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Sludge slinging moves to courthouse

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1996 - New York sludge being spread on rangeland near Sierra
Blanca has resulted in mud slinging in the new federal courthouse in

Ten attorneys for Merco Joint Venture, et al, and the people they accuse
of defaming their good name by televising sludge stories, gathered in
Senior Judge Lucius Bunton's courtroom Thursday to hash out pre-trial

After granting the motion to dismiss Sierra Blanca store owner Willard
Robert Addington Jr. from the $30.5 million damage suit, Judge Bunton
set the jury trial for March 4. He said it is estimated to take five
(maybe six) days.

Attorneys for both sides have set up offices in the Holiday Inn, where
they have reserved most of the 98 rooms for the parties, attorneys and

Defendants are Hugh B. Kaufman, an employee of the Environmental
Protection Agency in Washington D.C.; Tri-State Broadcasting Company
Inc. of El Paso; Roy Sekoff, a reporter for "TV Nation" and Sony
Pictures Entertainment Inc., headquartered in Culver City, Calif.

Merco has a contract with the city of New York to collect biosolids
(sludge) from wastewater treatment plants after it has been sanitized by
anaerobic digestion. It is de-watered to the consistency of wet peat
moss before shipment by rail.

Sludge is applied as fertilizer to rangeland near Sierra Blanca to
revitalize arid grassland. Once land-applied, biosolids supply essential
elements and nutrients for plant growth, and moisture, while acting as a
soil conditioner to facilitate nutrient transport, increase water
retention, improve soil cultivation and reduce the need for
petroleum-based chemical fertilizers, Merco claims.

The suit stems from a story broadcast by "TV Nation" throughout the
country on NCB affiliates Aug. 2, 1994. Merco's Sierra Blanca operation
was dubbed "Sludge Train."

Merco claims the broadcast included numerous sensationalized defamatory
and disparaging statements by the defendants regarding Merco and the
sludge project.

The statements were false and were made with actual malice and a
reckless disregard for the truth, Merco alleges in the suit.

During the broadcast, Sekoff stated that biosolids applied in the Merco
project contain "high levels of lead, mercury and PCB's," the petition

Merco claims that testing has shown levels of PBC's and heavy metals are
well below applicable regulatory safe levels.

Kaufman allegedly said the sludge is not allowed to be disposed of or
used for beneficial use in the state of New York, and it's not allowed
in Texas either.

He called the "illegal haul and dump operation" a masquerade and that
"the people in Texas are being poisoned."

Merco quotes from a letter issued by the Texas Natural Resources
Conservation Commission Nov. 17, 1992 stating that biosolids applied in
the Merco project are not hazardous wastes and that Merco is operating
according to their rules.

In addition, EPA Region 6 issued a letter Oct. 2, 1992 stating that
there is no significant possibility that public health or the
environment will suffer adverse effects from the six-year project.

During the broadcast, Addington implied that Merco committed arson by
setting fire to his lumberyard, the suit alleges, and he has made and/or
published numerous other false statements regarding the Merco project.

TV Nation did not use interviews it made with Sierra Blanca residents
who spoke favorably of the project, Merco said in its original petition.

Filings since that time have filled numerous folders in the office of
district clerk, making a stack three feet high.

Agent move hurts border efforts

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From staff and wire reports

MARFA - Temporary duty in Arizona and California for seven Border Patrol
agents in the Marfa Sector will affect operations in this area, said
Rudy Rodriguez, assistant chief.

"Anytime we have people temporarily assigned, it runs us short,"
Rodriguez said. "But we try to send people on temporary duty where
stations won't be impacted too bad."

He said no decision has been made who will be deployed to California and
Arizona to help deflect an expected tide of illegal immigrants eager to
cross into the United States.

U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla is worried that Texas will be shortchanged in
the deal when 51 agents are temporarily re-assigned.

All 51 are from Bonilla's sprawling West Texas district, which accounts
for 900 miles of the entire 2,100-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

The Texans are part of a contingent of 300 Border Patrol agents,
inspectors and investigators being transferred from posts throughout the
United States to California and Arizona as part of a 90-day initiative
designed to thwart the seasonal rise in illegal immigration.

``Although I sympathize with the objectives of this temporary transfer
and the difficult decisions confronting the Immigration and
Naturalization Service, I am dismayed by the fact that Texas must carry
such a large share of the burden,'' Bonilla wrote INS Commissioner Doris
Meissner in a letter released Monday by his office.

Twenty-two agents apiece are being shifted from the Laredo and Del Rio
sectors, along with seven agents from the Marfa sector. None of the
agents are expected to spend more than 30 days at their temporary

Noting that the 51 agents represent 17 percent of the total Border
Patrol staff deployed in his district, Bonilla added: ``My ultimate
concern is that the Border Patrol mission in Texas is not compromised in
order to place a few hundred agents on temporary detail.''

But the Immigration and Naturalization Service says Texas isn't getting
short shrift.

The INS isn't ignoring Texas or leaving its border exposed, agency
spokesman Robert Stieve said Monday.

``In no way are we doing that,'' Stieve said. ``Texas is a very high
priority with the INS and the Border Patrol.''

Last year, the INS detailed 300 new Border Patrol agents to Texas along
with funding for new vehicles, night-vision scopes and other
technologies to improve border surveillance, Stieve noted.

Rodriguez said that 13 of those agents were assigned to the Sierra
Blanca checkpoint, bringing the total in the Marfa Sector to 130.

Sixty percent of all illegal entries occur in California and Arizona,
accounting for the INS' renewed focus on the region, Stieve said. Last
year, the INS made 1.3 million illegal alien apprehensions, up 200,000
from the year before.

The latest operation, estimated to cost $2.6 million for the first 30
days, is being funded through the Violent Crime Control Trust Fund, not
routine INS appropriations.

The temporary additions will be replaced by mid-April with some of the
1,000 new Border Patrol officers being hired and trained this year.

California's Border Patrol force is being supplemented by 177 temporary
additions, while Arizona is gaining 73 Border Patrol agents. Another 50
are being deployed for anti-smuggling operations at five airports.

Furgeson frees Fort Stockton suspect

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PECOS, 1996 - U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson has granted a motion to
suppress evidence and freed a Fort Stockton man charged with possession
with intent to distribute 458 pounds of marijuana.

Joe Ben Garcia, 31, was arrested July 30, 1995 near the Boquillas Canyon
parking lot in the Big Bend National Park, 100 yards from the Rio Grande.

Defense attorney Mike Barclay of Alpine said in his motion to suppress
and supporting brief that a Border Patrol agent stopped the van Garcia
was driving as it left the parking lot because he suspected it was
carrying drugs.

However, Barclay said the agent's suspicions were based on several
factors: a man emerged from a footpath to ask the van driver about
objects in the van; the parking lot is located near the border with
Mexico and such parking lots are used by drug traffickers.

None of those factors forms the basis for a legal stop and search,
Barclay argued, and Judge Furgeson agreed.

Garcia had been held in Reeves County Jail since October, when he
violated terms of his pre-trial release. The hearing on motion to
suppress was held Nov. 8, 1995, and Judge Furgeson filed his ruling Jan.

Shafter woman sues county judge, officer

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PECOS, 1995 - Presidio County, former Presidio County Judge Monroe Elms
and Robert Clarke, a former Border Patrol officer, are named in a civil
damage suit filed in U.S. District Court by Dana Adams of Shafter.

Adams claims that Elms and Clarke violated her civil rights by having
her arrested on a charge of harassment June 18, 1994.

The charge, which was later dismissed, resulted from Adams' holding a
victory party for Jake Brisbin Jr., who defeated Elms for the position
of county judge, the suit alleges.

Clarke, who lived next door to Adams at the time of the party, alleged
in the harassment complaint that Adams carried out a malicious campaign
to damage his character and reputation and to hurt him professionally by
"wantonly spreading rumors throughout the area concerning his private
conduct; and by reporting such activities to his supervisor in El Paso."

Adams denies that charge and claims her arrest and "malicious
prosecution" caused her severe emotional and psychological trauma. She
seeks $750,000 in actual and punitive damages from the county, Elms and
Clarke; and $100,000 each from Elms and Clarke individually.

Elms is now employed by a school in Rowena, and Clarke is with the U.S.
Customs Enforcement Division in Deming, N.M., the complaint states.

Odessa attorney Melissa Hirsch filed the suit on Adams' behalf.

Guided tours of courthouse

on grand opening slate

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1996 - Grand opening for the new federal courthouse is March 15,
District Judge Royal Furgeson said today.

Judge Furgeson met with a committee of local officials and court
personnel at noon today to outline the program.

Official opening hours for the public are 12 noon to 2 p.m., with guided
tours of the two-story building by Pecos Chamber of Commerce
Ambassadors. Oscar Saenz, Anchor West general manager, offered to
provide snacks.

Chief District Judge Harry Lee Hudspeth, Senior Judge Lucius Bunton,
District Judge David Briones and other judges in the Western District of
Texas are expected to attend.

Officials and federal agency department heads from all 10 counties in
the Pecos Division will also be invited.

In their honor, the committee will host a catered barbecue dinner for
invited guests in the Reeves County Civic Center the previous evening.
Then at 11 a.m. on March 15, they will convene in the district courtroom
for a formal dedication ceremony.

Mayor Dot Stafford proposed a time capsule to be assembled by school
children and deposited in the courthouse.

Saenz said he would also work with schools to publicize the grand
opening by creating posters to be displayed throughout Pecos.

Originally scheduled for Jan. 26, the grand opening was delayed by
late-arriving furnishings, Judge Furgeson said.

"The furniture was supposed to be here in December; then January; now
they say it will be here by the end of February," he said.

Furnishings from the old federal courtroom and offices in the Post
Office are in use now, but Judge Furgeson said he wants to have new
furnishings in place for the grand opening.

Escapee admits departing RCDC

without permission

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Staff Writer

PECOS, 1996 - U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson on Monday accepted a
plea of guilty of escape from an inmate at the Reeves County Detention
Center, along with another for marijuana possession and sentenced a
third to five years in prison.

Ismael Chavez-Romero of Mexico pleaded guilty to "departing the Reeves
County Detention Center without permission" on July 7, 1995.

He had been convicted of illegal re-entry after deportation and was
serving a 21-month sentence at the time of his escape. Judge Furgeson
set sentencing for March 25.

Jorge Margarito Baeza pleaded guilty to possession with intent to
distribute marijuana on Nov. 7, 1995.

He was arrested by a Border Patrol agent who was on routine patrol near

Acting on a tip that someone was smuggling marijuana into the United
States from Mexico in hollow posts, the agent stopped Baeza's pickup 10
miles from the border.

When he shook one of the 4"x4" posts in the back of Baeza's pickup, the
agent felt something moving inside. Breaking it open, he found a package
containing a green leafy substance that later tested positive for

Baeza admitted knowing that 305 pounds of marijuana was inside the
hollow posts, and said he was going to deliver them to another

Sentencing was set for March 25.

Michael A. Woods was sentenced to 60 months in prison plus five years
supervised release for possession with intent to distribute cocaine base
on Nov. 23, 1994.

Judge Furgeson took under advisement a motion for summary judgment in a
civil damage suit filed by Sharon Ann Pittman against Family Medical
Center of Monahans, etal.

Pittman claims that Dr. William Davison sexually harassed her at the
center, where he filled in without charge for Dr. G.R. Albertson. Dr.
Albertson is owner of several area "Weigh of Life" clinics, which
Pittman also named as defendant.

Defense attorney AnnMarie Washington said that Weigh of Life deserves
summary judgment because Davison is not an employee.

James Bolderick, attorney for Pittman, said he would not object to the
suit being remanded to state court if Judge Furgeson grants the motion.
He has 30 days to rule.

Smiles greet news of magistrate's transfer

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1996 - Smiles on every face in the federal courthouse this
morning reflected the good news that Pecos may once again have a
resident U.S. magistrate judge.

Judge Louis Guirola Jr. of Midland has accepted a lateral transfer to
Hattiesburg, Miss., where he attended school and practiced law before
entering the federal system as an assistant U.S. attorney.

He came to the Pecos and Midland-Odessa divisions Jan. 1, 1993 from
Beaumont, where he served as AUSA from 1990-93.

While the new full-time magistrate position's duty station is Pecos,
with Midland-Odessa the secondary station, Judge Guirola chose to live
in Midland and establish an office there.

He hired a law clerk and secretary who live in Midland, but his
courtroom deputy, Johnny Terrazas, is stationed in the clerk's office in
Pecos. Guirola has sought for the past year to have that position moved
to Midland, as well.

Judge Guirola's duties as a full-time magistrate differ from those of
the part-time magistrates who formerly served both divisions. He is
authorized to handle some felony criminal matters for the district
judge, as well as all civil cases referred to him by the district judge
with the consent of both parties.

"I handle all criminal preliminary matters in both divisions, as well as
civil matters referred by the district judges," Guirola said today.

"I have my own consent docket in civil matters that have come to me
through district judges. I almost stand in the place of the district
judge in consent matters."

That consent docket may prevent Judge Guirola from moving on April 1 as
planned, because he has numerous cases to dispose of in the
Midland-Odessa division.

"I am trying to get it wrapped up as much as possible," he said.

Judge Royal Furgeson routinely refers all civil matters to the

However, Senior Judge Lucius Bunton continues to accept about half the
civil cases filed in Pecos.

"I enjoy civil cases," Judge Guirola said. "I tend to enjoy almost all
of it, really."

While he looks forward to returning to Mississippi, Judge Guirola said
he has been very happy in West Texas.

"It has been a great experience. Pecos has been a great experience. I am
happy to have been part of the history there," he said. "What I am going
to cherish most about Pecos is the transition from the old courthouse to
the new courthouse and the oppportunity to become part of that history;
particularly with the opportunity to try the last case in the old
courthouse and the first case in the new courthouse."

The new courthouse is "very nice - ample," he said. "I am sure it is an
advancement for the clerks office and for the marshal's office, who
needed extra space."

Although he shared a courtroom in the Post Office with the district
judge, Guirola said he never had any difficulty getting his part of the
business done.

"A few times I had to wait for the district judge. But we could work
around the district judge's schedule."

Guirola said the magistrate's courtroom and chambers in the new
courthouse are the nicest he has ever seen, "and I have seen a bunch of

District Judge Royal Furgeson said he has appointed a committee of 19
persons from the Pecos and Midland-Odessa divisions to screen applicants
and make a recommendation to the court for a new magistrage judge.

He said that a public notice will be published nationwide to invite

"It is a broad-based, diverse committee," Judge Furgeson said.

He expects the screening process to take several months.

"I am hoping we will have a replacement in June or July," he said.
"Even after the committee makes a recommendation, the person will have
to go through an FBI check."

In the interim period between Guirola's departure and the new
magistrate's arrival, the district judges can fill in as magistrate, or
Judge Katherine Baker of Alpine may be asked to serve the two divisions,
Judge Furgeson said.

"I will talk to Judge Bunton and Chief Judge Harry Lee Hudspeth about
how we will do this," he said.

Judge Furgeson had high praise for Judge Guirola.

"I feel like Judge Guirola has done an outstanding job, and we we will
miss him - but we wish him well," he said.

Repeat border crosser stuck in cell

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1996 - One Mexican citizen who kept coming back to the United
States after being deported will stay longer this time than he really
wanted to.

Senior Judge Lucius Bunton on Monday sentenced Eleutorio Zubia-Melendez,
36, to 84 months in prison, plus three years supervised release.

Zubia and his attorney, Anthony Foster, asked for mercy from the judge
who had notified them that he was considering a sentence higher than the
federal sentencing guidelines recommends.

"Since I already did this, I have to face reality and ask you to give me
the least possible time," Zubia said. "It is never too late to change
your way of life."

Foster said that Zubia has been cooperative since his arrest, waiving a
detention hearing, preliminry examination and indictment to plead guilty
to re-entry after being deported.

"We have not come in here with thousands of objections to the
pre-sentence investigation to tie up the court's time," Foster said.
"Mr. Zubia wants to do his time and take his punishment. He recognizes
that he needs to return to Mexico and stay there."

Besides federal charges, Zubia faces state charges in Brewster County,
Foster said.

"Basically, he's a farmer and that's all he knows. Unfortunately, the
situation in Mexico is such that if somebody comes to you and offers you
some money to help you amount to something, it is awfully tempting," he

He handed Judge Bunton a letter from Brewster County jailer Pam Spence,
who said that Zubia has been a model inmate since his arrest June 13,
1995 on immigration and drug charges.

"He has worked in the jail and assisted with the new jail under
construction without complaint or hesitation," Spence said.

"Spence does not hand these out willy-nilly," Foster said. "She's a hard

Despite that, Judge Bunton said that because Zubia has an extensive
criminal record and has been involved in other offenses not relating to
immigration, a stiff sentence is appropriate.

He recommended Zubia be incarcerated at La Tuna, near El Paso, where his
family can visit.

Judge Bunton sentenced Richard Yerxa to 30 months in prison and three
years supervised release for possession with intent to distribute

Fidencio Guzman-Lopez was sentenced to seven months in prison and one
year supervised release for re-entry after deportation.

Judge Bunton revoked Lorenzo Pearson's supervised release and ordered
him incarcerated for nine months.

U.S. Magistrate Louis Guirola Jr. has three cases on his docket for
arraignment Thursday, and will accept indictments returned by the grand
jury, which meets at 10 a.m.

A Pomona, Calif. man who appeared before Alpine magistrate Katherine
Baker Monday may be among those considered by the grand jury.

Luis Alberto Gutierrez-Diaz, 39, is charged with possession with intent
to distribute 130 pounds of marijuana.

U.S. Magistrate sought

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1996 - Applications are being accepted for U.S. Magistrate Judge
for the Pecos and Midland-Odessa Divisions.

The current annual salary of the position is $122,912, and the term of
office is eight years, beginning July 1.

Duties include trial and disposition of misdemeanor criminal cases,
trial of civil cases upon consent of the litigants, conduct of most
preliminry proceedings in felony criminal cases and conduct of pretrial
proceedings in civil matters.

To be considered for appointmnent, an applicant must have been a member
in good standing of the bar for five years, be competent to perform all
the duties of the office, of good moral character, emotionally stable
and mature, committed to equal justice under the law, in good health,
patient and courteous and capable of deliberation and decisiveness.

He or she must be less than 70 years of age and not related to a judge
of the district court.

District Judge Royal Furgeson has appointed a merit selection panel of
attorneys and other members of the community to review applications and
recommend to judges of the Western District of Texas those applicants
best qualified for the position.

Application forms may be obtained from the U.S. district clerk's office,
410 S. Cedar St. Deadline for application is March 28.

Seven defendants indicted

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1996 - Six of seven defendants indicted Thursday by the federal
grand jury are charged with violating drug laws. The seventh is charged
with illegal re-entry after being deported on a drug conviction.

Jorge Homero Urquidi-Garcia, 27, of Presidio, is charged with two counts
of distribution of heroin in October, 1995. If convicted, he could be
sentenced to 15 years in prison on each count, plus three years
supervised release and $250,000 fine.

Olivia Lea Wilson, 32, and Mary Louise Payne-Yanez, 41, both of Fort
Collins, Colo., are charged with importation of marijuana and possession
with intent to distribute marijuana, more than 100 kilograms, on Jan.
28. If convicted, they face prison terms of 5-40 years, minimum four
years supervised release and a fine of up to $2 million on each count.

Luis Alberto Gutierrez-Diaz, 39, is charged with possession with intent
to distribute marijuana, more than 50 kilograms, on Feb. 3. His sentence
could be 20 years in prison, three years supervised release minimum and
a $1 million fine.

Victor Gonzalez-Quintela, 37, of Odessa, is charged with possession with
intent to distribute marijuana on Jan. 17. Because he allegedly had more
than 100 kilograms of marijuana in his possession, the sentence range is
5-40 years in prison, minimum four years supervised release and a $2
million fine.

Shirley Ann Jaramillo, 46, of Loveland, Colo., is charged with importing
and possessing with intent to distribute marijuana (more than 50
kilograms) on Aug. 18, 1995. If convicted, she could be sentenced to 20
years in prison, three years supervised release minimum and a $1 million

Ruben Garcia-Hinojos, 50, of Odessa, is charged with illegal re-entry
after being deported on his conviction for the aggravated felony offense
of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin.

His conviction was July 13, 1988 in Ector County, the grand jury alleges.

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1996 - Senior Judge Lucius Bunton on Thursday granted a temporary
restraining order to stop the sale of Stewart Title Guaranty Co. of Fort
Davis and set a hearing in Pecos for noon Feb. 20 on a permanent

Stewart Title Guaranty Co. filed a petition to stop the sale planned by
Richard Lance McLaren, individually and as purported "Class Demandant,"
"Chief Ambassador and Consul General of Republic of Texas," and Upper
Limpia Basin Trust, a.k.a. Upper Limited Basin Common Law Trust, and the
purported "Republic of Texas."

Judge Bunton granted the plaintiff's request to issue the TRO without
notice. Plaintiff's allege in the petition that the purported "Republic
of Texas" is a para-military "militia," and a visitor to McLaren's rural
property in Jeff Davis County might be in extreme danger.

Border agents reel in pot

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Staff Writer
MARFA, 1996 - February has been a "fruitful" month for the U.S. Border
Patrol, who has seized 1,400 pounds of marijuana at various locations
throughout the Marfa Sector, said sector chief Richard Morrissey.

The largest seizure was 900 pounds found in the bed of a pickup crossing
the Rio Grande at La Linda Saturday.

Jose Alfredo Jiminez-Gutierrez, 31, a resident alien living in Fort
Stockton, was arrested and charged before U.S. Magistrate Judge
Katherine Baker in Alpine. She ordered the suspect detained without bail.

Also Saturday, agents at the Marfa checkpoint seized 37 pounds of
marijuana found inside the rear doors of a four-door sedan. One U.S.
citizen from Portales, N.M. was arrested.

On Sunday, agents at the Alpine Station arrested a U.S. citizen from
Colorado and seized 73 pounds of marijuana concealed inside the gas tank
of a Chevrolet Suburban. The suspect said he was enroute to Odessa to
deliver the vehicle and marijuana.

A Guatemalan national was arrested on Feb. 2 at the Marfa checkpoint,
and agents seized 130 pounds of marijuana from the compartmented gas
tank of his Chevrolet pickup. The suspect said he was returning to
California to deliver the marijuana.

Agents at Sierra Blanca made two seizures totaling 181 pounds, Morrissey

On Feb. 5, agents found 17 pounds of marijuana concealed inside a
carry-on bag in the upper luggage rack of a commercial bus. The owner of
the bag, a resident alien from Los Angeles, Calif., was located on the
bus and arrested.

On Feb. 6, agents seized 164 pounds of marijuana from a U.S. citizen
from Tucson, Ariz. He was driving a Chevrolet pickup, and agents found
marijuana concealed under a cowboy sleerper in the bed of the truck
after a drug dog alerted to the area.

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1996 - Tight security at the United States Courthouse this
morning was "just in case" trouble erupted with a milita-type group
claiming to represent the Republic of Texas and other groups who was
summoned for a noon hearing before Senior Judge Lucius Bunton.

Judge Bunton granted a temporary injunction to stop the sale of
Houston-based Stewart Title and Guaranty Co. by Richard Lance McLaren,
individually and as purported "Class Demandant," "Chief Ambassador and
Consul General of Republic of Texas," and Upper Limpia Basin Trust,
a.k.a. Upper Limited Basin Common Law Trust, and the purported "Republic
of Texas."

McLaren failed to appear for the hearing, in which John C. Martin of
Stewart Title was the sole witness.

Martin said he does not know why McLaren chose to target Stewart Title,
unless it is because the company provides title insurance only in Texas.
He said that as far as he knew, his company had not insured any property
for the defendants.

In his notice of deed claim against properties of Stewart Title in
Texas, McLaren sought to represent a class of plaintiffs living in the
Upper Davis Mountains, known as Davis Mountains Resort.

Claimants suffered financial loss due to bad title or surveys,
environmental degradation, including bad roads; and costs of litigation,
he said. He placed the value at $10 million in silver, lawful money of
the United States or 10 million pieces of silver coin containing 371.25
grains (troy) of fine silver.

To satisfy the lien, McLaren planned to sell all bonds, furniture,
automobiles, lands, real estate, cash, investments, title plants,
electronic data equipment, income and land or buildings in Galveston and
Houston that belong to Stewart Title on Feb. 13.

Judge Bunton earlier granted a temporary restraining order halting the

Michael Morgan represented Stewart Title in today's hearing, asking that
each entity McLaren purports to represent be enjoined from conducting
the sale or conducting any further proceedings in any court.

"We are asking you to be the gatekeeper for a series of allegations and
filings we anticipate from the defendant," Morgan told Judge Bunton.

Judge Bunton said that the defendants returned a court summons marked
"refused" by Joseph C. Van Kirk as President of the Republic of Texas.
Attached was a stack of documents 4 inches high, including a notice to
debtor, Gov. George W. Bush.

"I don't know what he owes," Judge Bunton said.

Morgan said that the clerk's office this morning received "A declaration
of people for institutions of citizens grand juries," with the seal of
"The Republic of Texas."

"It sounds ominous," he said, quoting from the letter: "This is the last
notice before indictment and prosecution."

That action is in violation of Judge Bunton's restraining order
prohibiting defendants from holding any hearings or lawsuits under the
Republic of Texas, Morgan said.

"It is clear to us that defendants intend to continue with some kind of
kangaroo court proceedings without first telling this court they intend
to do so," Morgan said, adding that he will file a motion for contempt
of court.

"As far as I know, the grand jury has not performed any official act,"
Judge Bunton said. "Judge Prado is a lot more familiar with the
defendants in this case than I."

Judge Edward C. Prado of San Antonio presided for criminal trials of
eight members of the Republic of Texas, prompting tight security for all
federal judges in the state.

Tattered flag has to go

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1996 - It's a mystery where the tattered United States flag
flying at the federal courthouse came from, but "It's got to go!" said
Laura Strohbach, General Services Administration real estate specialist.

"I initiated a request Jan. 3 to the El Paso field office," Strohbach
said. "I called this morning, and they are checking into it. We should
have it in place before March 15."

March 15 is the date set for the courthouse grand opening, and members
of the committee have asked that the flag be replaced.

"We have no idea whose flag that is," Strohbach said. "You just can't
fly a flag that's all tattered like that."

Federal judges from throughout the Western District of Texas are among
guests expected for the grand opening.

Tours for the public are planned for 12 noon to 2 p.m. March 15, with
snacks and refreshments served.

Dominion Leasing of Edmond, Okla. owns the building and leases it to
GSA. It contains two courtrooms and offices for support personnel.

FBI Wary of Threat

against Federal Judges

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HOUSTON, Feb. 21, 1996 (AP)- The FBI is concerned about a possible plot
by a Central Texas militia group to kidnap a federal judge, the Houston
Chronicle reported today.
An advisory issued by the U.S. Marshal's Service warned judges in the
federal courts' Southern District that the plot appears to be targeting
either the Austin or San Antonio areas, but suggested tighter security
in Houston, the newspaper reported.

``The FBI has information that a fringe militia group in Central Texas
has a plot to kidnap a federal judge to be held for ransom,'' read a
memorandum signed by Chief Judge Norman Black to Southern District
judges on Feb. 8.

Black and Mike Appleby, FBI spokesman in San Antonio, were unavailable
for comment early today.

A total of 36 federal judges - 18 district judges, six bankruptcy judges
and 12 magistrate judges - are on the bench in the Southern District. In
addition to the Houston federal courthouse, these judges work in
courthouses in Laredo, McAllen, Brownsville, Galveston, Victoria and
Corpus Christi.

Six militia groups are known to operate in the Central Texas area, the
Chronicle reported.

The newspaper identified the groups as Texas Light Infantry, Austin;
Texas Constitutional Militia, Bexar County Unit; Freedom Fighters,
Fredericksburg; United States Civil Militia Organization, Kerrville;
Texas Constitutional Militia, Southern region, San Antonio; and Texas
Militia Correspondence Committee, San Antonio.

Security in federal buildings has been heightened since last April 19,
when the bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building left 169 people

Prosecutors in that case believe the act to be related to an
anti-government militia.

Security standards for judges were first improved in 1979 following the
murder-for-hire of U.S. District Judge John H. Wood Jr. in San Antonio.
Charles V. Harrelson was convicted of the killing as retaliation for the
two life sentences the judge had handed El Paso drug trafficker Jimmy

Two other federal judges have been assassinated since then.

Border Patrol intercepts marijuana load

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PECOS, 1996 - U.S. Border Patrol agents intercepted 948 pounds of
marijuana near the Fort Hancock port of entry Friday and arrested
26-year-old Jesus Maria Chuca-Alvarez, 26.

Federal prosecutors declined the case, and Chuca and the marijuana,
valued at $758,000, were turned over to the El Paso County Metro
Narcotic Task Force.

The task force filed state charges of possession of a controlled
substance with intent to distribute.

Agents said the arrest occurred 17 miles southeast of Fort Hancock port
of entry near Esperanza.
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Copyright 1996 Pecos Enterprise
324 S. Cedar, Box 2057, Pecos TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321