3 Deming Family Members Convicted of False Statements

LAS CRUCES -- A federal jury on Wednesday convicted three members of a Deming family of making false statements on federal forms during an undercover sting last year at their firearms store.

Ryin Reese, 24, was convicted of two counts of making false statements in connection with the acquisition of fire arms while his father, Rick Reese, 56, and mother, Terri Reese, 49, were convicted of one count.

The counts stemmed from three sales in June 2011 and July 2011 at New Deal Shooting Sports in Deming, in which a government informant and undercover federal agents posing as straw purchasers bought firearms and ammunition 

Jurors acquitted them and another family member on all counts of conspiracy, gun smuggling and five other counts of making false statements. Ryin Reese's brother, Remington Reese, 20, was acquitted on all counts, and was released from custody. Meanwhile, Terri Reese remains free, while Rick and Ryin Reese are in federal custody.

Sentencing will take place later before U.S. District Judge Robert C. Brack. Each false-statement count carries a two- to five-year sentence in federal prison.

Though the jury acquitted the Reeses on 24 of 28 counts, defense attorneys said Wednesday that they were "disappointed" and would be evaluating their options, including the possibility of appeals.

"I wanted acquittals across the board," said defense lawyer Robert Gorence, who represented Rick Reese.

"I'm disappointed because I thought Terri was not guilty of anything. We'll analyze the law, the facts and go from there," said attorney Brad Hall, who represented her.

"Of course we wanted a complete acquittal. We didn't feel they did anything wrong," said attorney Jason Bowles, who defended Ryin Reese.

Bowles said the verdicts, while disappointing for the defense team, still disproved prosecutors' accusations that the Reeses were knowingly involved in selling firearms and ammunition to straw purchasers who were arming Mexican cartels across the border.

The government's case was based in large part on the testimony of José Roman, a mid-level associate of the Juárez cartel and frequent customer at New Deal. He implicated the Reese family after he was arrested on federal marijuana distribution charges in January 2011.

Roman accompanied federal agents in six undercover buys at New Deal from April 2011 to July 2011, during which the defendants sold 34 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition to the undercover agents, according to testimony.

The defense team argued that the Reeses followed all legal procedures during the undercover sales and that the defendants kept detailed records of every transaction in their store. Defense lawyers also noted that Terri Reese contacted law enforcement after a suspicious transaction in 2010, which investigators later linked to Roman.

In pretrial arguments, the defense team attacked the government's case as politically motivated, suggesting that the investigation was designed to counter the fallout from the bungled Operation Fast and Furious, in which firearms were allowed to be smuggled into Mexico under the eye of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents.

Posted:   08/02/2012 12:00:00 AM MDT

By Brian Fraga \ Las Cruces Sun-News

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