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Jeanfromfillmore
01-30-2010, 01:34 PM
Former ICE Agent Fights To Get His Job Back
Voorhis Lost Job After He Leaked Info From Criminal Database
DENVER -- A former Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who lost his job after information he provided from a restricted criminal database became part of a campaign ad in 2006 has become sort of a folk hero. He has inspired verses set to song and hours of discussion on Denver talk radio.
Now, Cory Voorhis is fighting to get his job back, and drew more than 50 supporters to a two-day hearing that began Wednesday.
Voorhis was acquitted in April 2008 of misdemeanor federal charges of illegally accessing a database. He provided Gov. Bill Ritter's challenger Bob Beauprez information about the identities of illegal immigrants who struck deals with Ritter while he was Denver's district attorney, allowing them to plead to lesser crimes to avoid deportation.
The case however continues to linger in Colorado politics. Last month, former campaign aide and Ritter staffer Stephanie Villafuerte withdrew her name from consideration for Colorado U.S. attorney after senators began asking about the Voorhis case.
Voorhis's criminal defense team claimed that Villafuerte accessed the same database but wasn't prosecuted. Those allegations were never proven and Villafuerte has denied wrongdoing.
"Cory's not the bad guy," said Bob Beauprez, who was Colorado's Representative from the 7th Congressional District and running for governor at the time.
"The wrong that Cory blew the whistle on? Where did that issue go?" Beauprez said Wednesday outside the hearing.
In arguing for his job before an ICE Merit System Protection Board judge, Voorhis said he was following internal policy that allows ICE agents to disclose information to congressmen as well as to local political and business leaders.
Central to his defense is a claim by Voorhis that ICE supervisors knew about the disclosure of the information but didn't do anything about it, in effect approving it.
During the hearing before Washington-based Administrative Judge Jeremiah Cassidy, ICE officials said Voorhis was fired because he accessed internal databases, disclosed the information to a campaign, and misused his post.
"What this case is about is whether he misused his position to further the interests of a political campaign," ICE attorney Robert Erbe said.
Erbe said that Voorhis met with Beauprez campaign manager John Marshall, as well as with Trailhead, a Republican political group founded in 2005 by Republicans Gov. Bill Owens, beer magnate Pete Coors and GOP fundraiser Bruce Benson. Voorhis was given a list of names to check out and later gave the results to Marshall, according to testimony at the hearing.
"He should have known that he was talking to the campaign office," Erbe said.
That nonpublic information initially allowed the Beauprez campaign to connect the dots on an illegal immigrant who used aliases and went on to commit a sexual assault in California after accepting the Denver plea deal, which became the basis of a campaign ad alleging Ritter was soft on crime.
Voorhis attorney Tom Muthers questioned the credibility of two supervisors in the Denver ICE office who denied that Voorhis informed them of the disclosure. At the very least, Muthers argued that ICE's policy on disclosing information to members of Congress and other officials is unclear.
The hearing was to continue Thursday, with Voorhis set to testify in his defense. Cassidy was expected to issue a ruling in about 45 days.
http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/22366561/detail.html