Tags: rohrabacker

Rohrabacher Went to Mat for Jailed Agents

Monday, 19 Jan 2009 03:57 PM

By Dave Eberhart

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Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., never gave up -- even in the eleventh hour -- from seeking a commutation of sentence for jailed former Border Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. On literally his last day in office, President Bush gave the relief that Rohrabacher and many others had so diligently sought.

Rohrabacher was a busy activist for the two men right up to the bitter end.

On this past Sat., Jan. 17, he and Ramos’ father-in-law, Joe Loya led supporters at the second year anniversary of the incarceration of Ramos and Compean rally in front of the Congressman’s office in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Just three days prior on Jan. 14, Rohrabacher called upon U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton to officially support commutation for the two men languishing in solitary confinement.

During a press conference, Rep. Rohrabacher highlighted several public statements made by Sutton acknowledging the sentences for the agents are in fact harsh.

“Mr. Sutton, we are asking you to look into your heart as a prosecutor and advise the President to commute the sentences of Ramos and Compean so they will not spend the next ten years in solitary confinement,” said Rohrabacher.

“As Johnny Sutton has said in his own words, this punishment is excessive. Millions of Americans, Members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats have spoken…the time is short, Mr. Sutton. Time is short Mr. President. Let’s right the wrong,” the lawmaker pleaded.

Sutton’s Own Words

“It becomes a debate about punishment,” Sutton said on the CNN Headline News Glenn Beck Program May 18, 2007. “I have a lot of sympathy for those who say, look, punishment is too high, you know, 10 years. I agree.”

Sutton told CNN’s Lou Dobbs July 17, 2007, “The only issue, really, is punishment. That’s what sticks in people’s craw. It’s a lot of time. And I’ve said that. I’ve said that often.”

Ramos and Compean were serving 11 and 12 year prison sentences, respectively, for shooting and wounding a self -admitted illegal alien drug smuggler. Both men have already spent two years in solitary confinement.

Members have jointly condemned the U.S. Attorney’s office for charging the agents with “discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence,” a 10-year mandatory minimum gun statute never used before against law enforcement officers carrying out their official duties.

To date, 152 Members of Congress, representing the entire political spectrum, have signed on to House resolutions in support of either a full pardon or commutation.

Compean and Ramos were arrested following a shooting incident along the Rio Grande River in Texas on Feb. 17, 2005.

Mexican national Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila entered the country illegally in a van carrying 743 pounds of marijuana. When the two agents confronted him, he scuffled with them and tried to flee back across the border. The agents opened fire. Aldrete-Davila was struck in the buttocks, but continued to flee.

It is illegal for federal agents to fire upon fleeing felons or suspects. The agents later said they saw a shiny object in Aldrete-Davila’s hand they thought was a gun.

After a two-week jury trial, Ramos and Compean were convicted in March 2006 in federal court in El Paso on several charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, obstruction of justice — for failing to report the incident properly — and a civil rights violation. The agents were acquitted of the most serious offense, assault with intent to commit murder.

In October 2006, Ramos, who was nominated to be Border Patrol Agent of the Year, was sentenced to 11 years and one day in prison, and Compean received a 12-year sentence.

Aldrete-Davila was again caught smuggling marijuana while he was waiting to testify against the agents.

In February 2007, a gang of illegal immigrants severely beat Ramos while he was in prison, and he and Compean were placed in solitary confinement for their own protection.

On Nov. 12, in a review of sentence required after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decided this year to drop one of the pair’s convictions, a federal judge in El Paso resentenced Compean to 10 years for using a firearm in the course of a felony and two years more for assault and other charges, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.

The next day, Ramos was resentenced to the same 11-year prison sentence originally imposed on him, the El Paso Times reported.

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