Sounds like these people really got shafted by an overzealous prosecutor. When was the last time that you turned in someone for possibly breaking the law and then ended up getting arrested.These people did everything right, they filed all the paperwork, ran all of the background checks hired ex-LEOs to work in their gun shop and now they will will bankruptcy. I guarantee that either the charges will be dropped or they will be found guilty but either way they are forever done. They won't have a dollar left by the time they eventually get out. It makes me sick.
Eighteen months after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in Arizona by Mexican bandits using guns purchased through a U.S. government program called Fast and Furious, we still don’t know who within the Department of Justice knew about the program, much less who authorized it.
Certainly there has been no serious talk about prosecuting any of the people responsible for assisting in the illegal sales of over 2,000 guns to Mexican arms traffickers – guns that were subsequently involved in the murders of BPA Terry and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata, as well as possibly hundreds of Mexican citizens.
But while that investigation has dragged on, with Attorney General Eric Holder denying knowledge of the program, denying knowledge of who was involved and denying congressional investigators access to tens of thousands of documents that might answer those questions, New Mexico gun dealer Rick Reese and his two sons Ryin and Remington have sat rotting in separate detention centers, jails and prisons around the state accused of a similar crime involving some 30 guns.
The Reese family, including Rick’s wife Terri, ran a gun shop in Deming, N.M., and was arrested in late August of 2011 on charges of knowingly selling guns to Mexican smugglers and various other related charges.
After spending 6 months in jail, Terri Reese was finally granted bail in March of this year, but Rick and the boys have been repeatedly denied bail on the pretext that they are flight risks or might try to engage in a Ruby Ridge-type standoff.
The rationale for denying the Reeses’ constitutional rights is that Rick knows some people in Mexico, his home has a well and solar power and there were guns and ammunition in their homes and businesses when they were arrested. That’s right: Guns and ammo in the home and business of a federally licensed firearms dealer (all of which were seized a year ago and have never been returned) is being offered as evidence that they can’t be trusted – and a judge bought it.
Well, there’s also the fact that Rick and Terri were involved with a local tea-party group. That’s probably reason enough right there.
The Reeses are scheduled to finally get their day in court in late July, almost a full year after they were arrested and incarcerated. The first of several pre-trial motion hearings was held last week in which the judge heard arguments as to whether the charge of criminal conspiracy should be dropped. The prosecution contends that the Reese family members were all in cahoots in a conspiracy to sell guns to illegal buyers, falsify purchase paperwork, smuggle guns to Mexico and launder the illegal proceeds. The defense contends that the family operated a business buying and selling firearms, ammunition and accessories, and that they made every effort to ensure that every sale they made was legal and properly documented.
During this first hearing, we learned several things about the prosecution’s case. For instance, we learned that prosecutors acknowledge that every gun the Reeses sold was properly logged into and out of their store inventory, and that FBI background checks were conducted, and approvals received, for each purchaser. They also agree that all taxes were paid and no money was exchanged “under the table,” nor did any of the family members receive compensation above their normal company paycheck.
We learned that Rick Reese also employed retired and off-duty law enforcement officers as part-time help in the shop, and that a substantial portion of the company’s business came from law enforcement officers and agencies.
We learned that prosecutors consider three family members standing close to each other and quietly talking to be evidence of conspiracy and that the lead investigator in the case has a very low opinion of fellow law enforcement officers. When asked if he considered the fact that the Reeses employed LEOs in the shop to be contraindicative of a criminal conspiracy, he replied that he did not because “a lot of them [cops and former cops] are dirty.”
Probably the most important fact we learned at this hearing was that the entire investigation was instigated based on a tip that a woman named Penny Torres was making suspicious purchases of guns and ammunition, and might be illegally buying for someone else. That tip led to Torres’ arrest and her subsequent grand jury testimony against the Reese family and another gun shop where she had made some purchases. The presumption is that her cooperation garnered her leniency in the charges and sentence she was facing for her criminal activity.
What is most significant about the arrest of Penny Torres is that the original tip identifying her as a potential “straw buyer” came from Terri Reese.
U.S. family jailed for Holder’s gun crimes