• Investigative Reporting

USA Criminal Justice as a System

Updated: Aug 19

In the Court system, does there exist equal rights of individual? Would you call it justice, yes or no?



when justice fails - case of Jose Manuel Gonzalez Testino
Case of Jose Manuel Gonzalez Testino

Once again the reading of the sentence of José Manuel González Testino for the commission of corruption crimes in CITGO and PDVSA is postponed.


There are already five extensions of the establishment of the sentence to be served by the former contractor of PDVSA and CITGO.

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maibort petit

Maibort Petit is a Venezuelan writer, researcher and political scientist specializing in Transnational Organized Crime. Based in New York, she works for several Hispanic media outlets and as a consultant for several firms in New York and Washington D.C.

She is founder of the Freedom Voice Reports, an investigative reporting site dedicated in the fight against violations of Human Rights.



Once again, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas-Houston Division, postpones the sentencing of José Manuel González Testino, former contractor of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A., who pleaded guilty on May 28, 2019, to the commission of crimes of corruption and money laundering of irregular funds paid to PDVSA officials to secure and maintain millionaire contracts of energy and logistics with Venezuela's state-owned company and its U.S. subsidiary, CITGO Petroleum Corp. Despite the time that has elapsed, it has not been possible for him to be sentenced to be served. This time it was set for October 12, 2022. With this new delay, there are already five extensions of the delivery of the sentence.


citgo


González Testino's lawyers have also skillfully managed to obtain from the Court some concessions, such as the sealing of the documents that inform of the permits granted to his wife to travel outside the US territory on several occasions, alleging security reasons.


Specifically, González Testino, who was arrested on July 31, 2018, at Miami International Airport while attempting to leave the United States, pleaded guilty on that date — May 28, 2019 — to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), one count of violating the FCPA, and one count of failing to report his foreign bank accounts. It was expected that the sentence would be read by the judge of the case, Gray H. Miller, on August 10, 2022, sentencing the one who controlled several US and international companies that, through corrupt mechanisms, between 2012 and 2018, obtained contracts to provide goods and services to PDVSA, in exchange for bribes paid to officials of the Venezuelan state.



José Manuel González Testino
José Manuel González Testino receiving judicial favors

Prior to this extension, the judgment would be delivered on August 19, 2021 at 10:00 a.m., the date set after the decision did not occur on February 19, 2020. The first of the readings of the sentence so many times extended, was initially set for August 28, 2019.





Would you call it justice, yes or no?


Regarding the sealing of the informative documents of both the city of residence of José Manuel González Testino, and the migratory movements of his wife, María Alejandra Díaz, the defense maneuvered for Judge Miller to grant the seal in March 2022. The defendant's lawyers argued that their client was concerned about his safety because Venezuela Política, a Spanish blog associated with Freedom Voice reports, had announced the release of the passports of González Testino's ex-wife, María Alejandra Díaz, to travel to Madrid and London.


Venezuela Politica by Maibort Petit
Venezuela Politica by Maibort Petit News Reporting used as an excuse for Judicial Favors

Previously, the court had granted other motions to seal the entries in the file containing private information, for example, DE 68, DE 86 and DE 107 for the same purpose.


In June 2021, José Manuel González Testino, also managed to get his wife benefited by the Court with the granting of a motion to temporarily release their passports to travel outside the U.S. It is noteworthy that, María Alejandra Díaz, wife of the accused, is the holder of two passports, one Venezuelan and one American, which are kept in the custody of the clerk of the Court of the Southern District of Texas-Houston Division.


In the Court system, does there exist equal rights of individual?


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On July 18, 2022, Gray H. Miller, judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas-Houston Division, in charge of the case being heard in that court between the United States of America as accuser and José Manuel González Testino, as defendant, granted the motion to postpone the sentence presented by the prosecution.


In this regard, Judge Miller ordered the postponement of González Testino's sentence until October 12, 2022 at 11:00 a.m.


The decision explains that, likewise, the deadlines associated with this action, establishing the expiration date for the preparation of the Preliminary Report for September 7, 2022; while the objections for September 21, 2022; and the final Preliminary Report will now expire on October 5, 2022.


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Sealing order

The judge, Gray Miller, granted the motion without opposition to file under seal for the temporary release of Maria Alejandra Diaz's passports and to allow her to travel.


Miller ordered the clerk of the Court to seal the unopposed petition of defendant José Manuel González-Testino for the temporary release of María Alejandra Díaz's passports and to allow her to travel.



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