You know those “Mugshots” that have become a popular feature of many news sites? It’s important to remember that being charged with a crime is not the same as being guilty of a crime.
The Safety Harbor law firm of Ewusiak & Roberts proudly announces the filing of a civil claim by Carlos Antonio Ortega Bonilla (“Ortega Bonilla”), a Colombian citizen, against the United States of America, its responsible agencies, and officials for the wrongful arrest, malicious prosecution, and wrongful detention of Ortega Bonilla in connection with a large-scale, complex drug smuggling operation.
The alleged actions of the United States of America, its responsible agencies, and officials (collectively, the “U.S.”) are nothing short of jaw dropping. The civil claim alleges that Ortega Bonilla, a highly-regarded aviation professional and former highly-ranked aviation official from Bogota, Colombia, was ripped out of his home in Colombia in the early morning hours on September 1, 2011 by several United States of America and Colombian law enforcement officers. Ortega Bonilla alleges that he was informed that he was being placed under arrest, that he was being detained for extradition to the United States of America, and that he was accused of being a member of a drug smuggling operation involving many individuals. Ortega Bonilla would later learn that he was specifically accused of brokering the sale of airplanes to be used to funnel drugs to other countries for later transport to the United States of America. The U.S. claimed that it was in possession of telephone recordings of Ortega Bonilla selling airplanes to drug traffickers. All of this came as a complete shock to Ortega Bonilla and his family: Ortega Bonilla had never been arrested, let alone accused of participation in any illegal activity. In fact, Ortega Bonilla made a career of doing the right thing, including being a whistleblower against the Colombian government over aviation safety concerns. He would later resign from his official position over those concerns, putting his own career at risk for the sake of public safety. Nonetheless, Ortega Bonilla found himself facing a federal prosecutor who refused to accept the possibility that she had the wrong man and facing up to life in prison if convicted of the criminal charges that he did not commit.
The civil claim alleges that the U.S. never possessed any evidence whatsoever of Ortega Bonilla’s involvement in the drug smuggling operation or for that matter, any other illegal activities, and that the sole evidence against Ortega Bonilla consisted of phone recordings of a different person with a different name. Ortega Bonilla further alleges that law enforcement officers targeted Ortega Bonilla by tapping his telephone conversations, that those telephone recordings failed to provide any evidence that any airplanes that he brokered for sale were linked to drug trafficking, and that the only telephone recordings of Ortega Bonilla obtained by law enforcement officers demonstrated that Ortega Bonilla objected to selling airplanes to those individuals as soon as he suspected that they may be involved in wrongdoing. In fact, the civil claim alleges that the U.S. specifically omitted the telephone recording of Ortega Bonilla from the criminal charging documents against him, and that, in spite of overwhelming evidence of Ortega Bonilla’s innocence before and after the arrest, the U.S. moved forward and maliciously and recklessly arrested, prosecuted and detained Ortega Bonilla due to his alleged involvement in the drug smuggling operation in which he had no role whatsoever and based solely on the recordings of an entirely different person.
For a full year, while protesting his innocence on his own and with the assistance of others, Ortega Bonilla languished in prison in Colombia and the United States of America until the criminal charges against him were finally dismissed. Media reports and court records show that the federal prosecutor assigned to Ortega Bonilla’s prosecution has been accused of overly aggressive action taken in connection with pursuing criminal charges. More recently, the media and the presiding Judge have specifically criticized the federal prosecutor for her actions taken in connection with the drug smuggling prosecution involving Ortega Bonilla.
Not surprisingly, the actions of the U.S. had a dramatic impact on Ortega Bonilla’s personal and professional life. As part of his civil claim against the U.S., Ortega Bonilla seeks millions of dollars in compensatory damages for the impact that the events have had upon his reputation, mental state, and ability to conduct his lawful business as an aviation professional in the United States of America and in Colombia.
The civil claim against the U.S. includes extensive details pertaining to Ortega Bonilla’s life, wrongful arrest, malicious prosecution, wrongful detention, and the dramatic consequences of the actions taken by the U.S. News articles concerning Ortega Bonilla’s tragic experience are also located that the following links: http://bit.ly/1bLDi6m (Miami Prosecutors Drop Drug Case Against Ex-Colombian Official); http://bit.ly/1bcIEoG (Judge Marcia Cooke Rips Prosecutor For Withholding Information In Drug Case). The story of Carlos Antonio Ortega Bonilla will be featured in an original A&E documentary called “Presumed Innocent.” The documentary will feature individuals, like Carlos, who were unjustly accused of crimes and lived a nightmare behind bars. An article concerning the documentary (in Spanish) may be found here: http://www.prensario.net/6351-AE-presento-nueva-produccion-original-emSe-Presume-Inocenteem.note.aspx. For more information about Carlos’ story, please see the following link: http://www.erlitigators.com/wrongful-detention-ortega-bonilla/
Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. is a litigation firm based in Safety Harbor, Florida, part of the greater Tampa Bay area. Lawyers at the firm litigate federal and state civil rights cases for select individuals, as well as claims for product defect, investment loss recovery for individuals, personal injury, contract disputes, employment claims, whistleblower claims, and other cases that involve pursuing individual rights. For more information about the lawyers and the practice areas of the firm, please visit: www.erlitigators.com, or call: 727.724.5796.