Rick Reese and his family operated one of the largest gun stores in New Mexico. It was located just 30 miles north of the US-Mexican border. The bulk of his customers were law enforcement officers from across the entire country.
In August 2011, federal agents arrested all four members of the Reese family one-by-one. They were read their rights, then pressured to waive their rights to an attorney. The government agents wanted them to talk, but the government didn’t even tell them what they had been arrested for. The boys were pressured to rat on each other and their parents. None of the Reeses waived their rights – after all, they still believed in the American system of justice and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. They were booked, jailed, and their assets seized. At the time, they didn’t even realize they couldn’t afford even one single attorney, much less four defense attorneys.
It wasn’t until days later that they learned what they had been arrested for. They were handed the indictments in the courtroom right before a hearing. They each read the indictment in total astonishment. This is when they found out why they had been arrested. The indictment revealed the government had charged them with 30 counts of smuggling guns, money laundering, conspiracy, and paperwork violations relating to the pre-purchase criminal background checks they always conducted.
They listened in horror as the prosecution described them as a danger to the community, flight risks, and the kind of people who would go up on a mountain and get into a Ruby Ridge style shoot out with government agents rather than return to court to face trial.
A year later, the Judge dismissed the two money laundering charges. There was no evidence of that. The Jury heard the evidence, and after deliberating for a day, found Remington Reese not guilty of all charges, Terri Reese guilty of one paperwork violation, Rick Reese guilty of one paperwork violation, and Ryin Reese guilty of two paper violations. Tthe violations boiled down to the Reeses should have me the standard of “should have known”. They should have used ESP to determine the undercover agents were using government issued false identification, and that the FBI was in on the operation to approve agents using false ID to purchase weapons. They were supposed to use their ESP to figure out that the agents were going to smuggle the guns to Mexico. None of the guns were actually smuggled to Mexico.
Rick and Ryin Reese spent the nearly eighteen months in jail, while they waited for trial, and later for sentencing. Terri had been released on a $100,000 bond earlier so she could have surgery to remove a large tumor from her leg while she was in jail. While still recovering from surgery, government agents visited her home and then accused her of violating her bond and being a threat to the probation officers – officers who are armed and wearing bullet proof vests. It didn’t matter that the government had already seized all their personal and gun store inventory of weapons.
Sentencing never happened. Four months after conviction, while Rick and Ryin languished in jail, the judge learned that the prosecution had withheld evidence in the trial and ordered it be revealed to the defense attorneys. That eventually led to the public learning that a key witness in the case, Deputy Sheriff Allen Batts, had been under investigation for nearly ten years regarding allegations of ripping off drug dealers, stealing evidence destined to be seized by the federal government, smuggling drugs and illegal aliens, and other similar charges. He was never charged with any of those crimes.
The prosecution claimed withholding the evidence about Batts, was just a simple and harmless mistake, and that the defense attorneys were making a big to do about nothing. Judge Brack disagreed. His scathing memorandum order found that the prosecution had withheld evidence that could have changed the outcome of the trial. Point-by-point, Judge Brack outlined the three legal elements that needed to be met in order for him to grant a new trial. It is clear in the Judge’s memorandum that not only had the defense proved those key elements, but Judge Brack was aware of other similar instances involving prosecutors not turning over all of the evidence as required. Judge Brack ordered a new trial, and ordered Rick and Ryin released on $10,000 bond each – far lower than Rick’s wife’s $100,000 bond. $10,000 bond each for the baddest of the bad in the family.
After the prosecution had finished putting on their case in trial, defense attorneys filed a motion to dismiss all of the charges. Judge Brack did not dismiss them at that time.
After Judge Brack’s order for a new trial, defense attorneys revisited having the remaining charges dismissed and filed a motion for dismissal with prejudice two weeks ago. After all, the defense attorney’s job is to defend their clients to the best of their ability. Language in Judge Brack’s memorandum opinion may have opened the door for the defense attorneys to revisit a motion for dismissal.
After reading the judge’s memorandum, it is an easy to speculate that an overzealous quest for victory against the Reeses was involved in the decision making process from bottom to top, to withhold the evidence about Deputy Batts prior to the case going jury for deliberation.
The prosecution’s opposition to the motion for dismissal is quite likely standard operating procedure. When one party, in this case the defense, files a motion, the other party (the prosecution) files a response. It is the same in reverse. Many examples of this have occurred throughout the entire Reese ordeal. An early example is the defense request bond and stated their clients had ties to the community, were not dangerous, no prior record, business owners, and not flight risks. And the prosecution’s predictable canned responded was that they were dangerous to the community, flight risks, etc. They even alleged Remington Reese, then 19 and living at home, lived in New York to support their standard response. Remington has never even been to New York.
As indicated in David Codrea’s article yesterday http://www.examiner.com/article/u-s-attorney-steps-up-case-against-reese-family-by-going-over-judge-s-head , the prosecution has filed their opposition to dismissal. Links to three document files are embedded in the article, and I urge you to read the article, and the links, and share them with everyone you know. Yes, it is that dreaded legalese. Read it anyway.
First, U.S. Attorney Ken Gonzales filed a notice of appeal of the judge’s decision granting the Reese’s a new trial. Simply put – they don’t want a new trial. They want the Reese case to move to sentencing.
Second, U.S. Attorney Ken Gonzales filed their opposition to the defense motion to dismiss. The short version on all that is the prosecution doesn’t want to have their staff on the witness stand in an evidentiary hearing to find out to what extent the evidence about Batts was suppressed – the who knew what and when angle. The prosecution lists a long line of cases indicating that most often the appropriate remedy for the prosecution breaking the rules is simply a new trial – not a dismissal of the case. However, buried within the pages are references to some cases where the judges have actually dismissed entire cases.
What nobody mentions when is comes to appropriate remedy is the continuing devastating financial effect a long list of motions and hearings and another trial will have on the Reese family. Guilt or innocence is practically secondary when you’ve been bankrupted by the federal government. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment!
Without having an evidentiary hearing, it would be impossible for the defense to find out several things. This would include being able to determine if the prosecution artfully asked questions to obscure the truth about Deputy Batts or any other evidence in the case. While the last hearing initiated exploring if the prosecutor withheld information, how far up the ladder the knowledge was can not be determined without an additional evidentiary hearing. Judge Brack’s memorandum addressed his opinion that this knowledge may have altered the outcome of the trial.
The Supreme Court case called Brady addresses a number of things the prosecutor must do regarding evidence. It part it addresses withholding evidence at the discovery phase, which occurs before trial. Another issue that can not be determined without an evidentiary hearing relates to the “constructive knowledge” of the prosecutors’ office . Did the prosecution exercise enough due diligence to have known the facts about Batts? Was simply sending the Luna County Sheriff a query of whether there was anything derogatory about Allen Batts enough due diligence? After all, it was revealed in the January hearing that only a very, very short list of people would be privileged to know that a corruption investigation was ongoing. And in the December hearing, it was learned that allegations of corruption would not be placed in the personnel file. Therefore, how would the sheriff know about the investigation if he was not on the short list?
From the Brady v Maryland case, suppression of material evidence justifies a new trial “irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.”
Brady also established rules concerning undisclosed evidence, and sets a “known or should have known” standard regarding truthfulness of testimony. Brady sets the highest standard against the use of perjured testimony.
The prosecution’s opposition to an evidentiary hearing includes an affidavit from AUSA Williams, and offers that as new evidence to supplement AUSA Williams’ testimony in January for Judge Brack to consider when he rules on this opposition to the motion to dismiss. In the affidavit, AUSA Williams indicates that he was not sufficiently prepared for the January 28, 2013 evidentiary hearing regarding the motion for a new trial.
AUSA Williams is a supervisor. He received his subpoena to testify approximately one week prior to being put on the witness stand in January. Just exactly how long does it take for a seasoned prosecutor to get ready to be sufficiently prepared to answer questions about a witness who should not have been used in the Reese case? He had more than a week actually. He knew about Batts prior to the Reese trial ending some six months earlier. And Batts’ name was mentioned in open court over four weeks before the January hearing.
The “known or should have known” and “constructive knowledge” standard should apply to all of the prosecutors, and hopefully Judge Brack will rule in favor of an evidentiary hearing.
Meanwhile, tomorrow’s evidentiary hearing has been vacated – i.e. cancelled. When additional information is learned about the impact of the government’s appeal on the judge’s decision for a new trial, it will be posted.
Meanwhile, prayers continue to pour in. And that is wonderful, but the Reese’s desperately need financial help. I pray that each one of you who reads this can commit to making a monthly contribution.
Reese Defense Fund, Attention Patricia Arias, First Savings Bank, 520 South Gold, Deming, NM 88030
submitted by Leslie Bronken
The hearing regarding the Motion to Dismiss that was scheduled for March 7th, 2013 has been cancelled.
Details posted shortly.
David Codrea has written an excellent article about the Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice. Please read to learn additional details about the motion.
In 2011, Rick and Terri Reese and their two sons, Remington and Ryin, were arrested and charged with 30 criminal counts including counts related to international weapons smuggling. One year later in trial, 2 counts were dismissed by Judge Brack, the jury found them not guilty of 24 counts, and convicted them of four counts involving paperwork violations. Remington Reese was found not guilty of all charges during trial.
Four months after conviction, and prior to sentencing, the prosecutor revealed that there was a problem with one of the deputies who testified against the Reeses during trial. As previously reported, a government U.S. Attorney and two FBI agents admitted under oath that Deputy Alan Batts had been under investigation for approximately ten years relating to accusations that he was involved in a number of crimes including ripping off drug dealers and stealing evidence destined to be seized by the federal government. The prosecution failed to inform the defense of this during trial. In a January hearing, Deputy Batts claimed he had no idea he had been under investigation and he has not been charged with any crimes.
As a result of the evidentiary hearing held in January 2013 regarding the Motion for a New Trial, Rick and Ryin Reese were released on $10,000 bond each. Terri Reese had been released on a $100,000 bond nearly a year earlier. After the January hearing, Judge Brack released his Memorandum Opinion and Order and granted the Reeses a new trial.
On February 20, 2013, the defense attorneys for the Reeses have filed a Motion to Dismiss. This hearing will be an evidentiary hearing and is scheduled on March 7, 2013 at 11:15 a.m. in Judge Brack’s 4th floor courtroom. Defense attorneys are seeking to have the Court dismiss the four counts against their clients based on ground that the Government was willfully or recklessly negligent in not disclosing Giglio material.
The defense attorneys intend to subpoena a number of Assistant U.S. Attorneys to the witness stand. This includes, AUSA Randy Castellano, Las Cruces Branch Chief Alfred Perez, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Yarbrough and U.S. Attorney Kennth Gonzales. The defense attorneys may also be putting the Reese prosecutors, AUSAs Armijo and Jordan, on the witness stand!
The purpose of putting these persons in the hot seat will be to establish if there has been “a willful constitutional violation” or if “there has been a pattern and practice in the U.S. Attorney’s Office under Mr. Gonzales’ tenure of suppressing Brady/Giglio information.”
Some of you may recall that Mr. Ken Gonzales was nominated last year by President Obama to become a federal judge. Mr. Gonzalez is the US Attorney who signed the indictment against the Reeses.
The defense motion quotes Judge Brack’s Memorandum Opinion:
As [AUSA] Mr. Castellano was present at the hearing, but did not testify, the Court is left to wonder whether he, appropriately, passed the information on to Ms. Armijo and Mr. Jordan or, inexplicably, sat on it. Regardless of the reason why the warnings went unheeded (or, more darkly, were ignored), there is no doubt that the prosecution, intentionally or negligently, suppressed the evidence.
Judge Brack also found that the Reeses did not receive a fair trial because the Government did not diclose Giglio material during trial and that the evidence was favorable to the defendants as it impeached a Government witness.
The Motion to Dismiss includes a number of cases supporting their argument to dismiss the case against the Reeses. Included in the argument is a list of cases that potentially demonstrate a pattern of withholding similar Brady/Giglio information by the U.S. Attorney’s office prior to and under Mr. Gonzales’ tenure.
The defense attorneys will attempt to establish intentional misconduct by the prosecution during the upcoming hearing, and/or that there is a pattern of practice at the U.S. Attorney’s Office of playing dirty.
The Motion to Dismiss cites a case previously heard by Judge Brack. This case also involved Prosecutor Maria Armijo and a violation based on non-disclosure of Giglio material. The Motion further indicates the Court exonerated Ms. Armijo in that case. The existance of this previous case may explain some of the note passing during the December 2012 Reese hearing that resulted in statements by AUSA James Tierney, Chief of the Criminal Division, that Ms. Armijo had no knowledge about the problem with Deputy Batts in the Reese case.
If the Reese defense attorneys are successful in the March hearing, a dismissal with prejudice would bar the government from prosecuting the Reeses later for the same charges.
Mark your calendar! March 7th. Plan to arrive by 10:30 a.m.
On January 28, 2013, at the end of the hearing for the Motion for New Trial, one of the last things Assistant U.S. Attrorney Maria Armijo stated to the Judge at the conclusion of the proceedings was that the government opposed their release for the same reasons as before. In past proceedings the government has alleged the Reeses are a danger to the community and flight risks.
Judge Brack asked if there was any new information that would support that the Reeses are still a danger, and if so, instructed AUSA Armijo to subit the information within 24 hours.
AUSA Armijo indicated that conditions were different than they are now and pointed to tape recorded telephone calls from their jail cells as late as last Friday. AUSA Armijo told Judge Brack that Ryin had stated the “world is going to end soon”, indicating this was a supporting reason for the Reeses still being a danger to the community.
Judge Brack gave the prosecution 24 hours to submit the information to him.
On January 29, 2013, the government filed their Second Supplment to Response to Defendants Motion for Release on Conditions Pending Sentencing, along with a sworn affidavit by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent Jose Ramon Martinez. S/A Martinez was one of the investigators in the Reese trial and is assigned to work in Deming. After Luna County Sheriff Deputy Alan Batts contacted Homeland Security, his superior assigned him to the case. His testimony during trial can be found here: http://www.lunatpp.org/reese-trial-penny-torres-case-begins/
The links to the actual affidavits of the recent phone calls that the government alleged to show that the Reeses are a danger to the community and flight risk are found in David Codrea’s article: http://www.examiner.com/article/government-fought-bail-release-claiming-gun-dealers-a-danger-to-community. It is highly recommended that everyone read this article and the actual affidavit and see for yourself just how dangerous these Reeses are. More importantly everyone should question WHY the Reeses are dangerous.
It should be noted that the dates of the phone calls that allegedly revealed how dangerous Rick and Ryin are and that they are flight risks are dated December 8th, 18th, and 20th of 2012. Therefore, in context, these phone calls were taped just prior to and after the first hearing requesting the immediate release of Ryin and Rick Reese, which was held on Decmember 18th, 2012. That was the hearing where the Chief of the Criminal Division for the entire State of New Mexico dropped the bombshell in the courtroom regarding Deputy Alan Batts and that he had been under investigation for some time by the Federal Bureau of Investigations for reasons not stated at that time.
To put all of this in perspective, let’s look at the sequence of events that unfolded.
Late November 2012, the defense attorneys received shocking information about a key witness in the case, Deputy Alan Batts, who was under investigation for ripping off drug dealers, stealing funds from the evidence locker that should have been subjected to forfeiture, smuggling drugs and smuggling illegal aliens. And to add insult in injury, the government didn’t turn over the information for four months, when they knew they should have turned it over during trial, and then had the gall to tell the judge the defense didn’t have the right to know about this.
A week later, Rick calls his wife and tells her, “The truth will come out finally and these people will be exposed for what they truly are – a bunch of cons liars and cheats and thieves.”
In retrospect, this is a dangerous statement – a danger to the prosecutors in the case certainly, but not a danger to the community.
Rick Reese called his wife again and told her, “He [presumably his attorney] did say that they are attempting to hide and seal a whole bunch of stuff that they are trying to open up you know, and that’s really encouraging because it shows the depth of the depravity of the justice department…”
In retrospect, after the January 28, 2013 explosive hearing, Rick’s comments were either intuitive or the problem that was occuring was explained to him by his attorney. Either way it was right on target, because this is exactly what the prosecutors were trying to do. They were trying to hide a lot of information from the defense. Yet, the AUSA is the one who accuses Rick of being dangerous to the community. Is he a danger to the community, or a danger to the prosecution?
On December 18th, the day of the hearing when the Chief of the Criminal Division initiates the exposure process of what has been going on, Rick and Ryin both complain about the treatment they received from the US Marshalls Service. How this makes them dangerous to the community or a flight risk completely escapes this writer.
Two days after the hearing, on December 20th,after just having heard the Chief of the Criminal Division explain to the trial Judge that the prosecutors withheld evidence that should have been released during trial, Rick told his wife, “They’ll get the world they deserve pretty soon!”
For those who know Rick and Terri Reese and know they are deeply religious, the immediate thought that might come to mind when hearing this statement is that God will take care of punishing them.
For those that don’t know their character, another thought could be interpreted, especially if one has a guilty mind. What if the roles become reversed and someone in the prosecution’s office finds themself in some serious hot water. In that light, they could be deemed very dangerous indeed – to the prosecution, not the general public.
It should be noted that nowhere in the supporting affidavit was there any information to support the statement made by AUSA Armijo to Judge Brack at the very end of the January 18, 2013 hearing that as late as the Friday before that hearing, that Ryin Reese had stated the “world is going to end soon”. Actually, there were no phone calls submitted as supporting evidence that they are dangerous to the community and flight risks dated in January 2013 at all.
Rick and Ryin were finally released and were picked up at the Federal Courthouse at 4:41 p.m. The family had been waiting for this reunion for a long time.
Friends and family celebrated last night at the Texas Roadhouse. Terri explained this was “their 1st real meal in 17 months”, referring to Ryin and Rick.
Remington has been waiting for his brother to be released from prison so he could celebrate his 21st birthday with his brother. That event is scheduled for sometime in the future. Remington and Ryin are living in an apartment in Las Cruces.
Terri and Rick are back and their home and not accepting visitors yet. Terri explained, “I’m not ready to share my man with anyone just yet.”
Rick expressed his extreme gratefulness to all of those who have stood by them and helped them.
Ryin is also “grateful to everyone” who has helped them. Ryin is looking forward to seeking employment after he takes a short time to get adjusted to the conditions of his release. He expressed some amazement at some of the simple advances in technology during the past 18 months, including the number of megapixels on cameras, and how thin laptops have become.
As always, Terri’s summed up their feelings succinctly, “Praise the Lord.”
Despite two orders from an obviously irked New Mexico U.S. District Court judge that the Reese family will be given a new trial and that father Rick and son Reese are to be released on bond, the pair remain behind bars this weekend because monitoring devices required by the order are not on hand, sources close to the case have confirmed to Gun Rights Examiner.
“Yes, bail money is good for now,” the source reveled, explaining “relatives, good friends and well-wishers have donated to the defense fund.
“They are waiting for the ankle monitors to get in for the release. United States Probation is getting them,” it was explained.
What this means is, the only reason the father and son have not already been released and must wait until at least Monday to be able to rejoin their family, is because those holding them are unable to comply with the judge’s order, and made no preparations anticipating the likely potential that a prosecution relying on suppression of evidence to win convictions might be overruled.
Rick and Ryin Reese are the last two members of a New Mexico gun dealer family jailed for allegedly knowingly selling guns to cartel members, but who were found not guilty on the most serious charges of conspiracy and had money laundering charges against them dismissed. They were convicted on a handful of lesser charges of making false statements on forms, basically under the presumption that they should have know federal agents were lying. Wife Terri was released on bond last year, and son Remington was cleared of all charges.
Judge Robert C. Brack is not the only one disturbed (and he was, and seriously as his opinion shows) by what he’s seen of prosecutorial misconduct. In a related development, California attorney Geordan Goebel, not involved in this case except as an outraged American, has written to New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich requesting an investigation for misconduct, and thus shown a way others can help shine a light on such abuses.
“I just read with alarm the U.S. District Court of New Mexico order granting a new trial in the U.S. vs. Rick Reese, et al. case,” Goebel wrote in an email Friday. “The court properly granted the defendants a new trial, finding the U.S. Attorney’s office INTENTIONALLY [emphasis in original] suppressed evidence to obtain a conviction.
“The U.S. Attorneys are supposed to be the ‘good guys,’” Goebel continued. “The entire justice system will collapse if the citizens feel the system is rigged and government cheats.
“I urge you to immediately investigate and HOLD THE GOVERNMENT ATTORNEYS RESPONSIBLE [emphasis in original] for this gross abuse of power,” he concluded. “These government attorneys should be disbarred and put in jail. I am writing to you because this is happening in your state, right now. Your personal intervention in this matter would go a long way to restoring trust in the criminal justice system.”
As for the immediate future facing the Reese family, they are still deeply in debt as the government has seized/frozen everything they own, and much of the money for the bonds was a loan. Add to that not only existing bills, but the legal struggle still ahead, and supporters say funding to help them go on is critical to their ability to defend themselves. Supporters advise those interested in helping can do so by contributing to the Reese Defense Fund, Attention Patricia Arias, First Savings Bank, 520 South Gold, Deming, NM 88030.
UPDATE: Jeff Knox of The Firearms Coalition advises they have set up an online donation page at their website.
Jeff Knox published an article in WND about the Judge ordering a new trial in the Reese case.
A judge has ruled that, after a year and a half behind bars, Rick and Ryin Reese could be released on bail. And he followed up that order with a decision that the Reeses’ original trial was tainted and that a new trial should be granted.
In his order, Judge Robert Brack stated: “Regardless of the reason why the warnings went unheeded (or, more darkly, were ignored), there is no doubt that the prosecution, intentionally or negligently, suppressed the evidence.”
The judge then concluded by stating: “Viewing the significance of the suppressed evidence in relation to the record as a whole… the court concludes that the defendants’ Motion for New Trial should be granted.”
This decision was based on revelations that prosecutors improperly withheld information from Reese defense attorneys regarding an ongoing investigation into corruption among law enforcement officers in southern New Mexico, including a sheriff’s deputy who was an important player in the federal investigation and a witness in the Reese’s prosecution.
That information came out in a motion for a new trial filed last December, culminating in a hearing on the matter earlier this week. In that hearing, FBI agents and an Assistant U.S. Attorney testified that Det. Alan Batts of the Luna County Sheriff’s Department has been under investigation for corruption for almost 10 years and that this information was recognized as potentially impacting the Reese case. They further testified that Batts had indicated that he knew he was under investigation and therefore might have had a motive for currying favor with prosecutors with his testimony against the Reeses.
The judge noted that Batts had testified that Teri Reese had indicated to him that she knew that a gun sold to a particular purchaser had turned up in Mexico, but in her testimony, Mrs. Reese had denied such knowledge. Prosecutors had used this conflicting testimony to cast doubt on Mrs. Reese’s veracity, and returned to the conflicting statements several times during the trial, specifically pointing out that Batts had no reason to lie. Had the defense known about the ongoing corruption investigation of Batts, they could have shown that he did indeed have a motive to lie and the knowledge of this motive might have influenced the jury in the defense’s favor.
On the matter of pre-sentencing release, the judge declared that the government had failed to meet their burden of proving that release of Rick and Ryin Reese represented a significant risk of flight or a danger to the community. He ordered that the pair be released on $10,000 bond each, and that they be limited in their travel with electronic ankle monitors.
The family is now scrambling to come up with the necessary cash to secure the pair’s release.
The saga of the Reese family began back in August of 2011 when agents of Homeland Security Investigations, a new and growing federal police force, descended on the home and gun shop of Rick and Teri Reese and their two sons Ryin, 24, and Remington, 19. Assisted by forces from multiple agencies, HSI swept onto the Reese’s 85-acre homestead outside Deming, N.M., with helicopters, armored vehicles, and dozens of police cars as the epic climax to a months-long investigation and sting operation.
The military-style raid was all for show, though, because agents knew the Reeses were not there. The four family members had been arrested without incident in Las Cruces a short time earlier by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. As a ruse, ATF had asked the family to come to their Las Cruces office to discuss some paperwork issues.
Agents searched the Reeses’ home and nearby gun shop, cataloging all of the firearms on the premises and hauling them away in plastic 50-gallon drums. They also confiscated nearly two million rounds of ammunition from a basement storage room, and gold, jewelry, coins, and cash, along with Rick’s personal gun collection from the family’s home safe.
Agents also took dozens of empty gun safes on display in the store and several vehicles from the property. All told, agents seized more than a half-million dollars’ worth of personal property as well as something in the neighborhood of $2 million worth of inventory from the store – inventory which has significantly increased in value over recent weeks. They also seized the family’s bank accounts and investment holdings.
Terri Reese was granted bail in March of 2012 after being jailed for over six months. Rick, Ryin, and Remington were held through the July 2012 trial where Remington was acquitted of all charges and subsequently released, while Rick and Terri were each convicted of one count of lying on firearm purchase forms, and Ryin was convicted of two counts of the same charge. The family was cleared on 24 other charges. Rick and Ryin have remained in jail awaiting sentencing, bringing their total jail time so far to almost 18 months (exactly 522 days).
The Firearms Coalition is assisting in efforts to raise money for Rick and Ryin’s bail and other legal expenses. Direct contributions can be sent to:
The Reese Defense Fund
Attn: Patricia Arias
First Savings Bank
520 South Gold
Deming, New Mexico 88030
Or donations can be made by credit card through the Firearms Coalition website at www.FirearmsCoalition.org. Click on the “Donate” button in the left side-bar and be sure to include a note in the “Special Instructions to Seller” field mentioning that the contribution is for the Reeses.
This battle isn’t over by a long shot. Along with the cost of a new trial, the government is moving forward with forfeiture proceedings to try and keep all of the money and property they have seized from the family. We’ll keep you posted as the case proceeds.
This week the Reese family continues to wait for Rick and Ryin to be released from jail pursuant to Judge Brack’s Memorandum Opinion and Order last week granting a new trial. Underscoring the decision are allegations that Luna County Sheriff Deputy Alan Batts may have had incentive to lie under oath.
Rick and Terri Reese and their two sons, Ryin and Remington Reese were arrested in August 2011. They were charged with 30 counts of criminal activity related to making false statements in connection with the sale of firearms, international weapons trafficking related to smuggling weapons to the Mexican cartel, conspiracy, and money laundering.
After the prosecution concluded presenting the evidence against the Reeses during trial, defense attorneys Robert Gorence, Jason Bowles, Bernadette Sedillo, Brad Hall and Pete Dominici Jr. filed motions to dismiss all of the charges, including those related to conspiracy to launder money. The jury was not present in the courtroom while the motion was being argued. Judge Brack granted part of the motion and dismissed the money laundering charges citing insufficient evidence, no agreement and that no evidence had been presented.
The trial continued with the defense presenting their side of the evidence to the jury. This eventually led to the Reeses beging found not guilty on 24 of the remaining 28 charges. The not guilty verdicts involved the most serious of the charges in terms of sentencing guidelines. The youngest son, Remington Reese, was found not guilty on all counts.
Coincidentally, the day after Judge Brack granted the motion for new trial on February 1, 2013, the New York Times published a timely article titled, Why Police Officers Lie Under Oath. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/opinion/sunday/why-police-officers-lie-under-oath.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0
The author of the New York Times article, Michelle Alexander, points out:
As one of my colleagues recently put it, “Everyone knows you have to be crazy to accuse the police of lying.” But are police officers necessarily more trustworthy than alleged criminals? I think not. Not just because the police have a special inclination toward confabulation, but because, disturbingly, they have an incentive to lie.
One of the points made by the Reese defense team over and over was that the various law enforcement agencies involved had an incentive to make the case against the Reese family. The problem for the Reese family is they have substantial assets worth seizing. They have an 85 acre property with three buildings (two residential and one business) in Luna County, property up in the mountains in the Hillsborough, NM area, savings, numerous vehicles, substantial amounts of valuable inventory in the two stores (Deming, NM and Las Cruces, NM), in addition to a lot of valuable personal property, including family heirloom jewelry.
They had lots of weapons, lots of ammunition, expensive scopes, (personal and store inventory), cash, and gold and silver. These kind of assets would have been a dream come true for any common burglar.
While a common burglar can not easily steal real property, substantial real property would certainly be a target during asset forfeiture proceedings, as it is in this case.
During trial, the Reese defense team solicited information from each of the law enforcement agencies involved that the agency they represent intends to participate in splitting up the Reese assets. The Reese assets seized are still subject to Civil Forfeiture proceedings and may wind up being forfeited in the future depending on the outcome of the that case. This case has not been dropped by the US Attorney’s Office. The New York Times article pointed to one of the government incentive programs to seize assets that makes this possible:
In the war on drugs, federal grant programs like the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program have encouraged state and local law enforcement agencies to boost drug arrests in order to compete for millions of dollars in funding. Agencies receive cash rewards for arresting high numbers of people for drug offenses, no matter how minor the offenses or how weak the evidence. Law enforcement has increasingly become a numbers game. And as it has, police officers’ tendency to regard procedural rules as optional and to lie and distort the facts has grown as well.
In last week’s explosive hearing that resulted in a new trial, the Judge and the public heard testimony from a supervising Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) and two FBI agents about Deputy Alan Batts who was a key witness in the Reese trial. They testified under oath that pursuant to allegations made, Deputy Batts was and/or is under investigation for allegations relating to extorting assets from a drug dealer, assisting Mexican drug cartels, and assisting in smuggling illegal aliens. They testified under oath Alan Batts may have known he was under investigation. According to the defense, this was the alleged motive for Alan Batts to tailor his testimony to the needs of the prosecution in order to obtain a guilty verdict against the Reeses.
In part, the focus of the questioning of these witnesses was who in the US Attorney’s office knew about the problems surrounding the ability to use Deputy Batts as a witness and when they knew it. At issue was whether or not the trial prosecutors in the Reese case were informed by their supervisors who did have knowledge not to use Deputy Batts as a witness either before or during trial. AUSA Richard Williams swore under oath that he didn’t know that Alan Batts had testified in the Reese trial until after the fact. AUSA Maria Armijo was the lead prosecutor in the Reese trial. Judge Brack emphasized the following on the bottom of page 6 of his February 1st opinion:
It bears noting that Ms. Armijo, lead trial counsel herein, was also Branch Chief of the Las Cruces United States Attorney’s Office from 2005 to 2008, a critical period in the Batts investigation.
The New York Times article makes this point:
Exposing police lying is difficult largely because it is rare for the police to admit their own lies or to acknowledge the lies of other officers. This reluctance derives partly from the code of silence that governs police practice and from the ways in which the system of mass incarceration is structured to reward dishonesty. But it’s also because police officers are human.
The question that should now be raised is this problem limited to law enforcement, or is it starting to become systemic and involve the US Attorney’s Office? Does the local US Attorney’s office have a problem acknowledging lies of law enforcement and possibly colleagues?
A number of unresolved issues related to testimony came out during trial. For example, Special Agent Joshua Frye (phonetic – name not spelled during trial) testified he has been with Homeland Security Investigations (H.S.I.) since 2004 and assigned in El Paso, TX in asset forfeiture from criminal cases involving money laundering, and other criminal activity. As previously reported, http://www.lunatpp.org/reese-trial-the-search-warrant-and-money-laundering-conspiracy-charges/ during trial the agent supervising the asset forfeiture proceedings was questioned extensively.
S/A Frye testified again he had no knowledge of any holes knocked in walls. He claims he has no knowledge of clothes being ripped out of closets and trashed in the center of the room, and claims he has no knowledge of the entire property being ransacked. And he admitted that even though they had the keys to the property, they chose to cut the place open with a torch which resulted in damaging some of the business records of the business. The business records, located right next to ammunition, were damaged because they caught on fire with the torch and had to put out with halodon and water from the sprinkler system. S/A Frye admitted all this occurred because they skipped using the keys that had been provided to them.
S/A Frye admitted that as a result of the seizure the ATF will get a portion of the value of everything seized from New Deal and the Reeses upon conviction.
S/A Frye admitted that he personally stands to get a bonus based on the quantity of the value of items seized.
S/A Frye admitted that agents get bonuses on big cases.
S/A Frye admitted that he has received bonuses in the past.
Numerous volunteers participated for weeks in the fall of 2012 in cleaning up the mess left in buildings that were ransacked during the search warrant and over the property. Those details have also been publicly posted on this website.
One reader of this website recently asked who had the incentive to lie during that fateful day when Terri Reese pointed to a federally required form to report purchasers of multiple handguns in a single purchase and told Deputy Alan Batts that he needed to look into one particular one. Terri Reese testified that she became suspicious of that buyer and reported it to law enforcement. Other agents testified that this is what started the whole case against the Reese family.
Who really had motive to lie?
As of last night, Rick and Ryin remain in jail. Their release was delayed becuase the ankle monitors they are required to wear were sent to the wrong destination. Terri is hopeful that they will send the ankle monitors via overnight mail to Las Cruces.
Rick’s paperwork for release has been completed, however, Ryin’s paperwork is still being processed.
Terri maintains faith the probation office will have everything finalized today.
Terri asked everyone to, “Please continue to keep the prayers coming.”