Cheney charged with organized criminal activity

by twit

update! From the AP on November 19, 2008:

A Texas judge has set a Friday arraignment for Vice President Dick Cheney, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others named in indictments accusing them of responsibility for prisoner abuse in a federal detention center.

So says the AP on November 18, 2008:

Cheney is charged with engaging in an organized criminal activity related to the vice president’s investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds financial interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and “at least misdemeanor assaults” on detainees because of his link to the prison companies.

Gonzalez, too!

The indictment accuses Gonzales of using his position while in office to stop an investigation in 2006 into abuses at one of the privately-run prisons.

and this is cute:

Regarding the indictments targeting the public officials, [District Attorney] Guerra said, “the grand jury is the one that made those decisions, not me.”

but before we get too excited:

The indictment returned Monday has not yet been signed by the presiding judge, and no action can be taken until that happens.

and yes, the District Attorney is the lunatic we’ve been looking for:

Last month, Banales dismissed indictments that charged Guerra with extorting money from a bail bond company and using his office for personal business. An appeals court had earlier ruled that a special prosecutor was improperly appointed to investigate Guerra.

After Guerra’s office was raided as part of the investigation early last year, he camped outside the courthouse in a borrowed camper with a horse, three goats and a rooster. He threatened to dismiss hundreds of cases because he believed local law enforcement had aided the investigation against him.

and he may be right…

Willacy County has become a prison hub with county, state and federal lockups. Guerra has gone after the prison-politician nexus before, extracting guilty pleas from three former Willacy and Webb county commissioners after investigating bribery related to federal prison contacts.

Last month, a Willacy County grand jury indicted The GEO Group, a Florida private prison company, on a murder charge in the death of a prisoner days before his release. The three-count indictment alleged The GEO Group allowed other inmates to beat Gregorio de la Rosa Jr. to death with padlocks stuffed into socks. The death happened in 2001 at the Raymondville facility.

In 2006, a jury ordered the company to pay de la Rosa’s family $47.5 million in a civil judgment. The Cheney-Gonzales indictment makes reference to the de la Rosa case.

theme music:

although the better video can be seen here, but won’t embed here due to what looks like a new-fangled copyright restriction…

update: From the AP on November 21, 2008:

A county prosecutor who brought indictments this week against Vice President Dick Cheney and others pounded his fist and shouted at the judge Friday during a routine hearing. Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra asked Presiding Judge Manuel Banales to recuse himself from the case, which alleges abuse at federally run prisons.

Attorneys for the vice president and other defendants leapt to their feet in objection as Guerra pounded the table and accused Banales of giving the defendants special treatment.

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