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A Christian pastor says he has filed an ethics complaint with the Texas Bar Association seeking an investigation into U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton’s “willfully misleading” statements in the case against former U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.
Don Swarthout, president of Christians Reviving America’s Values, today confirmed his ethics complaint cites Sutton’s actions in the case in which Ramos and Compean were convicted of shooting at a drug smuggler who had dropped a load of marijuana near the Texas border and was fleeing back into Mexico.
An announcement from his organization confirmed, “Swarthout charges Sutton’s office willfully misled the jury in order to convicted Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.”
On Feb. 17, 2005, Ramos and Compean pursued Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila on foot after Aldrete-Davila abandoned a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $1 million. During the chase, Ramos shot at Aldrete-Davila in the belief that the smuggler had drawn a gun of his own. Aldrete-Davila escaped across the border, and Ramos assumed Aldrete-Davila was unhurt. In fact, Aldrete-Davila had been shot in the buttock.
Sutton’s office later charged Ramos and Compean violated Border Patrol policy by pursuing Aldrete-Davila without supervisor approval, moving spent shell casings and improperly reporting the fired shots. Aldrete-Davila was granted immunity to testify against the agents. Ramos and Compean currently are in solitary confinement in maximum-security prisons.
Their cases are on appeal before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“This whole case stinks to the highest parts of heaven,” Swarthout said. “How is it possible in America to convict two border agents for simply doing their jobs and send them to prison for 11 and 12 years? How is it possible for Johnny Sutton’s office to ruin the lives of two of our border agents based on the word of a known Mexican drug smuggler? Why did Johnny Sutton’s office twist the facts of this case and hide evidence simply to get a conviction?” Swarthout said.
Officials with the Texas State Bar told WND they could not comment on complaints about inappropriate behavior unless a public penalty was imposed on an offender. And a spokeswoman for the federal office for Sutton told WND the media officer was out of the office today, and no one else could respond to questions.
Swarthout told WND he wrote to the prosecutor’s office, including information about the situation.
“This just doesn’t add up,” he said.
He cited inconsistencies: Why would a drug ring trust a newcomer, or unknown, with drugs worth nearly $1 million. Why do several jurors report they were pressured into a guilty verdict?
“There is a reason behind it somewhere,” he said.
Swarthout compared Sutton to Duke lacrosse rape case prosecutor Mike Nifong, who has faced a series of penalties for allegedly withholding evidence that could have cleared the defendants.
Swarthout also said nearly 100 members of Congress have reviewed the case and have asked President Bush to pardon the two.
“These … elected officials represent both Democrats and Republicans. All of them agree Johnny Sutton’s prosecution leaves a lot of unanswered questions,” Swarthout’s statement said.
Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos embraced his wife, Monica Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (El Paso Times)
“Known drug smuggler Aldrete-Davila was portrayed by Sutton as almost an ‘innocent bystander.’ In fact, he was involved in a second drug delivery to the United States during Sutton’s prosecution of Ramos and Compean. This fact was covered up by Sutton’s office,” he continued. “It may be possible for reasonable people to disagree about whether Sutton’s statements constitute ‘outright lies.’ However, the facts now in the public domain make it abundantly clear Sutton’s statements were willfully misleading to the jury and that is the basis of this ethics complaint.”
The group run by Swarthout, a Christian minister who has been active on a number of social issues, including organized opposition to the San Diego Padres’ outreach to the California homosexual community, also addresses issues involving the ACLU and radical Islam.
Sutton was nominated in 2001 by Bush to serve as U.S. prosecutor in western Texas. He also serves on the attorney general’s advisory committee to set policies and programs of the federal department.
“There is a process under which anyone can apply for a pardon or a commutation. And if they want to take advantage of that process, they’re absolutely welcome to,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, responding to a question from Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House.
“Now that Mr. Aldrete-Davila, the drug smuggler in the Ramos-Compean case, has admitted running drugs and conspiracy, will the president review his decision against a pardon, commutation or other clemency for the two Border Patrol agents jailed for shooting at this drug smuggler as he fled back into Mexico after abandoning a load of drugs in the United States?” Kinsolving asked.
Perino said she would “encourage anyone to look at the facts in the case as laid out by the attorney general – by the county – district attorney – I’m sorry, the U.S. attorney in that area.”
Sutton has been described by Bush as a “dear friend.”
Aldrete-Davila has admitted possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy to import a controlled substance and conspiracy to distribute. The marijuana he admitted smuggling into the U.S. came after he testified against Ramos and Compean under a grant of immunity from Sutton.
Mychal Massie, the chief of the nonprofit and nonpartisan Project 21 and a columnist for WND, has called on President Bush to pardon the agents.
He noted Aldrete-Davila’s sentencing is scheduled in July.
“It is time to prove that he [Bush] places the welfare of American communities and those men and women who risk their lives to protect them over the welfare of lying illicit drug smugglers,” Massie said. “Pardon Ramos and Compean now, Mr. President!”
“It cannot be overstated that President Bush’s stolid indifference thus far toward the suffering of these brave protectors of our borders and their families, while simultaneously seeking special dispensation for illegal immigrants, is unconscionable,” Massie has said. “Now it appears that the burden to be borne by agents Ramos and Compean for unknowingly wounding a now admitted drug criminal as he fled from justice across the border is going to be greater than that to be borne by the criminal himself.”
The Ramos and Compean convictions have been questioned by many who point out that during the trial, jurors were not told of Aldrete-Davila’s continued drug trafficking. Jurors also were unaware that a fellow agent who testified against Ramos and Compean is a life-long friend of Aldrete-Davila – a violation of Border Patrol policy in itself.
T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a labor union, testified before the U.S. Senate that a medical examination of Aldrete-Davila supported the agents’ description of events and complied with Border Patrol and Justice Department policies.