August 1, 2008
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Judicial Watch Presses Investigation of San Francisco’s Sanctuary Policies Following Triple Murder Perpetrated by Illegal Alien
This week Judicial Watch filed a California Public Records Request with the San Francisco Sherriff’s Department to obtain arrest and booking records related to Edwin Ramos, an illegal alien charged with a June 22, 2008, triple murder of three innocent American citizens.
We want “All public records concerning or relating to any arrest and/or booking of Edwin Ramos.”
For those of you unfamiliar with this story, Ramos gunned down Tony Bologna and his sons Michael and Matthew with an AK-47 following a minor traffic incident on June 22. According to press reports Ramos, an illegal alien from El Salvador, had been arrested on three prior occasions, and convicted of two felonies, but was never turned over to federal immigration authorities “largely as a result of San Francisco’s self-imposed sanctuary status.” San Francisco law prohibits local officials from cooperating with federal officials in deporting illegal aliens.
As recently as March 2008, Ramos was arrested after police discovered a gun that had been used in a double homicide in his car. The district attorney’s office did not press charges and Ramos was released. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated that the agency was never notified of the arrest.
(If all of this sounds tragically familiar, it should. You may recall that Judicial Watch recently launched an investigation into the arrest of Pedro Espinoza, the illegal alien gang member who murdered high school student Jamiel Shaw on March 2nd in Los Angeles. Espinoza had been released from a Culver City, California, jail the day before the murder. Judicial Watch obtained Espinoza’s booking record. Check it out here. Culver City, by the way, is also a sanctuary city. Los Angeles is stonewalling our records request for its documents on Espinoza.)
The murder of these three innocents in San Francisco is a stark reminder of the devastating consequences of illegal alien sanctuary policies. Ramos should have been deported long ago. Instead, San Francisco authorities put him back on the streets, and now three people are dead. We suspect the documents about Ramos’ earlier arrests will show that San Francisco’s sanctuary policy was in part responsible for these terrible crimes.
As some of you may recall, Judicial Watch already has an important appeal of a taxpayer lawsuit against San Francisco related to its self-imposed status as an illegal alien sanctuary city (Fonseca v. Fong, Case No. A120206).
Judicial Watch also recently launched a brand new Internet site dedicated to fighting illegal alien sanctuary policies across the United States. You’ll be hearing more about this in the next few days, but in the meantime you can go to: www.sanctuarybusters.org.
Judicial Watch Petitions Supreme Court to Hear RICO Lawsuit against Businesses that Hire Illegal Alien Criminals
Staying with the topic of illegal alien criminal activity, this week we also filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit filed by Canyon County, Idaho, against four large employers of illegal aliens (Canyon County v. Syngenta Seeds, Inc., et al.). Canyon County alleges that during their employment, some of these illegal aliens committed crimes, thereby costing the county millions of dollars for criminal justice services as well as health and welfare services.
The district court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Canyon County’s lawsuit, prompting Judicial Watch’s Supreme Court petition. Judicial Watch filed the petition for Canyon County with co-counsel Howard W. Foster, a renowned RICO expert with the Chicago law firm, Johnson & Bell, LTD.
For those of you unfamiliar with RICO, it is a federal law passed in 1970 that was originally used to destroy organized crime in America, specifically the Mafia. Since that time, however, the use of RICO has expanded to include a variety of circumstances. In fact, in 1996, Congress amended RICO to include certain immigration offenses.
With respect to this specific lawsuit, there are two central questions that arise from the appellate court ruling. First, does the term “business or property” as described in the RICO statute apply to the cost of services provided by a government entity or just to commercial activity? And, secondly, can a court simply dismiss a lawsuit based on a lack of injury directly resulting from the RICO activity, without first determining if any direct injury had been caused?
With respect to the first question – the application of the term “business or property” to government services — the lower courts have been split. This is one reason why Judicial Watch believes the Supreme Court should settle the issue. According to Judicial Watch’s petition: The 9th Circuit Court’s conclusion “that a government entity cannot sue to recover damages unless it is acting as ‘an ordinary marketplace actor” under RICO, conflicts with the Seventh and Eighth Circuits’ conclusions, which have rejected the need for any such marketplace or commercial injury.” We also reminded the Supreme Court of its explicit instruction to lower courts in a previous ruling to “not read limitations into RICO.”
With respect to the question of “proximate cause” or “direct injury,” Judicial Watch’s petition argues that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals bypassed the important analysis as to whether or not a direct injury resulted from the alleged RICO activity. As our petition states, “Every other Circuit analyzes proximate causation by first determining if the plaintiff’s alleged injury flows directly from the RICO violation, or is derivative of an injury to another party.”
RICO is a tool that can be used to fight illegal immigration, and businesses that hire illegal aliens could therefore be subject to RICO lawsuits. The lower courts in this case have ignored the plain language of the RICO statute, but we hope the Supreme Court will take this opportunity to affirm the rule of law.
I will be sure to keep you posted as to whether the Supreme Court decides to take on the case.
Judicial Watch Files Open Records Lawsuit against Illinois Governor and Illinois State Senate Over Pork Barrel Spending
This was definitely a busy week for Judicial Watch. In addition to our open records request in San Francisco and our Supreme Court petition, Judicial Watch also filed separate open records lawsuits against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and the Illinois Senate and Illinois Senate President Emil Jones over documents related to pork barrel spending in the State of Illinois and “secret-side deals” made between Governor Blagojevich and Illinois State lawmakers.
Judicial Watch and the Americans for Prosperity launched an investigation of public spending policies in the State of Illinois after multiple press reports documented “secret side deals” between Governor Blagojevich and Illinois lawmakers “for items ranging from police cars and tornado sirens to millions of dollars for after-school programs…” (The Chicago Tribune estimated these pork barrel projects cost Illinois taxpayers at least $70.8 million in 2006 alone.)
As part of this investigation, Judicial Watch submitted open records requests to the Illinois Senate and the office of Governor Blagojevich on February 25, 2008 and March 20, 2008 respectively.
“[Judicial Watch and Americans for Prosperity] are undertaking a detailed review of public spending practices in Illinois, including member initiatives and/or earmarked appropriations, about which substantial questions have been raised,” Judicial Watch wrote in its original open records request filed with the Illinois Senate.
Predictably, both offices failed to cooperate.
In a letter dated March 20, 2008, the Illinois Senate, citing “privacy interests,” indicated that no documents would be forthcoming, while the governor’s office failed to respond to the open records requests altogether. In both lawsuits, Judicial Watch is asking the Circuit Court of the 7th Judicial Circuit in Sangamon County, Illinois, to force compliance with Illinois open records law.
With respect to Judicial Watch’s lawsuit against the Illinois Senate, Judicial Watch is asking the court to, “Enjoin [the Illinois Senate] to prepare, forthwith, an affidavit declaring that they have fully and completely complied with Plaintiff’s February 25, 2008 request and further [declare] that any and all non-exempt public records responsive to the request have been produced to [Judicial Watch].”
Governor Blagojevich and the Illinois Senate need to come clean about any side deals they made to fund pork barrel projects. Their attempt to stonewall the release of these documents demonstrates a shocking lack of respect for both Illinois taxpayers and the rule of law.
Alaska Republican Senator Stevens Indicted
My colleagues and I attended the arraignment of Alaska’s Republican Senator Ted Stevens in a DC federal court this week. The courtroom was packed, so we sat with the media and watched the proceedings on closed-circuit television.
Earlier in the week, Stevens, the longest serving Republican in the U.S. Senate, was indicted for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and lying about them on his Senate financial disclosure forms. Stevens didn’t say anything at the arraignment and his extraordinary request to get a trial before the general election was granted by the judge handling his case. It is good to be the king – or senator!
I encourage you to review the sordid details in the indictment here. Stevens is accused of failing to report $250,000 in gifts he received from an oil company and its owner.
If the charges are proven correct, Senator Stevens deserves what he gets — and more. Prosecutors charged Stevens with lesser charges of making false statements rather than bribery/extortion because I believe they have been hamstrung by recent court rulings that make it harder to prosecute public officials (especially members of Congress) for bribery. (Interestingly, the feds have finally seemed to understand that elected officials who lie on their financial disclosure forms should be prosecuted. They refused to do this to Hillary when we asked them (she failed to disclose her multi-million dollar family foundation). One wonders if Barack Obama and the other senators who failed to report their sweetheart mortgages properly will receive prosecutorial scrutiny.
Stevens ought to resign, but won’t. These days, it seems members of Congress have to be hauled off to jail before they relinquish their office (see also Rep. William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson).
Until next week…
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