------------------------------------------------------------------- The NORML Foundation Weekly Press Release (Marijuana Arrests For 1997 Most Ever - FBI Data Confirm Clinton's Marijuana War To Be Toughest In Nation's History; Medical Marijuana Patient Linda Jean Marlowe Freed From Jail.) From: NORMLFNDTN@aol.com Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 19:17:13 EST Subject: NORML WPR [Record Mj. arrests!] 11/24/98 (II) The NORML Foundation Weekly Press Release 1001 Connecticut Ave., NW Ste. 710 Washington, DC 20036 202-483-8751 (p) 202-483-0057 (f) www.norml.org email@example.com FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 24, 1998 Contacts: Allen St. Pierre; Paul Armentano, (202) 483-8751 *** Marijuana Arrests For 1997 Most Ever - FBI Data Confirm Clinton's Marijuana War To Be Toughest In Nation's History Washington, DC: State and local law enforcement arrested nearly 700,000* Americans on marijuana charges during 1997, according to the latest edition of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Uniform Crime Report. This figure is almost double the number of arrests recorded in 1993, the year President Bill Clinton took office, and pushes the total number of marijuana arrests under his administration to approximately 2.8 million. The 1997 yearly arrest total for marijuana violations is the highest ever recorded by the FBI. FBI data indicate that 87 percent of marijuana arrests are for simple "possession" only. The remaining 13 percent are for "sale/manufacture," a category that includes all cultivation offenses -- even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use. "These new FBI statistics indicate that one marijuana user is arrested every 45 seconds in America," stated Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation. "Law enforcement's 'war on drugs' remains primarily a war on recreational and medicinal marijuana consumers." St. Pierre noted that marijuana arrests constituted nearly one-half of all illicit drug arrests in 1997, and totaled just fewer than all arrests for violent crimes. "Marijuana prohibition is clearly a waste of precious law enforcement resources that could be better focused on serious crime," he said. Since 1970 law enforcement has arrested approximately 11.5 million Americans on marijuana charges, annual FBI reports indicate. Marijuana Arrests Under President Bill Clinton 1993 380,399 1994 481,098 1995 588,963 1996 642,000 1997 695,200 Total Arrests: 2,787,660 *No arrest statistics for the District of Columbia, Florida, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Vermont were available to the FBI for 1997. Only limited arrests statistics were provided from Kentucky, Illinois, and Montana. Therefore, arrest totals for these states were estimated by the FBI for inclusion in the overall total. FBI's estimated marijuana arrest total for 1997 stands at 695,200. *** Medical Marijuana Patient Freed From Jail November 24, 1998, Asheville, NC: Federal District Court Judge Lacey Thornburg today released medical marijuana patient Linda Jean Marlowe from jail and sentenced her to six months of home confinement. Reformers applauded the decision, which marked a strong departure from the potential 14-month prison term provided under federal sentencing guidelines. NORML Legal Committee (NLC) member Joe Bondy, who assisted with Marlowe's defense, called the outcome a "compassionate one." NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. agreed. "The judge in this case realized that America's 'war on drugs' must not include imprisoning the sick and dying who benefit from the medical use of marijuana," he said. Federal law enforcement officials arrested and charged Marlowe, 45, with six federal felonies based on her receipt of a package of marijuana from Switzerland. Marlowe suffers from several rare and debilitating diseases including porphyria (a congenital liver abnormality), degenerative disk disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. She had obtained the marijuana for her personal medical use to alleviate chronic pain and nausea. Marlowe's liver condition prevents her from ingesting conventional pain medications. Dr. Frederick Bissel, Marlowe's treating physician, explained at a recent hearing that conventional medications can harm her diseased liver. He further testified that marijuana is a highly effective analgesic that does not damage the liver. Marlowe's attorneys asked the Court permission to present evidence at trial of her medical need for marijuana, but the Court refused. She was eventually found guilty by a jury on June 8, 1998. She retained her right to appeal the court's refusal to permit her to raise a medical necessity defense. While out on supervised release awaiting sentencing, Marlowe continued to smoke marijuana to alleviate her pain. Her prolonged use caused her to fail several court ordered drug tests, and resulted in her bond being revoked and eventual incarceration. At today's sentencing hearing, Bissel testified to Marlowe's serious medical condition. In addition, Joe Bondy, a federal sentencing expert from New York, offered an affidavit from Dr. John P. Morgan, professor of pharmacology at CUNY Medical School and an expert on the medical use of marijuana. Bondy urged the judge to depart from the sentencing guidelines on the basis of Marlowe's medical use. Although the judge refused, he did grant a downward departure based on her severe medical condition. The NLC will also be helping with the appeal of Marlowe's conviction, arguing that she should have been allowed to argue a medical necessity defense at trial. Friends and supporters of Jean Marlowe have established a defense fund to help defray the legal costs of her defense and appeal. Those who wish to contribute should send a contribution to the NORML Foundation/Jean Marlowe Defense Fund, 1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 710, Washington, DC 20036. -END-
------------------------------------------------------------------- Scoreboard - This week's winner and losers - Medical marijuana users lose (Willamette Week, in Portland, notes the National Institutes of Health last week refused once again to sponsor human medical trials on cannabis.)Willamette Week 822 SW 10th Ave. Portland, OR 97205 Tel. (503) 243-2122 Fax (503) 243-1115 Letters to the Editor: Mark Zusman - firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.wweek.com/ Note: Willamette Week welcomes letters to the editor via mail, e-mail or fax. Letters must be signed by the author and include the author's street address and phone number for verification. Preference will be given to letters of 250 words or less. Pubdate: Wed., Nov. 24, 1998 Scoreboard - This week's winner and losers Losers - Medical marijuana users lose Oregon's medical-marijuana users will continue to fly blind. Last week the National Institute of Health once again refused to sponsor human medical trials on cannabis. Although voters in Oregon and five other states have approved the use of pot as medicine, the feds have allowed only one study on the effects of the substance.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Complaint forms now in other languages (The Oregonian says that after months of prodding by city officials and citizen advisers, the Portland police bureau has translated its citizen complaint form into Cambodian, Chinese, Spanish, Laotian, Vietnamese and Russian. According to the newspaper, any group or person interested in obtaining the form can call the internal affairs division at 503-823-0236.) The Oregonian Contact: email@example.com 1320 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Complaint forms now in other languages Tuesday, Nov. 24, 1998 Metro/Northwest p. B5 * The Portland Police Bureau will soon distribute the forms, which have been translated into six additional languages By Maxine Bernstein of The Oregonian staff The Portland Police Bureau will soon make citizen complaint forms available in six additional languages to make it easier for people who don't speak English to file concerns with the Internal Affairs Division. After months of prodding from city officials and citizen advisers, the bureau has translated its internal affairs complaint form into Cambodian, Chinese, Spanish, Laotian, Vietnamese and Russian. "We just tried to pick out those languages that have a larger population base here," said Capt. Bill Bennington, head of the bureau's internal affairs division. If the bureau receives a form in one of the new languages, it probably will call in a translator to help an investigator understand the complaint. "We have officers who could do translations in Spanish, and maybe make it through a little Chinese, but beyond that we need outside help," Bennington said. The Police Internal Investigations Auditing Committee had urged the bureau off and on in the past several years to make forms available in Spanish. In April, City Commissioner Jim Francesconi chided police commanders at a meeting of the auditing committee for not acting sooner and sought a specific timetable for the translations. Bennington said the delay was caused by a combination of staffing and budget constraints, and a lack of expertise within the bureau to do the translations. "It got to the point that the citizen advisers were willing to do it themselves," said Lisa Botsko, a city employee who works for the citizens' advisory committee. This year, the Police Bureau dipped into its 1997-98 general fund surplus to get the translations done. For $2,805 the bureau had the International Language Bank of the nonprofit International Refugee Center of Oregon translate the forms into six languages, Bennington said. The bureau has printed about 500 forms and within the next month plans to distribute them to its five precincts, as well as neighborhood associations and county library branches within the city. Carlos Rivera, co-chairman of the Hispanic Police Advisory Council, said the new forms should help people who might have been reluctant to approach police about an incident because of a language barrier. Francesconi agreed. "There are two things you need for community policing to work: credibility in the community and the ability to speak with them," he said. "These forms will help establish that trust with these communities." Any group or person interested in obtaining these forms should call the internal affairs division at 823-0236.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Marijuana Arrests (A letter to the editor of The Los Angeles Times from Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, DC, notes 695,201 people were arrested for marijuana in the United States in 1997 - 87 percent of arrests were for simple possession.) Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 17:05:50 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: PUB LTE: Kampia, Marijuana Arrests Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Jim Rosenfield Pubdate: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 Source: Los Angeles Times (CA) Copyright: 1998 Los Angeles Times. Section: Los Angeles Times Letters Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.latimes.com/ Fax: 213-237-4712 Author: ROBERT D. KAMPIA, Executive Director Marijuana Policy Project Washington Marijuana Arrests As an update to Robert Scheer's Nov. 17 Column Left, "The Drug War Isn't About Combating Use," it is worth noting that the FBI's new annual crime report shows that 695,201 people were arrested for marijuana in the United States in 1997--87% of these for simple possession. This means that more Americans were arrested for marijuana in 1997 than in any other year in U.S. history. This is a tremendous waste of criminal justice resources. Marijuana prohibition creates dangerous criminal markets and takes police resources away from violent crime. It is time to stop arresting adults who grow and consume their own marijuana at home. ROBERT D. KAMPIA, Executive Director Marijuana Policy Project Washington
------------------------------------------------------------------- Justices Expand On Pot Decision (The Denver Post says a divided Colorado Supreme Court explained Monday why it refused to allow a marijuana initiative on the November ballot. The two dissenting justices suggested the decision could erode the initiative process.) Date: Thu, 26 Nov 1998 08:43:51 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CO: MMJ: Justices Expand On Pot Decision Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Sledhead Source: Denver Post (CO) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.denverpost.com/ Copyright: 1998 The Denver Post Pubdate: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 Author: Howard Pankratz JUSTICES EXPAND ON POT DECISION Nov. 24 - A divided Colorado Supreme Court Monday explained why it refused to allow a marijuana initiative on the November ballot, but the two dissenting justices fear the decision could erode the initiative process. In a 5-2 ruling, Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey accused Martin H. Chilcutt, one of the measure's backers, of ignoring the interests of voters by seeking to place on the ballot a measure which did not have the requisite number of petition signatures to be there. But the two dissenting justices, Rebecca Kourlis and Alex Martinez, blasted the majority. They said the measure should have been on the ballot and wasn't there because Secretary of State Vikki Buckley failed to meet her statutory obligations. They said Buckley had 30 days to properly verify the sufficiency of 88,815 signatures submitted to her by the initiative supporters but failed to do so because of errors she made in her initial count. Now, said the two dissenters, the Supreme Court has given Buckley the right to go outside her 30-day limit if necessary and conduct additional recounts. That, they said, is going to cause delay and confusion in the initiative process. "In my view, the majority has adopted a construction which restricts the right of initiative," said Martinez. "Because the secretary is no longer required to conclude the analysis within 30 days of the petition's filing, the secretary is granted an indefinite period in which to examine the petition. Thus, by filing an erroneous statement as to the sufficiency of the petition's signatures, the secretary gains an extra-statutory and open-ended extension of time." Buckley originally ruled - within the mandatory 30 days - that initiative supporters had failed to gather enough valid signatures for the measure to be on the ballot and refused to certify it. Using a random sampling technique, Buckley ruled that only 47,960 of the 88,815 signatures were valid and did not meet the 54,242 signatures needed. But Coloradans for Medical Rights claimed that a thorough review of the secretary of state's random sampling technique showed it was severely flawed. After their challenge, Denver District Judge Herbert Stern ordered the initiative on the ballot after Buckley admitted to making mistakes in the first review. Buckley had wanted Stern to allow her to recount the number of petition signatures. Stern, however, refused saying that Buckley had 30 days to declare the petitions sufficient or insufficient and those 30 days had passed. But the Supreme Court overruled Stern and ordered Buckley to do a line-by-line analysis of the petition signatures. If and only if there were enough valid signatures could the matter be placed on the ballot, the Supreme Court said. When the recount conducted by Buckley showed that there were insufficient signatures, the Supreme court blocked the counting of the votes in the election even though the measure's supporters claimed Buckley had again made mistakes. On Monday, Mullarkey and the court majority said they voted to protect the system's integrity. "Chilcutt views the right of initiative solely from the perspective of an initiative's proponent who desires to place a measure on the ballot. He ignores the interests of the voters who, through the constitution, have required that an initiative must demonstrate a certain level of support before it may appear on the ballot," said Mullarkey. "The purpose for a detailed signature verification procedure is to maintain integrity in the initiative process and to comply with the constitutional requirements," she said. "The process should properly safeguard, protect and preserve...these modern instrumentalities of democratic government." Chilcutt was unavailable for comment Monday.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Hiding The Facts - Win At All Costs series (Part of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's 10-part series about the newspaper's two-year investigation that found federal agents and prosecutors have pursued justice by breaking the law hundreds of times.) Date: Wed, 25 Nov 1998 14:42:02 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Hiding The Facts - Win At All Costs series Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Nora Callahan http://www.november.org/ Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Copyright: 1998 PG Publishing. Pubdate: Tues, 24 Nov 1998 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.post-gazette.com/ Author: Bill Moushey, Post-Gazette Staff Writer Note: This is the third part of a 10 part series, "Win At All Costs" being published in the Post-Gazette. The part is composed of several stories (being posted separately). The series is also being printed in The Blade, Toledo, OH email: email@example.com HIDING THE FACTS Discovery Violations Have Made Evidence-Gathering A Shell Game Galen Kelly's job had more risks than most. Parents hired him to rescue their children from religious cults. In 1992, Kelly, thinking he had found the daughter of a couple who had hired him, grabbed a young woman off a Washington, D.C., street and returned her to the family. But he had grabbed the wrong woman. Federal agents charged the New York-based Kelly with kidnapping, and he went on trial in Virginia. He routinely faced risks in his job -- attacks by cult members who felt threatened were not uncommon. But they were nothing compared to those he would face trying to get a fair trial in federal court. Throughout the proceeding, Kelly's lawyers requested that Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Leiser of the Eastern District of Virginia turn over discovery material. Discovery material includes any evidence that might help prove a defendant innocent. It also includes anything that might show the biases of a witness against a defendant or background information that might lead jurors to question a witness's credibility. Under federal law, defense attorneys are entitled to ask for discovery information, and prosecutors must provide it. Kelly and his attorney believed the woman Kelly was accused of kidnapping, Debra Dobkowski, was a cult member who had set Kelly up by pretending to be the woman she knew he was after. Dobkowski testified she was not a member of the cult and that she'd had no brushes with the law. Based largely on her statements, Kelly was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison. Dobkowski, however, had lied. She was one of the cult's leaders, and when she testified, she was being investigated for criminal mail fraud and money laundering. Leiser knew about her lies, yet said nothing. It was three years before an appeals court overturned Kelly's conviction. Dobkowki's credibility was key to the government's case, the court stated, but her testimony was "false in numerous respects and the government at least should have known it was false." Leiser, the respected former head of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, was suspended from his job, though that action was later overturned following an internal Justice Department appeal. Even the short-lived suspension of Leiser, then 49, was unusual. What Leiser did "was a bad judgment call, but one that was not indigenous to Larry Leiser," Kelly's attorney, Robert Stanley Powell, told reporters. "A lot of federal prosecutors do what he did." A two-year investigation by the Post-Gazette found Powell to be exactly right. Its review of 1,500 allegations of prosecutorial misconduct over the past 10 years found hundreds of examples of discovery violations in which prosecutors intentionally concealed evidence that might have helped prove a defendant innocent or a witness against him suspect. But most cases reviewed by the Post-Gazette shared a key difference from the Leiser case: Prosecutors who violated discovery rules were seldom punished. Many violated discovery rules over and over again. An Issue Of Fairness The discovery process is central to the American concept of a fair trial. "Society wins not only when the guilty are convicted but when criminal trials are fair," wrote U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas in 1963. "Our system of the administration of justice suffers when any accused is treated unfairly." His words were at the core of the Supreme Court's Brady vs. Maryland opinion, which set the standard for discovery rules in this country. John L. Brady and an accomplice were convicted of murdering a man during a robbery. Both were sentenced to death. But during Brady's trial, prosecutors withheld a police report that had been requested by defense attorneys, in which Brady's accomplice confessed to pulling the trigger. The court ruled that by withholding the evidence, the prosecutor violated Brady's rights under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Even if such information is withheld unintentionally, the court said, a defendant might still be entitled to a new trial or a new hearing on his sentence. Brady's case was remanded for re-sentencing and he was spared the death penalty and given life in prison. But as with many Supreme Court rulings, a clear statement of principles can become fuzzy in its application. To rectify discovery violations, the Supreme Court adopted a test that begins and ends with one basic premise: A conviction should be reversed only if the verdict would have been different had the discovery information withheld by prosecutors been known at the trial. Otherwise, the discovery violation is "harmless error" -- and the original court verdict should stand. In its investigation, the Post-Gazette found that the test has evolved into a devious calculation by many federal prosecutors: How much favorable evidence can be withheld without risking a reversal on appeal? Rather than abide by the Supreme Court's admonition that their goal should be to ensure a fair trial, many prosecutors try to figure just how much they can cheat. Ignoring discovery rules improves the chances of a prosecutor winning a conviction with little risk of penalty. "Brady violations account for more miscarriages of justice than any other violation," said Bennett L. Gershman, a former New York state prosecutor and now a Pace University of New York law professor. Gershman wrote "Prosecutorial Misconduct" in 1997 and has explored discovery violations and the motives behind them. "Prosecutors want to win," he said. "Some believe the defendant is so guilty that any information that contradicts the guilt can't be trustworthy, so they believe they don't have any obligation to turn over untrustworthy material while telling themselves they are being honest." The double whammy for defendants, of course, is that there's no guarantee that favorable evidence, once hidden by prosecutors, will ever be revealed. "People have been sent to prison for many, many years before they find that [prosecutors knew of] exculpatory evidence, but that's the built-in contradiction," Gershman said. "If the information is hidden, how do you find it?" Gershman asked. "How do you get it to make a claim? Much of this information will never see the light of day, even if it may be critical in proving the defendant's innocence." That hasn't always been the way federal prosecutors operated. Gary Richardson was appointed U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Oklahoma by President Reagan, serving until 1984. During his tenure, Richardson said, his office had an "open file" discovery policy, which meant defense lawyers could come in and look at anything prosecutors had collected on a particular case. "My attitude was that if you can't take the truth and win, then you weren't supposed to win," he said. Now Richardson is a criminal defense attorney and says he regularly complains about federal prosecutors hiding evidence favorable to his clients. The open-door policy he advocated is no more. Indeed, the Post-Gazette interviewed more than 100 defense attorneys for this series and none had been given open access to a prosecutor's files during discovery. Ramsey Clark, U.S. attorney general under President Johnson, is now a defense attorney and bemoans the trend -- especially because of its impact on defendants who are poor and can't pay for lawyers who can uncover attempts to withhold evidence. "It is really tragic," he said, "how we grind up poor people in these situations." Discovery violations are rampant, in part because the Justice Department has few rules penalizing a prosecutor who violates the discovery process. When he served as attorney general, Clark would seek to overturn convictions if he discovered misconduct by federal law enforcement officers. "What we were trying for [was] sort of an open-file type of process," he said, where prosecutors would take defense lawyers into a room and give them the entire file on an individual charged with a crime. "We used to confess error when we thought we were wrong." He said he rarely sees that happen anymore. Facing No Consequences Indeed, the Post-Gazette found no federal prosecutors eager to apologize for their conduct. The only public reprimands tended to come from judges who overturned convictions on appeal. And by that point in the judicial process, a defendant often had already served months or years in prison. Chake Kojayan, a middle-aged Lebanese woman, flew into Los Angeles in June 1991 with $100,000 worth of heroin sewn into her bag. Within a day of her arrival, an acquaintance sold the drugs to two undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agents. Kojayan and three others were arrested. She and the other defendants insisted they never knew the drugs were in the bag. The other defendants maintained that another man, Krikor Nourian, was behind the smuggling venture. In fact, Nourian had been involved, and federal agents promised him leniency in exchange for information he provided about Kojayan and the other defendants. But defense attorneys were never told he'd become an informant, even though they repeatedly asked prosecutors to turn over information that would detail his role in the case. No fewer than 11 times during the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sinek insisted that Nourian had no role. Kojayan and her co-defendants were convicted and received sentences ranging from six to 20 years in prison. Two years later, defense lawyers learned that Nourian had been a government informer and that Sinek knew it. Had defense attorneys known that during the trial, they could have presented a credible defense that Nourian was snitching on innocent people to save himself - which is exactly what Kojayan maintained. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion on Kojayan's appeal in 1993 that could as easily apply to hundreds of other discovery violations found by the Post-Gazette: "What we find most troubling about this case is not the [assistant U.S. attorney's] initial transgression, but that he seemed to be totally unaware he'd done anything at all wrong, and that there was no one in the United States attorney's office to set him straight. "Nor does the government's considered response, filed after we pointed out the problem, inspire our confidence that this kind of thing won't happen again. "How can it be that a serious claim of prosecutorial misconduct remains unresolved - even unaddressed - until oral argument in the [9th U.S.] Court of Appeals? Surely, when such a claim is raised, we can expect that someone in the United States attorney's office will take an independent, objective look at the issue. "Yet the United States attorney allowed the filing of a brief in our court that did not own up to the problem, a brief that itself skated perilously close to misrepresentation." The court ordered Kojayan released from prison. Sinek was never disciplined for misleading the court. He Didn't Play Along Prosecutors frequently argue that their discovery violations are inadvertent. That would be a tough argument to make in the drug-smuggling case against Miami attorney Frank Quintero Jr. For years, Quintero had represented drug smugglers. Federal prosecutors in 1994 charged that he had gone from being a counsel for drug smugglers to becoming one himself. In preparing their case, they interviewed Constantine Roca, the manager of a Florida marina. An informant had told federal agents that Roca had handled the purchase of drug boats for Quintero and his Colombian cartel clients. But when questioned, Roca insisted that simply wasn't true. In fact, he didn't even know Quintero. Roca's statement carried weight -- he had no criminal record. Roca's statement clearly should have been given to defense attorneys under the court's discovery order. But it wasn't, and the case went to trial without the defense knowing of Roca's existence. Had a defense attorney ignored a similar court order, he might have been disbarred, or at least subjected to sanctions from an ethics tribunal. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Pelletier's deceit brought no sanctions. Quintero's first trial ended in a mistrial -- and his attorneys learned of Roca's statement from Roca's attorney as they prepared for Quintero's second trial. So they promptly put Roca's name on their own witness list -- which proved to be bad news for Roca. In September 1996, just a few days after learning Roca might be a witness for Quintero, Pelletier and Deputy U.S. Marshal Joe Godsk obtained a search warrant for Roca's business. They would not reveal the basis for the warrant -- the agents refused Roca's lawyer's request for a copy of an affidavit of probable cause, and that information was nowhere on the public record. Armed agents found nothing in the search that would result in charges against Roca. Nor did they find evidence in the Quintero case. But Roca's landlord had seen enough. He evicted Roca, which effectively destroyed his business. And for good measure, the government didn't return his business records until after Roca had gone bankrupt. Pumping Up The Charges Hiding evidence favorable to a defendant can clearly help a prosecutor win a conviction. And sometimes, the Post-Gazette found, it can help a prosecutor bring far more serious charges than the facts would warrant. Consider the case of Norberto Guerra and Ramon Jimenez. They went to trial in January 1995 on charges of conspiring to bring more than 7,480 pounds of cocaine into this country. Witness after witness testified in Miami that they were the kingpins in the drug-smuggling enterprise. But they weren't. Guerra and Jimenez had worked on a boat that smuggled drugs and they admitted that. They knew little else about the operation. They didn't know many of the witnesses who testified about their lofty status as drug lords. They also didn't know that most of these witnesses were paid government informants who'd played key roles in the drug-smuggling venture. It was in the interest of these witnesses to pin the rap on someone else so that their own roles wouldn't face scrutiny. Time after time, attorneys for Guerra and Jimenez requested that prosecutors turn over background information on the witnesses, because their clients insisted the testimony was laced with lies. Prosecutors insisted there was nothing to turn over. It wasn't until June 1995, after Guerra and Jimenez were convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison apiece, that they learned the depths of the government's deceit. A hearing revealed that federal agents and prosecutors had hidden or destroyed hundreds of pages of interviews with their key witness, Raul Sanchez, a long-time drug smuggler who insisted Guerra and Jimenez were among his top lieutenants. Prosecutors also hid the fact that this key witness had confessed to being involved in at least two murders. This same witness had assured defense attorneys during the trial that he'd received no offers of leniency in exchange for his testimony. Yet in the evidentiary hearing on the charges of misconduct, the judge learned prosecutors had indeed promised Sanchez leniency for his help. That leniency offer was rescinded after Sanchez lied to agents to protect another person who was a target in the same drug probe. Yet defense lawyers never saw his failed polygraph test, which should have been turned over as discovery material. As the judge pointedly made clear: A star prosecution witness who lies to the prosecution might be eyed with some suspicion by jurors. There were dozens of other discovery violations: Plea bargains and payments between the government and witnesses weren't mentioned to defense attorneys. Criminal records were not turned over. In one instance, prosecutors gave defense attorneys the criminal background sheet on witness Leonardo Alvarez, as required by law. They missed one small detail, however: a murder conviction. U.S. Magistrate Linnea Johnson grilled Assistant U.S. Attorney David Cora. "I have no explanation for why it was done that way," Cora testified. "Sometimes we hand over rap sheets. Sometimes the rap sheets are indecipherable so we don't hand them over that way. I have no explanation for that, your honor." Guerra and Jimenez were clearly guilty of something, but Johnson agreed with their attorneys that the case against them should be dismissed. To allow a prosecution to proceed where the government itself has failed would be "wrong," Johnson ruled. So Guerra and Jimenez went free. The witnesses against them received much lighter sentences than they'd have faced had the trial not been marred by multiple discovery violations. Cora and the agents who helped him set up the case went back to their jobs. No one in the U.S. attorney's office was disciplined for the debacle. Bowing To Pressure The pressure to win convictions also played a role in many of the discovery violations found by the Post-Gazette. The bigger the case, the more the pressure. Xioa Leung was arrested in China in 1988 for his part in a drug smuggling operation to the United States. American lawmen lauded his arrest as one of the first efforts to cooperate with the People's Republic of China in stopping drug trafficking. Another Chinese national, Wang Zong, was prepared to identify key players in the drug smuggling operation -- a perfect witness for the prosecution. And no wonder. To ensure his testimony would suit prosecutors, Chinese police officers in 1988 tortured Zong for a month. They kicked him, dragged him through the streets, blindfolded him, and shocked him with an electric cattle prod. He received little to eat or drink. They denied him sleep. They beat him over and over again and threatened him with death. Obviously, U.S. law prohibits the use of torture in eliciting a witness's testimony. Yet when Zong testified at the trial of Leung in San Francisco, federal prosecutors insisted they knew nothing about his background that might help defense attorneys discredit his testimony. They lied. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Swenson and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Tommy Aiu had both seen a confidential memo from a U.S prosecutor stationed in Hong Kong. He warned that police in China had threatened Zong with the death penalty if he did not cooperate. That prosecutor, Robert McNair, also said he believed police had mistreated Zong during their interrogation. It wasn't until Zong was nearly through testifying that the truth leaked out on Jan. 30, 1990. "I request that the court in America safeguard me," Zong said in open court. U.S. District Judge William Orrick ordered the jury removed, then listened as Zong continued. "I am already in a position that I have been treated unfairly. The American government and the American judge, I don't know if they're aware of that." As Zong recounted his torture in China, the judge thought that Swenson and Aiu had been duped by Chinese officials along with everyone else. He appointed a former federal prosecutor, Cedric Chao, to investigate, then declared a mistrial. In late 1990 Orrick ordered a new trial after ruling that American lawmen had been "overwhelmed" by their collaboration with the Chinese. But Chao would soon learn that it hadn't been U.S. lawmen who were duped. He won the release of more and more information from the U.S. attorney's office, and the long-hidden McNair memorandum from the Hong Kong prosecutor's office finally was turned over. By the spring of 1993, Chao was able to show that Americans agents knew from their first trip to the Far East that Zong had been tortured. Because of the prosecutorial misconduct, the judge gave key players in the drug smuggling operation light sentences. In October 1993, he permanently blocked Zong's return to China, calling the case a flagrant violation of the constitutional rights Zong was entitled to while on U.S. soil. The judge accused Swenson of lying and covering up evidence in a "tunnel vision approach to winning the case." "The numerous instances of invidiously egregious conduct of important officials of the U.S. government shocks the conscience of this court," Orrick wrote. The judge ordered the Justice Department's office of professional responsibility to investigate him for perjury and obstruction of justice. Nothing was ever made public about that probe. Swenson was transferred shortly thereafter from the criminal division to the claims and judgments unit, where he is responsible for collecting on unpaid student loans.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Few Of Case's Twists, Shady Deals Revealed In Court - Win At All Costs series (Another installment in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's 10-part series about federal agents and prosecutors routinely breaking the law.) Date: Wed, 25 Nov 1998 15:01:42 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Few Of Case's Twists, Shady Deals Revealed In Court - Win Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Nora Callahan http://www.november.org/ Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Copyright: 1998 PG Publishing. Pubdate: Tues, 24 Nov 1998 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.post-gazette.com/ Author: Bill Moushey, Post-Gazette Staff Writer Note: This is the third part of a 10 part series, "Win At All Costs" being published in the Post-Gazette. The part is composed of several stories (being posted separately). The series is also being printed in The Blade, Toledo, OH email: email@example.com FEW OF CASE'S TWISTS, SHADY DEALS REVEALED IN COURT Federal prosecutors say Peter Hidalgo was a master drug smuggler and deserved the four life sentences that resulted from his conviction in 1994. Hidalgo says his trial was a farce that conniving federal agents and prosecutors orchestrated. The Post-Gazette's investigation found one certainty: Government misconduct at Hidalgo's trial was so rampant and calculated that nothing resembling the truth could have emerged. Four years have passed since his trial, yet appeals courts have yet to rule on his challenge. Here's what the Post-Gazette found: Hidalgo was accused of leading a smuggling operation that brought 423 kilograms of cocaine into Miami in 1992. Although discovery rules require it, prosecutors failed to inform Hidalgo that 23 kilograms of cocaine were missing after the bust. Prosecutors had in their possession videotapes showing that individuals who had contact with the smugglers discussed the missing cocaine and suggested it had been split among informants and federal agents. Hidalgo believes these informants and agents conspired against him to hide their misconduct. Prosecutors violated discovery by not turning the tapes over to Hidalgo's attorneys. Prosecutors withheld other audiotapes and videotapes that included extensive conversations about the smuggling operation. The limited transcripts prosecutors provided were marked "inaudible" in many places, although Hidalgo later learned these inaudible conversations were perfectly clear on the tapes. Hidalgo believes the tapes were withheld and the transcripts abbreviated because his name came up in none of the conversations. Prosecutors hid them because they showed he had no part in the operation, he believes. Prosecutors failed to inform Hidalgo that a federal agent who played a key role in the drug bust committed suicide shortly after Hidalgo's arrest. The agent was mentioned 31 times at Hidalgo's trial and had told his sister just before his death that he feared he would be implicated criminally in one of his biggest cases. Prosecutors failed to inform Hidalgo that police reports raised enough questions about this agent's death that it could have been argued that he was murdered. Hidalgo did not learn until after his trial that some witnesses against him had perjured themselves in earlier trials, that some of these witnesses were convicted murderers and that the government paid some of them huge sums for their services. One man received $500,000. Prosecutors failed to tell Hidalgo that a key witness against him had fabricated his testimony and bragged to his cellmates that he expected a substantial cut in his prison time for his lies. Prosecutors failed to turn over copies of grand jury transcripts that would have pointed out many of these discrepancies. Man Of Modest Means Hidalgo, 38, made his living selling, racing and repairing boats in Miami Lakes, Fla. His skill behind the wheel brought him fame and the attention of drug runners who needed equipment that could outrun law enforcers. Hidalgo, his wife and 1-year-old daughter lived in a modest rental house that he hoped they someday might buy. He considered himself lucky. Hidalgo escaped from Cuba in 1968, and the life he enjoyed in the United States, while modest, seemed a paradise by comparison. That changed on Sept. 8, 1992. Federal agents arrested Hidalgo and charged him with being the kingpin behind the drug-smuggling operation that had brought more than 400 kilograms -- 880 pounds -- of cocaine to the United States from Colombia, via the Bahamas. The cocaine was worth about $6 million wholesale, far more when it hit the streets. Agents were familiar with Hidalgo. He had been arrested in a 40,000-pound marijuana smuggling case, but all charges against him were dropped. He'd never been convicted of a felony. The witnesses who would testify against him did not lead Hidalgo's modest lifestyle. They were cartel-level millionaire smugglers, armed robbers, killers and thieves. The illegal drug trade had treated them well. They wore expensive clothes, drove expensive cars, lived in beautiful homes. And while federal agents never captured Hidalgo's voice on tape, they recorded these men discussing the drug deal in telephone conversations. Agents had photographed and videotaped them in the days before the drug-laden boat arrived and after it reached U.S. soil. None of the men who would be witnesses against Hidalgo had mentioned his name in their taped conversations, so Hidalgo figured federal agents and prosecutors would see through the ruse, that he was being made a scapegoat so that drug criminals could seek leniency by testifying against him. Hidalgo was wrong. Federal agents and prosecutors not only ignored the lies and fabricated evidence that came from these witnesses, they made sure no one else in the case would know about them. There was another difference between Hidalgo and the men who testified against him. Almost all were guilty and eager to cut deals in exchange for reduced sentences. Hidalgo got the same kind of offer. If Hidalgo would plead guilty, he'd get a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison, prosecutors told him. He might be paroled after nine years or so, and if he would provide "substantial assistance" by testifying against others, he might qualify for the Justice Department's biggest prize: an even quicker release and a payment of tens of thousands of dollars, just like those who would eventually testify against him. Hidalgo said he turned down the deal because he was innocent. Had he taken the government up on its offer, he would soon be a free man. A Strange Alliance The shaky foundation of the government's case against Hidalgo began two years before the drug smuggling sting. In 1990, a Miami police officer named Ralph Rodriguez arrested two Cuban refugees for selling him 2 kilograms of cocaine in Miami. After their arrest, the two refugees filed a complaint against Rodriguez. They said that twice in their presence he had sampled the cocaine they were selling, which, if true, would be cause for his dismissal. They also complained he had sex with a material witness in their case, also a violation of department rules. Lie detector tests supported their charges. This wouldn't be the first investigation of the agent's conduct. Defense attorneys and defendants had long complained that Rodriguez often broke the law in his efforts to enforce it. But in August 1992, the two Cuban refugees withdrew their complaints. Instead, they signed a plea agreement that freed them from prison time if they would work undercover for Rodriguez, who by then had taken a job for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The undercover work the informants performed paid well. For starters, each was given $20,000 to relocate their families. Within a few years, both of the refugees would purchase ranches in South Florida worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, though they testified that they mowed lawns for a living. Soon, Rodriguez and the two informants would work together again, this time helping to orchestrate the drug bust that would snare Hidalgo. Infiltrating The Deal The two informants told Rodriguez they knew of a drug operation that another man named Rodriguez was planning. The other Rodriguez's first name was Luis, and his nickname, "Cejas," was Spanish for thick eyebrows. He also was a Cuban refugee. So Agent Rodriguez and his partner in a drug task force, Special Agent Lee Lucas of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, hooked the two informers up with Angel "Pepe" Vega, an undercover officer for the Florida Marine Patrol. They would soon work their way into the drug deal. Here's how it worked. Cejas and another Miami smuggler named Gilberto Morales arranged for the two government informants and a third man to pick up a boat from Manny's Marina in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Manny Sanchez, another long-time drug smuggler, who had struck a great deal with federal agents, owned the marina. In exchange for a cut in his prison time on one of his six convictions, the agents ran drug stings out of his business, which they had wired for sight and sound. In addition, agents paid Sanchez $500,000, although Sanchez would tell the jury at Hidalgo's trial that he only got $200,000. He admitted he paid no taxes on the payments. When the boat reached the Bahamas, Fernando Fernandez and a crew of Bahamians were waiting. Fernandez was a middle man in smuggling operations between Colombia and the United States. There were 11 bales of cocaine to pick up, each weighing 40 kilograms, or 88 pounds. Fernandez opened one of the bales and gave the Bahamian crew 17 kilograms of cocaine as payment for their work. Twice, he carefully counted the remaining 23 kilograms from the opened bale in front of everyone present. That opened bale of cocaine -- and just how much eventually arrived in the U.S. -- would become a key factor in Hidalgo's case but one that would never reach the ears of jurors during his trial. The Deal Goes Bad On Sept. 4, 1992, the boat left Freeport, the Bahamas, then made a rendezvous with a vessel that Agent Rodriguez, his partner Lucas, and Vega, the third task force agent, staffed about a mile off the coast of Florida. Agents Rodriguez and Lucas would later testify that it was a stormy night and ocean swells made transferring the drugs from one vessel to the other difficult. They intimated that the opened bale of cocaine might have fallen into the water. It wasn't until after his trial that a meteorologist researched conditions and told Hidalgo that the water that night was tranquil. Agents Rodriguez and Lucas transported the cocaine to a government warehouse. No one else knew where the drugs were hidden. The two Cuban informants then called Cejas and Morales on tapped phones to demand payment in cash, $600,000, before they would make final delivery of the drugs. Morales and Cejas didn't have the money; they had earlier agreed to pay for the work in drugs. They offered 50 kilograms, but the federal informants turned them down. Then Morales and Cejas offered 100 kilograms. Still, no deal. Morales and Cejas were getting desperate. The Colombians who had set up the shipment couldn't understand the delay in getting the drugs delivered. Morales made as many as 20 phone calls a day over four days to discuss the 423 kilograms of cocaine. While he later would testify that Hidalgo was his partner, he never mentioned Hidalgo in any of those calls, nor did he suggest that he had to check with anyone else before making new offers to get the drugs delivered. After four days, the Colombians and their Bahamian confederates began to wonder if Morales and Cejas were stealing from them. They dispatched two contract killers to kidnap Cejas. He would be held hostage until the drugs were released, and if they weren't, Cejas would be killed. Morales knew if that happened, he would be next. A Friend In Need That's where Hidalgo finally entered the picture. He had known Morales for years. He said Morales asked him to call the Bahamians, since they had purchased boat equipment from Hidalgo's business and trusted his word. Morales asked Hidalgo to tell the Bahamians that Morales and Cejas could be trusted. Nothing more was asked of him, Hidalgo said. The conversation was never captured on tape, at least prosecutors never produced it at the trial. While investigators had the entire process wired, they said the equipment was not turned on the entire time. Prosecutors also attributed their failure to catch Hidalgo on tape to his careful nature. Morales would later testify that Hidalgo made the call in an effort to salvage the deal -- and his profits. Hidalgo admits he was stupid to make the call, adding he was simply trying to save the life of someone he knew. "I knew the Bahamians from the boat business," he said in an interview earlier this year at the Federal Detention Center in Miami. "They knew I was an honest businessman. If I don't do this, Cejas was dead. Morales was dead. I defused the entire situation." Shuttled Across Country Here is Hidalgo's definition of hell: knowing government witnesses lied; knowing prosecutors hid evidence favorable to him while allowing fabricated evidence that would convict him; learning about the deceit only after he was convicted and sentenced. Then being shuttled from prison to prison to prison -- diesel therapy, prisoners call it -- because, he says, he so aggressively has pressed his contention that federal agents and prosecutors sandbagged him. In April, he was transferred from Miami to Atlanta; then to Oklahoma City; then to Leavenworth, a maximum security prison in Kansas, where many convicts with life sentences begin serving their time. Government rules say he should be allowed to stay in the prison closest to the court where his appeal was filed, until that appeal is decided. Hidalgo filed his appeal in Miami. He is 1,460 miles away. Hidalgo has little money but was able to hire, briefly, an investigator to take a closer look at the government's misconduct, but most of Hidalgo's research has been accomplished from his prison cells. Here are some of the additional things he learned: Hidden witness: Federal prosecutors gave Fernandez, the man who handled the drugs in the Bahamas, leniency for his testimony, but they never put him on the stand after he insisted that 23 kilograms of cocaine was missing from the amount he had shipped -- the cocaine remaining in the bale used to pay off the Bahamians. This contradicted the government's other witnesses and buttressed Hidalgo's contention that federal agents knew about the missing drugs. Paid liars: Hidalgo learned the government's witnesses against him received cash or were not forced to forfeit drug related property that federal agents had a right to seize. Most of those deals, which totaled more than $3 million, were never revealed at his trial. Great deals: Morales, the man whom Hidalgo saved, faced 24 years in prison for his role in the operation. Federal prosecutors offered to reduce that to 10 years if he'd identify leaders of the drug smuggling operation. Morales knew that fingering real drug kingpins would lead to an early death, so he said nothing that resulted in charges against his contacts in Colombia. He simply told prosecutors he was working for Hidalgo, even though the statement made little sense. If Hidalgo were a drug kingpin, why had he so little money and lived in a rental house? Morales admitted to making $5 million smuggling drugs during the previous 12 years. Mystery man: One of the most mysterious witnesses was Jose Luis Goyriena, who testified he was a distributor for a major drug ring whose leaders included Hidalgo. Goyriena bragged to cellmates that he'd never heard of Hidalgo but had obtained information about Hidalgo's case and fabricated testimony against him so prosecutors would reduce Goyriena's 27-year prison sentence. Even though prosecutors were told of Goyriena's scheme before and after Hidalgo's trial, they said nothing to Hidalgo's lawyers. Suicide questions: Angel "Pepe" Vega, the agent whose suicide was hidden from Hidalgo, suffered from anxiety attacks and depression after the drug bust. Shortly after telling his sister that he feared he might be arrested in connection with one of his big cases, he was found dead in his car in the parking lot of his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., church. His death was ruled a suicide. He left a note of apology for his wife, but Hidalgo's investigator found discrepancies in Broward County police reports: Vega was left-handed, but he shot himself in the right side of the head. The downward path of the 9 mm slug that killed him was at an angle that would have been nearly impossible for someone to accomplish with his Glock pistol, with its 6-inch barrel. Vega's weapon was found pointing forward between his legs. The weapon's recoil should have sent the gun falling into a back seat. No blood from the wound was found on the hand Vega would have used to pull the trigger. Despite those findings, police closed the Vega case as a suicide. 'It's A Big Price' Hidalgo has been in Leavenworth since April. He hopes for a new trial, but the cost of fighting the government is great, he said. He realizes that if he'd simply joined forces with the government and lied about others, as they did about him, he might have walked free. He said his conscience would not allow him to do that. "I'm not saying I've had the best associations, but what they're saying I'm involved in, it's bull," he said. "It's a big price. I've lost my family. I have a daughter who I haven't been part of her upbringing since she was 10 months old. "These people have broke me financially; they broke up my family. The only thing they won't be able to break is my dignity and my principles. [If] they get me a new trial, I'm gonna show what the government has done, that it's out of control."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Federal Misconduct Creates An Incident In Costa Rica (Another installment in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's 10-part series about federal agents and prosecutors routinely breaking the law.) Date: Wed, 25 Nov 1998 18:58:17 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Federal Misconduct Creates An Incident In Costa Rica Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Nora Callahan http://www.november.org/ Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Copyright: 1998 PG Publishing. Pubdate: Tues, 24 Nov 1998 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.post-gazette.com/ Author: Bill Moushey, Post-Gazette Staff Writer Note: This is the third part of a 10 part series, "WIN AT ALL COSTS" being published in the Post-Gazette. The part is composed of several stories (being posted separately). The series is also being printed in The Blade, Toledo, OH email: email@example.com FEDERAL MISCONDUCT CREATES AN INCIDENT IN COSTA RICA Federal agents believed Israel Abel was a leader in a major cocaine smuggling ring in the 1980s that imported 3 tons of cocaine from Colombia to Miami. They wanted him so badly that they were willing to go to lengths that would lead another country to file criminal charges against U.S. officials. In 1991, a federal grand jury indicted Abel and several others on drug-smuggling charges, but by then he had been living in Costa Rica for five years and, by most accounts, was no longer in the drug business. But federal agents were so desperate to bring him to trial that they violated his most basic rights and then tried to cover up their actions, Abel's lawyers charge. Because of the magnitude of the charges against him, it seems unlikely any court will intervene, even though the government of Costa Rica has issued criminal arrest warrants against the former deputy attorney general to Attorney General Janet Reno and a former U.S. Consular officer because of their conduct. The U.S. government extradited Abel in 1992. The Justice Department sent Deputy Attorney General Richard Scruggs, a former Miami federal prosecutor, to Costa Rica. Costa Rican police then arrested Abel and turned him over to U.S. agents on an American jetliner. He was brought home, tried and sentenced to four life sentences in prison. Scruggs said everything went off without a hitch. Abel said Costa Rican and American agents kidnapped him, hid him for two days then shipped him back to the United States without benefit of the due process that laws in Costa Rica and the United States guarantee. In summer 1993, Costa Rican officials, after scouring the documentation provided when Scruggs requested extradition, filed the first of three protests with the American government related to Abel's case. They charged that Scruggs collaborated with over-zealous members of the Costa Rican National Migration board to "circumvent the country's extradition procedures." Within months, Costa Rica filed criminal charges against Scruggs and Donna Hamilton, a U.S. Consular officer in San Jose. Hamilton was transferred out of the country before she could be tried. Neither she nor Scruggs will face those charges, as long as they don't return to Costa Rica. Robert Scola, Abel's lawyer, has asked the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta to dismiss the case against Abel because of prosecutorial misconduct. The appeal charged that the government's documents, obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, "irrefutably demonstrate . . . the knowing use of both perjured testimony and affidavits by (Assistant United States Attorney Karen) Rochlin before and during evidentiary hearings." Despite discovery requests, "None of these documents have ever been turned over to the defendant," Abel's appellate brief stated.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Feds Buy Into Deal With Known Drug Trafficker - Win At All Costs series (Another installment in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's 10-part series about federal agents and prosecutors routinely breaking the law.) Date: Thu, 26 Nov 1998 04:38:45 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: Feds Buy Into Deal With Known Drug Trafficker - WIN AT ALL Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Nora Callahan http://www.november.org/ Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Copyright: 1998 PG Publishing. Pubdate: Tues, 24 Nov 1998 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.post-gazette.com/ Author: Bill Moushey, Post-Gazette Staff Writer Note: This is the third part of a 10 part series, "WIN AT ALL COSTS" being published in the Post-Gazette. The part is composed of several stories (being posted separately). The series is also being printed in The Blade, Toledo, OH email: email@example.com FEDS BUY INTO DEAL WITH KNOWN DRUG TRAFFICKER David Wheeler had smuggled drugs for almost 20 years when federal agents finally arrested the Phoenix man as he was carrying a kilogram of cocaine in 1989 in Oklahoma. He faced the possibility of life in prison, so he offered federal agents a proposition. He said he would help the government set up a sting designed to capture key drug cartel members from Mexico to Colombia. He might snare some Americans as well, including politicians who were on the take. Wheeler had always been a notorious con man, but federal agents knew his years in drug trafficking had left him well-connected. They accepted the deal and soon regretted it, even though information he provided led to the arrests of seven supposedly high level Mexican police officers and drug smugglers in the sting he orchestrated in 1990. After their trial, the government released a memorandum that a Drug Enforcement Administration official had written. It showed that Wheeler not only had lied constantly about his actions in the sting but had committed at least as many crimes during the sting as those people he had set up. The memo said he was out of the control of agents throughout the sting. The memo bolstered the statements of the defendants, who had argued in court that they were not drug dealers, only opportunistic individuals who were willing to accept the millions of dollars that Wheeler had offered them for protecting a drug enterprise. The 9th U.S. Court of Appeals found in the government's case that "millions of dollars are talked about but not one speck of cocaine shows up at any time and not one sample is gathered by the government and nothing really is seen except, surprise, surprise, that which Mr. Wheeler says he saw . . . " The court reversed every case in which Wheeler testified, saying the memorandum about his misconduct was "plainly material . . . and should have been turned over to defense attorneys." It showed how Wheeler was "in a position to manipulate the [U.S. Bureau of] Customs, the DEA, the defendants and the evidence." Wheeler was never charged.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Smuggler Sells Out His Lawyer To Strike A Deal - Win At All Costs series (Another installment in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's 10-part series about federal agents and prosecutors routinely breaking the law.) Date: Thu, 26 Nov 1998 04:38:44 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Smuggler Sells Out His Lawyer To Strike A Deal - WIN AT Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Nora Callahan http://www.november.org/ Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Copyright: 1998 PG Publishing. Pubdate: Tues, 24 Nov 1998 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.post-gazette.com/ Author: Bill Moushey, Post-Gazette Staff Writer Note: This is the third part of a 10 part series, "WIN AT ALL COSTS" being published in the Post-Gazette. The part is composed of several stories (being posted separately). The series is also being printed in The Blade, Toledo, OH email: email@example.com Next: Part 4 - Perjury (SUNDAY, November 29th) Federal agents and prosecutors may be quick to act on the words of lying informants or witnesses. The innocent people sometimes pay the price. SMUGGLER SELLS OUT HIS LAWYER TO STRIKE A DEAL Charles Goldman smuggled drugs -- a lot of them -- and he was facing serious prison time when federal agents proposed a deal. They would offer leniency if Goldman would testify against his own lawyer and a South Florida police officer on charges that they had avoided paying taxes on illicit drug income. Since the charges involved tax evasion, Goldman worked closely with an Internal Revenue Service agent, Synda Smith, 38. Attorney David Arnold and Opa Locka Police Officer Armando Coto received 15-year prison terms in February 1993, based largely on Goldman's testimony. What they didn't know, and what they're citing in their request for new trials, is that Goldman and Smith had sex several times while they were conferring about his testimony. The two conducted the affair in a prosecutor's lounge at the courthouse, which is known as "the Igloo" because of the frigid conditions that the air conditioning system creates there. "Evidently, these Arctic conditions were no impediment to Agent Smith and Mr. Goldman," said defense lawyer Michael Tarre in court papers. Smith later admitted the affair to federal investigators. Arnold and Coto say Smith's liaison with Goldman tainted his testimony, that Goldman embellished his story in return for Smith's favors. They also say prosecutors knew of the relationship but didn't tell defense attorneys, as discovery rules require. That knowledge might have seriously damaged Goldman's testimony, they said. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and ordered a new trial. In the meantime, Goldman has been released from prison because of his help; his sentence was cut by more than half. Smith has left her job at the IRS.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Medical Marijuana Patient Jean Marlowe Released from Jail! (A bulletin from NORML says federal district judge Lacey Thornburg released Jean Marlowe - detained since Nov. 9 - from jail during a sentencing hearing today in Asheville, North Carolina, and sentenced her to six months of home confinement for receiving a package of marijuana from Switzerland, which she had obtained for her personal medical use.) Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 21:00:33 -0500 To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, DPFT-L@TAMU.EDU From: Richard Lake (email@example.com) Subject: HT: Medical Marijuana Patient Jean Marlowe Released from Jail! (FWD) Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Medical Marijuana Patient Jean Marlowe Released from Jail! At a sentencing hearing earlier today in Asheville, NC, Federal District Judge Lacey Thornburg released Jean Marlowe from jail and sentenced her to six months of home confinement. Ms. Marlowe had earlier been found guilty of six federal felonies for receiving a package of marijuana from Switzerland, which she had obtained for her personal medical use. She had been in jail since November 9 for continuing to smoke marijuana to relieve pain while awaiting sentencing. Attorney Joe Bondy of the NORML legal committee argued at the hearing that the judge should depart downward from the federal sentencing guidelines, under which she was eligible for a prison sentence of 8-14 months. Judge Thornburg refused to grant a departure for the medical use of marijuana, but did agree to a downward departure based on Jean's medical condition. More details to follow shortly. Keith Stroup NORML
------------------------------------------------------------------- Mexico Seizes Three Hotels From Drug Cartel (According to Reuters, Reforma newspaper said Tuesday that Mexican police, with the help of US agents, have seized about $200 million in assets from the so-called Juarez cartel, including three luxury hotels, two of them in the Caribbean resort of Cancun.) Date: Wed, 25 Nov 1998 10:20:44 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: Mexico: WIRE: Mexico Seizes Three Hotels From Drug Cartel Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (email@example.com) Pubdate: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 Source: Reuters Copyright: 1998 Reuters Limited. MEXICO SEIZES THREE HOTELS FROM DRUG CARTEL MEXICO CITY, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Mexican authorities have seized about $200 million in assets from drug traffickers, including three luxury hotels, two of them in the Caribbean resort of Cancun, according to a published report on Tuesday. The Reforma newspaper said Mexican police, with the help of U.S. agents, took cars, the hotels and other property from members of the so-called Juarez cocaine cartel. Mexican and U.S. law enforcement officials declined comment. Two hotels in Cancun, the Costa Real and Laguna Real, were seized as well as one in nearby Playa del Carmen, the Porto Real, the newspaper said. Reforma said police had arrested the architect of the hotels and a top cartel official identified as Gerardo Munoz Hidalgo, believed to be a contact between the cartel based in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez and their Cali, Colombia-based counterparts. It also said police were looking for Oscar Benjamin Garcia Davila, a former assistant director of the Quintana Roo state police, and bodyguard and intelligence chief to state Gov. Mario Villanueva Madrid. Media reports have recently said that Cancun, a resort visited by hundreds of thousands of North American and European tourists each year, had taken on the role played by Miami in the 1980s as a drug-trafficking paradise.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Dutch To Extend Free Heroin Hand-Outs To Addicts (According to Reuters, the Netherlands' health ministry said on Tuesday it would extend an experiment to distribute free heroin to hard-core addicts after a three-month pilot scheme proved a success.) Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 08:30:08 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: Netherlands: WIRE: Dutch To Extend Free Heroin Hand-Outs To Addicts Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: GDaurer@aol.com Pubdate: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 Source: Reuters Copyright: 1998 Reuters Limited. DUTCH TO EXTEND FREE HEROIN HAND-OUTS TO ADDICTS THE HAGUE, Nov 24 (Reuters) - The Dutch health ministry said on Tuesday it would extend an experiment to distribute free heroin to hard core drug addicts after a three-month pilot scheme proved a success. In the first phase of the revolutionary scheme, launched in July, 24 addicts in Amsterdam and 21 in Rotterdam received heroin hand-outs. Participants were monitored for signs of health and behavioral problems. ``During the first phase there were no serious, undesired side-effects in terms of public order, criminality and medical safety,'' the health ministry said in a statement. Some heroin users had complained about the quality of the heroin on offer, however. ``The Central Commission for the Treatment of Heroin Addicts (CCBH) is trying to find a solution,'' the ministry said. The next phase of the experiment will draw in 750 drug addicts spread over eight locations in several Dutch cities. ``The CCBH will report back to the minister on positive and negative side effects,'' the health ministry said. The United States and France have criticised the Dutch government for its lenient approach to drug abuse and tolerance of so-called coffee shops that sell marijuana. The Netherlands maintains its goal is to cut hard drug use and promote the health of those addicts unable to kick their habit. -------------------------------------------------------------------
The articles posted here are generally copyrighted by the source publications. They are reproduced here for educational purposes under the Fair Use Doctrine (17 U.S.C., section 107). NORML is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit educational organization. The views of the authors and/or source publications are not necessarily those of NORML. The articles and information included here are not for sale or resale.
Comments, questions and suggestions.Reporters and researchers are welcome at the world's largest online library of drug-policy information, sponsored by the Drug Reform Coordination Network at: http://www.druglibrary.org/
Next day's news
Previous day's news
to the 1998 Daily News index for November 19-25
to the Portland NORML news archive directory
to 1998 Daily News index (long)
This URL: http://www.pdxnorml.org/981124.html