Reese Family Thanksgiving

Being Thankful for Less Pain

Barack Obama has nominated US Attorney for New Mexico, Ken Gonzales, to a lifetime appointment as a federal judge.  This nomination is particularly significant because Gonzales was the US Attorney who oversaw the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of the Reese family.  At the time of the Reese’s arrest, Gonzales had the audacity to release a statement saying, “Those who sell firearms knowing that they will be illegally smuggled into Mexico to arm Mexican Cartels share responsibility for the violence that has been devastating Mexico.”  So far, he has not called for the prosecution of any of the federal agents or administrators who oversaw Operation Fast and Furious.

Gonzales has much to be thankful for this season, but what about the Reese family?  For them, being thankful is a relative term.  The Reese family is thankful that, so far, the bad they’ve suffered has not been as bad as it could have been.  They have been so abused, harassed and persecuted that they feel thankful for the crumbs of “less bad” news that comes their way.  They’re thankful that federal agents arrested them while they were away from their home rather than taking them during the massive raid involving hundreds of officers, helicopters, and armored vehicles.  They were thankful last March when, after 8 months in jail, Terri Reese was released on bail to a halfway house.  They were especially thankful when youngest son, Remington was acquitted of all charges (after spending a year in jail), and they were thankful when Terri, husband Rick, and older son Ryin were cleared of all but one count each, two for Ryin, of the comparatively minor charge of lying on 4473s – even though the lies they were convicted of were perpetrated by federal agents and the Reeses’ crimes were that they “should have known” that the agents were lying.

 They were thankful for these terrible events because they could have been so much worse.   Rather than face sentences of time-served, or a year or two in prison, they could have faced the likelihood of decades-long sentences.  Rather than living in a halfway house with thieves and drug addicts, Terri could have remained in jail with thieves and drug addicts.  Remington could have been convicted and spent his 21st birthday in prison as he did his 20th.   Remington is particularly thankful this week to be able to hold hands with his mother and grandparents as they pray that Rick and Ryin might soon be with them again.  They have remained in jail for over a year and have waited since August for sentences to be handed down.

More than anything else, today the Reeses are thankful for their dedicated family members, friends, and total strangers who read about their plight, who together provided the monetary support needed to allow them to hire competent attorneys to defend them in court after virtually everything they owned was seized by federal agents, leaving them with no way to pay for their own legal defense.  The legal challenges aren’t over yet, and the Reeses still owe their attorneys tens of thousands of dollars, but again, overwhelming debt is a blessing compared to years of incarceration or death.

Rick, Terri, and Ryin are all still awaiting sentencing, and Rick and Ryin remain in jail – after more than a year.  Presentencing reports are just being completed and sentencing is expected to take place within the next few weeks.  There is little hope that the family will be allowed to recover any of the near 200 guns and almost 2 million rounds of ammunition seized from them, and the feds are working hard to retain the $150,000 cash, a coin collection and jewelry also valued at close to $150,000, several vehicles, and the family’s home and land. 

Were it not for the generous support of family, friends, and concerned citizens, the Reeses would not have had enough to even hire an attorney.  They are struggling to find the funds to mount a defense in the civil forfeiture case, and if they don’t recover at least some of their seized assets, they will be left destitute, homeless, and with no means of income – after they complete whatever sentences get handed down.

I have visited the Reeses property, walked through their barren, looted gun shop, looked at the holes knocked in the walls of their home, and met and talked with Terri and Remington.  These are good, hardworking people, who love their country and the Constitution, but US Attorney Ken Gonzales wanted to make an example.  Now his prosecutors are using information, not just from the Reeses’ convictions, but from their indictments – charges for which they have been cleared – in both their sentencing and civil forfeiture proceedings.

This week as I was counting my blessings, I wrote out a personal check to the Reeses’ defense fund, and then wrote another from The Firearms Coalition.  I am exceedingly thankful for my family and friends, and very aware that this atrocity could have befallen any of us.  I’m sincerely thankful that it didn’t happen to me.

Financial support for the Reeses can be sent to:


ATTENTION: Patricia Arias


520 South Gold

Deming, NM  88030

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