The Islamic Post Blog

Indictments Against the Vice President Thrown Out by Khalida
January 2, 2009, 8:22 am
Filed under: January Volume I- 2009, National | Tags:

By Khalida Khaleel

Islamic Post Staff Writer

Texas judge Manuel Banales recently threw out a grand jury indictment that  charged Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez with engaging in organized criminal activity. The indictments against other government officials was also dismissed.
The case surrounds the alleged maltreatment of Americans in private-run prisons within the United States, an allegation which brought to light the beating to death of a man named Gregorio de la Rosa by other prisoners. Finding negligence on the part of the Willacy County facility management in a civil judgment in 2006, a jury ordered owner, Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, to pay the murdered man’s family $47.5 million.
The current cases were built upon this conviction. Nueces County retired state District Judge Michael J. Westergren, who practiced law for nearly 40 years, told The Brownsville Herald that Guerra is the only one who has had the “gumption” to investigate privately owned and managed prisons and their lack of oversight. “I certainly think it is a serious matter. It’s not frivolous by any means,” Westergren said, referring to Guerra’s case. He said there is “substantial support” to the allegations.
But there are others in the county who feel the district attorney cast his net too wide, making charges based on assumed intentions in which blame lay indirectly. Cited in his indictment was the estimated $85 million stake of the Vice President in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies that run various detention centers across the United States. Dick Cheney was accused of a conflict of interest and “at least misdemeanor assaults” on detainees, but only through his ownership interest. The former attorney general, however, was accused of using his position during his tenure to block investigations into abuses at detention centers located in south Texas. Five other government officials: Gilbert Lozano, Gustavo Garza, Mervyn Mosbacker, Jr., Janet Leal, and Migdalia Lopez, were charged with “abuse of official capacity” and “official oppression.” GEO Group, Inc., another corrections corporation, was charged with murder and manslaughter, and Texas Senator Edie Lucio, Jr. was charged with the “acceptance of honorarium.” The reason for Judge Banales dismissing this particular indictment was it failed to address whether Lucio knew he was only being hired by private prison companies as a consultant because he was a state senator.
After the proceedings, D.A. Guerra claimed the judge was creating technicalities where none existed. Regardless of the opinions of those who say he is taking the case too personally, Juan Angel Guerra promised to persist in his struggle to bring justice to the American prison system. D.A. Guerra had dedicated a great deal of time on the investigations, which he called Operation Goliath, working in off hours and behind closed doors with few trusted aids.
He also spent monies out of his personal finances. The D.A.’s home is now being foreclosed. “I had to finance Operation Goliath because no one else wanted to,” Guerra told the Valley Morning Star. “My point was to stop the killing at any cost. At whatever cost to me, I was going to stop the killing.”
Some people in Willacy County think the District Attorney’s sanity has taken a hit. Senator Lucio’s attorney called Guerra a “one-man circus.”
While defense attorneys referred to District Attorney Guerra’s work as “bizarre,” Guerra could have at least been correct regarding his assertion of the indictments being dismissed due to technicalities. American Law Daily reported one of the reasons given by Judge Banales was that on the day the indictments were handed up, two alternates were part of the 10-member grand jury. Those alternates not been properly substituted.
The judge also found it inappropriate and unlawful for Guerra to present those cases to the grand jury in which he was the alleged victim, witness and also prosecutor. In general, Judge Banales said he found no probable cause to support the indictments.


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