Sunday, July 12, 2009
Cele Castillo ordered to report to federal prison
July 12, 2009
Iran/Contra whistleblower Celerino Castillo is being sent directly to jail in the aftermath of his encounter with the buzz saw of Texas justice.
Despite being represented by an attorney, Robert E. De La Garza, who has been suspended by the State Bar of Texas for misapplying clients’ funds, the federal judge in Castillo’s case, at the urging of the government prosecutor, determined that there is no evidence of Castillo’s defense being tainted by the stink of ineffective assistance of counsel.
The fact that the same attorney’s son is facing federal gun charges, similar to those brought against Castillo, also has been deemed by the judge to be little more than an “inference” of a conflict of interest on the part Castillo’s attorney. Hence, the judge, at a hearing held Friday, July 10, 2009, in federal court in San Antonio, Texas, ruled that Castillo is not likely to succeed in the appeal of his conviction now pending before the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
As a result, the judge — after extending in mid-February Castillo’s report-to-prison date by some four months due to the very same ethical concerns raised about his attorney — did an about face at the July 10 hearing and ordered that Castillo report to prison on July 30 — to begin serving a 37-month sentence for violating federal firearm regulations, a sentence enhanced due to the judge’s apparent belief that Castillo sold weapons in Mexico.
Castillo, a self-proclaimed gun enthusiast who frequents gun shows, concedes he did sell some legally purchased guns absent the proper federal paperwork. However, he stresses none of those weapons were sold to prohibited purchasers (i.e., convicted felons) and he vehemently denies that any of those guns were sold in Mexico — nor is there any convincing evidence to the contrary, beyond prosecutorial inference, that has been produced by the state.
Castillo, as well as other law enforcers who spoke with Narco News, contend the federal prosecutor in the case turned Castillo’s paperwork violation (selling legally purchased weapons without a firearms-dealer permit) into a federal arms-trafficking case as payback for his whistleblowing activity — for exposing the CIA and White House’s complicity in arms- and narco-trafficking as part of the Iran/Contra scandal that played out during the administration of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
The key to the severity of the prison sentence meted out to Castillo — who is a former DEA agent and decorated Vietnam veteran with no prior criminal record — is that the prosecutor in his case argued, and the judge seemed convinced, that Castillo was likely trafficking weapons in Mexico — and by implication to members of narco-trafficking cells.
But Narco News recently obtained documents (letters now filed with the Department of Justice) that allege the judge in Castillo’s case was mislead about the trafficking charges by the prosecutor in the case — which was initiated under the reign of U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton (a “dear friend” of former president George W. Bush), who recently left the post to take a job in the private sector.
Those documents also show that after the federal judge, W. Royal Furgeson Jr., was made aware of that allegation, he chose to chastise Castillo for bringing those charges to his attention outside the proper channels. Subsequently, Furgeson then revoked Castillo’s bail at the July 10 hearing and ordered him to report to prison to serve out an extreme sentence based on the allegedly misleading — possibly perjured — statements advanced by the federal prosecutor, Mark T. Roomberg.
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