DrugSense FOCUS Alert #160 February 9, 2000 

DrugSense FOCUS Alert #160 February 9, 2000 
Posted by FoM on February 09, 2000 at 13:30:31 PT
Drug Case Reveal That Prosecutors Habitually Bribe
Source: MapInc.
To offer big rewards for jailing high-profile criminals appeals to the fearful public, yet it corrupts the justice system and undermines the right to a fair trial, as the case of Juan Garcia Abrego shows. FBI prosecutor Peter Hanna offered star witness Carlos Resendez $2 million from the reward chest for false testimony against Abrego. 
One wonders who of the three is the bad guy in this game. We could get all of them to go about more useful activities by simply ending drug prohibition which fuels such corrupt schemes with endless funds and thereby destroys all justice.Please write a letter to the Houston Chronicle and express your concern about this egregious miscarriage of justice. Contact info and details below.Thanks for your effort and support. WRITE A LETTER TODAY!It's not what others do it's what YOU do! PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID (Letter, Phone, fax etc.)Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent letter list (sentlet if you are subscribed, or by E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer Your letter will then be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit. This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our impact and effectiveness.CONTACT INFO:Source: Houston Chronicle (TX): Contact: viewpoints Address: Viewpoints Editor P.O. Box 4260 Houston, Texas 77210-4260 Fax: (713) 220-3575 Forum: Newshawk: Art Smart (ArtSmart Pubdate: Tue, 08 Feb 2000 Source: Houston Chronicle (TX) Copyright: 2000 Houston Chronicle Page: 1 Author: Deborah Tedford FED PAYOFF TO WITNESS CLAIMED IN DRUG CASE: A receipt for a $1 million cashier's check paid to the star witness against drug kingpin Juan Garcia Abrego may bolster defense claims that U.S. prosecutors paid for false testimony to win a conviction. The check was one of two purchased March 13, 1998, by FBI agent Peter Hanna, according to documents subpoenaed from NationsBank (now Bank of America) by attorneys for Garcia Abrego. Michael Pancer and Kent Schaffer have asked U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein for a hearing on grounds that prosecutors encouraged Carlos Resendez to give false testimony and hid crucial evidence about their pretrial financial agreements.The allegations are based on statements by Resendez and Mexican attorney Raquenel Villanueva Fraustro, who said she brokered a deal with U.S. prosecutors in which Resendez agreed to lie for millions of dollars from the U.S. government. Prosecutors have not directly addressed the allegations. However, in court documents filed last month they referred to a newspaper article that quoted Villanueva as saying the United States reneged on a deal to pay Resendez $2 million for his testimony against the head of the notorious Gulf Cartel.In 150 pages of briefs and exhibits, the prosecutors never said if Resendez was paid a reward. Instead, they attacked defense attorneys for offering only hearsay evidence of the alleged perjury and misconduct. Schaffer said the checks, which will be filed in court documents later this month, are evidence of a payoff. "The check answers one of the main questions: whether the payment was made or not," Schaffer said. The $1 million check bought by Hanna was made payable to Carlos Resendez on March 16, 1998.One of two witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the cartel's inner-workings, Resendez was a former commander in the Mexican state police and a boyhood friend and a 30-year confidant of Garcia Abrego. In the 1996 trial, he testified that he was promised no money for his testimony, but sources say he now says U.S. agents promised him $2 million to testify as the government's star witness. Schaffer said Resendez had backed out of the deal because prosecutors "stiffed him out of $1 million and he's mad." Resendez now says his testimony was replete with lies -- all sanctioned by prosecutors.Schaffer said Resendez has contradicted his trial testimony on at least two points. He now says:* It was his former mistress, Noema Quintanilla, not he, who arranged for Garcia Abrego's arrest.* He lied when he testified he was not promised any money by the U.S. government for his testimony.The second cashier's check bought by Hanna may lend credence to Resendez's claims. Hanna bought a $250,000 cashier's check payable to Quintanilla. Both checks were purchased at the same time from the branch at 700 Louisiana in Houston. Although Hanna's name and FBI number are handwritten on the checks' receipt, the typewritten name on the checks is Peter Hanlon. The agent's last name could simply be misspelled, Schaffer said, but "I think Mr. Hanna didn't want his name on a check for $1 million made out to a government witness."Indicted here in 1993, Garcia Abrego was convicted of 22 counts of drug trafficking, conspiracy, money laundering and operating a continuing criminal enterprise. The only drug trafficker ever placed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list, Garcia Abrego was responsible for smuggling more than 396,000 pounds of cocaine and 46,000 pounds of marijuana across the border from 1980-96, authorities said.Most came through the Matamoros-Brownsville corridor and were shipped to Houston and cities in New York, California, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey, more than 80 government witnesses said. Public officials on both sides of the border often received expensive gifts and bribes from Garcia Abrego's organization, testimony revealed. In January 1997, Garcia Abrego was sentenced to 11 concurrent life sentences.Resendez testified that he helped arrange drug deals and was aware of murder plots and bribes to top Mexican government officials. He also testified that "they" told him the United States was offering a $2 million reward for information leading to Garcia Abrego's arrest and conviction, but that he was promised nothing except "security" for himself and his family.Jeff Pokorak, acting director of the Center for Legal and Social Justice at St. Mary's University law school in San Antonio, said the practice of prosecutors paying for testimony is a threat to justice. "The prosecution often feels they need to secure the testimony of pretty reprehensible people, which is all right," he said. "But the horrible thing is to pay them. I don't see how it's reasonable to believe that wouldn't color one's testimony. All you have to do is tell a lie -- or their version of the truth -- for the person protecting you."Pokorak said the payments are often in the guise of "rewards" and often paid during the appeals process to protect the conviction. The cashier's checks to Resendez and Quintanilla were purchased within six weeks of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' affirmation of Garcia Abrego's conviction.Prosecutors maintained in court documents that if Resendez were paid after the trial, defense attorneys were not entitled to that information.But Pokorak said that's not true. "A deal isn't just the delivery -- it's the wink and the nudge to the witness before they get the benefit," he said. "Was there some hint that Mr. Resendez would get this windfall? That's the violation." Michael Ramsey, one of Garcia Abrego's trial lawyers, said, "Where the honor about the United States has been challenged, no judge is more willing to get to the bottom of it than Ewing Werlein." SAMPLE LETTER (sent)To the editors of the Houston Chronicle: As shocking as it is that the FBI paid at least $1 million to a witness to elicit false testimony, it is hardly surprising to see this happen. Such practice is certainly to be condemned -- but is it so vastly different from offering lenience and plea bargains to convicts who turn others in, a practice that has become so common that nobody seems to raise an eyebrow over it anymore? It is no accident that such unsavory practices have become commonplace in courtroom cases dealing with the trade in illicit drugs. It is high time to consider if lavish funding for undercover operations and overstuffed reward chests yields more of a return on investment than corrupting law enforcement and perverting justice. If going on unquestioned, the War on Drugs is about to turn into a nightmare for freedom and democracy.Eric Ernst, New YorkIMPORTANT: Always include your address and telephone numberPlease note: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it at least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for his/her work. TO SUBSCRIBE, DONATE, VOLUNTEER TO HELP, OR UPDATE YOUR EMAIL SEE: UNSUBSCRIBE SEE: ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing efforts:3 Tips for Letter Writers Letter Writers Style Guide Prepared by Eric Ernst Focus Alert Specialist CannabisNews MapInc. Articles - New!
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