Jovita's Defendant Not a Dealer, Lawyer Says
Tatiana Huang came to Austin to attend UT
Twenty-five-year-old Tatiana Huang is a drug user, but not a drug dealer – and, so far at least, the federal government hasn't come up with any evidence to suggest otherwise, argues Huang's lawyer Olga Seelig.
Huang was among 15 individuals arrested on federal heroin dealing charges as part of the yearlong joint heroin trafficking investigation that included the arrest of Jovita's Tex-Mex restaurant patriarch Amado Pardo, who the government claims was the organization's ringleader.
Huang was a National Honor Society member in high school who came to Austin from the Dallas area to attend UT, where she was studying languages, with the dream of working for the United Nations or at another government-related post, says Seelig. That dream, it seems, is all but over now. According to the government, at some point Huang turned from user to dealer, working for Pardo to process the heroin – cutting it with a dietary agent – for street sale. Because of Huang's alleged direct involvement in the distribution scheme, the government had sought to keep her in jail pending the outcome of the federal case. But Seelig says the only thing the government could prove at a bond hearing July 3 was that Huang is a user and therefore, Seelig said, she should be let out on bond and ordered into treatment. Judge Mark Lane ultimately agreed – despite the prosecutor's argument that Huang might pose a flight risk because she has few ties to America, evidenced by a poster of Osama bin Laden the feds say they found on the wall in her apartment. That's silly, says Seelig, unless you also consider that David Bowie, whose image hung next to bin Laden's, is also un-American. Moreover, she said, the poster of bin Laden was more of a "joke" poster, with the image of the now-dead terrorist made up with makeup. In the end, Seelig says, the government could not "show anything other than that she was a drug addict."
Another defendant, Alfredo Alvarez, who the government has previously alleged in court is among the top dogs in Pardo's alleged organization, was denied bond and remains in jail pending the outcome of the case.
And, although Amado Pardo's bond hearing had twice been postponed, on Tuesday Judge Lane determined that Pardo and his brother, Jose Pardo, should not be released on bond pending trial. Both have violent criminal histories: Amado did time twice for murder; Jose for aggravated assault, armed robbery, and escaping from detention, among other crimes. And although both have been diagnosed within the last decade with serious health problems, Lane appears to consider them unrepentant, or a threat to society if released on bond. The "weight of the evidence tilts against you, and in favor of the government," he said. For more on that hearing, see "Pardo Denied Bond," Newsdesk, July 10.