[Ppnews] Jeffrey Auerhahn v. Tarek Mehanna: Suborning Perjury and Official Secrets
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sun Oct 9 12:33:04 EDT 2011
Jeffrey Auerhahn v. Tarek Mehanna: Suborning Perjury and Official Secrets
By Free Tarek Mehanna Support Committee.
Axis of Logic.
Friday, Oct 7, 2011
Editor's Note: We thank our friends at the Free
Tarek Mehanna Support Committee in Boston for
writing and submitting this report on the arrest
and imprisonment of Tarek Mehanna. Tarek was
first arrested by the FBI in the fall of 2008 and
then again in October 2009. Read how Asst U.S.
Attorney Jeffrey Auerhahn, who has a history of
coercing witnesses and informants has used the
same methods to obtain testimony against Tarek
Mehanna. For the last 2 years Tarek has been
imprisoned in the notorious Plymouth County
Correctional Facility in 23-hour solitary
confinement awaiting trial. In his trial this
month, the government is threatening him with a
life sentence. Read more details in a
of his case and all about how you can help fight
this injustice at the <http://freetarek.com/>Free Tarek Mehanna Website.
- Les Blough, Editor
A federal prosecutor is trying an alleged member
of the New England mafia for ordering an
execution. One of the policemen working on the
case calls him with an important piece of news to
share: the star witness has just called to say
that his grand jury testimony fingering the
defendant was false. The defendant never ordered the murder.
The prosecutor calls an emergency meeting with
the witness, the cop, and an FBI agent also
working on the case. They meet in a hotel room in
another state. The witness repeats his
recantation: the defendant never ordered the
murder. The prosecutor and the FBI agent are
furious and tell the cop to take the witness into
the hallway and straighten him out. The cop
explains that if the witness changes his
testimony hell be removed from the witness
protection programa death sentence--and
potentially face trial for criminal charges
connected with the murder. So the witness comes
back into the room and changes his mindhell
testify that the defendant is guilty, after all.
A scene from a seedy, TV crime-drama?
Vincent Ferrara released in 2005 after serving 16
years in prison based on coerced testimony used
by Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Auerhahn.
No, its from the court record of the case
Ferrara v. US, and the prosecutor is one
Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Auerhahn. And it
gets worse: not only did Auerhahn coerce the
witness into lying, he made no record of the
incident and said nothing about it to the defense
attorney. When the cop put it all into a written
report, he doctored the report and then kept the
sanitized version in his own files. Questioned
about all of this years later in court, he
liedit never happened, he couldnt remember anything.
Then the documents turned up.
Heres how Judge Selya, deciding for the First
Circuit Court of Appeals, summed up Auerhahns actions:
Walter Jordan, coerced into testifying against Vincent Ferarra
we are dealing with more than simple neglect to
turn over exculpatory evidence; the government
manipulated the witness (Jordan) into reverting
back to his original version of events, then
effectively represented to the court and the
defense that the witness was going to confirm the
story (now known by the prosecution to be a
manipulated tale) that the petitioner was responsible for killing Limoli. ..."
Judge Selya went on to write in the same decision:
the government's actions in this case
grim picture of blatant misconduct. The record
virtually compels the conclusion that this
feckless course of conduct--the government's
manipulative behavior, its failure to disclose
the Jordan recantation and/or the Coleman memo,
and its affirmative misrepresentations (not
anchored to any rational and permissible
litigation strategy)--constituted a deliberate
and serious breach of its promise to provide
exculpatory evidence. In the circumstances of
this case, then, the government's nondisclosure
was so outrageous that it constituted
impermissible prosecutorial misconduct ..."
What happened to Auerhahn after the court found
out that he had done these things? The head of
the Massachusetts US Attorneys Office
transferred him from the Racketeering Unit into
the Anti-Terrorism Unit. Considering that the
Massachusetts US Attorneys Office calls
terrorism its number one priority, one can
only call the transfer a promotion.
Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Auerhahn
transferred to Anti-Terrorism Unit after
"prosecutorial misconduct" in the Racketeering Unit.
Difficult as it might be to believe, Jeffrey
Auerhahn is still prosecuting high-profile cases
in Massachusetts. Its now eight years since the
decision in the Ferrara case. In 2010, Auerhahn
was finally brought before a three judge panel to
hear the case against him for prosecutorial
misconduct. To the astonishment of people
familiar with case and the judgments of fact
already established in the court record, the
panel released a decision in September of 2011
not to discipline Auerhahn for his misconduct.
The decision sends a clear message: government
prosecutors have a free hand to commit even
criminal violations against defendants with impunity.
From Racketeering to Terrorism
In his current position at the US Attorneys
Office, Auerhahn has prosecuted a series of cases
related to "terrorism" and "national security."
In 2010 he appeared in court seeking a reduced
sentence on felony weapons charges for Bilaal
McCloud in exchange for testimony against Tarek Mehanna. Whats the story?
Dr. Tarek Mehanna, political prisoner, refused to
work as informant for the FBI.
Mehanna is being accused of material support for
terrorism and other related charges. According
to Mehanna, his real crime was his refusal to
work as an informant for the FBI in the Muslim
community. Agents had approached him repeatedly
since 2006. When he consistently refused, they
threatened to make his life a living hell.
McCloud, who attended mosques in the same
community, was caught as a felon in illegal
possession of firearms. He faced a lengthy prison
sentence. In exchange for his agreement to
implicate Mehanna in crimes, Auerhahn dropped the
more serious charges against him and asked for
probation rather than prison on his behalf.
There is a name for the practice of rewarding a
witness for giving the testimony that the
prosecution wants. Its called incentivizing
witnesses. A recent study conducted in Illinois
entitled The High Costs of Wrongful Convictions
found that out of 85 cases of wrongful conviction
(innocent people sent to prison), 30 of them
involved incentivized witness testimony.
Coercing witnesses and informants is standard
operating procedure for prosecutors across the
country. Whats unusual in Auerhahns case is
that he was caught concealing information about it and lying in court.
Discretion to Use Witnesses Who Lie
As details about the case of Whitey Bulger began
to come out in the late 1990s, the public got a
glimpse into the FBIs dirty work with
informants. Two top-echelon informantsBulger
and Flemmi--were literally given a license to
kill in return for providing information against
rivals. The FBI not only let them carry out
assassinations, it provided them with information
about potential witnesses against themit gave
them the hit list. FBI agents helped their
informants ship tons of illegal drugs into
Boston, tipping them off against police and DEA
investigations. And in return, Bulger and Flemmi
provided the FBI with information against their
competitorsthat is to say, helped them build
federal cases against people they themselves
wanted to get rid of. In some cases they
committed murder, fingered other people for it,
and the FBI and federal prosecutors put those
people away. Was it a question of a few rogue
agents or a corrupt prosecutor here and there?
The FBI gave crime partners, Whitey Bulger and
Stephen Flemmi a license to kill in return for
providing information against rivals.
Attorney Michael Avery helped win a multi-million
dollar law suit against the FBI for knowingly
sending four of those innocent men to prison on
murder charges. The court found that the FBI had
"suborned perjury"--deliberately coached
witnesses to lie--and framed the four men in
order to protect its top-echelon informants. As
the case came to trial, the United States
Department of Justice (DOJ)which oversees both
the FBI and the US Attorneys Officedefended its
agents on the grounds that their actions fell
within the boundaries of professional
"discretion." Or as Avery summarized the position
that the DOJ maintained in a series of briefs
submitted from 2004-2007, "When FBI agents are
working with a cooperating witness, they have
discretion to work with a witness that they know
isn't telling the whole truth."
Did you get that? According to the DOJ, the
government has discretion to put people on the
stand to lie under oath. And they can offer them
all kinds of incentives to do it.
National Security Interests
Theres an important difference between
prosecuting racketeering cases and prosecuting
terrorism cases. When Auerhahn came up against
Judge Wolf in 2003, the judges final decision
rested on documents that he required the
government prosecutor to produce. And the
ultimate reason for granting Ferraras appeal and
reversing his wrongful conviction was the failure
of the prosecutor to turn over exculpatory
evidence." The court decided that even an alleged
mafia captain accused of murder has certain
elementary rights to due process. Part of that
due process is the right of the defendant to see
exculpatory evidence (evidence that might show
innocence) in a process called discoverythe
requirement that the prosecutor provide
information to the defendant that is necessary
for the preparation of an adequate defense.
In terrorism cases the courts have allowed the
DOJthe same DOJ that has historically asserted
its discretion to use witnesses who lieto
refuse to hand over documents in discovery based
on national security interests. This means that
the entire seedy process of bribing, coercing and
otherwise manipulating informants and witnesses
to lie against defendants is now potentially immune from disclosure.
And thats exactly what the US Attorney has done in the Tarek Mehanna case.
In August of 2011, a hearing was held in Dr.
Mehanna's case concerning materials submitted by
the FBI to the FISA court. This would potentially
include informant material used to obtain
warrants for electronic surveillance. The DOJ
asserted its right to keep these files sealed based on "national security."
In the course of the same hearing, the defense
counsel requested information about important
exculpatory evidence. In 2008, the NYPD had sent
a covert agent from the Joint Terrorism Task
Force to Boston. The agent attempted to recruit
Dr. Mehanna to carry out a terrorist action and
Dr. Mehanna refused. Information about the
incident had not been provided to Mehanna's
attorney by the government, but by a journalist
who had learned about it while writing an
investigative piece about the NYPD's
anti-terrorism investigations. When confronted,
the US Attorney's Office refused to provide any
information about the incident. Instead,
government prosecutors requested a private
consultation with the judge behind closed
doors--a proceeding which the judge accepted. The
judge, who happens to be one of the three judges
who heard the case for prosecutorial misconduct
against Auerhahn in 2010, went on to deny the
motion to release the exculpatory evidence.
Jeffrey Auerhahn is infamous across the country
as a "corrupt prosecutor," known as one of the 10
worst in the country. In legal circles, his name
has become synonymous with such practices as
"suborning perjury." Under the current regime of
anti-terrorism prosecutions, Auerhahn is free to
exercise his well-honed skills handling
informants and cooperating witnesses under the
cloak of "national security." It must be said
that getting into the anti-terrorism business was
a great career move for Jeffrey Auerhahn.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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