Federal Judge Cam Ferenbach recommended this week that felony drug trafficking charges against Jeremy Halgat be dropped because the U.S. government "deployed techniques that generated a wholly new crime for the sake of pressing criminal charges against Halgat."
Halgat was targeted in the government's "Operation Pure Luck," which tried to entice him into committing drug crimes “designed and engineered by the government,” said Judge Ferenbach.
According to ThinkProgress.org, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) used taxpayer dollars to send an undercover agent, Agostino Brancato, into Halgat's life for three years.
Brancato repeatedly tried to coerce Halgat into drug dealing and buying illegal guns, which Halgat refused to do.
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At one point, Brancato begged Halgat for five weeks to buy cocaine because they were “familia,” but Halgat turned him down numerous times. Halgat once told Brancato, “I can’t f------ help. I can’t help.”
Brancato refused to give up. He finally got Halgat to introduce him to a friend that he (Brancato) knew to be a drug dealer in a fully scripted scenario (by Brancato).
Judge Ferenbach found that Brancato falsified facts about that incident.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal notes that Judge Ferenbach said, "This is distressing. Can the court rely on the chain of custody of evidence that the government will proffer against Halgat at trial? Did Brancato’s supervisors permit other falsifications?”
According to a secret recording that the U.S. government released to the court, Brancato allegedly told a supervisor about lying on the crime report to “avoid muddying up the waters,” said Judge Ferenbach.
“Brancato said, ‘F--- it to the formalities,'" Judge Ferenbach added. "'They don’t need to know.'"
However, Brancato set up another scenario to trap Halgat.
Brancato pleaded with Halgat to be his armed security during a drug transaction set up by the U.S. government, which even included using a "drug cartel" plane that was rented by the ATF.
Halgat did protect Brancato, and got paid $1,000 for being his security guard, which finally led to the arrest of Halgat and charges that could mean a 20-year prison sentence.
Judge Ferenbach said this week that the “ATF had investigated Halgat for three years, found no contraband after executing two search warrants and indicted him for a crime designed and initiated by the ATF.”
“The function of law enforcement is the prevention of crime and the apprehension of criminals. Manifestly, that function does not include the manufacturing of crime,” Judge Ferenbach said.
Amazingly, federal prosecutors have repeatedly denied that any wrongdoing was committed during the three year investigation of Halgat, and refused to comment on the recommendation made by Judge Ferenbach.
Sources: ThinkProgress.org, Las Vegas Review-Journal (Image Credit: Neal Jennings)