Cory Voorhis looked me in the eye and said “God Bless America.” It was a remarkable statement from a man whose life has been turned upside down by a justice system which was hijacked by politicians and turned loose on this unsung American hero. When I said to Voorhis that it was remarkable he still felt that way, he pointed to his American flag lapel pin and said, still choked up from the news five minutes earlier, “This is what I stand for.”
Five minutes earlier, at about 1:45 PM on Wednesday, a 13-member jury unanimously returned two “not guilty” verdicts on the charges filed against Cory Voorhis by the US Attorney for the District of Wyoming. It was a case which the US Attorney’s office should never have accepted, but did so, in the view of many observers, because of political pressure trickling down from the office of Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr.
After a trial that included shoddy lawyering by the prosecution and a government investigation obviously tainted by politics, Cory Voorhis is today a free and vindicated man. But it is a bittersweet victory indeed, as Voorhis has been nearly bankrupted by the government’s outrageous abuse of power, selective prosecution, and intentionally incomplete investigation.
The fundamentals of the case are laid out in my December article for HUMAN EVENTS. Briefly, the case is about a dedicated and exceptionally well-respected ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agent being prosecuted for outing the practice of Bill Ritter, when he was Denver’s District Attorney, of letting illegal alien criminals plead down to non-deportable offenses. This included letting a heroin dealer plead to “trespassing on agricultural land”…the alien was later re-arrested in California for sexual assault on a minor. The specific charge against Voorhis was “intentionally exceeding authorized access” to the FBI’s NCIC database.
Another Bill Ritter travesty, one which has received little or no attention in the press (I assume because it’s as difficult to write about as to read), was that of a hard-core tattooed-down Sureño 13 gang member who sexually assaulted twin six-year old boys, forcing them to perform oral sex on him and then urinating in their mouths. This monster was allowed to plead down to a non-deportable offense and remain on the streets of Denver at least a year until he was rearrested when a Department of Motor Vehicles investigator called ICE suspecting the gang member of identity theft.
In an exclusive interview, the first following his 18-month ordeal, I spoke with Cory Voorhis the morning after his acquittal. Following are some questions and answers from our discussion:
Q: When this story first hit the press, people assumed your motives were political. Can you tell us why you decided to go public, and why at that time?
CV: Everybody got this wrong when they thought it was about partisan politics. I just believed Ritter’s practice csonstituted both obstruction of justice and a real threat to public safety. As for “why now,” there are a couple of reasons. First, people should realize that ICE staff had met more than once with Ritter’s staff over prior years to ask them to stop this practice, but nothing changed. Second, I believed the practice was public information already because of a high profile case (involving professional baseball player Pedro Astacio) in which a domestic violence charge was pled down to harassment specifically in order to avoid deportation.
[Regarding partisanship, one of the prosecution’s many errors was introducing into evidence two letters Cory Voorhis had sent to Senators. The government was trying to make Voorhis look like a Republican political activist but both letters actually represented Voorhis opposing Republicans because of their voting records on immigration.]
Q: Did you realize the type of reaction you might get from exposing the behavior of a candidate for governor?
CV: I knew that I had everything to risk and nothing to personally gain. I didn’t search this out. Many people in my office had tried to address the issue and it went nowhere, and I felt that because of my particular experience and institutional knowledge, I had both an opportunity and a responsibility to try to stop the DA’s “catch and release policy.”
Q: Is there any silver lining in what you’ve gone through? After all, your actions did cause the Denver DA to stop the practice. Was it worth your ordeal?
CV: I have to say that because of the horrible toll on my family, I probably wouldn’t do it again, even though I’m confident that what I did was right. I had a law enforcement objective that I achieved — causing the policy change. I can accept what happened to me individually, but how my family suffered was unacceptable.
We must hope that Voorhis actually did achieve his goals. Although the Denver DA’s office has stopped offering pleas of “agricultural trespass,” they continue to allow illegal aliens arrested for serious drug offenses to plead down to “possession of diazepam,” a charge which carries much less risk of federal prosecution for an illegal alien. It would be tragic indeed if Cory Voorhis’ sacrifice led to little more than the DA’s office hiding a catch-and-release policy behind a different name.
The prosecution of Cory Voorhis was transparently political. An early meeting about Voorhis included the top two agents from the regional FBI office and the Director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as well as other senior federal law enforcement personnel. The meeting was what you might expect if there was going to be a bust of the Walker spy family or the Gotti crime family, rather than of one of ICE’s best agents whose “crime” was at worst a misdemeanor…but actually not a crime at all.
Some of the truly despicable and probably unethical moments during the prosecution’s case came during the testimony of their witness, ICE investigator Manny Olmos. Because Olmos and the prosecution obviously tried to spin irrelevant information into attacks on Voorhis and because Olmos admitted to not pursuing other important aspects of the investigation, several observers thought Olmos was unintentionally one of the best witnesses for the defense. More details of the prosecutions’ and Olmos’ deceit are available HERE. Other actions by the prosecution, things which may never become publicly known, would make you shudder and wonder what country we live in.
The prosecution’s case was so weak that the defense was tempted to rest without putting on any witnesses, but they did go ahead with one: Gray Buckley, former Deputy Director of CBI, who testified that the information Voorhis gave out was public information, and furthermore that Voorhis had a responsibility to do what he did if he believed the DA’s office was acting contrary to the laws that Voorhis had sworn to uphold. As one observer said, “Buckley didn’t just knock it out of the park, he knocked it into orbit.”
Although Voorhis has been found not guilty, this prosecution comes at a huge cost…to him and his family, and also to American citizens. Not only did the government waste millions of dollars in a malicious politically-motivated prosecution, but the fact that Voorhis was charged at all probably removes him from being able to testify against Mexican crime kingpin Petro Castorena, whose multi-million-dollar forged-document empire was taken down by a major operation run by Voorhis. Without Voorhis’ testimony, there’s a good chance that a serious criminal and national security risk will go free.
Cory Voorhis’ life may soon get back on track, though I hope and expect that track will include counter-suits. One person in particular who should be both sued and fired is Ritter spokesman Evan Dryer who publicly called Voorhis was “a desperate criminal.” I do not know if ICE will reinstate Voorhis; I do not know if he would want to go back. I do know that he is an unsung American hero, a guy who goes to work every day because he cares deeply about keeping America safe, and a man who after being nearly killed by illegal alien criminals was then attacked and essentially bankrupted by a government he’s served with distinction and honor for 19 years.
Voorhis told me that he has always been inspired by the bravery and sacrifice of our Founders, men who risked everything to sign the Declaration of Independence. He said he didn’t know if he would have that level of courage. But that humbleness is typical of Cory Voorhis who has, in my book, showed a level of honor and courage which makes him a true hero and patriot. When Cory Voorhis looks you in the eye and says “God Bless America,” you know that more sincere words have rarely been uttered.
For those interested in helping Cory Voorhis pay off some of his $250,000 debt for legal bills, please visit http://www.corylegaldefense.com and make a contribution. My money is where my mouth is.