DHS faces claim for not de­port­ing vi­o­lent alien who killed Pa. man

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

The mother of a for­mer U.S. Marine and Penn­syl­va­nia cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer killed by an il­le­gal alien has filed a claim against the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, say­ing her son’s killer com­mit­ted other vi­o­lentcrimesintheUnit­edS­tates­but was never de­ported.

San­dra Miller of Al­toona, Pa., whose son, Stephen Heiss, died in Au­gust2005,blamesHome­landSe­cu­rity and its in­ves­tiga­tive arm, U.S. Im­mi­gra­tio­nandCus­tom­sEn­force­ment (ICE), for al­low­ing Miguel Padilla to re­main in the United States de­spite prior con­vic­tions for as­sault,reck­lessen­dan­ger­men­tand fight­ing with po­lice.

The ad­min­is­tra­tive

claim, which seeks $100 mil­lion in puni­tive dam­ages, is the first step in bring­ing a for­mal law­suit against the gov­ern­ment.

Padilla, 27, was sen­tenced to death in Septem­ber in the killing of Mr.Heiss,whoworked­forthePenn­syl­va­ni­aDepart­mentofCor­rec­tions. Padilla was also con­victed in the deaths of Al­fred Mignogna, 61, owner of a build­ing where the United Vet­er­ans As­so­ci­a­tion main­tained a private club, and Fredrick Rick­abaughSr.,58,adoor­manatthe club.

Thethree­mendied­duringanAu­gust2005shoot­in­gram­pa­ge­out­side the club.

ArthurS.Co­hen,aHol­l­i­days­burg, Pa., lawyer who rep­re­sents Mrs. Miller and also Mr. Rick­abaugh’s fam­ily,saidt­head­min­is­tra­tive­claim was “just the start of a case” against Home­land Se­cu­rity and ICE, and that the agen­cies will claim im­mu­nity from any civil law­suit.

But, he said, “some­one needs to be held ac­count­able for this gross mis­car­riage of jus­tice.”

Mr.Co­hen­said­heish­ope­fulCongress will “take the mat­ter into their own hands to come up with some retroac­tive ben­e­fits” for the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies. The gov­ern­ment has un­til March to re­spond to the claim.

Theshoot­ingswere­de­nouncedby Rep. Bill Shuster, Penn­syl­va­nia Repub­li­can, who said when po­lice had Padilla in cus­tody dur­ing the prior ar­rests they con­tacted ICE, but the agency “did noth­ing.”

“Itis­ter­ri­blee­nough­whenamur­der oc­curs, but to have it hap­pen by some­one who should not have been here adds to the de­spair,” Mr. Shuster said in a House floor speech 10 days af­ter Padilla’s sen­tenc­ing.

Po­lice said Mr. Heiss was en­ter­ingth­eUnit­edVeter­an­sAs­so­ci­a­tion club in down­town Al­toona when three other men were de­nied en­try be­cause they were not mem­bers. They said Padilla first ar­gued with Mr. Rick­abaugh and then Mr. Mignogna but left, re­turn­ing with a 45-cal­iber hand­gun and be­gan shoot­ing at the club’s owner and the door­man.

Mr.Heis­s­was­fa­tal­ly­woundedin the chest as he pushed his com­pan­ion, Bar­bara Zin­del, also a cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer, out of the way of the gun­fire, po­lice said.

Blair County, Pa., Judge Hi­ram Car­pen­ter­ruledear­lyinthe­casethe jury could not know of Padilla’s cit- izen­ship­sta­tus.Pendin­gap­peal­sare ex­pected to keep the case tied up in the courts for years.

Court records show Padilla was con­victed of as­sault and reck­less en­dan­ger­ment in 2003 af­ter a knife at­tack, and was sen­tenced to pro­ba­tion. He also was sen­tenced to pro­ba­tion on three dis­or­derly con­duct charges af­ter fight­ing with po­lice af­ter a traf­fic stop.

Mr.Shus­ter­has­s­incemetwith­se­niorICEof­fi­cials—Bil­lReid,act­ing as­sis­tant di­rec­tor for in­ves­ti­ga­tions, and Claude Arnold — to dis­cuss the Padilla case, but did not re­turn calls to his of­fice for com­ment.

Mr.Heis­s­was­posthu­mous­lyrec­og­nized at an an­nual de­part­ment awards cer­e­mony, where his fam­ily was pre­sented with the DOC’s Medal of Valor.

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