The Dalles, Oregon - Outraged citizens of The Dalles are calling it “immigration fraud and racketeering.” They explain how alluring tax dollars have opened the door for false prosecution and allegations of racketeering by corrupt local attorneys and HAVEN (women’s shelter). The well meaning VAWA (Violence against Women Act), VOCA (Victims of Crime Act), and the U Visa provide the means for gaming the system.
Title VIII of the Violence Against Women Act addresses the needs of battered immigrants. The plight of abused immigrants is a concern to us all. But many people are unaware how Title VIII of VAWA is often used to allow, even encourage immigration fraud. VAWA affords generous services, benefits, and legal rights to immigrants who allege abuse. Federal funds are distributed to states, which in turn distribute these funds to local agencies and shelters. It is estimated that these services cost the American taxpayer $170 million a year. In 2009, HAVEN, located in The Dalles, received $17,063 from the state in the form of non-competitive grants.
According to RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) VAWA facilitates immigration fraud in 8 ways:
1.Provides free legal services to persons who merely claim abuse
2.Broadens the definition of “extreme cruelty”
3.Eliminates traditional standards of proof
4.Removes the “substantial connection” requirement
5.Bans all evidence by the alleged abuser, even if it shows fraud or illegal behavior
6.Educates persons on how to take advantage of these VAWA provisions
7.Overrides deportation hearings
8.Provides a loophole for persons in the midst of deportation
The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) provides money to support crime victims at the federal, state, and local level. Most of the funds are distributed by formula grants to states that use these funds to provide financial support to local direct service providers, such as domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and victim-witness assistance programs, as well as direct compensation to crime victims. In 2006, the Wasco County District Attorney’s office received $10,000 from the state and HAVEN received $16,797 under this program.
When The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimulus Package) was signed into law it provided $225,000,000 for Violence Against Women Prevention and prosecution programs. The State of Oregon received 1.9 million and the Oregon Dept. of Justice is in the process of sending out applications for law enforcement, prosecution, courts, and non-profit victim services.
It is worthy to note that grant money is on-going, providing qualifying conditions are met. There are strict reporting requirements such as the “State Performance Report Victims Statistics Worksheet”. Failure to satisfy reporting requirements may lead to withholding of disbursement.
Last but not least is the “U Visa” and the effect it has on false allegations of “qualifying criminal activity.” An alien victim of criminal activity may file for U Nonimmigrant Status - status set aside for victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse because of the activity and who also are willing to assist law enforcement agencies or government officials in the investigation of that activity. Most often crimes of sexual misconduct and rape are alleged as they are “qualifying crimes”.
Here is an interesting quote and statistic given by Linda Fairstein, a former head of the New York County District Attorney’s Sex Crime Unit; “There are about 4,000 reports of rape each year in Manhattan. Of these, about half simply did not happen.”
WHO ARE THE WINNERS?
It is considered ethical and appropriate for service shelters such as HAVEN to educate and teach alien immigrants the benefits that await persons who make such allegations:
-permission to live in the United States while your application is being processed
-avenue for obtaining permanent residence
-medical care and government benefits such as money and food stamps
-a low cost, sure-fire way to achieve legal status
It states on the application for crime victim compensation, “You may qualify for financial assistance through Oregon Crime Victims, if you answer “YES” to the following five questions:
1.Have you been the victim of a violent crime?
2.Did the crime take place in Oregon?
3.Was the crime reported to law enforcement within 72 hours?
4.Did the crime occur within the last six months?
5.Did you cooperate fully with law enforcement?
It appears that allegations and an arrest (police report) may be all you need to qualify. A meaningful system of checks and balances seems to be lacking. A man cannot use the defense that a woman is an illegal and is seeking benefits and citizenship. Evidence (HAVEN records) of this is not admissible in court.
The following are actual testimonies from local (The Dalles) residents:
“While shopping, I once overheard a lady, telling another lady, (actually more like bragging), about all the help HAVEN and the DA’s office was giving her. Free counseling, free childcare, free money to live on, and free money to pay her bills. She claimed to be a victim of her husband. She also said she was getting help legalizing and they will also pay for her to go to Mexico to be with her parents if she chooses. She said she was told that it was better if she didn’t go to Mexico because she will legalize faster. The DA’s office told her where to go in Portland for free legal help from immigration lawyers.”
“I have a good friend from Hood River that legalized through HAVEN because her husband beat her. But they are back together now.”
“A Victims Advocate from HAVEN saw me having coffee with a client of mine and called me and told me I should not be associating with this man accused of rape. I responded that I am his counselor and why would she make such a call.”
WHO ARE THE LOSERS?
Sadly, many innocent men have been wrongfully put behind bars. Many people have heard of the VAWA, but most are unaware of the extent to which VAWA-mandated programs have biased our judiciary and chipped away at the presumption of innocent until proven guilty.
VAWA’s tentacles reach deep and wide, skewing our nation’s laws on immigration, welfare, and public housing. VAWA pays the legal bills of alleged victims of sexual assault. There is no financial help available to help men accused of rape.
That sets the stage for a prosecutorial shake-down that works like this: Find a guy who can’t afford a million-dollar legal defense team. Smear his good name with accusation rape. Then settle for a plea bargain conviction on a lesser count of sexual assault. The defense attorney gets his money and the DA can add another successful prosecution to his “State Performance Report Victims Statistics Worksheet” and assure continued funding.
Case in point, here in The Dalles, Louie Torres was accused by two women (cousins) of sexual misconduct (Yaneli Rodriguez and Carmen Ma Del Monarrez).
Leslie Wolf was the Assistant District Attorney that prosecuted the Torres case. (The professional standards and integrity with which the DA’s office operates is under the direct supervision and responsibility of District Attorney Eric Nisley. Therefore, in the following account, reference to the prosecutor, state, assistant DA or DA’s office is simply referred to as “DA Nisley”.)
The following details of the Torres case were reported by Aracely Torres, Louie Torres’ wife.
“Carmen Monarrez is an illegal. The charges were stacked by District Attorney Eric Nisley to include 2 counts of rape, 2 counts of robbery, burglary, coercion, and an assortment of other charges. Local defense Attorney Andrew Carter justified $20,000 up front to defend Louie from these numerous and serious charges. An additional $10,000 was paid to attorney Carter to cover “expenses”. As time passed and the trial date approached, Louie made it clear that he would not plea bargain any of the charges. Louie was adamant on not accepting a plea bargain on a lesser sexual assault charge because he and Carmen Monarrez had been having an affair that did not end amiably. Louie felt he was being made a “patsy” and that he was now the real victim for his indiscretions. He maintained that Carmen Monarrez was a woman “scorned” and Monarrez wanted and needed citizenship.”
“In the same time period that the affair came out, another accuser surfaced, Mackenzie McGinnis. It appeared to us that District Attorney Nisley hoped the additional accusations would strengthen his original and now very weak case against Louie. DA Nisley wanted both cases tried as one.”
Attorney Andrew Carter
“It was at this time Attorney Carter filed a motion to withdraw from the case citing a conflict of interest because Mackenzie McGinnis was a client of his in a “will reading and inheritance case”. Judge Crowley denied Attorney Carter’s motion to withdraw because he said the will reading was insignificant and not a valid reason to withdraw. Later, Carter filed another motion to withdraw with Judge Kelly. Judge Kelly over turned Judge Crowley’s decision and also had the transcript of the hearing with Judge Crowley sealed from public record (court records support this).”
“Attorney Carter did not return even a portion of his fee ($30,000) even though he would not be going to trial on behalf of Louie. We sensed attorney Carter was banking on a plea bargain and failed to prepare adequately for a trial.”
It was also reported by another client of Attorney Carter; Carter had told him HAVEN was one of his biggest clients. HAVEN is allowed to retain the services of a legal advocate for “emergency” legal help such as restraining orders. Every woman who becomes associated with HAVEN most likely needs a restraining order. It is not known for certainty that Attorney Carter serves as HAVEN’S legal advocate.
Now broke and without the means to hire another attorney, Mr. Torres was forced to take a public defender (John Olson). The trial was now postponed 3 months.
It was further reported by Aracely Torres, “Attorney John Olson accomplished one good thing for Louie - he saw that the two cases were treated separately. Interestingly enough, we learned that had Attorney Carter done this he could have represented Louie on the first case. Attorney Olson also asked for more time to prepare the two cases but this request was denied by Judge Kelly. The two cases were pushed through in an unusual speedy manner.”
“The jury of the first case found Louie was not guilty of any sexual misconduct. A friend of Monarrez testified to the affair. Louie’s accusers claimed they did not call 911 because they said Louie showed a knife and took their cell phone. The cell phone was never found even though Louie's house, property, and vehicles were searched. To my knowledge, the police never searched the accuser’s residence for the cell phone.”
“The jury found Louie guilty of robbery in the 1st degree and burglary in the 1st degree based on the allegation that Louie showed a knife and took their cell phone.”
Robbery in the first degree is when a weapon is used in a robbery. First degree burglary is simply illegal entry with the intent to commit a crime whether anything is taken or not. Louie got 7 ½ years for the robbery conviction and 5 years for the burglary conviction.
Aracely adds, “Louie was charged with 4 “Measure 11” crimes, which mean they require minimum sentencing. He was found not guilty on 3 of them. Also, Measure 11 crimes are considered “qualifying crimes” for U Visa status, which we feel played a major part in the allegations that were made and the subsequent charges against Louie. The judge did not allow the fact that Monarrez was an illegal and needed/wanted citizenship brought up in court.”
“Later, at still another hearing, we learned that both girls had been given a VOCA award in the amount of $20,000 each ($40,000 total) for counseling and assistance through HAVEN.”
This money is made available to HAVEN for “in house” counseling through VOCA (Victims of Crimes Act) and Mr. Torres will have to reimburse the fund with commissary money while in jail and when he is again able to work.
Aracely continues, “The second case did not go to a jury; it was simply presented to Judge Kelly the next day to rule on. The charge was sex abuse. McGinnis claimed Louie put his hand down her pants. The trial was very short and Louie was found guilty by Judge Kelly of sex abuse in the first degree and of coercion. Sex abuse is another Measure 11 crime. Judge Kelly sentenced him to an additional 81 months (6.75 years). Total sentence for both cases was 19-plus years. Time served, sentences served concurrently and consecutively bring the prison term to 15-plus years.
Mackenzie McGinnis (a US citizen) was now eligible for VAWA and VOCA benefits as well. Mr. Torres now sits in prison looking at a total of 15-plus years for what amounts to a missing cell phone and the accusations of three women with something substantial to gain from being a “victim.”
Judge Kelly - Attorney Carter
Judge Kelly, Attorney Carter, and Attorney Olson were requested by certified mail to answer questions for the US Observer and all failed to respond.
HERE IS THE KICKER, Mackenzie McGinnis was reportedly charged and arrested two weeks after the trial for allegedly embezzling $170,000 from the 76 service station in The Dalles - owned by John Hattenhaur. The woman’s integrity, credibility and motives were never questioned when she testified against Mr. Torres. It turns out she had a rap sheet but Judge Kelly would not allow this information to be used in court. It is unclear if McGinnis claimed to be a victim when she learned she was being investigated and if DA Nisley put the embezzlement charges on hold until after she testified against Mr. Torres.
The end result for Louie Torres, after his accuser’s integrity and credibility were found out - it was as if the evidence and charges of embezzlement had never happened. Timing seems to be everything when prosecuting a case. Again, Attorney Olson asked for more time to investigate and prepare the two cases but this request was denied by Judge Kelly. The two cases were pushed through in an unusual speedy manner by DA Nisley. The question of ethics and integrity by those who practice law in The Dalles cannot be ignored and warrants a full investigation. Attorney Thomas Peachy, (candidate for Judge-position #2) who represents John Hattenhaur, has in his possession the facts regarding the time line of events.
WHO ARE THE WILLING PARTICIPANTS?
For Fiscal year 2009, The Oregon Department of Justice will allocate VAWA funds by statutory requirement as follows:
25% for Law Enforcement ($383,063)
25% for Prosecution ($383,063)
5% for Courts ($76,613)
30% for Victim Services ($459,676)
15% for Discretionary (used in the Victim Services Category) ($229,838)
Obviously funds are not used to pay wage and benefits to the aforementioned. However, with money in the coffers to cover expenses, local budgets can afford to be generous to public officials and service shelters.
“Prosecutors are charged with the ethical duty, not only of prosecuting the guilty, but of seeking justice. This includes not prosecuting a person they know or strongly suspect is innocent. The best known court decision on this point is Brady vs. Maryland, a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1963. Most prosecutors keep that in mind and stay above board, even if it means they will lose a case. That is the professional way. But it still happens too often that prosecutors do get caught hiding or destroying evidence. It continues to happen partly because of the competitive nature of prosecution, but also because the penalties are so light when they do get caught. If the penalties were truly heavy for such conduct, if the judges really had the courage to punish such behavior, prosecutors would be less willing to cheat. Unfortunately, this leaves the accused in the position of fighting against unfair odds.” - Ed Geary Attorney at Law
Under the supervision of DA Nisley, Assistant DA Leslie Wolf works with HAVEN and prosecutes men who have been accused. Her husband, John Wolf is running unopposed for Judge Position 4 in the upcoming election. Perhaps a majority write in vote for Mickey Mouse will send a clear message that voters disapprove of this questionable arrangement and a recall is sure to follow. The most important thing in our judiciary system is that a defendant feels he/she is getting a fair trial without prejudice or influence.
Ever hear of Michael Nifong? Did his dogged prosecution of the Duke Three reflect a deeper, more systemic problem in our criminal justice system? Here’s the dirty little secret of DA’s who prosecute sexual assault and domestic violence cases: many of the claims are as flaky as pie crust and their chances of winning a jury conviction are slim. So why do they bother to go after the case? Two reasons, most men are intimidated into a plea bargain and because - get ready for this - they believe “we are encouraging abused women to come forward and confront their oppressors.”
So according to this logic, if we want to get tough on say bank robbers, what we need to do is randomly accuse innocent people of burglary and then parade them through the streets, denouncing them for a crime they did not commit. Of course, rape is a terrible crime. Equally terrible are false allegations of rape.
Michael Nifong never required accuser Crystal Mangum to take a polygraph test. The VAWA prohibits it. Section 2013 states, “no law enforcement officer, prosecuting officer, or other government official shall ask or require an adult, youth, or child victim of an alleged sex offense…to submit to a polygraph examination or truth telling device.”
The VAWA’s overly aggressive prosecution measures instill a legal climate of “every man is a potential rapist” - ignoring the equally ridiculous corollary that “every woman is a potential false accuser.” Massachusetts District Attorney David Angier once argued, “If anyone is prosecuted for filing a false police report, then victims of real attacks will be less likely to report them.”
Failing to prosecute women who make malicious accusations only means men will continue to be falsely accused, charged, prosecuted, convicted, sentenced, and jailed.
In summary, if our DA’s office, judges, and local attorneys cannot serve with honesty and integrity, and hold each other accountable to professional standards, then they bring shame on the whole judiciary system of Wasco County…. But that’s another story.