Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Macho B: Jaguars, Martha Stewart and Cover-ups

...McCain and Brun contend that key federal officials with oversight authority to protect endangered species knew that capture planning was under way and that snares were set in Macho B’s territory. Two months before the cat died, Erin Fernandez, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee responsible for jaguar protection, convened a meeting with McCain, Thompson and others to discuss funding for border-carnivore studies on the border, records show. Around the same time, McCain and others sent e-mails to Fernandez, the federal “jaguar lead,” describing snare locations and photo evidence that Macho B had returned to the Atascosa Mountains. She also was advised that Game and Fish officials were seeking information on how to euthanize a jaguar. When questioned by criminal investigators from her own agency, Fernandez said she knew nothing about plans to capture Macho B, but “should have connected those dots.” Fernandez was asked by federal agents for relevant e-mails. At least nine key messages were not provided to them but were discovered later when the investigators obtained a search warrant for McCain’s computer. The e-mails also revealed that in 2007 Fernandez had congratulated McCain and Childs for securing a jaguar collar, and said her boss wanted more information on the risks of capture. McCain told The Republic that neither Fernandez nor any other federal official said, “Hey, wait a minute. We should not be trapping there.” Instead, immediately after Macho B’s capture, e-mail records show Fernandez sent a gushing message to McCain: “Such exciting news!” In the 3,441-page criminal case file under a heading titled “Laws Violated,” Fish and Wildlife agents wrote that Fernandez had obstructed justice by concealing or destroying records, an offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison. They also wrote that her conduct constituted fraud and false statements punishable by a sentence of up to five years. Fernandez, who declined Republic interview requests, was listed among the defendants in the criminal file, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute. A Fish and Wildlife spokesman said she remains the jaguar lead but would not comment further, saying personnel matters are protected by privacy law...more

Erin Fernandez, jaguar lead for the feds, was investigated by USFWS agents who found she had obstructed justice, committed fraud and made false statements.  The U.S. Attorney's office "declined to prosecute."  Why?  Was the evidence provided rock-solid or not.  What criteria do they use to decide whether or not to prosecute and is there a decision document that explains why  the decision to not prosecute was made?  Remember, Martha Stewart went to the pen for obstruction of justice and making false statements.

Whenever one fed declines to prosecute another fed my antennae go up.  Were there legit reasons for declining to prosecute (The I.G. report) or was the U.S. Attorney's office in Arizona too busy trying to cover up Fast & Furious to mess with it?

Also see yesterday's post and for more information on the critical habitat proposal see SACPA's comments here.

1 comment:

Janay Brun said...

There is no legit reason why US Attorneys Office declined to prosecute Fernandez and others. Please see http://www.whistlingforthejaguar@wordpress.com for more information on Macho B's capture, death, and the cover-up that followed.