By Larry Smith
Journalism Guild Writer
The government is using outrageous tactics to build bogus criminal cases, The Crime Report claims.
The tactics include making up crimes, the report alleges. Is it OK when the government makes up crimes to catch criminals? What if they are not criminals?
Writer Adam Wisnieski posed such questions in a special report, “Outrageous Government Conduct.” The story cites the case of a 36-year-old Mexican immigrant, Emanuel Gerardo Cota-Ruiz, living in Arizona. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for conspiring to rob a cocaine stash house that actually was a government “sting” operation with fake drugs.
Cota-Ruiz was a sheet-rocker with no previous criminal history, unemployed, and desperately searching for money to buy food, clothes and school supplies for his children, according to Wisnieski. The sting was invented by agents to catch some of the “most violent players” in the drug trade who prey on fellow drug dealers, according to the report.
Cota-Ruiz and three friends, who also were involved in the sting, pleaded guilty to avoid a longer sentence than the 10 years they received. Later one of the defendants filed an appeal, which was denied because of the prior plea bargain agreement.
However, while issuing the denial, Judge Edward Leavy of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote a five-page condemnation saying the “manifest injustice” by ATF agents should have led to a dismissal of the original case due to “outrageous government conduct.”
A Crime Report investigation found that from August 2014 through 2015, 126 motions to dismiss a case based on “outrageous government conduct” were filed. The vast majority of them were denied.
The report said government officials insist they need such sting operations because of the difficulty in dealing with drug activities.
By Larry Smith