Friday, September 7, 2007

Plea Bargains -- A License to commit crime

The more I learn about our Justice System, the more opposed I become to the plea bargain tool that Prosecutor's use to get testimony from accomplices. The case of Julio Cruz makes my point. [information taken from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in U.S. v. Santisteban]

Cruz, a cocaine dealer, was given an early prison release because he "cooperated" with the authorities in another case. What did Cruz do with his restored liberty?

With the assistance of two men he had met in prison, [Cruz] began smuggling prescription drugs into the United States from Central and South America. The conspiracy also involved the theft and unauthorized manufacture of prescription drugs.

When the scheme was detected, and the men put on trial, Cruz again received a plea deal from the feds. Under cross examination by the attorney of one of the other men charged in the scheme,

Cruz admitted to being a convicted felon and former cocaine dealer. He also stated that while conducting his affairs, it was common for him to lie under oath. Cruz further admitted that he had entered into prior cooperation agreements, which enabled him to leave prison early and mastermind this conspiracy. Cruz conceded that he had received a "pretty good deal" by pleading guilty and agreeing to testify n this case, that his sentence could be reduced as a result of his testimony for the prosecution and that he hoped the government might even release him on bond. Cruz admitted that he often "used people" when doing so would benefit him."

So, this is the kind of person that the government makes deals with in order to secure convictions of lesser criminals. I say lesser criminals because the trial which Cruz was testifying at wasn't for one of the two ring-leaders, who did the stealing, illegal manufacture, and smuggling. It was for the man at the bottom of the totem pole who printed the labels for the drugs. A man who would never have gotten into this scheme if he hadn't been approached by Cruz.

This doesn't excuse the printer, but it does highlight the government's illogical use of plea deals. Cruz will not see much prison time, if any, for this scheme, because of his plea deals. How long will it be before some government agency is again arresting him for criminal behavior?

How many get out of jail free cards is the government going to give to a man who obviously has taken up crime as a way of life.

1 comment:

Bruce Dombrowski said...

if cocaine dealers should be in jail, then august bush and peter coors should do life sentences, as well as the heads of all the tobacco companies, their products have and will kill more people then cocaine ever will.....