Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Scam suspect reportedly in Tijuana

Arrest warrant to be issued if Martinez doesn?t return

Express Staff Writer

Raquel Martinez

A woman who was accused of scamming local Hispanic workers out of more than $8,000 has been given two weeks to return to Hailey before an arrest warrant is issued.

Twenty-nine-year-old Raquel Martinez, who court records say lives in Shoshone, failed to show up for sentencing on Monday. Instead, 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee read from an e-mail he received on Saturday from a doctor in Tijuana, Mexico, who claimed that Martinez was currently under his care at a clinic for cancer treatment.

Defense attorney Dan Dolan said he only became aware on Saturday that his client was out of the country. He said he received a copy of the same e-mail sent to Elgee.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback requested that an arrest warrant be issued, but Dolan asked for, and was granted, a two-week continuance.

"I'd like to have an opportunity to get her here on her own," Dolan told the court.

Martinez pleaded guilty last March to a single count of felony forgery as part of a plea agreement with the prosecuting attorney's office. In exchange, three felony counts of grand theft and four misdemeanor charges of petit theft were to be dismissed against the defendant.

She had been accused of scamming seven local Hispanic workers out of more than $8,000 by falsely claiming to be a federal immigration employee who could help the workers obtain legal status in the United States.

As part of the plea agreement, Martinez was to have paid the $8,000 back. She paid about half of it to the court in July, but Dolan told Elgee that he didn't know if any additional payments had been made.

Once the money is reimbursed, the prosecuting attorney's office is to recommend a withheld judgment on the forgery charge, three years supervised probation and 240 hours of community service.

Dolan said his client has been undergoing cancer treatments off and on at the clinic for the past several months.

"I'm going to issue a warrant in two weeks," Elgee said. "If she doesn't show up, it will be the bail bondsman's problem. Maybe they can go get her in Mexico."

Martinez was released on $25,000 bond following her arrest by Ketchum police in November 2006.

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