Former Wapato city administrator Juan Orozco arrested

Former Wapato city administrator Juan Orozco arrested
Former Wapato city administrator Juan Orozco was arrested on Tuesday. A neighbor sent photos to KAPP-KVEW claiming they are of Orozco being taken in handcuffs.

WAPATO, Wash. — Former Wapato city administrator Juan Orozco was arrested on Tuesday.

Yakima County Sheriff’s detectives arrested Orozco at his home on North Harding Avenue, according to the US Marshals Service. The Yakima County Jail roster shows he was booked at 3:36 p.m.

Prosecuting Attorney Joe Brusic said Orozco was determined to be a flight risk. The circumstances of his arrest have yet to be confirmed.

Orozco resigned from his position as city administrator on July 19 amid pressure from Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who filed a lawsuit against him claiming he appointed himself as city administrator to unlawfully enrich himself.

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The lawsuit was filed upon review of a state auditor’s report on the City of Wapato that was published in May.

According to the auditor’s report, Orozco asked the Wapato city attorney to draft an ordinance creating the position of city administrator in August 2018. At the time, he was serving as mayor.

On Sept. 4, 2018, Orozco called a special meeting of the city council just before its regular meeting, without notice of the meeting’s purpose, which violates the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), the audit said.

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The city council adopted the ordinance, which violated a separate statute prohibiting them from taking final action or adopting an ordinance at a special meeting.

Immediately after the council adopted the ordinance, the auditor’s report states, Orozco resigned as mayor.

When the council convened for its regular meeting, it appointed Councilmember Dora Alvarez-Roa mayor. She then appointed Orozco as city administrator, without discussion.

The position included a lucrative contract with a salary of $95,000 for a term of seven years.

Ferguson agreed to dismiss his lawsuit against Orozco under the condition he resigned and forfeited any severance pay.

Hours after he resigned, Orozco told KAPP-KVEW he denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement Tuesday, Ferguson announced a resolution stating the Wapato City Council and all Wapato city officers must undergo ethics and open government trainings as a result of his lawsuit.

Ferguson said the city must also commit to not paying Orozco’s unlawful contract and agree to not employ him in the future.

This is a developing story and will be updated.