Garcia’s Wife Renews Plea To Be Released

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (May 15) — The lawyers for Clarita Depakakibo Garcia want District Judge George Caram Steeh for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit to reverse the order of Magistrate Judge  R. Steven Whalen, who denied her bail, while her extradition proceedings are pending.

Decisions of a magistrate judge are subject to review and either approval, modification or reversal by a district judge.

In a motion de novo (review) of the Magistrate’s Denial of Bail filed by her lawyers Harold Gurewitz and Michael S. Cafferty, Mrs. Garcia, 58, wants Judge Steeh to grant her bail based “on relevant case law discussed in her attached memorandum, the Fifth and the Eighth Amendments of the United States Constitution, and the additional reasons set forth in the attached Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Bail.”

Mrs. Garcia argued that when Judge Whalen denied her bail, it was due to her “statement to a customs officer in California in 2003, when her sons were arrested that her family had substantial income, but her 2009 pretrial services interview dated March 4, 2009, she stated that she was without funds or assets other than a vehicle and because the Court found Ms. Garcia to be transient.”

She is asking the court to review the “Magistrate’s order because its basis for denial was not reasonably based upon the facts. First, Mrs. Garcia’s family financial situation five years ago in 2004 is not distinguishable from her own financial assets and income in 2009.

“Second, Ms. Garcia’s residential history does not show transient or evasive moving patterns.”

Mrs. Garcia was provisionally arrested on March 4, 2009 in her son’s home in Pontiac, Michigan on an extradition complaint, three years after an arrest warrant in the Philippines was issued on Feb. 28, 2006. This was based on plunder conspiracy charges against her and her family, including her husband, Filipino Gen. Carlos Garcia and their three children — Ian Carl, Juan Paulo and Timothy Mark Depakakibo Garcia.

In making a case for her release, Mrs. Garcia’s lawyers said, “the Government of the Philippines has demonstrated no urgency” of her arrest when “it requested the assistance of the United States in extraditing” her “over three years after the issuance of its warrant.

“The Philippines’ delay in proceedings belies any claim of urgency.

“To the present date, the Philippines has failed to present documents required pursuant to the treaty to pursue this extradition, leaving Ms. Garcia in custody to await their decision whether or not to act.

“The facts presented in the documents attached to the Complaint are few.”

An information dated April 5, 2005 charges her and her husband and their three children with “connivance/conspiracy” from 1993 until Nov. 2004 for amassing, accumulating and acquiring “ill-gotten wealth” in the amount of at least 303,272,505 Philippine pesos or US$6.8-M that were “disproportionate to their legitimate income.”

On March 18, 2009, Magistrate Judge Whalen denied bond to Mrs. Garcia, holding that she did not present sufficient assurances to the court that she was not a flight risk because her “transient” behavior showed otherwise.”

Whalen said Mrs. Garcia’s conflicting “statements regarding family income and assets in 2003 with her pretrial statements to pretrial services at the time of her arrest” about her “personal current assets and income” also weighed in his decision. He added “there were no special circumstances justifying bond at this time.”

Mrs. Garcia’s lawyers also argued for her release due to the “inordinate delay” of the “documents in support of the charge prepared for an extradition hearing.”

They added she cannot be considered a “transient” because Mrs. Garcia is an American citizen and “fervently desires to stay in this country as shown by her opposition to the provisional extradition request” and is not a flight risk.

They suggested to the court that it can put her “under house” by placing “electronic tether” to “secure her presence in her home in Pontiac.”

In opposing the de novo motion, U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg and his assistant John N. O’Brien cited the extradition case of Muhamed Sacirbegovic that if the accused is “released on bond and, thereafter, absconded, the mere surrender of quantity of cash or other property ‘would hardly meet the international demand’ and could cause the United States government serious embarrassment.'”

They added the “inadequacy of available custodial facilities for the detainee given her age and background, availability of bail in the requesting country, health status and the prospect of lengthy incarceration” are not “special circumstances” sufficient to grant her bail.

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