The U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Arizona on July 22, 2011 released the following:
“TUCSON, Ariz. – A federal grand jury in Tucson returned a three-count indictment on July 21, 2011, against U.S. Border Patrol Agent Ralph Hunt, of Tucson, for making false statements during a compelled interview. Hunt will be issued a summons to appear for an initial appearance on the indictment before a Federal Magistrate Judge.
The indictment alleges that on the afternoon of May 21, 2009, while on duty, Agent Hunt performed a traffic stop of a black GMC Denali. As Hunt approached the vehicle to question the occupants, the vehicle fled. After a pursuit that lasted approximately 45 minutes and over 30 miles, the occupants of this vehicle were arrested.
As part of his normal job duties when an arrest is made, Hunt prepared a Report of Apprehension, also known as an “I-44,” which documented the vehicle stop, the pursuit, the arrest of the occupants of the GMC Denali, and the seizure of marijuana. This I-44 is then submitted to the Drug Enforcement Administration in order for that agency to present the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution.
On September 25, 2009, as a condition of Hunt’s employment with the Border Patrol, the defendant participated in a compelled interview regarding the events that occurred during the pursuit and statements made in his I-44. Before this interview began, the defendant was advised that he could be subjected to criminal liability if he provided false statements or information during this interview. The indictment alleges that Hunt knowingly and willfully made three material false statements during this compelled interview. Count One alleges that Hunt falsely stated that he thought there was a child in a black GMC Denali that he had been pursuing, and that is why he told the Border Patrol dispatch to tell the Arizona Department of Public Safety that he was chasing a sexual offender and that there might be a child in the automobile. In truth and in fact, defendant knew that there was no child in the automobile and he is alleged to have intentionally made that statement to gain assistance of DPS.
Count Two alleges that Hunt falsely stated that the GMC Denali he was pursuing performed a U-turn and attempted to run him off the road, when in truth and in fact, the driver of the suspect automobile did not make a U-turn and did not attempt to run the defendant off the road.
Count Three alleges that Hunt falsely stated that the driver of the GMC Denali avoided attempt to spike the vehicle’s tires near Milepost 16 on State Road 286 by driving in hazardous manner. In truth and in fact, the driver did not avoid the spiking attempt by driving in a hazardous manner, nor did the defendant see the manner in which the driver avoided the spiking attempt and no other agent communicated to the defendant how the driver avoided the spiking attempt.
A conviction for a false statement carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both. An indictment is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the Office of Internal Affairs for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in Tucson. The prosecution is being handled by Karen Rolley and Eric Markovich, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Tucson.
CASE NUMBER: CR-11-2572TUC RCC/DTF”
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