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Douglas lawyer denied bond in baby smuggling


The Arizona Daily Star

Author: Rhonda Bodfield Sander

A Douglas attorney accused of smuggling babies across the border will not be able to post bond and get out of jail, a federal magistrate ruled yesterday.

Magistrate Judge Nancy Fiora determined there was a serious risk that Mario Burgue�o Reyes would not appear for trial. He is charged with smuggling 17 undocumented Mexican children into the United States to New York families for as much as $22,000 each.

Reyes, an attorney who holds dual citizenship and practices in Mexico but lives in Douglas, also faces similar criminal charges in Mexico.

Fiora noted Reyes has strong family and economic ties in Mexico and is struggling financially after declaring bankruptcy in 1998. His $200,000 residence, a liquor store and a gas station in Douglas are all included in that case.

She also found the surety he offered - $50,000 equity from the $125,000 home of his parents - is not enough to ensure he'll appear at court proceedings.

Reyes is expected to be transferred to New York to stand trial, although it is unclear when. Two co-defendants, New York residents Arlene Lieberman and Arlene Reingold, have been released on bond.

Stephen Scaring, Reyes' defense attorney in New York, said he is trying to put together a new bond package. He said the defense is asking Reyes' friends and family to pledge more property. If the government accepts the offer, Scaring said he would ask Fiora to reconsider her ruling.

If that fails, Scaring said the defense would ask a New York magistrate to consider the bond issue.

Scaring said his client is not a flight risk. ``The government came down to talk with him in Arizona, and he voluntarily spoke with them for seven to eight hours, which is not what someone generally does if they're guilty,'' Scaring said.

``He says he's not guilty. He's very emphatic about that and would like to defend himself. It's difficult for him, being accused of serious charges that affect his reputation, and he's stuck in Arizona.''

The government's complaint stated that Reyes admitted during an interview that many of the children delivered to New York were smuggled into the United States, often through a professional smuggler whom Reyes contacted.

The complaint also said Reyes admitted to paying women to pose as birth mothers to obtain birth certificates and sign adoption release forms.

Reyes has not been indicted by a grand jury. He was arrested on the basis of a criminal complaint by the U.S. Attorney's Office. Prosecutors have 30 days from his arrest to secure an indictment.

1999 Jun 4