The Reese family has released the following statement:
“As you know Rick and Ry are to be released on bond this week. We are hoping that the ankle monitors are in on Monday so they will be home.
“We would all like to thank you for the help, prayers and many blessings that you have sent our way in this our time of need. We could not have endured this political crucifiction without the help you have given. True friends such as you are the roadwork to our Lords Blessings.
“We have been granted a new trial and are confident that our Lord will see us through.
“We do now have a land line that we can be reached on. If we are not here please leave a message as the health of both our newly acquired men needs to be taken care of and we will be in an out to doctors appointments.
“Thanks again and God Bless you,
“Rick, Ter, Ry and Rem”
This afternoon Judge Brack granted the Rick, Terri and Ryin Reese a new trial.
Judge Brack stated in his opinion that the government either intentionally or negligently suppressed evidence that could easily have altered the outcome of the trial.
The judges order can be read here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/123390298/Reese-Order
For a more complete story, see David Codrea’s article: http://www.examiner.com/article/court-grants-new-trial-to-new-mexico-gun-dealer-family
as well as the story published in the Las Cruces Sun: http://www.examiner.com/article/court-grants-new-trial-to-new-mexico-gun-dealer-family
We all pray that they family is able to raise the money to post bond, so they can finally be reunited after this horrible ordeal.
One of the most important things necessary for peace of mind and security of residents is for them to have confidence in their local, state and federal government officials and employees, and most importantly confidence in the honesty and integrity of their law enforcement officials.
That confidence was shattered during the last two proceedings in the Reese hearing regarding the Motion for New Trial, the one in December and the one this past Monday. Although the public who had attended the December hearing already knew the name and the investigating agency involved, the nature of the allegations was a complete mystery.
During Monday’s proceedings the public watched the US Attorney, Ken Gonzalez, explain to the judge that the public shouldn’t be present. Apparently we shouldn’t know that a ten year long investigation into law enforcement corruption has been going on – without arrests.
The public listened to hours of testimony from a supervisor in the US Attorney’s Office, AUSA Richard Williams, explain how he knew about the corruption investigation that started in 2002 involving law enforcement officers in Luna County that is still ongoing. The public listened to him admit under oath to contents of the sealed file as to the kinds of serious allegations that have been made against Deputy Alan Batts and investigated over a number of years, starting in 2004. We listened to him explain how the file wasn’t assigned to anybody in the US Attorneys office for two years, coincidentally during the same years of the Reese investigation.
We listened to two FBI agents explain the types of allegations that they have been investigating with regards to Deputy Alan Batts, and others. We heard one FBI agent express his concerns that Alan Batts had been assigned to the drug task force last year and how he reminded AUSA Williams of the nature of these concerns.
We listened to AUSA Williams give one version of how and when he knew that Alan Batts had testified in the Reese case. We listened to a bit of a different version from one of the FBI agents.
We had previously heard the explanation that the reason the US Attorney’s office in Las Cruces didn’t follow the law and disclose the information is because the FBI didn’t want it disclosed.
We listened to Deputy Batts give a completely different version of events from what the FBI agents stated.
We read the newspaper account that completely ignored that the focus of the bulk of the hearing was actually about the years of investigation into allegations against Deputy Batts and who knew what when related to that. The newspaper account didn’t mention the other three persons who testified were the AUSA handling the case, and two FBI agents investigating the case.
We read the newspaper account pointing the finger at the defense attorneys and the accusation, “Officials with the Luna County Sheriff’s Office say one of their own was thrown under the bus during the Monday proceeding in which attorneys for the Reese family argued for a new trial”. The headline made it clear enough the Sheriff was pointing the finger at the defense attorneys.
What was omitted from all of this was the fact that it was actually the Assistant US Attorney’s office in Las Cruces that threw Deputy Batts under the bus and publicly tarnished his name. In fairness, the reporter, Matt Robinson, was not present at the hearing and might not have known who was making the allegations against Deputy Batts. His colleague in Las Cruces didn’t mention that part in his article. Deputy Batts was not allowed to be in the courtroom while the AUSA and the FBI testified under oath about the length of and nature of the investigation involving him.
Had the US Attorney’s office revealed the information about Deputy Batts when they should have, it is possible that the entire matter could have been handled privately. Instead, Deputy Batts has been smeared by the government. Instead, it has cost the Reese family enormous amount of legal fees. Instead, the public confidence in law enforcement has been shattered.
The Reese case was a highly publicized case involving a large number of law enforcement officers from multiple organizations. The Reeses had assets seized from them. The government knew early on some of these assets were the same type of assets allegedly targeted in the past by alleged corrupt officers in other cases. (Those assets included weapons.) It would only have taken a single phone call at the time of the arrests to find out which officers were involved in the search and seizure process to determine if any of the officers suspected of corruption were present or involved in any way in the case. Somebody in the US Attorney’s office dropped the ball.
Instead of disclosing the conflict at the earliest possible time, the US Attorney’s office instead embarked on a journey that defense attorneys claim violated the Reese’s civil rights. Those actions later resulted in Deputy Alan Batts being publicly thrown under the bus by the US Attorney’s office.
What was the motivation behind the US Attorney’s office not revealing the information? Was it just to win the Reese case? Was there some other motivation behind the scenes?
Was the US Attorney’s office hoping they could keep the problem a secret until after the Reese’s were sentenced and counting on a prayer and a hope that nobody found out? Is this the reason why the US Attorney’s office delayed giving the pre-sentencing staff the copies of the trial transcripts? [Source as reported before: one of the pre-sentencing officers on the scene during the second search of the Reese property.]
Almost two month after the Reeses were found guilty, the then chief of the criminal division, Paula Burnett, had to step down because her husband was indicted for leaking information to one of the defendants in the Columbus Gun Smuggling case. AUSA James Tierney was appointed to replace her. It was James Tierney who finally complied with the rules of discovery and brought forth the information that should have been disclosed when Paula Burnett was the chief of the criminal division.
It was the US Attorneys office that has even put Judge Robert Brack in an extremely awkward position.
Deputy Batts has not been charged with a crime. There is no way to know if the outrageous allegations revealed in court this week were just unfounded allegations. The FBI agents revealed they were made by multiple persons reporting multiple allegations to the FBI. Did somebody have an axe to grind against Deputy Batts? There is no way to know if the government simply was unable to obtained enough probable cause to indict him. We do know the FBI agents and the AUSA stated the allegations were credible. That isn’t enough to indict someone.
Of course, the government certainly acted quickly based on a not credible criminal in the Reese case.
The Reese’s were indicted by public opinion based on incomplete evidence and one-sided reporting in the newspaper long before they ever had a chance to get to trial. At least the Reeses knew they had been arrested.
Deputy Alan Batts finds himself in a most unusual position. He’s smeared in the courtroom without so much as a how-do-you-do, more less the decency of an arrest if he’s accused of something. Does he want to blame the messenger (the Reese attorney via the legal proceedings), or the actual cause of his current predicament – the decision making process at US Attorney’s Office?
In fact, even though it has been publicly disclosed by the US Attorneys Office that he was under investigation for years, Deputy Alan Batts has not been charged with any crime. He is innocent until such time comes along that he faces charges (if ever) and is convicted.
Meanwhile, the real collateral damage in this matter is the residents of Luna County. The revelations that came out of the proceedings are that there are “others” in law enforcement being investigated. It is not known which departments or agencies are involved. This destroys peace of mind and security of residents and confidence in the honesty and integrity of their law enforcement officials at the city, county, state and federal levels.
To the truly honest law enforcements officers out there. You know who the bad apples are. Do something about it. It is in everyone’s best interest, for your safety and ours, to get rid of the bad apples. Your safety depends on the public having confidence in you. Your safety depends on your fellow officers being honest and not setting you up for a fall if you don’t yield to corruption. Our safety depends on having confidence that the officer who answers the 911 call isn’t corrupt.
If you don’t trust the local US Attorneys office, try calling James Tierney, the Chief of the Criminal Division. He seemed like one of the good guys. Make it a priority.
Corruption in law enforcement is one of the top three priorities in the US Attorneys office. Make it your priority.
Breaking News - Rick and Ryin Reese are being released on bond after being in prison for 18 months.
Information known so far includes:
- $10,000 bond each
- They will have ankle monitoring bracelets
- They will be allowed to go to church
- Arrangements for other off property trips can be made with the probation office
There is no word yet on whether the judge has decided in favor of or against a new trial. As soon as that decision is known it will be posted.
They will not be able to be released unless they can raise the cash bond amounts. Marj Stewart has informed there currently is not enough money in the defense fund to secure their release.
Please help the Reese family raise the necessary funds so they can be released. No contribution is too small.REESE DEFENSE FUND, ATTENTION Patricia Arias, First Savings Bank 520 South Gold Deming, NM 88030
I extend my personal thanks to the attorneys who have been working tirelessly for the past few months. I know they have been up at the wee hours of the mornings and late nights working on this case.
Of course, they need to be paid, too. There have been a lot of expenses involved in the case since the end of the trial.
For those of you who live in Luna County who can provide any financial assistance, please go to the bank tomorrow or Friday, to help speed up the process for their release.
Terri Reese understandably is very emotional and extremely happy right now. She is also swamped with phone calls. She asked me to express her deep gratitude to everyone who has stood by the family throughout this ordeal.
Matt Robinson interviewed Deputy Alan Batts.
Luna County Sheriff questions Reese defense tactics
Alan Batts speaks out
By Matt Robinson, Headlight Staff
Posted: 01/29/2013 04:34:35 PM MST
Officials with the Luna County Sheriff’s Office say one of their own was thrown under the bus during the Monday proceeding in which attorneys for the Reese family argued for a new trial.
On Monday, Albuquerque defense attorneys Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence argued that a witness in the Reese family trial, LCSO investigator Alan Batts, knew he was under investigation by the FBI for corruption when he assisted agents with the Reese investigation. Batts had been called in to testify in the Monday hearing held in Las Cruces in which the defense filed a motion for a new trial, on the grounds that federal prosecutors allegedly violated their clients’ rights to due process.
But on Tuesday, Batts responded, saying he has never been aware of any investigation into him nor his work at the LCSO.
Batts said he did not know he had been under investigation 10 years ago and denied knowing anything about subpoenas issued for bank and phone records. Sheriff Raymond Cobos also denied any knowledge of such an investigation.
Batts further added Tuesday that he was not involved in the investigation into the Reese family after he initially sent reports of suspicious buying at New Deal Shooting Sports – the gun store operated by the Reese family – to federal authorities.
“I never knew I was under investigation. I had no clue,” Batts said. “Don’t you think if I would have violated a law 10 years ago, the FBI would have come to the sheriff and said, ‘We’ve got this on an employee?’”
He explained that his only involvement in what would become the Reese case came before the 2011 raid on the family property. He said he testified during the original trial, held in 2012, that Terri Reese had contacted him to pick up documents detailing the sale of multiple handguns to a single buyer, as required by law.
“While I am there, she makes reference, you need to look into this one (form) and hands me one,” he said. The multi purchase form was for Penny Torres, a straw purchaser in the Reese case who purchased AK-47 type rifles and handgun variants.
Batts said that Terri Reese told him she had been contacted with information that a gun purchased at New Deal had been found in Mexico. Batts then passed that information on to federal authorities. He says that was the end of his involvement with what would later become the Reese case.
“The only thing that I had to do was due diligence; what’s expected of me,” he added. “That was the extent of my involvement.”
The lawman of 25 years says he was disappointed to see accusations of him being involved with corruption reported in the media, adding that he has never broken the law, never been reprimanded on the job and that anyone who knows him knows he is an honest man and cop.
“I have made sacrifices for this job. My family has made sacrifices for this job,” he said. “I wouldn’t tarnish my name. I wouldn’t tarnish my family.”
Sheriff Cobos was also surprised to hear of the allegations, but said the allegations do not diminish his confidence in Batts.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Brack, based in Las Cruces, is currently deciding if the Reese family will get a new trial.
Matt Robinson can be reached at email@example.com
Volunteer needed to coordinate a local rally on February 23, 2013 to locally support the nationwide “.223 RALLY” being organized on the same day in support of the 2nd Amendment.
David Codrea has published another great article:
Other articles in the local papers include:
Robert Gorence explained to the judge that this is a classic case on why there are supposed to be twelve people to discern the truth. The Court can now see clearly the inconsistencies in the testimony between the two FBI agents and Dep. Batts. He pointed out that the FBI has documents. And, this is something Dep Batts would have remembered.
Mr. Gorence pointed out that if Dep. Batts can not remember reporting a colleague for criminal activity, how can he remember anything in the Reese case.
He stated Agent Brotan has moved on. S/A Acosta says he felt Batts was tipped off, and this was based on the phone call. Dep. Batts can deny it today, but he knew he was the subject of an investigation. Even now, Dep. Batts has motive to have his testimony affected out of fear.
What was his testimony and why is it important in this case? His testimony was 25 pages long. On page 10, under direct from AUSA Armijo, Deputy Batts said Mrs. Reese drew his attention to exhibit 266 and told him to look into this one and she told him that the weapon was recovered in Mexico.
Terri denied any knowledge of that, and stated on page 185 that she did not tell him that, that was his testimony.
Mr. Gorence went on to explain that there is a huge difference between their testimony about guns going to Mexico. Just how significant that was is apparent in AUSA’s closing arguments. AUSA Armijo specifically referenced the differences between Dep. Batts testimony and Terri Reese’s testimony and stated that Terri had to be a liar.
Yet what did Terri Reese do? She called Allen Batts and told him to come in.
There are 3-4 pages of arguments where AUSA Armijo emphasized that Terri was lying. Why? Because obviously Terri knew the guns purchased were going to Mexico.ff
Mr. Gorence continued by pointing out who lied on this key thing – because the whole case was about knowledge. The question was did the defendants know it. The jury stated that they did not know it on most of the charges and only stated they knew it on 1 charge for Rick, 1 for Terri and 2 for Ryin.
Yet, it was Dep. Batts who alleged that Terri told him that the guns went to Mexico.
The jury had to decide who lied, Terri or Batts.
Today, Dep. Batts can’t even remember calling the FBI to report a colleague and yet we know he did this.
Mr. Gorence pointed out that it is important to evaluate Batts’ testimony and this should be for a jury to decide, as there may have been motive for Allen Batts to lie in the Reese case. What might that motive have been? Did Allen Batts dodge a bullet in 2008 and the continue to have favor with the AUSA?
The S/A stated he called Williams during trial, and stated that AUSA Williams knew before the case was over, not during closing. This needs to be dealt with.
The AUSA’s office inexplicably dropped the ball. Mr. Gorence continued and stated that AUSA Williams said he disclosed and claims he did his part.
At this point in time, Mr. Gorence pointed out there is no ability to call back the jury and review Allen Batts’ motive. He claimed it was likely he was tipped off.
Mr. Gorence went on with quotes from the Davis case.
Mr. Gorence pointed out that the Jury should have heard the information because it was based on exact opposite testimony. And the Penny Torres testimony is relevant because it goes towards did they have actual knowledge.
Mr. Gorence claims that the US Attorney’s office was the only ostrich in the case. They dropped the ball before trial. They dropped in during trial. They dropped it again at closing. Then they waited four more months before telling the defendants.
And this is still an active case. Mr. Gorence continued by pointing out that it is so sensitive that the FBI actually called because they were concerned about Allen Batts being a member of the SW Border Task Force.
Mr. Gorence asked what was Allen Batts vulnerable status during trial. He stated, “I could never have made that call”, yet he called and reported his colleague is dirty, and claimed he is not. Based on the Davis clearly distinguishes here.
One blind hand not knowing what the other blind hand is doing.
Mr. Gorence concluded that they have been investigation this case for 10 years, and he believes that it is probably that Dep. Batts was tipped off and demanded a new trial for his client.
Brad Hall spoke next and cited more pages from the trial. He referred to Mr. Jordan’s cross examination of Terri and he pointed out the conflict with Allen Batts’ testimony. He referred to Mr. Jordan’s pointing this out and then telling the jury Terri knew the guns went to Mexico. Everything hinges on her knowledge and credibility.
Mr. Hall stated that all along during trial they couldn’t show Allen Batts less credible that Terri. There were credibility issues with Allen Batts, sweetheart deals made with Roman, and even with Batts.
The prosecution was able to argue that Allen Batts was more credible than Terri Reese.
Mr. Hall declared that at this point, after a year of knowing Terri, he would put Terri Reese’s credibility higher than anyone.
He declared this case borders on outrageous. Their theory is that Terri knew and it is all based on Allen Batts.
Mr. Bowles pointed out several issues about the testimony. He pointed out that AUSA Richard Williams had the information 1-2 days after Allen Batts testified, and had it been reported at that time, all of this could have been addressed in a timely fashion. The office was aware of it before the trial was closed, and the defendants could have used the information.
Mr. Bowles pointed to a 608 issue. He stated there is a long line of cases favoring this.
It should have been timely disclosed and it has been explained why it is relevant. At a bare minimum, Dep. Batts is seriously flawed. Mr. Bowles does not believe that S/A Grogan filed a false report.
Mr. Bowles also pointed out that the Form 4473 doesn’t say where the gun was recovered from. Therefore, according to the government, the only source that could have come from is either Torres or Roman. Mr. Bowles alleged the prosecution tried to set this up. If the jury could have the testimony today, they would see Allen Batts had motive – especially if he can’t remember calling in to report a colleague.
In the end, it was the people signing the FBI forms who were lying on the 4473.
AUSA Armijo stated that what all this comes down to is was the evidence material. She pointed out that as to AUSA Williams, he is an officer of the court, and that he testified when he first learned about the Batts information, and that S/A Acosta did not testify to the exact date. As an officer of the court, he learned about this after closing arguments.
AUSA Armijo asked again if the information is material and asked the judge to consider the entire trial evidence, not just Batts. She pointed to some of the questions, such as did Batts get a free shirt and were the Reese’s honest people. Armijo stated it is most likely that Allen Batts would have been called as a defense witness if the prosecution hadn’t called him.
As far as the Mexico issue, Ms. Armijo stated that Terri indicated this and agree with him, the only issue was Mexico. When Allen Batts got the information he went to H.S.I. because they are the ones that investigate guns going to Mexico, not ATF.
Allen Batts contacted H.S.I. first because he through the guns went to Mexico because that is what Batts learned.
Ms. Armijo stated that Terri was not completely honest because she didn’t tell that Torres and Roman were connected, even though there were calls to and from Terri and Roman and Torres. Ms. Armijo claimed that New Deal knew.
Ms. Armijo pointed to the actual counts of conviction. They had no counts related to Torres or Mexico. They were all on the sting and based on everything Rick, Terri and Ryin said on tape.
Ms. Armijo stated the allegations against Allen Batts are unsubstantiated. The claimed there were unsubstantiated claims from 2004-2008 against Allen Batts, and that he stated he didn’t even know he was under investigation.
Ms. continue that the calls wasn’t about S/A Brotan. S/A Acosta stated he may have known he was under investigation.
What they were convicted of has nothing to do with Penny Torres or guns in Mexico.
The information on Allen Batts is not material to warrant a new trial.
When AUSA Armijo finished, Mr. Gorence addressed the judge again. He stated the problem the Court has is that the government is asking the Judge to reconstruct what a jury would have done if they had known this information.
95% of the case was already lost. The jury didn’t believe it. His client (Rick) was convicted of one count with significantly less years.
This isn’t 608, it is only an admission to show he tailored his testimony.
This whole case is about what the Reese’s thought. The government believes Batts, who says she’s lying.
Did the Reese’s know the guns were going to Mexico? We can’t evaluate that now because the Jury is gone.
Mr. Gorence continued to explain that S/A Acosta indicates the information is so credible that the investigation continues today. Why waste FBI resources if there is nothing to it.
The key issues is did the Reeses know the guns were going to Mexico.
The Judge stated that the matter has been submitted and it is a decision he’ll deal with.
Judge Brack then revisited the Motion to Release Rick and Ryin Reese. He explained he couldn’t before because the cart was before the horse (meaning he did not have the evidence before him as to the reason why, as he does now), so he renewed the motion.
The defense explained again the defendants are not a flight risk, and the court can place restrictive conditions. Mr. Gorence ask his client be released while the judge is deciding.
Judge Brack indicated that everything is no properly sequenced.
Mr. Armijo objected and stated that the reason are still the same as before; the Reeses are a flight risk and still danger. She informed that if there is any new information she will submit it. Judge Brack gave her 24 hours to submit any new information.
Allen Batts was called to the witness stand.
Judge Brack swore him in just as he swore in all of the other witnesses called to testify today.
Allen Batts stated that he is a Deputy Sheriff with the Luna County Sheriff’s Office and is current assigned to the SW Border Narcotics Task Force.
Mr. Gorence started the questioning by asking him if he testified in the Reese trial on July 25, 2012. Dep. Batts replied yes he believed so.
Mr. Gorence asked him if he had met with the prosecutor after the Jury rendered their verdict. Dep. Batts replied that he had, approximately 1-2 weeks ago with AUSA Armijo and AUSA Jordan. He was asked if S/A Eddie Pacheco was there and he replied no.
When asked if the meeting was recorded he stated he didn’t know, and when asked if he was informed if it was being recorded he stated no. Dep. Batts informed that the meeting at the AUSA’s office lasted about 15 minutes. He further explained that he was told the defendants had filed a motion for a new trial and that he had tempered his testimony and that it was a sealed motion and she couldn’t tell him.
Mr. Gorence asked him if they told him that he was the subject of an investigation. He replied no.
Mr. Gorence asked him from 2002 to today, and he replied never.
Mr. Gorence asked him if he placed a phone call to the FBI in 2008. He did not recall.
Mr. Gorence asked him if he called S/A Brotan. Dep. Batts stated he knows the name but doesn’t recall.
When asked if he recalled having a conversation about his concerns over activities of a fellow officer in Luna County he stated no.
At this point Mr. Gorence approached the bench to ask the Judge some guidance on a question he wanted to ask.
Mr. Gorence asked him about a phone call on May 5, 2008 made to FBI S/A Brotan. Dep. Batts stated he didn’t recall calling him.
Mr. Gorence tried to spur his memory and told him he specifically reported a criminal act by a fellow officer. Dep. Batts stated he didn’t recall and said no sir.
Mr. Gorence asked him if he recalled telling S/A Brotan that although the other officer is dirty, he had nothing to hide. AUSA Armijo objected.
Mr. Gorence asked him if he recalled saying that he had built up a good reputation over 20 years? Dep. Batts didn’t recall that.
Mr. Gorence asked if he knew that he had been under surveillance, and he replied he did not.
When Mr. Gorence asked if he knew that his bank records had been subpoenaed, AUSA Armijo objected that they were not his personal records. He rephrased and asked him if he knew some records, and he stated he never knew.
Jason Bowles asked him not to state any names, and then asked him if he was ever told by any anyone that he and collegues were the subjects of an investigation? He stated no.
Mr. Bowles asked him if he had any idea he was under investigation including 2008, he replied no, not at all, never.
Mr. Bowles asked him that in meeting with the prosecutor before today, did the prosecutor explain why the defense believed he tempered his testimony. He answered no.
He agreed he was reassigned to the SW Border Task Force in July 2012.
[As a reminder, this is when the Reese trial was ongoing.]
Dep. Batts explained that he was previously assigned from the early 90s to 2006 or 2007, however, when Gary Cicatelli (phonetic) took over, he stopped working narcotics investigations.
When asked who assigned him to the SW Border Task Force, he replied Sheriff Raymond Cobos.
Mr. Bowles asked him if he ever interviewed witnesses in the Reese case. He replied no, however, he took S/A Eddie Pacheco to two individuals homes but didn’t do the interviews. Dep. Batts was present when S/A Eddie Pacheco interviewed Jack Harmon and Robert (last name not not heard).
When asked again if he had any recall of a telephone call made to S/A Brotan, he stated no.
Mr. Gorence asked him if his testimony today is that he has no recollection of reporting a colleague. Det. Batts replied, no no ever to the FBI. He stated that is completely false and he doesn’t know where that is coming from.
Judge Brack interrupted for some clarification and asked him about S/A Brotan. He indicated that Batts had stated that he didn’t recall and he wanted to know if it happened or if he didn’t recall. Dep. Batts replied, “It never happened.” He claimed he didn’t, did not record a conversation, never called S/A Brotan, and couldn’t even identify him if he’s been sitting outside, and that he doesn’t know him. He reiterated, “I don’t recall ever calling Gary Brotan in 2008. I don’t.”
AUSA Armijo reminded him that in July 2012 he testified in the Reese case and asked him if he biased his testimony. Dep. Batts stated no, he told the truth and that he raised his right hand and told the truth.
Mr. Gorence pointed out that he has been in law enforcement for some 25 years and that the conversations took place nearly 5 years ago, then asked him if he was denying that he ever called to report a criminal act.
Dep. Batts stated, “I would have remembered if I did that. No. I never called to report anyone.”
Deputy Batts was excused.
FBI S/A Joe Acosta must have been found during the long break, because he was the agent that was sworn in next. The implication was that a continuance would not be needed for today’s hearing.
FBI S/A Joe Acosta has been a S/A withe the FBI since 1990, and has been assigned to Las Cruces since 1998.
Mr. Gorence asked if he is assigned to public corruption “PC” allegations involving Luna County law enforcement officials. He stated yes, and that he has been involved since approximately 2002.
He was asked if the case continued and if it is still active today. S/A Acosta stated yes.
Mr. Gorence stated the allegations have been ongoing since 2002 the present, and asked if one of the subjects was Allen Batts. S/A Acosta stated he was at one time.
When Mr. Gorence asked if Allen Batts had been exonerated or cleared, S/A Acosta hesitated and stated there was not recent on him.
When he was asked about a formal declamation, < answer not heard >.
Mr. Gorence asked when, in 2006? S/A couldn’t recall who authored it.
He was asked a series of rapid questions, was the FBI seeking to prosecute; did the DA decline, was Batts cleared or still a subject. S/A Acosta indicated that Batts has came up on other things since, and been the subject since including aiding and abetting drug trafficking, alien smuggling, stealing drug proceeds subject to forfeiture.
He was asked if he has associations with other officers in the Sheriff’s Office, and if there were other reports of allegations that reaffirmed Batts as a subject or target from 2006 through 2012. S/A Acosta indicated the last information on Det. Batts was in 2008.
Mr. Gorence asked him about the FBI call to AUSA Williams about two months before the Reese trial and asked if S/A Acosta was making him aware of prior allegations because Det. Batts was being put on the SW narcotics task force . S/A Acosta to make AUSA Williams aware of Batts’ history.
Mr. Gorence went through some of that history and asked if Mr. Williams was aware that in 2004 Det. Batts was shaking down drug dealers for their assets. In 2005, they met drug traffickers in Mexico and in 2006 smuggling aliens to Arizona.
Mr. Gorence asked if he was aware of the Reese indictment. He said no. But when it was pointed out that it was well publicized, he said yes he saw it in the papers.
Mr. Gorence referred to May 2012 and ask if Dep. Batts was a potential witness in a case. He replied no.
Mr. Gorence mentioned that the defense has the sealed documents but there is no memo indicating why Det. Batts not prosecuted. The FBI kept going on each allegation, the case was not closed out, they kept investigating.
In January and March of 2007, Mr. Gorence asked if the FBI had received additional information on Batts, and S/A Acosta replied they had. He agreed there had been no further allegations since 2008.
He could not recall if bank records were subpoenaed.
He did not review the file before coming to court today.
Mr. Gorence reviewed the investigative techniques used to investigate Det. Batts. When asked about toll records he replied, not on him (Batts).
Recorded conversations? Yes.
Confidential Informant? Yes.
Grand Jury work? Yes.
The case continues today? Yes.
Mr. Gorence asked if there was any reason that Det. Batts might know he was the subject of an investigation, and pointed out that Det. Batts called the FBI and talked to S/A Brotan. S/A Acosta stated he doesn’t think he knows. He agreed an experienced agent wouldn’t reveal he was the target.
Mr. Gorence pointed towards Det. Batts behavior on the phone, but AUSA Armijo objected proclaiming hearsay and foundation.
Mr. Gorence pointed to collective knowledge, and asked if in his experience did he believe Det. Batts suspected that he was tipped off because he put it in the file. S/A Acosta replied that he believe a former source that may have told Batts he was being investigated.
Mr. Gorence asked if a fellow officer tipped him off, and S/A Acosta replied, yes.
Mr. Gorence asked if this was confirmed by the FBI that Batts knew. S/A Acosta replied, not that it was assumed by the FBI at the time of the phone call.
When asked if it makes a difference to investigations if they are tipped off, he replied yes.
Mr. Gorence pointed out that S/A Acosta had no involvement in the Reese case, however, he learned about Det Batts in this case. S/A Acosta related that one of the other agents received a call from a Deming officer that Det. Batts had testified. He learned about it 1-2 days after Det. Batts testified.
Mr. Gorence asked S/A Acosta if it raised any concern on his part. S/A Acosta replied, no that Batts wasn’t convicted and that it was the prosecutions decision to use him as a witness in the Reese case.
Mr. Gorence asked who he worked for before the FBI, and he replied he worked in a bank, and agreed he wasn’t a lawyer.
Mr. Gorence asked him in his training did they ever raise this issue, and asked if since Det. Batts wasn’t convicted there was no reason to disclose. S/A Acosta called AUSA Williams and asked if he knew that Det. Batts had testified, and indicated that AUSA Williams was the supervisor.
Mr. Gorence asked about the time period and he replied it was 1-2 days after Det. Batts testified. Mr. Gorence asked if there was any doubt in his mind that he called and spoke with AUSA Williams. S/A Acosta stated he has no doubt. S/A informed that he told AUSA Williams that Det. Batts had testified in the Reese case and that this was about two months after the April phone call.
Mr. Gorence asked if the FBI basically reminded AUSA Williams of Det. Batts’ status, and he replied yes pretty much. He also stated that AUSA Williams responded that he was aware of it and was dealing with it.
Mr. Gorence asked again if this was 1-2 days after Det. Batts testified, and he replied yes sir.
Defense Attorney Jason Bowles continued questioning S/A Acosta and asked him if he spoke with AUSA Williams on July 26 or 27, and that it was 1-2 days after Detective Batts testified. S/A agreed.
On further questioning, it was learned that the FBI office was notified by someone, a co-worker in Deming, Greg Porter (phonetic) and an ICE agent named Will Schafer (phonetic) also out of Deming.
Mr. Bowles asked why an ICE agent would call. S/A Acosta stated that he knew that Det. Batts was on the drug task force and wanted to reach out.
Mr. Bowles asked how he learned that Det. Batts was on the take force, and it was learned that someone called him about it, and asked if the FBI was aware that Det. Batts was on the SW Border Task Force.
When Mr. Bowles asked which AUSAs deart with this case, he indicated Kelly Burnham, Castellano, Teresa Raymond, and maybe others.
Mr. Bowles asked who authored declination in the file, and it seemed the answer might have been they don’t have one. When asked if it came in the form of a phone call, S/A answered he’d have to check the file.
Mr. Bowles asked if anyone from the AUSA’s office called him after he called AUSA Williams about Det. Batts or did he meet with prosecutors. S/A Acosta stated he talked to a prosecutor today, and about two weeks ago briefly about the Deming case.
Defense Attorney Pete Dominici returned the questioning back to May of 2012 and asked if he contacted AUSA Richard Williams over concerns because Det. Batts was going to be appointed the the SW Border Task Force and that he would work with H.S.I. S/A Acosta assumed so.
Defense Attorney Dominici pointed out that he had stated earlier that he heard about the Reese case from the publicity and that he was aware that H.S.I. was involved in the Reese case. S/A Acosta replied H.S.I. or ATF, he didn’t know. Mr. Dominici pointed out that he understood that is was the SW Border Task Force, which is made up of H.S.I., ICE, ATF and local law enforcement, and he replied, “I guess.”
When asked if he had any concerns about Det. Batts investigating cases, participating in cases, and receiving sensitive case information, he replied, yes. He wasn’t aware if others in the FBI might have contacted HSI about Det. Batts.
Ms. Armijo asked if since 2008 there were any allegations made against Det. Batts, and he replied no.
Ms. Armijo asked if the FBI had worked any surveillances, looked at bank records or phone calls again since 2008. S/A Acosta said there is no active investigation.
Ms. Armijo asked as far as learning about Det. Batts testifying was he certain about the date, and could it have been a week later. S/A Acosta stated no, it was 1-2 days after, but he doesn’t know specifically.
S/A concluded his testimony by stating AUSA Williams was already aware that Detective Batts had testified in the Reese trial.
All attorneys approached the bench.
The next witness, Det. Allen Batts, testified next. (Next post)