Patrol Commander USFS
R5, Angeles NF
444 East Bonita Ave.
San Dimas CA 91773
Dear Ms. Wears, March 12, 2015
Thank you for reaching out to us on this extremely critical matter involving your LEO’s in the Stanislaus NF recently. We would have loved to speak with you earlier, but Capt. Rieck had concealed your identity during our investigation.
Over the past 6 months, there have been more incidents than can be counted on two hands involving the three LEO’s we spoke of, LEO Capt. Rieck, LEO Brooks and LEO Rosas. The specific results of our investigation and statements obtained identify conclusively the three named LEO’s have violated not just the USFS’s own powers of officers and employees of the USFS, but the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution to protect its citizenry against unwarranted searches.
In the USFS code of conduct under powers of officers, it clearly states:
16 U.S. Code § 559c – Powers of officers and employees of Forest Service
(3) make arrests with a warrant or process for misdemeanor violations, or without a warrant or process for violations of such misdemeanors that any such officer or employee has probable cause to believe are being committed in his presence or view, or for a felony with a warrant or without a warrant if he has probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony, for offenses committed within the National Forest System or which affect the administration of the National Forest System.
As can be seen by this, probable cause is prominent and required. The requirements being criminal incidents must be committed, are about to be committed or have been committed in their presence or view. The incidents described do not even remotely constitute the actions by the LEO’s under any of these definitions as no crime was being committed, nobody was under suspicion of a crime and they were not known, wanted criminals who had already committed a crime.
The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Also in the 4th Amendment, the words “probable cause” are clear and prominent. There is a reason for this, so people cannot be harassed and threatened by rogue law enforcement agents. In Terry v Ohio, a Supreme Court case in 1966 in which the 4th Amendment was challenged, it reaffirmed the requirement for probable cause.
During our lengthy and detailed phone conversation, I had outlined just a few of the many incidents and would like to recap a few of these for you. All of these incidents are within the past 6 months and involve either Rieck, Brooks, Rosas or a combination of those listed.
Three people in their 60’s, parked legally, mining legally on a validly held Federal mining claim to which they are co-owners were sitting in a creek running a small sluice box, also completely legal. They were approached by Capt. Rieck and LEO Brooks, no introduction given, no identification offered of who they were. They demanded ID from all three and when our AMRA member produced an expired AMRA membership card, our female AMRA member was escorted to her vehicle to produce a valid AMRA card. The other man who was approximately 100 feet downstream stated he did not have to produce ID as he had done nothing wrong and they were interfering with his mining operation. This angered Rieck so she pulled her lethal weapon (Taser) and pointed it directly at our client and demanded ID be produced. Capt. Rieck and LEO Brooks also stated they needed to know who was in “their” forest and needed to check for warrants. They also stated they needed to make sure nobody was claim jumping, an entirely civil matter in which the USFS has absolutely no authority to enforce. The complete lack of probable cause of any crime being committed is clearly evident.
This incident alone is cause for alarm.
In another example which was provided to you, 4 trucks with dogs in the back were proceeding up Bull Creek Road near Coulterville when LEO Brooks was driving down the road in his service vehicle. Brooks saw the trucks, turned his vehicle sideways in the road blocking all traffic, approached the lead vehicle and demanded ID be produced. He then instructed the men to put their hands on the hood of the truck and proceeded to search the vehicle without warrant or probable cause. Your statement during our conversation was “it is a he said, she said” incident. It does not become a “he said, she said” when there are a dozen witnesses to one rogue LEO, it becomes a matter of fact.
Yet another incident we discussed was a man who was contacted by your very own USFS to inform him his cows had managed to get out of their containment on his remote private property near Yosemite. He was provided a “special use permit” by the USFS and proceeded out there to investigate with his young son and two adult friends in the vehicle. LEO Rosas followed his vehicle for a period of time, then pulled them over a short distance from his property. LEO Rosas asked what he was doing and he stated USFS contacted him and told him he was there to investigate the issue. Rosas asked for his ID and also asked if he had any firearms to which the man stated he had an unloaded rifle in the back of the truck. Rosas refused to even view the Special Use Permit issued to the man and cited him for “hunting in a closed hunting zone”. This case was dismissed in court and is a matter of public record.
The facts are clear and undeniable. Capt. Rieck, LEO Brooks and LEO Rosas are knowingly violating the civil rights of the public using public lands. Their actions are dangerous and reckless. They are violating their own code of conduct as written in the Powers of officers and employees of Forest Service. They are violating the 4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America which they took an oath to uphold.
As stated during our conversation, you agreed to address and answer the specific questions our members have regarding these egregious actions by the USFS LEO’s and respond within 7 days (calendar days). The questions are as follows:
1) Why are the USFS LEO’s enforcing AMRA membership expirations on our Federal mining claims?
2) Specifically, under what authority does the USFS have to enforce any matters as they pertain to ownership and who mines any Federal mining claims? This is clearly a civil matter as determined by law.
3) Why are your LEO’s enforcing mining claim law?
4) What type of training do these LEO’s have regarding “probable cause”, its definition and the need for it to approach a public citizen?
5) Why are your LEO’s ignoring the mandatory “probable cause” as put forth in their own code of conduct and the 4th Amendment? Each of these incidents did not involve any crimes being committed, about to be committed or had been committed.
6) What actions are you willing to take to stop this dangerous behavior by your agents?
7) Will these LEO’s issue an apology to all parties involved?
8) What assurances will the public have that these types of incidents will never happen again?
9) Why did Capt. Rieck pull her Taser and point it at the man sitting on the ground on his Federal mining claim during his mining operation?
10) What is the justification for LEO Brooks to block a public road and search the vehicle as described in the incident with the trucks and dogs?
11) Why did LEO Rosas cite a man who had a legal Special Use Permit to access his private land at the behest of the USFS and search his vehicle?
12) Where did your agents obtain the idea that all of these behaviors are within their powers and authority?
As stated, this is not a question of “if” any longer Ms. Wears, it is a matter of fact, and in some cases, public record. Also mentioned, we have been in contact with numerous law enforcement agencies such as Mariposa County Sheriff Binnewies. In fact, I met with him again personally just two days ago and discussed this matter. Sheriff Binnewies has been provided the factual and accurate statements surrounding each incident and frankly Ms. Wears, he is fully prepared and willing to remove your USFS law enforcement capacity in his county based on the evidence provided. We’ve also been in contact with Sheriff Mele of Tuolumne County and have provided his office with the same factual information. I’m sure Sheriff Mele will join, if necessary in removing the USFS law enforcement capacity from his county as well. We have been in constant contact with numerous entities with the media, both print and TV including the LA Times, Fox News channel, Megyn Kelly, Sean Hannity and Breitbart. We have had meetings and extensive communication with Senators and other Congressmen and Congressional committee’s about these specific incidents and even met with Congressman McClintock in person two days ago to again speak about these actions by your LEO’s.
We are fully prepared to take this to Step 2 as described in our phone conversation if the questions are not answered within the agreed upon 7 days and the results do not favorably impact these LEO’s behavior. We will file suit against the USFS. We will go to the media. We will meet with the Sheriffs and encourage them to withdraw USFS law enforcement capacity in their counties. We will not stop the hundreds of people (our members and supporters) from going to the doorsteps of each of these people in loud opposition to their behavior.
We want to keep this stampede of buffalo from descending upon the USFS LEO’s and the media from unfavorable coverage, but will not intervene if the questions are not addressed or a favorable outcome is not achieved.
If Capt. Rieck, LEO Brooks and LEO Rosas were to announce their immediate resignation today, we will very favorably consider dropping this issue. We would like to work with you on establishing a working relationship with the LEO’s of Stanislaus NF and assuring the public will not be threatened, harassed, intimidated and have their civil rights violated.
Mr. Shannon Poe
American Mining Rights Association
PMB #607, 6386 Greeley Hill Rd.
Coulterville CA 95311