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Author Topic: Cheney, Gonzales Indicted in Texas  (Read 708 times)
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« on: Nov 19, 2008 09:12 PM »


Cheney, Gonzales indicted in Texas county
The indictment involves prison-related charges
 Video: Crime & courts     More video

updated 8:36 p.m. CT, Tues., Nov. 18, 2008
McALLEN, 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.

Experts testified to grand jury
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.

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.

Gonzales' attorney, George Terwilliger III, said in a written statement, "This is obviously a bogus charge on its face, as any good prosecutor can recognize." He said he hoped Texas authorities would take steps to stop "this abuse of the criminal justice system."

Another indictment released Tuesday accuses Lucio 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.

Settling political scores?
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.

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.

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.

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

Last month, Banales dismissed indictments that charged Guerra with extorting money from a bail bond company and using his office for personal business. An appeals court had earlier ruled that a special prosecutor was improperly appointed 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.

The indictments were first reported by KRGV-TV.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27794032/
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 02, 2008 03:51 PM »

Cheney, Gonzales Indictments Thrown Out
  CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN | December 2, 2008 12:19 AM EST | 

 
RAYMONDVILLE, Texas — A judge dismissed indictments against Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Monday and told the southern Texas prosecutor who brought the case to exercise caution as his term in office ends.

Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra had accused Cheney and the other defendants of responsibility for prisoner abuse. The judge's order ended two weeks of sometimes-bizarre court proceedings.

Guerra is leaving office at the end of the month after soundly losing in his March primary election.

"I suggest on behalf of the law that you not present any cases to the grand jury involving these defendants," Administrative Judge Manuel Banales said in court while ruling that eight indictments against Cheney, Gonzales and others were invalid.

He also set a Dec. 10 hearing on whether to disqualify Guerra from those cases.

Even in defeat, Guerra saw the outcome as confirmation of the very conspiracy he had pursued. "I expected it," he said. "The system is going to protect itself."

Banales withheld judgment on whether probable cause existed for the Cheney and Gonzales indictments because they were not represented in court and did not present any argument. For the other defendants, he found no probable cause to support the charges.

A White House spokeswoman said Monday night that Cheney's office had no comment. A call to Gonzales' attorney was not immediately returned.

Story continues below 

Three of the eight indictments returned Nov. 17 targeted private prison operator The GEO Group, state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., Cheney and Gonzales, as part of an investigation into prisoner abuse at privately run federal prisons in the county.

Guerra ran the investigation into alleged prisoner abuse with a siege mentality. He worked it from his home, dubbed it "Operation Goliath" and kept it secret from his staff, he said. He gave all the witnesses biblical pseudonyms _ his was "David."

Banales dismissed all eight indictments because GEO Group attorney Tony Canales showed that two alternate jurors were part of the panel that day but had not been properly substituted.

Five of the indictments _ against two district judges, two special prosecutors and the district clerk _ were dismissed because Guerra was the alleged victim, witness and prosecutor. The indictments accused the five of abusing their power by being involved in a previous investigation of Guerra.

The indictment against Cheney alleged that his personal investment in the Vanguard Group, which invests in private prison companies, made him culpable in alleged prisoner abuse at privately run federal detention centers.

Gonzales was accused of using his position to stop an investigation into abuses at a federal detention center.

Lucio was alleged to have used his Senate position to profit as a prison consultant, but Banales ruled that the indictment failed to address whether Lucio knew he was only being hired to consult because he was a state senator.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/12/02/cheney-gonzales-indictmen_n_147676.html
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