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Newell Lawyer Letter

Newell Lawyer Letter

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Published by Katie Pavlich

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Categories:Business/Law
Published by: Katie Pavlich on Mar 20, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/13/2014

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MINTZLEVIN
701PennsylvaniaAvenue,.W.Washington,D.C.20004202-434-7300202-434-7400fax
PaulRPelletier
I
2024347490
I
March14,2012ByHandDeliveryRepresentativeDarrellE.IssaChairmanU.S.HouseCommitteeonOversightandGovernmentReform2157RayburnHouseWashington,DC20510SenatorCharlesGrassleyRankingMemberU.S.SenateCommitteeontheJudiciary135HartSenateBuildingWashington,DC20510Re:Objectionsto'FastandFurious'MemorandumIssuedonFebruary12012ChairmanIssaandSenatorGrassley:
r
writeonbehalfofWilliamD.Newell,formerSpecialAgentinChargeofthePhoenixFieldDivisionoftheATF,tocorrectthefactualdistortions
in
yourstaffs'memorandum."Tobeclear,thisfaultymemorandumandtheconductoftheCommittee'sinvestigationtodatehasdisservedandcontinuestodisserveSpecialAgentNewellpersonallyandeconomicallyandhasdisservedthehardworkingATFagents,inPhoenixandelsewherewho,withgreatpersonalsacrifice,fisktheirliveseverydaytomakeadifferenceinthecommunitiesinwhichwelive.
It
is,ofcourse,nowevidentthatthecitizensofthiscountryarefarlesssafetodayprimarilyasaresultoftheirresponsiblemanner
in
whichthis"outcome-determined"investigationhasbeenconducted.Forthesakeoffairnessandeffectivelawenforcement,IurgeyoutocorrecttherecordtoreflectaccuratelytheactualeventsoftheFastandFuriousinvestigationsomeofwhicharesetoutbelow.Preliminarily,asarecentlydepartedformerDepartmentofJusticeprosecutorforover25yearsIhavelearnedthattheultimatesuccessandlegitimacyofanyinvestigationdependsuponthecapacityofinvestigatorstoblincUyfollowtheevidencewhereveritleadsandtoneutrallyanddispassionatelyevaluatethatevidencebeforereachingaconclusion.Givenyourstaff'storturedfactualconclusionsyourstaff'sutterdisregardofanyevidencethatcontravenedorrebuttedthepreordainedandmisdirectedconclusionsofmisconduct,speculationastomotiveisunnecessary.Anyobjectiveanalysisoftheunderpinningsofyourstaff'sinitialfindingswillfindthemlackinginbothsubstanceandtruth.Mintz,Levin,Cohn,
Ferris,Glovsky
and
Popeo,P.e.
BOSTON
I
WASHINGTON
I
NEX
YORK
I
STAMFORD
I
LoSANGELES
I
PALOALTO
I
SANDIEGO
I
LONDON
 
MinL.Chn,....P'GI·
ky
dPPC
z,evJJl,
0_..
ems,ovsan.opeo,,.
Match14,2012
Page2FIRSTFALSEASSERTION:
"ATF
purposelyfailedtoconfrontstrawpurchasersandinterdictguns.Disruptinganddeterringtheillegalactivitytookabackseattothelawfulgoalofdismantlingtheentireorganization."Yourstaffisawarethatnotonlywereputativestrawpurchasersconfrontedbylawenforcementpersonnel,albeittonoavail,butthattheultimategoaloftheFastandFuriousinvestigationwastodeterminethescopeoftheorganization,disruptanddetertheillegalactivityandtoseizegunswhentheagentscouldlawfullydoso.Yourstaffsassertionsaredemonstrablyincorrectastheuncontrovertedevidencethatyourstaffhaseitherconcealedorpurposelyfailedtoconsiderconvincinglyestablishes,SpecialAgentNewellandothersinthesupervisorychaininATF'sPhoenixFieldDivisionhaveprovidedtestimonyunderoathtoyourcommitteeandstaffonanumberofoccasions.Itismyunderstandingthattheyhaveallconfirmedtoyourstaffthattheinvestigatorsinitiallyandunsuccessfullyconfrontedseveralstrawpurchasers.Youhaveinyourpossessionthereportsofinvestigationwhichalsoconfirmthis,
I
Also,yourstaffisawarethattheagentsinthiscasetookappropriatelawenforcementstepstoseizegunsanddidseizegunswhentheylawfullywerepermittedtodoso.Asoutlinedinmoredetailbelow,alloftheobjectiveandcredibleevidenceconvincinglyestablishesthattheGroupVIIATFPhoenixFieldDivisionagentsattemptedtoanddidseizeallgunswhentheUnitedStatesAttorneyCAUSA)assignedtotheFastandFuriousmatterauthorizedthemtodoso.Morethan150gunswereseizedinJuneandJuly2010asthewiretapwasbearingevidentiaryfruit.Ofcourse,thisconfirmsATF'sefforttoseizegunswhentheywerelawfullypermittedtodoso.SECONDFALSEASSERTION:"InterceptsfromtheDEAwiretapprovidedtheprobablecausenecessaryforATFtomakearrestsatleastasearlyasDecember2009,or,atthe
very
least,suppliedthenecessarypredicatetouseotberinvestigativetechniquestodisrupttheillegalactivityandseizetheweapons....ATF,however,didnotactonthisinformation.Agentscouldhavearrested
II
YourstaffinvestigationhasrevealedthatattheinceptionoftheFastandFuriousinvestigarion,onDecember8,2009,SeanStewardwasstoppedbylawenforcementandquestionedabouthispurchaseof20AK-47typerifles;hewaswithManuelCells-Acostaatthetime.Stewardflatlydeniedpurchasingthegunsforanyoneotherthanhimself,Atthattimetheredidnotexistlawfulauthoritytoseizethoseweapons.(SeeSeptember21,20IISupplementalStatementofSpecialAgentNewellatp.7).Also,youareawarethatonDecember21,2009putativestraw-purchaserJosePolancowasstoppedandquestionedbylawenforcementanddeniedpurchasinggunsonbehalfofanother
(id.),
Astothememorandum'sbaselessallegationthatATFpurposelyfailedtointerdictguns,seeJuly26,2011StatementofWilliamNewell("Tobeclear,'FastandFurious'wasanOCDETFoperationdesigned....tointerdict,
whenlawjitllypass
ible,.firearmspresumptivelydestinedforMexico");September2\,20I1SupplementalStatementofWilliamNewellatp.5(oneoftheobjectivesoftheoperationwas"toseizefirearmsandarrestthecriminallyculpablemembersoftheorganization
whenlawfullypermWedtodoso.")
 
Mintz,Levin,Cohn,Ferris,GlovskyandPopeo,P.e.March14,2012
Page3
Celis-Acosta
in
Decemberof2009andusedthearresttoworktheirwayuptheladdertotbetwocartelassociates."Notonlyisthisfindingisincorrect,buttheattempttocompressthefutureresultsofacomplexongoing10monthinvestigationintoatwoweekwindow
in
December2009completelymissesthemark.First,ATFdidnothaverealtimeaccesstotheDEAwiretaps.Thewiretapinformationthatyounaivelydescribeashaving"providedtheprobablecause"tosupportarrests"asearlyasDecember2009'wasnoteventransmittedtotheATFuntilJanuary
2010.
21
YourstaffalsoknewandunderstoodthatATFdidindeedactontheinformationknowntothem;onJanuary5,2010,theATFFastandFuriouscaseagentsmetwiththeUnitedStatesAttorneysoffice(USAO)todiscusstheevidenceandprosecutivemeritofthecaseandwereinformedbytheUSAOthatprobablecausedidnotyetexisttoeffectuateseizuresand/orthearrestofCelis-Acostaandtheputativestrawpurchasershewasbelievedtohaverecruited.Thesefactsarenot
in
dispute.Thus,theUSAOandATF,quiteprudentlyagreedthatanOCDETFOperationwithelectronicwiretapswasthebestwaytogathersufficientevidencetomeettheUSAO'sstatedevidentiarythresholdforseizureandarrest
in
thiscase.Yourstaff'smemorandumfurtherevidencesalackofunderstandingoffederalcriminallawswhenitstatesthateveniftheDEAwiretapsdidnotprovideprobablecause,they"attheveryleastprovidedthenecessarypredicatetouseotherinvestigativetechniquestodisrupttheillegalactivityorseizetheweapons.'Iamsureyourstaffisawarethattheprobablecausestandardforseizureandarrestareoneandthesame;ergo,iftheprobablecausestandardcannotbemettoarrestonindividualasa"strawpurchaser'itcannotbemettoseizeaweaponthatisbelievedtohavebeenstrawpurchased.YOUI'staffshouldfurtherknowthatbecausegunsarenotinandofthemselves"contraband"aprobablecausestandardmustbemetbeforetheycanbelawfullyseized.Yourstaff'sallusiontothefactthatthereissomelesser"predicate'necessaryfor"seizure"strikesmeaspurposefullyuninformedeitherastothelaworastotheUSAO'slegalcounselthattheagentslacked.probablecausetoseize.
21
Yourstaffsconclusionthatintheinterestofmaking"it'sownbigcase"theATFdelayedmakingarrests,ensuringthattheinvestigationwould"lastnearlyayearlonger,with1,500moregunsbeingpurchased,--includingthegunsboughtbyJamieAvilainJanuaryof2010thatwerefoundatthemurdersceneofBorderPatrolAgentBrianTerry,"isatbestirresponsible.YourstaffisawarethatthisstatementisincorrectforseveraJreasons:First,yourstaffisawarethattheDEAwiretapinformationwhichyourstaffmaintainsprovides"probablecause"wasnotprovidedtotheATFuntilJanuary20]0attheearliest.Whetherthosetranscripts,thesubstance
of
whichyoufailtoaddress,actuallyprovidesufficientevidencetoarrestanyoneforsomeunidentifiedcrimeis,ofcourse,subjecttocriticaldebate.SecondyourstafffurtherknowsasamatterofundisputedfactthatAvila,unknowntotheATF,purchasedthosegunsonJanuary16,2010,andthattheATFdidnotlearnofthatgunpurchaseuntilJanuary19,2010.Assuch,evenassumingthatalawenforcementagentunderstoodthatthewiretapscontainedprobablecause"typeinformation,yourstaffknowsbothfactuallyandpracticalIy,thatthoseinitialwiretapsdidnotmentionAvila,
and
thatfederallawenforcementagentswerepowerlesstopreventthatsaleofthosegunstoAvilaonJanuary16.YourstaffsrecklessrecitationoftheseeventsadvancesnomeaningfulgoalandservesonlytoirresponsiblyinflamethepublicandAgentTerrysfamily.

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