Quixotic Prosecutor Indicts Cheney in Texas

Article excerpt


It's not unheard of in Willacy County, Texas, for bitter political rivals to threaten one another with criminal prosecution, but it was taken to new levels this week when the district attorney indicted on corruption charges Vice President Dick Cheney, former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and several long-standing political enemies.

And if that wasn't enough, a judge Wednesday evening scheduled arraignments for Mr. Cheney, Mr. Gonzales and the other state and county officials. Judge Manuel Banales said the defendants could waive their appearance in court Friday and issued summonses instead of warrants so that they would not be arrested and have to post bond.

In another bizarre twist, Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra was a no-show in court Wednesday, prompting Judge Banales to order the Texas Rangers to go find him.

Reached by phone late Wednesday, Mr. Guerra said he had a prior obligation to speak at Nuevo Leon University law school in Mexico and did not know about Wednesday's hearing. He suggested the court's holding it so quickly indicated that the defendants are receiving special consideration.

Some already dismissed the case as hopelessly political, the latest in tit-for-tat between Mr. Guerra and his rivals.

Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence told The Washington Times that Mr. Guerra, who lost the Democratic primary in March and will leave office after three terms in January, frequently threatened rivals with prosecution. Sheriff Spence counts himself among those who have been threatened.

Usually, it's just people that disagree with the way he's done things, and then you've moved to the top of his hit list, Sheriff Spence said. I'm in my 25th year as sheriff, and I haven't seen anything like this.

He said Mr. Guerra likes drawing attention to himself and is a polarizing figure in Willacy County. …