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Case Number: 2:22-cr-00654
Judge: Nelva Gonzales Ramos
Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Nueces County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Corpus Christi
Description: Corpus Christi, Texas criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with obstruction of justice.
Jose Manuel Gutierrez, age 48, from Edinburg, Texas, was accused of obstruction of justice. Gutierrez’s criminal history which includes convictions for assault, money laundering and aiding and abetting the entry of illegal aliens.
“This human smuggler tried to get witnesses to lie,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. “My office is not going to stand by and let intimidation replace the truth. The seriousness of his threats to justice merit the sentence imposed today.”
At the time of his plea, Gutierrez admitted he attempted to influence an official proceeding knowingly and dishonestly, with intent to undermine the proceeding.
On April 11, 2022, Gutierrez arrived at the Falfurrias Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint. There, authorities ultimately found 10 people, illegally present in the United States, concealed in the sleeper portion of the tractor he was driving. Two of them described how they were transported and identified Gutierrez in a photo-lineup as the driver who instructed them to get into the vehicle and covered them with blankets.
However, the two witnesses later changed their accounts, reporting they did not know Gutierrez and had no contact with them.
The investigation revealed Gutierrez had provided the names of the two witnesses to a family member after their initial statements to authorities. He instructed the individual to give the names to another person who could then “work” them. The witnesses later claimed they had changed their statements because Gutierrez had told them to do so. While there were no direct threats, both reported they were afraid something might happen to them if they had not done so.
Gutierrez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
BP conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Liesel Roscher and John Marck prosecuted the case.
"Witness tampering is the act of attempting to improperly influence, alter or prevent the testimony of witnesses within criminal or civil proceedings. It is a serious crime that can result in significant penalties, including imprisonment.
There are a number of ways in which witness tampering can be committed. Some common examples include:
Threatening or intimidating a witness
Offering a witness a bribe or other inducement to change their testimony
Destroying or fabricating evidence
Obstructing a witness from testifying
Witness tampering is a crime that can have a significant impact on the outcome of a criminal or civil case. It is important to remember that even if a witness is not successful in tampering with another witness's testimony, they can still be charged with the crime.
If you are a witness to a crime, it is important to report the crime to the police and to cooperate with the investigation. You should also be aware of the signs of witness tampering and report any suspicious activity to the police.
If you are accused of witness tampering, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and can build a strong defense on your behalf."
Outcome: 05/04/2023 Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos: Sentencing held on 5/4/2023 for Jose Manuel Gutierrez (1), Count(s) 1, 14 months CBOP; $100 Special Assessment; 2 years of Supervised Release; Standard and Mandatory Conditions; Substance Abuse Treatment and Testing; Count(s) 2, Dismissed on Govt's Motion. Court adopts PSR as written. Deft waived right to appeal in written plea agreement. Deft requests to be temporarily released on bond to attend his sister's funeral. Court denies the request to be temporarily released on bond. Appearances:USPO R. Garcia. Liesel LeCates Roscher, Rachel Elizabeth Braver.(Digital # 10:05-10:31)(ERO:S. Ozuna) Deft remanded to custody, filed.(bcortez, 2) (Entered: 05/04/2023)