jury indicted The GEO Group, a Florida private prison company, on a murder charge in the death of a prisoner days before his release. The three-count indictment alleged The GEO Group allowed other inmates to beat Gregorio de la Rosa Jr. to death with padlocks stuffed into socks. The death happened in 2001 at the Raymondville facility, just four days before de la Rosa's scheduled release. 


In 2006, a jury ordered the company to pay de la Rosa's family $47.5 million in a civil judgment. The Cheney-Gonzalez indictment makes reference to the de la Rosa case. 


None of the indictments released Tuesday had been signed by Presiding Judge Manuel Banales of the Fifth Administrative Judicial Region. 


A second batch of indictments targeted public officials connected to Guerra's own legal battles. 


Willacy County Clerk Gilbert Lozano, District judges Janet Leal and Migdalia Lopez, and special prosecutors Mervyn Mosbacker Jr. — a former U.S. attorney — and Gustavo Garza — a long-time political opponent of Guerra — were all indicted on charges of official abuse of official capacity and official oppression. 


Garza, the only one who could be immediately reached Tuesday, called it a sad state of affairs. 


"I feel sorry for all of the good people this unprofessional prosecutor has maligned," Garza said. "I'm not at all concerned about the accusations he has trumped up." 


Banales dismissed indictments against Guerra last month that charged him with extorting money from a bail bond company and using his office for personal business. An appeals court had earlier ruled that Garza was improperly appointed as special prosecutor to investigate Guerra. 


After Guerra's office was raided as part of the investigation early last year, he camped outside the courthouse in a borrowed camper with a horse, three goats and a rooster. He threatened to dismiss hundreds of cases because he believed local law enforcement had aided the investigation against him. 


On Tuesday, Guerra said the indictments speak for themselves. He said the prison-related charges are a national issue and experts from across the country testified to the grand jury. Asked about the indictments against local players in the justice system who had pursued him, Guerra said, "the grand jury is the one that made those decisions, not me." 


The indictments were first reported by KRGV-TV. None of the indictments released Tuesday had been signed by Presiding Judge Manuel Banales of the Fifth Administrative Judicial Region. 


"In the March 2008 Democratic Primary, 70 percent of the Willacy County voters elected to remove Juan Guerra as Willacy County District Attorney," Cowen said in a statement. "Now, with only a few weeks left in his term, Mr. Guerra has again chosen to misuse his position in an attempt to seek revenge on those who he sees as political enemies." 




Cheney's indictment in south Texas moves forward (?)



By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN – 39 minutes ago


RAYMONDVILLE, Texas (AP) — A Texas judge has set an arraignment for Vice President Dick Cheney, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other officials accused of involvement in prisoner abuse.


Presiding Judge Manuel Banales (buh-NAHL'-ehs) said Wednesday he will allow them to waive arraignment or have attorneys present rather than appear in person Friday.


Banales also said he would issue summonses, not warrants. That allows them to avoid arrest and the need to post bond.


Willacy County District Attorney Juan Guerra (GEHR'-uh) accuses Cheney, Gonzales, a state senator and others of involvement in prisoner abuse at a federal detention center in south Texas.


Defense attorney Tony Canales (kuh-NAHL'-ehs) accuses Guerra of "prosecutorial vindictiveness" and not following procedure.




But the prosecutor who won the indictments, lame duck Willacy County District Attorney Juan Guerra, was a no-show in court. Banales ordered Texas Rangers to go to his house, check on his well-being and order him to court on Friday.


Because Guerra wasn't there, Banales refused to hear any of the motions to dismiss the indictments until Friday.




BROWNSVILLE — A district attorney with a reputation for wackiness and little time left in office has stunned observers by securing indictments against Vice President Dick Cheney, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Brownsville Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., among others.


Is this reality TV or something that will prove real?


At least for now, the White House isn't saying. But Lucio's lawyer described outgoing Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra as a circus act.


Guerra, a 53-year-old Rio Grande Valley prosecutor who drew national attention for suing counterparts in the county justice system and staging a protest with barnyard animals, long has alleged high-ranking corruption in the deals that brought the impoverished county a $60 million immigration detention center.


On Monday, he got a grand jury to sign off on a slew of indictments including an acceptance of honorarium charge against Lucio and an engaging in organized criminal activity charge against Cheney and Gonzales.


“I didn't intend to go after the vice president. That was not my intention,” said Guerra, who dubbed the investigation Operation Goliath. “We just followed the money, followed the corruption. It just happened that it just took us all the way to Washington.”


Lucio's lawyer, Michael Cowan, fired back Tuesday with a news release trumpeting Guerra's continued “one-man circus.”


“Having been voted out of office, Willacy County DA commits one last act of political revenge,” Cowan said. “With only a few weeks left in his term, Mr. Guerra has again chosen to misuse his position in an attempt to seek revenge on those who he sees as political enemies.”


Cheney is accused of contributing to the neglect of federal immigration detainees by contracting for-profit prisons.


“By working through corporations as prisons for profit, Defendant Richard Cheney has committed at least misdemeanor assaults of our inmates and/or detainees,” the indictment reads, adding that a “money trail” can be traced to Cheney's substantial investments in the Vanguard Group, which invests in privately run prisons.


Megan Mitchell, spokeswoman for Cheney, said: “We have not received an indictment. We haven't received a call from the district attorney's office. ... We haven't heard anything from the district attorney.”


Guerra said he kept Operation Goliath secret for four months over concern that pressure would be brought to bear to stop it.


He said “everything was being worked out of my house” and only one trusted member of his staff knew about it. He said he enlisted the help of people all over the country and talked to witnesses all over the country. Everyone who helped was assigned a biblical name. Guerra was known as David.


He said the investigation continues and that when he leaves office, he'll probably ask for a special prosecutor to be named.


Cowan said he was working on a motion to quash the indictment against Lucio, which is based on allegations Lucio misused his contacts and influence as a senator in his consulting work. Guerra has said another company could have built the facility for half the cost.


“There's no crime here,” Cowan said. “The senator's done nothing wrong. Being a senator is not a fulltime job — you're allowed to have outside employment.”


Also named in at least eight separate indictments:


GEO Group, Inc., formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp., and David Forrest, a warden, for murder and manslaughter of an inmate in 2001.


District Clerk Gilbert Lozano for official abuse of official capacity and official oppression.


Special prosecutor Gustavo Garza for official abuse of official capacity and official oppression.


Special prosecutor Mervyn Mosbacker for official abuse of official capacity and official oppression.


District Judge Migdalia Lopez for official abuse of official capacity and official oppression


District Judge Janet Leal for official abuse of official capacity and official oppression.


Guerra said he has requested that those indicted be given a summons to appear.


Guerra himself has faced indictment before and has defended himself in a colorful fashion while claiming to be the target of political vendettas.


In 2007, after being indicted on public theft charges, he camped in front of the county jail with goats, roosters and a horse to symbolize what he called a “circus” against him. Those charges were dismissed, as more recently were other indictments accusing him of corruption including tampering with government records and abusing his office.


Guerra later sued the county judge, county sheriff, county clerks, and others.


Guerra has contended the indictments against him were meant to keep him from being re-elected. He lost in the March primary election.


Regarding Lucio's comment that the indictments are a circus act, he said, “This was a grand jury that had been looking into this for the past four months. That's belittling the grand jury.”





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