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ACLU Sues Over CO Identity Theft Probe

Two follow-ups on a story we posted about last month, from Colorado’s Greeley Tribune.

First these tidings, from a couple of weeks ago:

Investigators in Weld County, Colo., seized confidential tax returns from the business Amalia Cerrillo runs out of her home, looking for people with fraudulent Social Security numbers.

ACLU sues Weld DA Ken Buck and Weld sheriff John Cooke

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The American Civil Liberties Union has made good on its threat to file a lawsuit against Weld County Sheriff John Cooke and Weld District Attorney Ken Buck, alleging their joint campaign to arrest illegal immigrants for identity theft violated privacy laws.

In a class action lawsuit filed in Weld District Court late Monday, the ACLU of Colorado argued that Cooke and Buck are violating the privacy rights of thousands of taxpayers by keeping copies of confidential information. That information was obtained in an illegal search, according to the ACLU, of Amalia’s Translation and Tax Service in Greeley as a part of the Operation Number Games campaign…

“It doesn’t surprise me that the ACLU is taking the side of illegal immigrants over the side of U.S. citizens who have become victims of identity theft,” Buck said Tuesday.

“You can take anything to absurdity, and that’s what they’re trying to do here,” he said

Prosecutors allege as many as 1,338 defendants used false or stolen Social Security numbers to work in Weld County, then obtained tax returns with Amalia’s help…

The ACLU complaint alleges the search of her records was illegal, was conducted way beyond the scope of its intent, and was conducted like a fishing expedition, exposing the confidential information of thousands of Amalia’s clients…

Buck and Cooke argue that they followed the law with the search, which was approved by Weld District Court judge Marcelo Kopcow.

“The law was followed. The warrant gave deputies the ability to search and to seize evidence of crime, and that’s what they did and continue to do,” Buck said. “The judge found it wasn’t a fishing expedition.”

Cooke agreed: “It’s based on probable cause. We had probable cause to believe there was evidence of other crimes. The judge looked at it and signed it. If a judge thinks it’s a fishing expedition, they don’t normally sign the warrant.” …

Cooke said the case infuriated him because it ignores the rights of victims of identity theft by illegal immigrants, and that the IRS and the federal government basically look the other way.

“We just can’t turn a blind eye to it,” Cooke said. “Someone’s got to take a stand. If the federal government is not going to do it because they don’t care, someone has to do the right thing and pursue it.”

And now this fitting reply from the District Attorney himself:

Fight with ACLU suits Buck to a ‘T’

Weld DA peddling shirts for legal defense fund

By Mike Peters

In his never-ending quest for truth, justice and the American way, Weld District Attorney Ken Buck has come up with a new idea: T-shirts attacking the American Civil Liberties Union.

Buck designed and paid for the first 160 of the new T-shirts, which have words on the front:

“The ACLU Sued My District Attorney & Sheriff”

And on the back:

“Weld County Standing Up For Americans” …

When told of the T-shirts on Friday, the Colorado ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein first said, “I’d like to know where I can get one of those shirts.” Then in a more serious comment, Silverstein added, “We believe the ACLU is standing up for America and the Constitution. That’s what this lawsuit is all about.”

Buck paid for the T-shirts himself, and said when the initial costs are covered by sales of the shirts, the remaining funds will go to the Weld County Defense Fund, which will be used to fight the ACLU case in court…

Buck said the shirts have been selling quickly. “I think I figured out the fiscal stimulus package,” he said. “Everybody is buying T-shirts.”

There are so many things to hate about the ACLU.

Not the least is the minor detail that IRS regulations supposedly prevent any taxpayer supported 501c3 “charity” from breaking US laws – or encouraging the breaking of US laws.

But we know they will never be called on this or any of their other destructive practices.

As Mr. Cooke noted above, when it comes to people out to destroy our nation, “the IRS and the federal government basically look the other way.”

Though, to be fair, ICE did raid the Swift meat packing plant in Greeley, Colorado back in December 2006, due to concerns of rampant identity theft by illegal aliens. (And undoubtedly the ACLU’s suit ultimately stems from that action against their constituents.)

Of course those days are gone perhaps forever with the new administration.

Meanwhile, we are paying the ACLU’s way through taxpayer subsidies and preposterous verdict awards.

By the way, back in November the Greeley Tribune also posted some of the numbers involved in this one identity theft operation.

A few numbers jumped out:

ID THEFT: By the numbers

November 14, 2008


Amount of federal tax dollars refunded in the tax returns that officials suspect are connected with illegal immigrants. This number is based on the 2006 and 2007 returns searched at the one tax preparer’s office in Greeley


The average earned income reported on the tax returns that officials suspect to be cases of identity theft…


Average refund declared on the tax returns.


Average amount of additional child tax credit received in the refunds.

No wonder the ACLU sees these people as Democrats in the making.


By the way, check out how the New York Times chose to this story:

Paying Taxes, and Fearing Deportation

Published: February 1, 2009

GREELEY, Colo. — For the past decade, thousands of Hispanic men and women who settled here went to Amalia’s Translation and Tax Services to pay their annual income taxes.

Whether these people were in the United States legally mattered little to Amalia Cerrillo, who runs the business out of her home in this northern Colorado farming town. The Internal Revenue Service, Ms. Cerrillo knew, requires everyone, regardless of immigration status, to pay taxes on income earned in this country.

“My clients wanted to do what any other American does,” Ms. Cerrillo said. “And they wanted to show that they paid their taxes if there is ever a chance for amnesty or a green card.”

That all changed Oct. 17, when investigators with the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, armed with a search warrant, seized thousands of confidential tax returns from Ms. Cerrillo’s business. They told her they were looking for people with fraudulent Social Security numbers, commonly used by illegal immigrants to get work…

The campaign is causing concern at the I.R.S., which says illegal immigrants paid almost $50 billion in taxes from 1996 to 2003, and among immigrants’ rights groups, which call the operation a thinly disguised attempt to root out illegal immigrants.

“For years, they said immigrants don’t pay taxes and are a burden on our system,” said Julie Gonzales, the political coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition…

You see, these were just hardworking people who wanted to pay their taxes.

What media bias?

(Thanks to BillK for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, February 9th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

16 Responses to “ACLU Sues Over CO Identity Theft Probe”

  1. BillK says:

    Sort of an update to this old story comes from the Greeley (CO) Tribune:

    Fight with ACLU suits Buck to a ‘T’

    Weld DA peddling shirts for legal defense fund

    By Mike Peters

    In his never-ending quest for truth, justice and the American way, Weld District Attorney Ken Buck has come up with a new idea: T-shirts attacking the American Civil Liberties Union…


    You’ve got to hand it to the guy.

    The article says that to order a T-Shirt, you need to contact the Weld County DA at kbuck@co.weld.co.us.

  2. pdsand says:

    Apparently according to the numbers they still weren’t “paying” taxes in so many words, they were eligible for child tax credits and presumably earned income credits, so they got back all they paid in and more. At least from what I know from doing my own taxes lo these many years, $27,771 in income usually results in no tax liability.

    And of course, it wasn’t a thinly disguised anything. He said right out front that he used the identity theft angle because the feds wouldn’t pursue them enough as just plain old hard working illegal immigrants.

    • gipper says:

      “…just plain old hard working illegal immigrants.”

      You forgot to add the phrase “who are doing jobs no American wants to do”.

  3. RightWinger says:

    “The campaign is causing concern at the I.R.S., which says illegal immigrants paid almost $50 billion in taxes from 1996 to 2003…”

    BS. How does the IRS know illegals paid taxes. Did it say on on their W-2s? (saracastic). Did they fill out their 1040s and write on the form they were illegally in the country? Or did the IRS figure this out with the number of documents that were used with stolen social-security numbers, thus indicating identity theft?

    Now if somebody said that between 1996 and 2003, $50 billion in cash was sent from illegals to their families in Mexico and central America, then I would of course believe that. Believing that illegals are busting down the door to pay taxes so they look good for obtaining a green card is absurd.

    • proreason says:

      7 billion in taxes a year (for about 7 million people, according to the INS’s 2000 estimate).

      1,000 in taxes a year.

      That covered about 1/20 th of the cost.

      Americans are SOOO generous.

    • pdsand says:

      “Believing that illegals are busting down the door to pay taxes so they look good for obtaining a green card is absurd.”
      That is 100% correct. The biggest lie in all of this illegal immigration debate is that these are little diehard would-be American patriots bum-rushing the border just because red-tape bureacrats stood in the way of them getting on a plane. These people love Mexico, and can’t wait to go back, they just want to get rich in America so they can go back and live right. Of course if they can save up 20-30k working in this country, they can go back there and be hot stuff.

  4. pharaohjoe says:

    “a thinly disguised attempt to root out illegal immigrants.”

    Talk about poisoning the well. By use of this phrase, the NYT is implying that the very act of ‘attempting to root out illegal immigrants’ is somehow nefarious or impermissible, such that the authorities have had to ‘disguise’ the attempt and the illegal alien supporters have shrewdly discovered the evil D.A.’s dastardly plot. It’s classic liberal rhetorical strategy: If you can’t win the argument, change the argument. If you can’t change the argument, change the words. If you can’t change the words, change their definitions.

    But hey, we’re all just a bunch of dumb, red-state rednecks who can’t possibly see through their B.S., right?

  5. pdsand says:

    Speaking of rhetoric, I never made it through a single indoctrination session in college using the word “they”. All my life I’ve heard liberals balk at the use of the words “they” or “them” as cop-outs, and attempts to convey a sense of “other” or less than. See “that one”.
    But you know, during the ongoing Obama campaign and in the news throughout the last few weeks, I’ve never heard so much use of the “they” and “those people” bogeyman as has been coming from liberals, and the supposedly eloquent Obama.
    I guess that little rhetorical gem is OK when used to refer to the vast right-wing conspiracy.

  6. Right of the People says:

    Close the borders, hunt down the illegals and deport them! Let CBP and ICE do their jobs for once and get rid of the touchy feely immigration judges who let the “illegals” free on their own recognizance until their hearings. We could open up some “temporary” holding areas to hold them until we could deport them similar to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail in Arizona, probably be better than the third world s**thole they left to come here. If they want to come to America, they should have to fill out the paperwork and pay the fees like all of the LEGAL aliens have. I have nothing against legal immigration. Okay, I’m going to take my meds now and get my blood pressure under control. 10-7

  7. heykev says:

    I had a consulting job where I helped validate hearing testing for a company. This company mainly provided hearing tests for large meat processors. I was constantly amazed at how many times we’d get bogus ID’s – We'[d use SSN to make sure we were providing/compairing tests for the same person. Apparently the same person was working at MANY of the processing plants, or within the same plant. Here’s the part that got me incensed. I’d call up the nurse (or HR dept) to try and get these straightened out. They are fully aware they are employing illegal immigrants, but didn’t care. It was part of their whole business plan. To make a long story short. it’s was still a problem when I left and no one I talked too ever cared that they were employing illegal immigrants. Illegal Immigration could be stopped almost overnight if Management was was fined a significant amount for EACH person they hire whose here illegally. A few years ago, ICE raided a meat processing plant in Northern IL. sending many back to their country or origin. THE NEXT DAY there was several 100 peoplelined up to take their jobs. So it is a lie that no one will take those jobs…

  8. TwilightZoned says:

    “Illegal Immigration could be stopped almost overnight if Management was was fined a significant amount for EACH person they hire whose here illegally.”

    Damn straight HK!

  9. brad says:

    YOU have got to be dingin’ me if you think I would wear a t-shirt in support of a lawyer….no matter how right they might be. These same enemies-of-the-people, will turn around and screw you for every dime you have! I hope they do get sued….good! How does that feel to be unjustly accused for a change?—not too good is it?

    • Liberals Demise says:

      I, too, loathe lawyers for they are money grubbing, goat roping, garbage hauling, back stabbing, cork screwing, two faced, roadkill eating, John Edwards, lying testicle foddlers!!

      ” I got my ass handed to me by the ACLU and all they left me was this lousy tee shirt!”
      A fine example that lawyers eat their dead!!

  10. Reality Bytes says:

    For you Newbies to S&L – the Reality Bytes Immigration Reform Act:

    1. Immigration Processing & Fee Collection by EZ Pass

    (anyone who can tell who blows through a toll at 90 without paying a toll, can find where they live & send them a bill can keep track of a Mexican humping it on foot through a dried out river bed

    2. Border Fence Construction by Halliburton

    (just to piss off liberals really, but Donald Trump was a close second)

    3. Border Enforcement by Blackwater

    (cause they got really cool black uniforms with matching Chevy Suburbans – even when it’s 140 degrees out – although I have to say, I’d be happy contracting the Israeli Defense Force to do secure our borders. They’re doing a hell of a job).

    Now, if you’re an immigrant, you filled out your EZ Pass application correctly, pay your toll, respect the border, get a job, pay your taxes & generally make a good contribution to American Society, you’re in. But don’t make trouble, cause if you hurt or kill anyone, the RB Immigration Reform act also includes the reinstatement of public hangings (Hell, what do you expect? What do you want? Kill prisoners behind closed doors like we’re ashamed of it?!)

  11. brad says:


    Buck designed and paid for the first 160 of the new T-shirts……

    Yeah, when they are screwing you, running up the charges, destroying your competitive chances at a job, so a sheriff and prosecutor can get “W”s in their column, they keep their title.

    When the idiotic (sometimes they are right) ACLU screws them over, lays down injustice upon THEM to get a few “W”s here and there, SUDDENLY, these same F*cktards become MY D.A. and MY Sheriff.

    Two jerkbag entities strangling each other, I can hardly contain my GLEE!

    Oh and, yeah buddy, when YOU have to buy the first 160 t-shirts, it is safe to say the public is not on your side really. Crash and Burn suckers!

  12. brj1212 says:

    Identity theft is a big problem these days. In times of recession people will stoop to ultimate lows to make money for their families. I found some good ways to prevent identity theft in this article. I hope it helps you too


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