CORPORATE CRIME REPORTER
Does it Take to Indict a Major American Corporation for Murder?
22 Corporate Crime Reporter 43, November 10, 2008
What does it take to indict a major American corporation for murder?
It takes one courageous prosecutor.
Willing to put his or her job on the line.
At least that’s the lesson of Juan Angel Guerra.
Guerra is the District Attorney in Willacy County, Texas.
Last month, a grand jury in Willacy County indicted GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corporation) on three counts of murder.
The case grew out of the beating death of Gregorio De La Rosa at a private prison run by Wackenhut in the county seat of Raymondville.
De La Rosa was beaten to death by two other inmates. Those two inmates were convicted of murder in De La Rosa’s death. But the grand jury charged the company with murder also – because the company should have provided security to protect the inmates at the prison – and they didn’t.
Last week, the murder case against GEO Group was dismissed at the DA’s request.
DA Guerra said the dismissal was based on a technicality – and that he will ask the grand jury to reindict GEO Group once again on November 17.
The back story on the indictment of GEO – at least according to Guerra – is like a mini legal soap opera.
It’s a bit complicated. But it comes down to this – Guerra says that once he started looking into the private prison business, all hell broke loose.
One day he had good relations with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The next day he did not.
One day he had good relations with the Texas Rangers. The next day he did not.
Guerra believes that not only should some prison companies be indicted for murder. But they should all be driven out of business.
Profit making has no place in the prison business.
So, once he started looking into the situation in his county, retaliation started.
In fact, last year, Guerra himself was charged with crimes – trumped up charges he says – of stealing government property.
The charges against him have recently been dismissed. But not before the hit on Guerra’s reputation cost him a primary election earlier this year.
He’s now a lame duck District Attorney. But he’s vowing to pursue the case against GEO Group until he leaves office at the end of the year. And he’s hoping his successor as DA continues the murder prosecution of GEO Group.
“It gets to a point where District Attorneys are not going to go after these companies,” Guerra told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week. “They have to decide – is it worth it? Is it going to hurt me? You have the U.S. Attorneys who were fired. They could have done what the Attorney General wanted them to do. And they could have stayed on as U.S. Attorneys. It takes a special type of individual. I’ve talked to three of those U.S. Attorneys who were fired. I wanted to let them know that in my opinion, they were my heroes.”
“You have District Attorneys not going after these cases because they know it is going to be political suicide. That’s exactly what happened to me. Is it worth it? They really have to stick to drive by shootings, the drug cases, the murders and leave white collar crime be. They are not going to go there.”
[For a complete transcript of the Interview with Juan Angel Guerra, see 22 Corporate Crime Reporter 43(10-16), print edition only.]
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