Federal judge says a Bartlesville man is ' Not Guilty'

Friday, November 11th 2005, 9:49 am
By: News On 6

A verdict of ‘not guilty’ sets a Bartlesville man free. Alfredo Herrera was jailed 16 months ago on drug charges, and held without bond. He was set free Thursday night - after a federal judge looked at the facts and decided the federal government didn't have evidence of a crime.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says the flag still flies outside the Bartlesville home of Alfedo Herrera, who has lived the American dream. That was, until July of 2004. "Overnight, everything turned from daylight to dark, a nightmare, is what it was."

Herrera came to America in 1965, started as a restaurant janitor and 30 years later owned a chain of restaurants. He branched out into a check cashing business for Mexican-Americans, and helped them send money home to their families.

The business made him rich, but his arrest ended all that. This 61 year old grandfather, outstanding businessman and naturalized American citizen, was charged with money laundering and conspiracy.

Federal prosecutors labeled him a drug kingpin, after digging through his finances and concluding there must be a crime. For the last 16 months, Herrera was jailed without bond, waiting for a trial. "Because I always knew I was not guilty."

Despite a two year investigation and dozens of allegations, once it went to trial, US District Court Judge Terence Kern ruled a conviction would require piling inference upon inference regarding the alleged drug sales and the defendant's business. "The court finds that the United States has simply not shown defendant's knowledge and participation in the drug conspiracy."

“I am still in shock." While he was in the Tulsa County jail, Herrera got hundreds of letters from friends, many at his church, but he also missed his son's wedding, his father's funeral, and 16 months of his life he can't get back, for which no one has apologized.

Herrera says he hasn't lost faith in his country, or himself. That's why the flag still flies outside, because he plans to live the American dream, once again.