Police: Former Wapato City Admin arrested for misappropriating funds, official misconduct

Police: Former Wapato City Admin arrested for misappropriating funds, official misconduct

Former Wapato City Administrator Juan Orozco is being held in the Yakima County jail on suspicion of official misconduct and misappropriation and falsification of accounts by a public officer.

Official misconduct is a gross misdemeanor under Washington state law. Misappropriaton and falsification of accounts by a public officers is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

In court documents, Yakima County sheriff’s deputies say Orozco committed official misconduct when he was the city’s mayor, by arranging for his own appointment to city administrator with annual salary of $95,000.

Deputies say he misappropriated a $100 cash donation by a local business owner on Oct. 4, 2018 at Wapato City Hall. The donation was for the city’s annual Harvest Festival.

Instead of following normal accounting procedures, Orozco told former city clerk-treasurer Cindy Goodin to create the donation receipt in a Word document and print it out for the business owner, court documents said.

Deputies say Orozco took the cash and told Goodin he’d be giving it to former city clerk-treasurer Robin Cordova, but she never received the money.

The incident described by deputies is also mentioned in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the city by former employees Goodin and Cordova.

Orozco was arrested Tuesday afternoon at his home on North Harding Avenue in Wapato by Yakima County sheriff’s detectives, according to the U.S. Marshall’s Service.

Detectives have been investigating Orozco and other city officials for evidence of potential crimes for more than a month.

Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Brusic told KAPP-KVEW that deputies arrested Orozco when they did because they considered him a flight risk.

Orozco was booked into the jail at about 3:30 p.m., where he was placed in temporary housing, according to jail officials. While he has not left the jail since he was booked, the online inmate roster showed his name just periodically Tuesday night.

Jail officials told KAPP-KVEW that inmates are not put in the roster until they are placed in permanent housing. Orozco was placed in such housing from 5:25 p.m. until 5:32 p.m., where he was put back into temporary housing for unknown reasons.

At 9:30 p.m., Orozco was placed in a permanent location in the jail, in “special housing”, where he is in a room by himself, jail officials said.

Orozco is scheduled to make a preliminary appearance Wednesday afternoon in Yakima County Superior Court.