A federal court jury in Denver has not only cleared an agent for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement of illegally accessing a federal crime database to challenge a Democrat bidding for governor, members expressed feelings about the whole case.
“He had a responsibility to do his job,” juror Craig Disney of Westminster told the Denver Post after participating in the acquittal of Cory Voorhis. Disney said the jury didn’t believe Voorhis intentionally did anything against regulations, and confirmed there were “feelings” he was “singled out” for charges.
WND reported earlier that critics have said the prosecution was politically motivated “revenge” against Voorhis because Voorhis accessed the National Crime Information Center to document that Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, while the Democrat was prosecuting attorney in Denver, had reduced charges to release illegal alien criminals who later committed violent crimes.
Voorhis was indicted in Colorado on a federal misdemeanor for that action, and critics say the prosecution of the agent could have jeopardized the government’s case against the head of a major Mexican crime family Voorhis investigated for five years.
“This is nothing more than political revenge by Gov. Ritter,” former ICE senior special agent Mike Riebau told WND in a telephone interview about the case earlier.
“The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has become nothing more than Gov. Ritter’s personal police force and Ritter is now set on doing whatever it takes to get even with Voorhis,” Riebau charged.
The standing-room-only crowd in the federal courtroom broke into cheers and applause when the verdict was read, but it was not immediately clear whether Voorhis, who has been on unpaid leave and surviving on savings and help from friends for months, would return to the federal agency, his lawyer told the newspaper.
After seven days of testimony, the jury returned the verdict in just hours.
The 39-year-old had been accused of obtaining information about an illegal immigrant from the National Crime Information Center database and improperly giving it to Bob Beauprez, Ritter’s Republican challenger in the election.
Beauprez then used the information in a political ad attacking Ritter. The ad claimed an illegal immigrant facing heroin charges was given the opportunity to plead guilty to “agricultural trespassing,” instead.
The ad said the man, after getting probation, was accused of committing a sex crime in California. The charge later was dropped but that wasn’t included in the ad.
The governor’s office issued a statement that the process had run its course and the decision would be respected.
But Bill Taylor, the special agent’s attorney, said the not guilty verdict reflected the jury’s opinion that the case was not about politics.
“Cory was trying to shed light on a practice that jeopardized public safety,” he told the newspaper.
Beauprez called him a hero.
Taylor said his client was “shocked” and “bewildered” when Ritter made campaign statements that he had been tough of illegal immigration, the Post reported.
“Voorhis’ experience as an immigration agent, and as someone who worked at the Denver County Jail for three years, was that legal and illegal immigrants were regularly pleaded out by Ritter’s office from the crimes they actually committed to a fictional charge of agricultural trespass – a non-deportable offense,” the newspaper said, citing the application of that plea 152 times from 1998 through 2004.
So Voorhis looked up information about Ritter’s record and met with Beauprez’ campaign to provide information, Taylor said.
The controversy involved Walter Noel Ramo, aka Carlos Estrada-Medina, an illegal alien that Ritter, while district attorney, allowed to plead to minor charges involving “agricultural trespass,” even though Ramo had been arrested on heroin trafficking charges.
Instead of being deported or indicted on drug charges, Ramo was released in Colorado and went to California, where he was accused of committing sexual assault on a minor.
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