The U.S. Marine being held in a Mexican prison on gun charges was told by his now-fired attorney to "stick to the script" and not reveal his past travel to Mexico, lest it negatively impact his case, according to an email obtained by TheBlaze.
The attorney for Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi emailed the Marine's mother, Jill, saying he told him to keep his story "short and simple."
This May 3, 2014, photo shows Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi left, who is being held at Tijuana's La Mesa Penitentiary. The 25-year-old Marine Corps combat veteran is being held on weapons charges for crossing the border with a shotgun, handgun and rifle in his vehicle. (AP/Alejandro Tamayo)
"Andrew is doing fine, though he got us a bit nervous because he wanted to change the story while the hearing was taking place," Alejandro Osuna wrote Jill Tahmooressi in the April 4 email. "It was an awkward moment because it was in front of a court officer: I explained to him as best I could under the circumstances that he needed to stick to the script, and keep it short and simple:
"`I was meeting with friends in San Ysidro, I missed the last exit and ended up at the Customs Check point in Tijuana. I have never been in Tijuana, I have a permit in the US to carry weapons, these weapons and ammo are mine, they were never intented [sic] for sale ....End of story,'" Osuna wrote. "Andrew kept insisting he wanted to change it, but our concern was that if he mentioned he had been in Tijuana about 6 times prior to his detention (which seems to be the case), his story would have been less credible. I think in the end he understood, but we will still need to talk to him and prepare for what is coming."
Andrew Tahmooressi appeared before a Mexican judge on Wednesday for the first time since he was jailed two months ago after crossing into Mexico with three registered guns. Tahmooressi fired Osuna and arrived in court with his new legal team. Osuna, who was originally selected by Tahmooressi from a list of attorneys on the U.S. Consulate website, was also in court.
Prosecutors told the judge that Tahmooressi had in fact gone to the country multiple times while living in San Diego seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Jill Tahmooressi has raised the issue over the last several weeks that Osuna had instructed her son not to discuss his previous trips to Mexico.
"Andrew felt uncomfortable with following his attorney's direction from the beginning," she told TheBlaze.
Osuna could not be immediately reached for comment.
The 25-year-old Marine says he accidentally crossed into Mexico after getting into the wrong lane near a Southern California border crossing after missing his turn, which he also said in a 911 call made the night he encountered Mexican law enforcement at the border.
He declared his weapons to Mexican federal agents when he realized he had crossed the border; the guns were confiscated and he was taken into custody.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), whose San Diego district includes the border area where Tahmooressi crossed in San Ysidro, has been working for the Marine's release. Hunter's deputy chief of staff, Joe Kasper, said the congressman was aware of the attorney's instructions to Tahmooressi.
"This attorney shows up on the website at the U.S. Consulate in [Tijuana] and tells [Tahmooressi] to misrepresent the truth," Kasper said. "Something in Andrew’s mind says this is not right and he questions him. He asks not to do it, but is told there is no way out of prison unless he does. We can not impose our standards or our expectations on Andrew when he is trapped in a foreign legal system that is telling him to lie. Telling the truth in the beginning is what got him there in the first place."
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