- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

After successfully winning a two-year prison sentence against U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jesus E. Diaz Jr., the Justice Department is now trying to collect a $6,870 fine from his wife, saying it should be paid “immediately” — even though the judge signaled she would have a grace period.

In a notice sent last week the Justice Department said the fines were imposed by the court that found Agent Diaz guilty and sentenced him to prison for improperly restraining a 15-year-old suspected of drug smuggling.

“We strongly urge you to pay this debt immediate,” said the notice, which was received by Diana Diaz, who is also a Border Patrol agent.

But Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday asking that the fine be canceled or at the least be delayed until after his appeal. Mr. Hunter said the judge in the case told Mrs. Diaz that the process for fines wouldn’t begin until a month after he was released from federal prison.

“The case involving Agent Diaz deserves special consideration under the circumstances,” Mr. Hunter said.
The Justice Department didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Hunter had earlier written a letter asking Mr. Holder why the Justice Department pursued the case against Agent Diaz even after two internal reviews cleared him of wrongdoing.

A third review did say Agent Diaz violated rules when he twisted the suspected smuggler’s arms and placed used his knee to apply pressure to the man’s body. The U.S Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas brought charges.

Members of Congress have challenged the Justice Department’s prosecution, saying it could make agents less effective. Mr. Hunter said it “sets a dangerous precedent and creates unnecessary confusion among law enforcement on the border.”

WorldNetDaily reported the fine notice Monday night, saying a charitable organization, the Law Enforcement Officers Advocates Council, has begun trying to raise money for Agent Diaz’s family.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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