The Investigation: Erin Fernandez, Part 1
Fernandez was the “jaguar lead” for USFWS out of their Tucson, Arizona Ecological Services Office.
According to investigation reports in the Macho B case, it was documented Fernandez violated the following laws:
1. Fernandez did corruptly alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal a record, document, or other object, or attempt to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; … Obstruction of Justice.
2. Fernandez did knowingly and willfully falsify, conceal, or cover up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact (e-mail records), … Fraud and False Statements.
The Arizona U.S. Attorneys Office chose not to prosecute Fernandez. In fact, she was one of five people whom could have been prosecuted but were not. The reasons (any one or more could apply to a given individual) given by the AZ U.S. Attorneys Office for not prosecuting them were; Agency request; civil, admin or other disciplinary alternatives; lack of evidence of criminal intent; and weak or insufficient admissible evidence.
Fernandez was part of the “team” that reviewed the U.S. critical habitat designation for the jaguar in 2011-12 and remained in her position as “jaguar lead” until she went on maternity leave this year. She is currently listed as the USFWS “office lead” for the jaguar and ocelot. I am unaware of any repercussions that Fernandez faced with respect to the investigation findings. It should be noted that Fernandez was questioned by her own agency, USFWS, in the Macho B investigation and that same agency is ultimately responsible for endangered species conservation in the U.S.