The Associated Press and CBS News reported Friday afternoon that Jorge Puello, “legal adviser” to the New Life adoption traffickers, as suspected, has no license to practice law in The Dominican Republic. AP reporter Frank Bajak writes:
Jorge Puello, who has been a high-profile advocate for the American Baptists as they navigate the Haitian justice system, is in apparent violation of Dominican law for failing to register with the local bar association or obtain a license, said Jose Parra, vice president of the Dominican Lawyers Association.
Parra said his organization was still investigating the situation and might file a complaint with the Justice Department, which could pursue criminal charges.
Last night I asked some questions about Puello’s relationship to CVBC and Laura Silisby. I was particularly interested in whether Puello and Silsby had a pre-quake relationship (about what?) which would have greased the way for Puello to slide in and “advise” the prisoners, their families, and their churches.
We now have this small statement from Sean Lankford, whose wife Corinna and daughter Nichole are being held in Haiti, which suggests that either the folks in Idaho are just plumb dumb or that they had reason to trust Puello, sight unseen. (my emphasis).
Sean Lankford of Meridian, Idaho, whose wife and daughter are among those detained, said Puello provided his services for free.
“He’s really shown himself to be completely trustworthy, and I truly believe he has done everything to help our people and to help us,” he said in a telephone interview from Idaho.
Lankford said Puello contacted relatives of the Americans to volunteer his services.
This contradicts Thursday’s Times report:
But other lawyers for the detainees said that the families had wired Mr. Puello $12,000 to pay for the Americans’ transportation out of Haiti if they were released, and that they had been told by Mr. Puello in a conference call late Tuesday that he needed an additional $36,000. Mr. Puello said that he had not participated in a conference call.
While the names of “other lawyers” (i.e., real lawyers) went unmentioned, they are attorneys from the pro bono Christian advocacy organization Liberty Legal Institute headquartered in Plano, Texas and WilmerHale, the K-Street multinational firm Liberty Legal signed up to spring Amarillo contractor Jim Allen and probably Allen’s inlaws, Eastside Baptist Church pastor Paul Thompson and Silas “Buck” Thompson.”
The Dream Team is (co)headed by Reginald J. Brown, (right) Vice Chair of the firm’s Public Policy and Strategy Group. Brown has a long list of very high profile government and multinational clients, is a former board member of Hewlett-Packard (them again!) and is a former special assistant to George W. Bush. The other co-leader is WilmerHale partner Jennifer O’Connor, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the United States Department of Labor under the first Bush, and former special assistant to Bill Clinton. Allen’s attorneys have issued a statement that Puello does not represent Allen. I hope to write more about Liberty Legal, Jim Allen, and his attorneys this weekend.
These are not lawyers to be trifled with, and Puello is a trifle.
It looks like he’s laying low–hiding out from Interpol who has a warrant on him, the Salvadorean National Police who want his fingerprints, and Judge Bernard Saint-Vil who’s investigating him. Oh, and Homeland Security is looking into him. The Idaho folks must be having cats the size of mastodons.
The Puello Consultation website has been taken down. When the AP attempted to contact him yesterday:
...Puello declined to comment in a brief telephone interview, saying he would be busy in court representing a U.S. firm seeking to establish a business in the Dominican Republic. He could not be located in court and did not return later phone calls.
An emotional Puello, did, however, give a short and bizarre interview earlier in the day with ABC News denying that he had done anything wrong An incurious ABC news gatherer (or to be nice, maybe a news editor cut the meat out, but we doubt it) reports the following:
But Jorge Puello denies any wrong doing and told us one reason he took the missionaries’ case is because he knows what it’s like to be falsely accused.
“If I had somebody that would have done what I did for them, I would not be in this big mess that I have for past years. So that’s why this case touch me.
What is he talking about? Puello was only “falsely accused” after he took the missionaries’ case, or else he’s been “falsely accused” before. And if so, when and what for? Or maybe he’s a time traveler.
Ed Murrow must be spinning out of control.