The last time I saw Sonia Orozco outside the court system, she was angrily bemoaning the fate of undocumented, at-risk Latino youth. This morning she was in manacles, before Judge Charlene Barlow, who ruled she had to stay in jail until at least her Nov. 1 preliminary hearing.
At the end of last week, the District Attorney's office filed two new charges against the 50 year-old former Jordan School District employee, making three charges in total alleging theft by extortion of undocumented Latino adults and their children. She's being held on $100,000 bail, despite Pre-Trial Services' recommendation that she be released pending trial.
Since the news first broke in early September that Orozco has been charged with fleecing undocumented Latinos with false promises to arrange legalization or remove the supposed threat of an imminent deportation, I have been working on a City Weekly cover story, which runs this Wednesday, entitled "Tainted Saint."
I sought answers as to how someone seen by so many educators, police officers, judges and social workers as a key authority on at-risk Hispanic youth in the valley could turn out to be, according to victims' allegations, a predator of the community for as many as 10 years or more.
This morning, few clues were evident. Judge Barlow declined Orozco's defense attorney Rudy Bautista's request to have her released. While Bautista said Orozco was "not a flight risk, not a violent person, with no criminal history," prosecutor Mandy Rose said Orozco's alleged claims to victims that she had an accomplice in Immigration and Customs Enforcement meant "her victims in these cases are terrified of her."