Smell That Old Time Corruption
Colorado Gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter seems to have found himself in a bit of a pickle, a gherkin of his own creation let me hasten to add...
Deportations avoided via DA's plea dealsI say again, this is how it happens. "Common sense" "Prudence" these all lead to the same blind alley..."Corruption."
Deportations avoided using "designer plea" - Ritter OK'd pleas for 152 such defendants, some of whom were here legally. He says his office notified feds if they weren't.
The Denver district attorney's office under gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter approved plea bargains that prevented the deportation of illegal and legal immigrants charged with drug, assault and other crimes.
The office allowed defendants to plead guilty to trespassing on agricultural land instead of the crimes they actually were accused of 152 times from 1998 through 2004. Other counties - Jefferson, Adams and Arapahoe - had only 75 convictions combined for the crime, according to court records.
Former Denver District Attorney Norm Early, who was Ritter's predecessor, laughed when he heard about the farm charges in urban Denver.
"I reviewed all my case dispositions, and I never remember that coming up," he said.
A review of 15 of the agricultural trespass cases in Denver showed that heroin and cocaine charges, theft of motor vehicles and domestic violence crimes - miles away from any farm or open land - were transformed into agricultural trespass.
"This plea agreement was reached with the the specific purpose of not pleading guilty to an offense that would subject (the defendant) to deportation proceedings," wrote a defense attorney in a motion filed in a Denver court Oct. 11, 2000.
The defendant, Ernesto Leon Reyes, was a resident alien who was initially charged with five drug counts related to his possession and intention to distribute 2,000 grams of methamphetamine.
If convicted of the drug charge, Reyes could have been deported after serving time. Instead, after pleading guilty to the trespass on agricultural land charge, Reyes received probation and stayed in the United States.
The review showed that illegal immigrants and a number of defendants whose immigration status was unclear entered into the same type of agreement.
Some were later charged with new crimes in Denver, indicating that they were never deported even after passing through Ritter's office.
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