Cory Voorhis trial update 4/7/08
On Monday, the beginning of the second full week of the prosecution (persecution) of Cory Voorhis, I spent half the day in the courtroom watching the testimony of prosecution witness Manny Olmos, Senior Special Agent in ICE’s (Immigration and Customer Enforcement) Office of Professional Responsibility. [For those who don’t know about the case, allow me to refer you to my article outlining its key points, which you can find HERE. You can also find a fair bit of information searching the Denver Post web site for “Cory Voorhis”.] In my view, Olmos’ testimony was at worst a neutral for Voorhis, and possibly a real positive despite his being a witness for the prosecution. The whole afternoon showed Olmos to be barely competent and clearly deceitful, two traits mirrored almost perfectly in court by prosecutor James C. Anderson, Assistant US Attorney for the District of Wyoming. Olmos was the lead investigator of Cory Voorhis and, with two others, searched Voorhis’ office, confiscating a laptop, cell phone, files, diskettes, and rolodex. Anderson asked Olmos about the contents of “Diskette 28”. Olmos mentioned two letters to Senators which were then displayed on screens in the court room. Presumably the prosecution entered these exhibits into evidence to show that Voorhis is a very political person, and in particular that he would have tried to damage Bill Ritter because Ritter is a Democrat. In the first letter, sent to former Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI) in which he said that he is a Republican but considers himself an independent voter. Voorhis said (and it’s possible I read the letter wrong, because the print was very small) that in Abraham’s re-election race, he contributed to a Democrat for the first time because he opposed Abraham’s very permissive positions on immigration issues. In the second letter, Voorhis asked then Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) to oppose the confirmation of John Ashcroft as Attorney General of the United States “because of his voting record on immigration issues.” So, while the prosecution seemed to be trying to show Voorhis as quite political, what they showed more clearly was that Voorhis was more than willing to oppose Republicans whom Voorhis felt acted against enforcement of America’s immigration laws. Anderson went from making silly legal decisions to outright stupidity. Here I quote a truly amusing four sentences between Anderson and Olmos when Olmos was being questioned about data on a printout from a government database. Anderson: “What’s the third line (of information on the printout)?” Olmos: “Date of birth” Anderson: “What’s that mean?” Olmos (after a brief delay): “Date of birth” Back to what passes for reality in this looking-glass legal world… I had learned, and it came out in court later in the day, that Voorhis was suspended without pay based on misuse of a computer system called “TECS”, the “Treasury Enforcement Communication System”, which is the primary database used by US Customs. (Although Customs and Immigration are now under one agency, ICE, they still operate quite separately and there is real tension, even animosity, between the two former agencies.) TECS is generally not used by ICE agents who focus on immigration rather than customs. Olmos then testified that Voorhis had never accessed TECS. While this may seem a minor difference from the charge that he exceeded his access to the NCIC (The FBI’s National Crime Information Center) database rather than TECS, it throws a bright light on ICE’s rush to judgment. Olmos then testified that the information Voorhis gave to John Marshall (whom Voorhis believed to be affiliated with Bob Beauprez’s congressional office) could only have been found in NCIC. However, and I don’t believe this came out in court yet, the information in question was about an illegal alien criminal who had been rearrested in Georgia and was in Federal prison there. So, the alien’s information was available in at least two public databases (the Bureau of Prisons and PACER, the primary Federal Court database.) In one of several instances where the prosecution had Olmos testify in a manner which was somewhere between deceitful and unethical: The prosecution put up a picture of a “duty log” book and asked if Voorhis had entered information about his investigation of the names provided to him by John Marshall into the book. Olmos said there were no entries, implying that Voorhis had either shirked his duty or was actually hiding his actions. However, beyond the fact that the “duty log” book was primarily a practice of the Customs officers, not the Immigration officers, as one former ICE agent put it, “if Cory wasn’t a Duty Agent, he has no responsibility to open the book.” On re-direct, Olmos revealed that Voorhis was never a Duty Agent during the month of September, 2005, the month when he is accused of misuse of a computer! In other words, Olmos tried to make Voorhis look guilty for not doing something that Olmos knew Voorhis had no reason or responsibility to do. In a similarly unethical follow-up, Anderson asked Olmos about a prosecution exhibit which was a memorandum discussing appropriate contact between ICE and members of Congress, implying that Voorhis violated some part of the guidance in the memo. On redirect, the defense asked Olmos who the memorandum was addressed to and Olmos said it was addressed to ICE “senior staff”. Olmos then admitted that Voorhis was not then, nor before or since then, a member of “senior staff”. In other words, the memo was not addressed directly or indirectly to Voorhis and the prosecution knew it. Strangely, the judge overruled a defense objection to the memo based on relevance. In any case, the jury must have understood the deceitfulness of the prosecution’s use of that memo as “evidence”. Voorhis’ attorney’s questioned Olmos and repeatedly exposed his lack of understanding of how the Immigration side of ICE works, which in my view cast doubt on all aspects of Olmos’s testimony, particularly any conclusions he drew from what he found. During cross-examination of Olmos by Voorhis’ attorneys, it became clear that Olmos’ investigation was extremely sloppy…in my view too sloppy to have been accidental. In particular, Olmos knew that after John Marshall had gotten information from Voorhis, Marshall asked Voorhis for other information with Voorhis declined to provide. A group associated with Beauprez’s campaign then hired a private investigator in Texas, Kenny Rodgers, who had a friend in the Harris County District Attorney’s office named Bill Bryan who “did Rodgers a favor” and accessed NCIC and passed the data to Rodgers who eventually got it back to Beauprez’s campaign. Olmos only spoke to Rodgers twice, and NEVER spoke to Bill Bryan. It seems clear to me that Bryan, and indirectly Rodgers, did precisely what Voorhis is accused of doing, namely accessing a Federal crime database without having any law enforcement purpose for doing so. I believe Voorhis had a law enforcement purpose, but in any case it is certainly a plausible position for Voorhis or his supporters whereas there is no way to argue that for Rodgers and Bryan. In other words, Olmos went out of his way not to learn about anyone else, focusing on the political and selective prosecution of Cory Voorhis. Not only that, but Olmos never made official notes in his records of his investigation about his conversation with Kenny Rodgers! Truly stunning, and far too big a “mistake” for a senior investigator to have been anything but intentional negligence on the part of Olmos. [The following part is from a report I received from someone who was in the courtroom for the last hour of the day, as I had to leave before then.] Olmos was questioned about the rolodex he took from Voorhis’ desk, in particular about one name in the rolodex who was a confidential informant for ICE and a material witness in the case against Pedro Castorena, the kingpin of one of Mexico’s largest crime families, responsible for hundreds of thousands of fake documents allowing illegal aliens to enter the US. Castorena’s organization was crippled by an investigation run by Cory Voorhis, quite a feat for such a young ICE agent. On the rolodex card about the informant were two numbers, one of which was his CI (Confidential Informant) number. Olmos said he couldn’t talk about it because it was “sensitive information”. The judge removed the jury from the court room then told the prosecution that the CI had been introduced into the case (with his name) on Friday and compelled Olmos to answer. Olmos said he had never checked the Confidential Information files about the name on the card. This information is critical because just before the jury was empanelled last week, the prosecution dropped one of their three initial charges against Voorhis. That charge was for exceeding access to a computer by looking up information about this confidential informant. In other words, then they were preparing charges, Olmos wasn’t smart or observant enough to tell his prosecution masters that he recognized the informant’s name from somewhere. That third charge, which was dropped but the original existence of which may become known to the jury, shows that at least in that case Voorhis was almost certainly using the database in furtherance of his law enforcement job, and therefore Olmos and the other members of the inquisition don’t have any real reason to assume that his other accesses of the database were anything but in the normal course of his work. Indeed, Olmos was so clueless that he said he only learned “yesterday” (Sunday?) that the named person was a confidential informant. This means either that the prosecution was not properly in touch with the investigator, if you believe that this is the reason the prosecution dropped the third charge, or that there’s yet another reason which would be damaging to the prosecution to have dropped the charge. In either case, that third charge makes the entire case stink. Olmos was followed by John Elvig, the FBI case agent for the Voorhis investigation. There were two most interesting pieces of Elvig’s testimony. First, he said that like Olmos, he never contacted Bill Bryan. (And Elvig never contacted Kenny Rodgers either.) In other words, the FBI is in on the political gang-up on Cory Voorhis along with part of ICE and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Highlighting the political nature of this persecution…and keep in mind that these are misdemeanor charges for a type of claimed violation for which others have been punished (or not punished) strictly through administrative channels within ICE…Elvig testified to the number of high-power people at an early meeting about Voorhis: There were 7 people including the FBI Special Agent in Charge (of the Denver office), the Assistant Special Agent in Charge, the Director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Manny Olmos, Jan Simkins, a Special Agent in Charge of “program support systems” at CBI, an Assistant US Attorney, and a supervisor from ICE. It’s a lineup that you’d expect to see in a major spy case or some other huge nationally-important felony. All to go after one of ICE’s best agents who happened to oppose the practices of the former Denver Attorney General who intentionally obstructed justice by perverting enforcement of immigration laws. Tuesday should bring the opening of the defense’s case. From what I’ve seen and heard, the prosecution has gotten nowhere near proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt, but you never know if the jury is seeing things the same way you are, especially when you have an opinion. Voorhis’ defense team should certainly put on a defense and make the prosecution’s case look as weak (and unethical) as it is. Personally, I believe Voorhis should not take the stand and give the prosecution a chance to impeach him about any possible skeletons in his closet which certainly would not be serious (since Voorhis passed all background checks to get his Top Secret clearance) but which still might distract from the weakness of the prosecution’s case. More information about Cory Voorhis and this travesty of justice can be found at his Legal Defense Fund web site. I encourage readers to visit the site and contribute to the fund, to help Voorhis offset the costs of defending himself against this abuse of government power, costs which already exceed a quarter million dollars.
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